Saturday, 09 June 2007

Time to be Tattled on It seems there is someone so annoyed by the position that context matters that it is highly likely he will contact my department to ... to ... report me? Inform them that I blog? I'm not sure. I admit to being baffled by the threat of tattling. Is this a common tactic among online leftists? I wouldn't think so—I'm a leftist frequently online, and I've never considered contacting someone's employer—but it seems to be happening everywhere now. Scrolling through my comments in that thread, I'm trying to identify which reprehensible thing I said this person will include in his missive. Maybe it was this: When people emerge from the woodwork claiming that the link-as-endorsement policy isn't operative on a particular blog, it means that the basic context ... has been misunderstood. Imagine a situation in which Blogger X posts a link and excerpt to every antisemitic slur written by Author Z. When a prominent Jew dies, this person posts a link and excerpt to despicable obituary Author Z wrote. A friend of the prominent Jew sees Blogger X's post and starts a campaign to have Blogger X fired. Would you say that the friend of the prominent Jew did his due diligence? Do you not shudder at the thought that you could be fired on the basis of someone else's ignorance? Perhaps my quick take on Speech Act Theory offended: Context is part of the meaning of any statement. If a waiter at an Italian restaurant asks if I would like some cheese on my pasta, I could reply "I do." I utter those exact same words in another context, I enter into a legally binding agreement to have and hold someone so long as we both shall live. I stress the notion of due diligence here because, well, because I don't want to marry my waiter or ask my wife-to-very-soon-be for cheese. It could have been my disgusting opinion on racism: You missed my subtle point. All racism is vile. Some of it is criminal too, and it can lead to amorality, but vile is vile. No need to be all nuanced about it. Now that I think about it, though, it must have been my refusal to engage him in a debate about the history of racial politics in America. I mean, he spent all that time "teaching" me things I already know, and I didn't respond to them for the simple fact that they were irrelevant? I'm surprised he's stopping with my department. Why not just contact the FBI already?

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