Sanchez on humour

by Henry Farrell on June 16, 2006

Thought that this recent “Julian Sanchez”: post provided an interesting way to think about the “back-and-forth misunderstandings”: over dsquared and Harry Hutton as eliminationist Coulteroids. The key bit …

bq. So it seems like you might find racist/religious/sexist/etc epithets or jokes in two very different kinds of context: First, sincerely, among actual racists, sexists, and other bigots. Second, in groups where there’s a strong taboo against those actual attitudes, but the people communicating are sufficiently confident of themselves and each other on that score that boundary-pushing results in that all-clear humor reaction. The problem on the Internet, of course, is that you often end up with a forum that feels like a small close knit community but is actually available to thousands of casual readers—a tension I expect we’ll be negotiating for a long while yet. Anyway, that might be one reason you find the kind of rhetoric the Feministe folk were so appalled by in particular among the blogs and chat boards of the left, where people are both especially likely to be conscious of speech taboos and confident that everyone’s actually got the right sorts of views.

(although I should make it clear that I don’t think it’s the whole explanation for what Sanchez is talking about – I suspect that some purportedly leftwing blog commenters _do_ have genuinely misogynistic views etc).



David Weman 06.16.06 at 10:17 am

It does apply to Hutton to some extent, but not really at all to the kinds of things Feministe is talking about.


theCoach 06.16.06 at 10:24 am

Not being aware of dsquared is a greater crime than eliminationist rhetoric.

In forty years when all the really well known bloggers are reminiscing about the origins of blogging, dsquared will be referenced way out of proportion to his fame. Shorter…, anybody?

The man is a legend.


theCoach 06.16.06 at 10:38 am

having read dd since his delong days, I pictured him sort of like a heavy set Michael Ledeen. I have no idea why. Probably something to with my mangling of his old description of himself, which I mistakenly have in my head as “a fat bald man without a kind word for anybody”, and general sense that wit like his might be packaged in a miserable visage.
So, I was taken aback when I saw his photo in a Guardian(?). Not at all what I had imagined, and I imagine this phenomenon is increasing with virtual aquaintances.


duaneg 06.16.06 at 12:06 pm

His post reminds me of Danny O’Brien on the difference between public, private and secret, and that “private” conversations on the net are not.

…The problem here is one (ironically) of register. In the real world, we have conversations in public, in private, and in secret. All three are quite separate. The public is what we say to a crowd; the private is what we chatter amongst ourselves, when free from the demands of the crowd; and the secret is what we keep from everyone but our confidant. Secrecy implies intrigue, implies you have something to hide. Being private doesn’t. You can have a private gathering, but it isn’t necessarily a secret. All these conversations have different implications, different tones….On the net, you have public, or you have secrets. The private intermediate sphere, with its careful buffering. is shattered. E-mails are forwarded verbatim. IRC transcripts, with throwaway comments, are preserved forever. You talk to your friends online, you talk to the world….And this is what the end of privacy means. It means the end of the private register. Not everything that is private is meant to be secret, meant to be hidden. It’s just not intended to be public. That grey area is fading, and soon it will be gone….


duaneg 06.16.06 at 12:15 pm

Yikes, that looked a lot better with my artfully place HTML line breaks…


Seth Edenbaum 06.16.06 at 12:51 pm

Vulgar. Lacking sophistication or good taste; unrefined.

You can’t remove the vulgarity from politics. Scott Eric Kaufman’s college-boy/preacher’s rant is as silly as his referring to himself as “far left”; he contradicts himself within a few moments of tapping the first keys on the keyboard. At the same time, I don’t read Kos. Politics is religion in America for those who pay attention, and I’m still an atheist.

But apart from all that, the brilliance and brittleness of a rapier wit is that it only works in context. If you didn’t know DD how could anyone know how this was meant?

“That Daily Kos type is gonna feel pretty fucking stupid when the guy who missed him first time comes back for the second attempt.”

It’s not particularly funny either way, but I can hear in my mind the tone of Anglo-archness that would make the intention at least a little clearer in person, though Brit snobbery fogs Brit politics (and Welshmen may as well be Texans)

Blogging is treated as casual, but treating any public communication casually multiplies the risks that your words will change their shape.

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