IDS is, apparently, a convert to the cause of blogging, if his article in Saturday’s Grauniad™ is to be believed.
Of course, this is IDS the failed Tory ex-leader we’re talking about here, so his credentials as a ‘technology correspondent’ hardly stack up to much in the credibility stakes - he’d have rather more if, say, he actually had a blog…
Tim at Bloggerheads has already nicely deconstructed most of IDS’s arguments - I’ll leave him to deal with the question of ‘media bias’ against the right and the ‘tinfoil helmet’ stuff surrounding Dan Rather’s public kicking by right-wing bloggers over Bush’s military service record - hey, at least no one asked for the ‘frequency’ this time around.
What’s more interesting is IDS’s opening gambit:
“…all the evidence suggests that broadcasters have possessed the greatest potential to frame public debate. British politicians have known that communicating their message depends upon getting the nod from a small number of powerful figures in the broadcast media.
The editor of BBC1’s six o’clock news bulletin can make a minister’s day by putting his department’s latest announcement at the front of the bulletin. Hearing Huw Edwards say something positive about that afternoon’s policy launch will even put a smile on Alastair Campbell’s face.”
Ah right, so its not about a new dawn of conservatism after all, just a new variation on the age old Tory vendetta against the Beeb - less a revolution in democracy more the return of the Chingford cyber-skinhead.
There are points where IDS’s arguments break down into sheer farce, not least in his ‘Town Hall’ analogy:
“An online community of bloggers performs the same function as yesteryear’s town meetings. Through the tradition of town hall meetings, officials were held to account by local people. Blogger communities are going to be much more powerful. They will draw together not only local people but patients who have waited and waited for NHS care. They will organise parents of disabled children who oppose Labour’s closure of special-needs schools and evangelical Christians who see their beliefs caricatured by ignorant commentators.”
… which conveniently fails to recognise that online communities, through Usenet and online forums and bulletin boards has a far longer and richer history than blogging.
While a relative latecomer to blogging (properly) I’m no novice when it comes to online communities having been around since the days when Usenet was ‘king’. If there’s one thing that experience has taught me its that to find the few nuggets of gold out there on the net frequently requires that you wade, first, through veritable mountians of crap. For every “Mr Knowledgeable (and it is usually a Mr) of Smallville, Wyoming” there are tens, if not hundreds of “Mr Pig-Ingnorant of Trailer-Park, Mississippi” to wade through first, many of whom belong to the self-same right-wing evangelical constituency that IDS wishes to court.
Experienced ‘Netizen’s’ (Netropolitans?) will tell you straight away that by far the worst idiots out there are the ‘fundies’ - right-wing, fundamentalist christians. These aren’t people whose beliefs are caricatured by ingorant commentators, these are living caricatures in their own right, Boss Hogg meets the Clampitts meets the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, an underclass too dumb even for the Jerry Springer show - people who revel in their own ignorance, who view any kind of education that doesn’t start with the Bible and end with ‘Guns and Ammo’ as the work of Satan.
The reality of IDS’s Neocon Utopia is anything but his apparent vision of empowered, communal conservativism challenging the metropolitan elite - it a cesspit of intolerance, venom and bile which brooks no opposition and even less debate. I know, I’ve seen it and its full of assholes.
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