Wednesday, April 17, 2002

If that's not the book you want written

Jason Kottke makes a valuable point about Eric's gung-ho post below:
So, what are the choices here? Either a) everyone with a weblog is a hawkish right-wing Westerner; b) only those webloggers who are hawkish right-wing Westerners can submit something for consideration; or c) I'm not getting a joke here. What seems like an opportunity to take a balanced, accurate snapshot of what people all across the Web were writing online at the time of the events of 9/11 has somehow turned into us vs them. Isn't there enough us vs them going around these days? How about letting everyone play...or at least make folks who may not be right-wing or pro-West feel welcome to contribute?
I think Eric was being a bit tongue-in-cheek. We're certainly not limiting contributions to those from the right wing. Christopher Hitchens, hardly a right-winger, had some of the best September 11 commentary around. My personal favorite non-Lileks 9/11 post was from a leftist punk rocker on Dr. Frank's site for whom the attacks hit personally.

At the same time, and perhaps I'm wrong, there's very little interest in printing Chomsky-style prattle. A "balanced, accurate snapshot" of the Web would include the white supremacists who cheered the collapse of the towers on September 11, Jorn Barger's conspiracy theories implying Israel was behind the attacks, Saudi newspapers telling tales of Jews baking Gentile blood into pastries, Counterpunch's and Robert Fisk's excuses for the terrorists, and Arab newspapers on alternate days applauding Osama Bin Laden for his bold strike and denying that he had anything to do with it. It would include masses of frankly unreadable attempts at writing from people of all viewpoints. Such a "core sample" may be the source of an interesting sociological analysis, but it's not the goal of this compilation. I don't believe in the definition of "objectivity" that says you don't call a terrorist a terrorist because someone might disagree with that assessment, or that the talking head condemning suicide-bombing pizzerias has to be "balanced" by a supporter of the practice. There's going to be biases in the finished work, biases towards good writing, biases towards tolerance and pluralism, and biases towards the belief that crashing fuel-and passenger-laden jumbo jets into skyscrapers is not a laudable act and that there's something wrong with those that suggest otherwise.

If that's not the book you want written, we're fortunate enough to live in a free society that permits you to write a different one.

MEMORY HOLE UPDATE: Because the author is an idiot, the original version of this post misidentified Mr. Kottke as "Brett"