Can We Impeach This Idiot?
As a general matter, I think blog triumphalists are tools -- particularly when they're Instacracker/Jeff Jarvis types whose beliefs are fueled by liberal media fantasies. (Waiting, checkbook in hand, for that Pajamas Media IPO? Thought not.)
But Judge Dick Posner takes it to the other idiotic extreme:
How can the conventional news media hope to compete? Especially when the competition is not entirely fair. The bloggers are parasitical on the conventional media. They copy the news and opinion generated by the conventional media, often at considerable expense, without picking up any of the tab. The degree of parasitism is striking in the case of those blogs that provide their readers with links to newspaper articles. The links enable the audience to read the articles without buying the newspaper. The legitimate gripe of the conventional media is not that bloggers undermine the overall accuracy of news reporting, but that they are free riders who may in the long run undermine the ability of the conventional media to finance the very reporting on which bloggers depend.
Those accursed bloggers! Allowing blogreaders to read for free on the internet the newspapers that they'd, uh, otherwise be able to read for free on the internet.
You can thank me later.
But it's not all doom and gloom for Posner. The upside is a blogs as flypaper theory:
The argument for filtering is an argument for censorship. (That it is made by liberals is evidence that everyone secretly favors censorship of the opinions he fears.) But probably there is little harm and some good in unfiltered media. They enable unorthodox views to get a hearing. They get 12 million people to write rather than just stare passively at a screen. In an age of specialization and professionalism, they give amateurs a platform. They allow people to blow off steam who might otherwise adopt more dangerous forms of self-expression. They even enable the authorities to keep tabs on potential troublemakers; intelligence and law enforcement agencies devote substantial resources to monitoring blogs and Internet chat rooms.
The good isn't freedom of expression, the exchange of ideas or political empowerment; it's keeping the looneys where we can see them.
I know blogging keeps me and my high-powered rifle off the roof. Most of the time.
And I'm glad to learn the feds are keeping an eye on the likes of email@example.com.
Perhaps the real reason Poz loathes bloggers is that even unprofessional wackos like myself can kick the ass of the Posner/Becker Blog. That's gotta hurt a public intellectual. Particularly one who doesn't give too much thought about what he publishes.