Friday, July 13, 2007

Experimentation on Live Fetuses and Rhetorical Glass Houses.

I'll tell everyone why I was impressed with the response I received from Pat Tiberi's office. It was an invitation/provocation designed to start me talking about myself. This is brilliant because bloggers by nature are prone to talking about themselves, and because it completely changes the subject from a very sticky topic.

Finally, it is brilliant because it succeeds. See, here I am. The reason I sent an email to Rep. Tiberi and asked for a response instead of simply tearing into the Flashpoints piece and trying to hang it around his neck was because I actually imagined that his involvement was pretty much as he eventually described it. As far as he's gone with his own rhetoric, especially since the election, an Apocolyptic End-Times call to Vanquish the Democratic Architects of Chaos hasn't been his style, and I thought he should get an opporunity to state what he didn't agree with before I rebutted those thing which he actually intended to say. Nevertheless, he has yet to actually disavow any particular bit of the piece, or indicate that he has asked to have his name removed from the contributor's list.

His defense, in a nutshell, is that bloggers in glass houses might perhaps not throw stones. I should explain that I did not identify myself as a blogger in my direct correspondence, but that I was confident that his office would be aware of the accompanying blog-post. Because of this, I assume, Pat followed that convention and did not identify me, the recipient of the letter, as the blogger who made the "tried to murder your children" post, while assuming that I would recognize that he indeed knew we were the same person. Understanding that, I translated that part of the letter as: "I can't believe that someone who told the world I murder children is lecturing me on out-of-bounds rhetoric."

This might seem like a reasonable complaint. It's not, though. Not really. I'll start with the principle which would apply if the facts were actually as Mr. Tiberi would have the world believe that they are. I will then explain why his facts are wrong.

The principle: I'm a blogger. He's a United States Representative. My domain is His domain is In addition to my name, I refer to myself using the name of man's closest relative in the animal world, the bonobo, most widely known for better or for worse as the animal other than man that shows a variety of non-reproductive sexual behaviors. He uses the title "Honorable" with a capital "H." It may seem like a disadvantage at times to a person in Mr. Tiberi's position, but we as a society hold our Representatives to higher standards than we hold bloggers. There are ongoing and often heated discussions as to what standards bloggers do or should adhere to, but I have never heard it suggested that whatever minimum standards are applied to bloggers, we should feel comfortable with our Congressman adopting those standards as their own. Any claim of equivalence is patently absurd. Elect me to Congress and you can be quite sure that I would hold my public speech to a much higher standard than that of the blogosphere.

The facts: I do, nevertheless, have personal standards that I attempt to meet, and my rhetoric in has been no more extreme than Mr. Tiberi's. The post in question is actually a post-within-a-post, called "Pat Tiberi Tried to Murder Your Children." The point of the piece was to simultaneously blast Republican fear-mongering, and point out the huge problems with the bills regarding detainees that Tiberi was supporting. The remarkable thing about that post, to me, has always been that I didn't just go ahead and post it as its own piece. I felt the need to blather on for a page about what I actually meant and how, as silly as it sounded, I felt the need to explicitly state the patent absurdity of the piece as a literal claim, before I actually let anyone read it. I was afraid that it would get quoted out of context and be used to smear the candidate I was supporting, even though I had few readers at the time.

Mr. Tiberi, on the other hand, later sent out a direct mail piece falsely accusing his opponent of supporting experimentation on live fetuses.

After the election, I have rarely (if at all) written anything with any kind of antipathy toward Mr. Tiberi other than in response to his own blog-like writings that have appeared on his House website or as LTEs. As always, consider the source, but I think that even someone who wrote a particular piece about Mr. Tiberi as a child-killing terrorist does have the moral high-ground to lecture him on this issue. I mentioned in a somewhat serious conversation recently that I was shocked at Tiberi's writings and his response to being in the minority. I thought he was throwing away everything that had kept him 15 points ahead of the GOP in his home district. It's certainly not my intention to help him out in '08 (assuming he has an opponent and needs help), but this armchair quarterback sees a thing like this Flashpoints article, and I think that cruising to a 20 point victory again is a whole lot less likely than it seemed six months ago.

So anyway, I don't believe that Pat Tiberi tried to murder your children. I never have. Pat Tiberi might or might not believe that you are allied with the forces of darkness and are scheming to use China as a new model for governance in the U.S., he just wouldn't necessarily put it that way.

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