By getting himself in a line-by-line spat, he's walked his interlocutors into something of a trap here. The Geek + a bit of time on said Geek's hands + unequal adversaries = a bit of a bloodbath.
I may print his response to Devil's Kitchen and frame it.
One feature of the argument he is in, though, is the question of satire. It now seems to be taken as read that satire = ridiculing or telling totemic political figures to fuck off. You know the old saying: "...when someone else succeeds, a little part of me dies"? Well, if Swift weren't already be dead, modern 'satirists' wouldn't be speeding his demise.
I'm not going to repeat my argument that this herd of independent minds are guilty of fundamental attribution error by focussing all of their energies on politicians, - or even on political mendacity - because - thanks to the magic of hypertext, I can link to it instead. And I'd suggest that - if Mr Eugenides were to pop down to the library for a copy of Mr Bourdieu's 'On Television and Journalism' , he may recognise the irrelevance of his 'you started it' line towards Alistair Campbell on the question: 'who created the climate of distrust between the chattering classes and politicians?'
Either way, I'm beginning to think that this 'Code of Conduct' idea is worth thinking about. Not a common one, obviously - everyone can draft their own (or not bother if they don't want to). It would just help you work out which ones are worth reading. It would also add another pressure on us all to raise our game a bit. For instance, if someone is blogging on politics and public policy, if they didn't acknowledge a need to use their site to improve the quality and productivity of public debate, I'd be able to save myself the effort of reading them in the first place. I'd be happy to pledge that I'd avoid negativism.
Here's a first pass: Whaddaya think?
****** DRAFT ******
I will try to keep an open mind. There are some subjects on which I can comment with some authority. There are others on which I can only ask questions or offer speculative solutions. Wherever possible, I'll be explicit about this.
I will rarely delete comments. I have no rules on profanity. If you want to swear in my comments box, you can. I will probably not be very good at avoiding swearing in my posts. However, if you are simply abusive to me or anyone else, I'll delete it. Trolls will be deleted straight away. Off-topic comments may also have to go unless they're interesting.
I will try not to criticise any substantial position that someone else has taken without trying to indicate what I think is a workable alternative approach. Wherever possible, I will try to demonstrate an understanding of the totality of power relations around any particular issue when I comment. Otherwise, I will ask for help.
If I disagree with a position that someone else has taken, I accept that it would be a mistake not to address the problem that they are aiming to solve and offer my own solution (unless I think that the 'problem' concerned is exaggerated or non-existent, in which case I should say why I think this). I will try and acknowledge counterfactuals fairly.
Personal gossip bores me and I'll avoid it unless it's just too juicy or amusing to ignore. I'll usually avoid promoting my own business interests, though I have a few qualifications to this rule. Firstly, as a co-owner of the business I work in, I have helped to shape the work it does. My enthusiasms have shaped some of our services, and promoting my enthusiasms may have the by-product of promoting our business objectives. Wherever possible, I'll declare interests.
Also, my work gives me some insights that I wouldn't have otherwise. I may use these insights on the blog, but - again - I'll try to acknowledge any interests I have.
I acknowledge that it is easier to attract readers and supporters by advancing populist or simplistic arguments. I'd rather have ten readers reading what I really think that ten thousand reading what I pretend that I think.
I will also try to provide my own suggestions on policy and amplify (or constructively criticise) the suggestions of others. I will try to raise the quality of debate by contributing perspectives that are not commonly discussed.
I will not always be serious. I will sometimes advance an argument in order to provoke an interesting argument. I'll post on all sorts of subjects, as I please. This code won't be rigourously applied to posts in which I'm trying to be funny, talk about football, horse racing, music or any of my pet hates.
By blog carries no quality guarantee. My jokes are often weak, and my logic is often flawed. I won't correct anyone else's spelling (unless there's a joke in it) and I will be rude to anyone who makes cheap points about mine. I don't have the time that paid writers have for redrafting and tidying up. This blog is a sandpit in this respect. I partly use it to find out what I think, so be nice.
****** That's it, for now ******
So, go on, wdyt?
Update 8.12.06: I originally wrote "I will struggle to avoid swearing in my posts. " I've rephrased this as "I will probably not be very good at avoiding swearing in my posts" just in case the original wasn't clear.