Monday, July 03, 2006

Analogy

There's a debate in the comments here regarding Michelle Malkin's decision not to remove the press release issued by members of Students Against War, a UC-Santa Cruz activist group.

The press release included the home phone numbers of the students. Zuzu at Feministe says the contact information was included mistakenly and that, when asked to remove the information, Malkin declined to do so. In the comments, meanwhile, Jim Treacher says Malkin denies ever having been asked by the students to remove it.

Both Jim and Darleen Click also point out that it's a press release, which is by definition public, and Jim for one doubts the students would include their contact info "mistakenly." I am inclined to agree on that point, as it's my understanding that when issuing a press release, there's some editorial review before the whole thing is approved for release. I think it's far more likely they DID mean to include it, never expecting to encounter the backlash they received.

But honestly, that's immaterial to me. Here's how I see it:

In the late 1980s sometime--I don't remember the exact year for, um, herbal reasons--I attended an REM concert at a depressing little outdoor venue called the Mesa Amphitheatre. Go ahead and GLORY in the cheesiness of that web site. I dare you. Believe me when I say it doesn't to justice to the cheesiness of the venue itself. And more proof that you shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet: The site's claims to the contrary, Mesa categorically DOES NOT ROCK.

I'm lifting one of the photos from the site because I need to explain something about the setup at the Amphitheatre back then:



See that concrete area down in front of the stage? That used to be a moat.

No, really. A MOAT. FILLED WITH WATER.

Guess where they ran a lot of the electrical cables needed for the lighting, amplifiers, etc.? Did you guess "through the moat?" Did you guess "through the moat filled with water?"

So I'm at this REM show and the crowd's going crazy and people are being assholes and trying to dunk each other in the moat. And Michael Stipe stops the show and goes totally high-school principal on the crowd, telling them that if ONE MORE PERSON goes anywhere near that fucking moat, the band's gonna quit playing THAT INSTANT and walk off the stage and if you don't like it, kids, then STAY THE HELL OUT OF THE MOAT.

And I remember at the time I was righteously indignant. I kept saying to my friend (this guy, actually), "I get what he's saying and I know he had to say it and all, but did he have to be such a dick about it?"

But that was then, when I was a stupid kid. Looking back on it, I realize: Yes, he did. He did have to be that much of a dick about it. It was the only way to make sure no one got electrocuted.

It wasn't REM's fault that the Mesa Amphitheatre had such a dangerous setup. It wasn't REM's fault that the kids were getting too rowdy. And it damn sure wasn't REM's responsibility to try to solve the problem.

Nevertheless, REM was in the best position to solve the problem. The kids would have ignored reprimands by the security staff. They would have ignored reprimands by the stage hands. They would have hooted and jeered at reprimands from the police. But the band threatening to walk off the stage? Oh, that got their attention, you bet.

Coming back around to the Malkin vs. UC-Santa Cruz thing, then: I don't care whether the students meant to put that information on the release or not. I don't care whether Malkin issued a one-line statement saying she doesn't condone death threats. I don't care whether they did or did not ask her to remove the release. But about that, a question: Why wouldn't they ask her? Just to make her look bad? Doesn't that imply they were probably lying about the death threats? But after what's gone on this weekend, do you really think they were lying about the death threats?

What I care about is who's in the best position to put a stop to the nonsense. And there, I think, the answer is "Michelle Malkin." Whether she condones death threats or she doesn't, it appears people were issuing them, and they were able to issue them on the basis of materials she posted and left posted. That puts her in the position of being best able to resolve the matter--whether or not it's her fault and whether or not it's her responsibility.

Sometimes you have to be a hardass to prevent a bad outcome. That's how I see it. You can dicker about who's to blame and who's responsible after you get the kids away from the moat.

12 comments:

Roxanne said...

I send out press releases pretty regularly for my job. Not once has any reporter or columnist I've sent a press release to published my work contact info. That would be unprofessional and silly.

jim treacher said...

"But about that, a question: Why wouldn't they ask her? Just to make her look bad? Doesn't that imply they were probably lying about the death threats? But after what's gone on this weekend, do you really think they were lying about the death threats?"

Well, I just listened to a theory that she knew exactly how the whole thing was going to play out when she originally ran the stuff from the press release. So I guess the countertheory would be that THEY'RE the Machiavellian supergeniuses. I tend to think it was just a bad situation between two sides that were absolutely convinced they were right and absolutely unwilling to believe anything the other side said, and it escalated from there.

As for the rest, well said, and you could be right.

Zendo Deb said...

As far as I can see, anyone who got electrocuted at that concert you attended would have been a shoe-in for the Darwin Awards. Stupid behavior is often rewarded that way.

It is not my job to protect you from your own insanity. If you play in traffic, you will get hit. If you play with electricity and water, you will get electrocuted. If you say stupid things, and sign your real name - and address or phone number - you will attrack undesirable people. Hell you don't have to say stupid things.

Actions come bundled with consequences. Americans today don't like to think about that. Sounds too much like judgement. See this Kipling Poem for some truth about the world the consequences of actions.

Recognizing and accepting the consequences of your actions is called being a responsible adult.

M.M. COPIED the contact information from the web - not from a piece of snail mail press release that had been mailed to her .... Rule 1 of internet conduct: Don't put your personal contact information on the web.

Rule 2 of internet conduct: Don't put your personal contact information on the web.

ilyka said...

Actions come bundled with consequences. Americans today don't like to think about that.

Oh spare me the "we've gone soft As A Nation" horseshit, would you? And then tell me you'd say exactly the same thing if it were campus Republicans versus Michael Moore.

jim treacher said...

And getting back to how it relates to newspapers publishing details of classified programs and private information about government officials, I still don't see the connection between that and what Malkin did. Whatever anybody thinks her intent was, or how she handled the subsequent trainwreck, she didn't publish any private information.

ilyka said...

Whatever anybody thinks her intent was, or how she handled the subsequent trainwreck, she didn't publish any private information.

I'll agree with that. It's the whole reason I did this up separate instead of as an update to the previous post (well, that and the length): I didn't want to conflate the two.

I still think the photo's the most damning thing; they had to lead with the security camera? "Here, this is the first thing you want to disable when you make your move." Shit, I watch homes-of-the-famous type programs all the time (I'm not proud!) and they're never focused on the security system. They're about the draperies or the parquet flooring or the mission-style archways or whatever.

Darleen said...

And then tell me you'd say exactly the same thing if it were campus Republicans versus Michael Moore.

I sure would. And I would expect if there were actual death threats that said students took the emails directly to the local pd and file reports.

Let's say I'm a bit cynical about people claiming threats then refusing to show the evidence.

btw, roxanne?

I used to write a lot of press releases, too, and there was public contact info so the actual public that was to be informed of the event would know where to come for additional information.

I never got hate mail or death threats, but then I wanted the public to come to band concerts, not physically threaten and run military recruiters off a public college campus.

Zendo Deb said...

Stupid behavior is stupid behavior whether it is being carried out by Republicans or Democrats.

And there are a whole group of people who don't want to accept consequences for their actions - or expect others to do so.

The British are actually talking about either outlawing French Fries, or at least refusing to sell them to overweight people - because it is for their own good, and we shouldn't have to expect them to be responsible.

Hell the whole Social Security pyramid scheme is predicated on the idea that people are too lazy or too stupid to save for retirement, or carry enough insurance if they get disabled. All of which may be true. Why should I be forced to take care of them? (Charity is one thing, but the government putting a gun to my head and taking my money isn't charity)

The right does the same kind of thing when the legislate morality (think prohibition and "demon rum"), limit my access to information based on what the censors deem indecent, etc.

Darleen said...

Is this strong enough?

Conservative readers have asked me to publish the private home addresses of NYTimes reporters, editors, and photographers.

My response: NO.

I refuse to do it. I strongly urge others not to do it. Your home is your castle. It should be, anyway. There are some legitimate, narrow circumstances under which publicizing a private home address makes sense (the Kelo case, for example, or the counterprotest at Justice David Souter's New Hampshire home, or documenting the erosion of the California coastline). But "For The Hell Of It" is not one of those reasons, in my book.

ilyka said...

Thanks for the tip, Darleen. And good for her! I think that was very fair, very strong.

Kenneth Walsh said...

That concert was great!

I still have the review I wrote for the Mesa Legend (!) that includes quotes from my mini-interview with Michael Stiple after the show.

Now if only Tom Bailey had asked Wunder Elf to get in the moat ...

ilyka said...

I still have the ticket stub you got autographed for me somewhere, I think. Not sure if it survived this last move or not.

Now if only Tom Bailey had asked Wunder Elf to get in the moat

Now, now. I am pretty sure she would not have entered the moat for anyone other than Tim Finn. :)