Blog Hooligans and Rock Show Riots

Tucker, Young, Johnson and Ginn

Progressive blogger Jeremy Young, in the comment section of his taking-to-task of Durham in Wonderland critic Charles Piot, says the following about fellow historian and Duke rape case blogger KC Johnson (Piot more or less blamed Johnson personally for offensive comments on left of Johnson's blog and an anonymous threating e-mail he received):

I don't believe KC has crossed the line just because of his blog comments, but he has an obligation as a blog proprietor to wade into the comment section and set a certain tone there, just as I am doing here. In my admittedly limited observation, he has not done that. I understand that he didn't have as much experience with a large and raucus comment section as I do (I blogged at Daily Kos for three and a half years before starting this place, so I know how to handle disruptive commenters), but he might have asked for help or advice if he wasn't sure how to handle the situation.

Unless I'm misreading it, Young should have said "his blog's comments". Young's belief that Johnson is responsible for the behavior of his audience reminded me of the criticism thrown at Black Flag for not policing the violent behavior of a portion of their audiences at early punk rock shows in Los Angeles. Check out Ken Tucker's 1981 review of Black Flag's Six Pack 45 published in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner:

I've Heard It Before and Six Pack are good songs but Black Flag proves a point of pop music theory: you can't isolate the music from the artists. When you see a band presiding - or rather declining to preside - over a sea of shoving, rancorous fans as Black Flag does regularly in concert, you begin to wonder about the band's motives. My own impression after seeing Black Flag half a dozen times is that they're either sympathetic to the hostile atmosphere their concerts create, or their noncommittal attitude is part of the act, an image that says, in essence, "We're so cool that we're not shocked by your violence." And while the music the band makes is better than worthwhile neither of the attitudes described above is effective as an aesthetic strategy. Until Black Flag figures out what to do with the enormous rage implicit in both their music and their fans, all of their eloquent anarcho-nihilist philosophizing will remain the worst sort of dilettante bunk; let's hope they keep the records coming, though.

During confrontations between kids and cops at Black Flag shows, the band would continue to play. The cops would cut the PA, but the band's amplifiers were plugged in elsewhere and Dez Cardena would take up screaming into his dead microphone. The police would have to unplug all of the band's equipment and take Roberto Valverde's drumsticks away before the music would stop.

I've read Johnson's blog, and the comments there aren't any worse than what you'd find at DailyKos (except that, in the eyes of Young, they often come from cultural conservatives). Any heavily trafficed blog that takes on highly polarized issues and events is going to draw heated comments that devolve into shouting matches, and the anonymity doesn't do much for civility in the first place. Johnson deletes the worst of the worst and lets the rest stand on their own. Criticisms like Young's strike me as conspicuously peripheral. He's picking up where Piot left off in going after the atmosphere created by Johnson's blog. More specifically, not the atmosphere Johnson has actively created, but the one that has resulted from Johnson not wasting his time chastising flamers.

Johnson has gone after the silliest of extreme liberals in academia. The problem for the far left is that he's been extremely thorough and transparent while doing so. Instead of criticizing his coverage of events and the conclusions he has drawn, which would be more difficult, it's his failure to police other people that draws ire?

If the world of rock caved to Tucker's wishes we'd be left with nothing but U2 and Bruce Springsteen, and with  people getting stabbed, as opposed to someone flaming a blog, the stakes were a lot higher back then.

On an completely unrelated note: Finally.

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