Friends, this blog and my blog culture are not yet a year old, and it shows in my newbie fascination with tired old blogtastic shenanigans. The instance in question is an intermittently interesting discussion at scatterplot about the racism, or not, of this cartoon:
As usual I’m simultaneously interested in both the conversation’s topic and its dynamics. And regarding the latter, my no-shit-Sherlock observation is that it’s very difficult to develop an analysis under certain conditions common to the blogosphere, among them systematic confusion of premises and conclusions and, as Jeremy says there, quick devolution of charged discussions into ideological preening. Of course, as a student of the history of marxism I know this can be accomplished without new media as well.
Along these lines the one I like the best is the one where it turns out we’re not having an investigative dialogue among human beings articulating reasoned hypotheses but a dogmatic monologue against avatars of hopelessly stupid counterpositions. Reading what someone actually wrote is so beside the point. The sport is then to load up the blunderbuss with whatever crap you’re carrying around in your pockets and blow away these dodos.
I am such an Enlightenment geek! No matter how often it happens, it’s weird and awesome to see “Carl” turn into whatever dodo the gunners happen to be hunting that day.
UPDATE: The topic here is communication, but if actual analysis of the cartoon interests you please visit Prof. Susurro’s outstanding post detailing the long history of racist imagery that can be read out of and into it. She follows up in a later post on the public debate. I’m not entirely on board with Susurro’s conclusions, but she knows how to construct a case.