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April 5, 2004
The Voice of Reason

Up to now, I have studiously avoided the Kos controversy for a number of reasons. One, I thought that other bloggers already had a good handle on the situation, and I didn't think that a me-tooism would be much of an addition. For another, I wanted to see how the situation developed before writing about it. Lastly, and most importantly, I have a friend working for a security contractor in Iraq and didn't think I could write dispassionately enough about my reaction to Kos' post.

For the three of you in the blogosphere who haven't heard, Markos Zuniga -- the blogger who runs the phenomenally successful left-wing blog, The Daily Kos -- posted his reaction to the horrific deaths and disgusting aftermath of four Blackwater Security contractors in Falluja last week. Scorning the men as mercenaries, Kos said: "Screw them." He figured they got what they deserved.

The blogosphere blew up at the insult, as well they should; Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit linked to the post and the reactions, and it mushroomed from there. Kos' advertisers were contacted, and a number of them withdrew, including several Democratic politicians running for office -- the most well-known of which was John Kerry. Zuniga, who had been a very effective fundraiser for Democrats, suddenly found himself persona non grata in some circles as people actively avoided associations with him and his blog.

Now, Reason has an article posted on its site titled "Outrage Kabuki" by Julian Sanchez which analyzes the response of the blogosphere:

The scope of the backlash should be at least a bit surprising in a medium where calls to "raze Fallujah" are uncritically linked alongside some of the strongest denunciations of Kos, where wishing for pro-Palestinian activist Rachel Corrie, crushed by an Israeli bulldozer last year, to "burn in hell" is fairly standard stuff. Even in the notoriously bilious world of talk radio, frequently at least as offensive as the more virulent blogs, only rarely does an off-color comment provoke such a firestorm, despite reaching a far wider audience.

Sanchez makes a good point. Without naming the blogs myself -- some of which are on my blogroll -- outrageous statements are the lingua franca of the political blogosphere. While I heartily agreed with the passionate response to Kos' sneering insults, and have no problem with the market approach of protesting to advertisers, some bloggers just have no room to complain. A quick review of their own writings (leaving out commenters) will reveal exhortations to annihilate some group of people, such as the Palestinians or the Iranians, or a specific city like Falluja in the aftermath of the attack. Put into context, it's hard to differentiate between the vitriol on the left or right -- except in this case, the vitriol was aimed at Americans.

What separates Kos from most of the rest of us is the commercial nature of his site, and his association with the power structure of the Left. Had a fringe site posted the same commentary, few would have noticed and most of those wouldn't have bothered to do much more than use it as an example of the bankruptcy of the Left. Instead, and rightly so, Kos became a test example of how far the Left would go in associating itself in hate speech -- which is exactly what that was.

Read the whole article. Reason questions the effect this episode will have on the freewheeling nature of the blogosphere, and I think they may have a point, at least regarding those few bloggers who make it into mainstream politics or journalism.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 5, 2004 6:25 PM

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