I like Kos. Some people have problems with him because they think he's grown too big and is eclipsing the smaller bloggers or because of his famous temper. Neither of those bother me. I would rather be bigger blogger myself, but I don't believe the biggest sites are stealing all of the sunlight. I think his temper is part of his voice and I agreed with his famous "mercenaries" comment. But--and you knew this paragraph was leading to a "but"--over the last couple days I saw something in his outbursts that I had never noticed before.
Friday, Carol Darr of something called the Institute for Politics, Democracy, and the Internet at George Washington University managed to get under his skin in her comments to the Federal Election Commission on proposed rules for the internet. This is an issue of interest to all political bloggers and the Kos team have been right at the front since the beginning. So Kos has strong feelings on this matter. In the course of taking apart one of Darr's points, Kos said:
Make no mistake, this attempt by Ms. Darr is just the latest by academic pinheads to degrade the role of citizens in the media space.
These campus blogethicists like Carol Darr at IPDI love to pontificate about the harm that bloggers cause their precious profession, even as they fail to understand that bloggers are, in huge part, a response to the failings of their profession. So they pontificate from their ivory towers, oblivious to the excesses and failures of "legitimate" journalists around them.
Last night he fired back at some readers who complained about a tacky ad that ran on the site over the weekend. The ad, for a reality show, featured large-breasted, wet women wrestling.
But I am not Lieberman. I won't sit there and judge pop culture and act as gatekeeper to what I think is "appropriate", and what isn't.
And I certainly won't let the sanctimonious women's studies set play that role on this site.
To be fair, Kos somewhat apologised for the last shot:
It's a fair critique, and duly noted. I stand by everything else written, which is offensive enough to some people as is. But I honestly didn't mean to smear anyone who has ever taken a women's studies course, or majored or minored or gotten an advance degree in it. Just what is, to me, a small, extremist set looking for signs of female subjugation under every rock. So yeah, a poor choice of words that cast the net far too wide to cover the people that have, in fact, pissed me off.
In both cases, Kos reacted with the passion of a parent defending his children from assault, the children being blogging in general and Daily Kos in particular. That's understandable. And, as I said, that very passion is one of the things that makes Kos Kos.
Let's ignore the content of both issues and just look at the words he uses when he lashes out: "academic pinheads," "pontificate from their ivory towers," the "women's studies set." This kind of language is the stuff we hear every day from Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. These are classic stereotypes of right-wing populism. When looking for a bludgeon, why does he grab anti-intellectualism and anti-education?
Once again, I'm not taking a side in either of the issues that brought on these outbursts and I want to be sure to give him all credit due for understanding that the latter was "a poor choice of words." But it worries me that his first instinct was to choose those words. Many of the people on his side are "academic pinheads." Some might even be in Women's Studies. Hasn't he read his Horowitz? Doesn't he know that academia is, to a person, a bunch left-leaning socialists?
I'll joke, but this isn't a light issue for me. If his critics had been non-white would his first instinct have been to launch ethnic slurs? No! Of course not. So why the anti-intellectualism?