Live blogging faith-based blogging.....

An evangelical Christian I am not. But I have been sitting here experiencing La Shawn Barber's panel on Faith-Based/Evangelical Blogging, and I have to say there's more feeling in this room right now than in any other panel I've experienced so far.

During the discussion of definitions and terminology, I described myself as a "Pantheist" who believes in fairness, and pointed out my beef with the inability of people to talk to (instead of at) each other. Why, I asked, does "theocrat" only seem to mean Christian?

There's now some discussion of whether faith based blogging is political. Ed Cone and Donald Sensing both mentioned a North Carolina church which expelled all Democrats. Reverend Sensing opined that such a church should lose its tax exempt status, noting that his faith comes before his politics, but the latter is not dependent on the former.

Ed Cone just said that he and his family support gay rights, and he doesn't like being told that makes him (or his family) "against family values." Ed thinks weblogs can bridge some of this gap.

Things are getting lively. I'm glad I chose this panel.

More later as it comes, I hope....

It's very exciting to see the independence of thought, the intelligence, and the imagination of people so often stereotyped as Bible thumping bigots.

MORE: Liveliness aside, I was quite struck by the civility and lack of contentiousness at this panel, despite obvious and profound disagreement.

Right now I'm attending Mark Glaser's panel on protecting bloggers, which means I'm missing the contentiousness here.

Can't be two places at once!

MORE: Well, I tried to be in two places at once, and I just saw Dave Winer go ballistic because he thought someone in his audience laughed at what he'd just said about being in a global environment. He really yelled at the guy, too. Said it was the most abusive thing he'd ever seen or something.


I don't think Mr. Winer would especially like my sense of humor. Anyway, I returned to the panel on Protecting Bloggers.

MORE: I tracked down the guy who got in trouble for laughing. His name is Stan Brown, he has a blog, and with all due respect I think Mr. Winer may be confusing disrespect with the failure to be a stuffed shirt.

UPDATE: Les Jones saw the whole trainwreck thing, and said this:

Early on, Winer semi-admonished Robin Burk from Winds of Change when she casually mentioned posters and commentors in the course of her comment. Winer stopped her and said he didn't believe dividing people into posters and commentors because he doesn't believe in hierarchies.

That was a feel-good groaner in and of itself, but he became a hypocrite once disagreement started by playing the speaker card, saying he was the leader today and that if Allen Forkum John Cox didn't like it he could leave. Winer made the classic passive-aggressive mistake of starting out pretending to be incredibly permissive and then being forced to turn into Attila the facilitator to regain control.

There's more, and I never realized how moronic I was about RSS.

Q. How come I never paid attention to Dave Winer before this?

A. Because I'm stupid, obviously.

Earlier this evening I was sitting around the lobby talking with Trey Jackson (who has a noticeable Southern accent), and Dave Winer came up and said "Hey, Y'AAAALLL!" He might have meant well, although I could have sworn I detected an undertone of disrespect in his voice. And so without thinking, right away I blurted out, "I'm from Philadelphia!"

Then I realized I really didn't have to be defending myself. (After all, he wasn't making fun of MY Southern accent.) But Dave Winer would be the first to condemn prejudice based on region, so I must be misreading this, right? See how easily a perfectly innocent remark can be misread?

This is getting to be contagious, and I obviously need a lecture on civility.

Can we get along?

MORE: Dave Winer answers, sort of:

Most red state and blue state people can get along, even like each other, were it not for a very small number of people who won't let the conversation take place. Five people dominated, if they hadn't, I think we would have found lots of shared values.

(Via Sean Hackbarth.)

It would never have occurred to me that red state and blue state people might not be able to get along. I try to get along with people who disagree with me -- even if they laugh at me, and even if they are disrespectful. As I've said before, problems arise when one man's disagreement is seen as another man's disrespect.

It's also complicated by the fact that it is entirely possible to respect a person without respecting his opinion on a given subject. Respecting another person is what we call civility. Must that necessarily mean respect for opinions unworthy of respect?

Claiming that you respect a person's opinions when you don't is dishonest.

Believing that you respect a person's opinions when you don't is self deception.

I don't think it assists this inquiry to maintain blindly that all opinions are entitled to respect no matter how absurd. Is it possible to "respect" the opinion that the earth is flat? That the white race was created in a test tube by an evil black doctor? Where is the line drawn? Clearly, there is a right to be wrong, and there is a right to be treated with respect. But it smacks of tyrannical mind control to tell me that I must really and truly respect opinions I consider ridiculous. I'd never expect anyone who thinks my opinions are unworthy of respect to respect them. Is Dave Winer demanding dishonesty from people?

If so, how does that further the cause of respect?

MORE: Ian at The Political Teen has the video of the interaction between Dave Winer and Stan Brown.

posted by Eric on 05.07.05 at 03:40 PM


This has been the most lively discussion at any of the blog panels I've been to at all the conferences.

Matthew Sheffield   ·  May 7, 2005 3:48 PM

Why, I asked, does "theocrat" only seem to mean Christian?

"Theocrat" only means Christian in this country because the only theocracy problem we have is with some particular Christians. That's where the power is. Thus, that is where the criticism is directed.

Instafaggot   ·  May 9, 2005 7:20 AM

Stan did laugh, and I can identify with the gut reaction Dave had. It is pretty condescending and disgusting. On the other hand, some people might consider it just "playful". But Dave didn't just THINK that Stan laughed. Stan shook his head, put his head down, and (I was behind him, so I dodn't see, but from Dave's reaction, probably had a grin on his face that said he was condescending to that remark. I say that becuase I've been on both ends of those. But I also wish Dave would have pointed that out a little less forcefully, in an effort to spare the guy the embarassment that Dave might have felt. Both guys failed the Respectful Test on that one.

Actually, I wanted to laugh when Stan said "I think the econonomy's in GREAT shape", but I thought that might be considered disrespectful (and it would be). But sometimes, people do that (laugh) as a way to lighten up, not comment on the value of what was just said.


Dale   ·  May 9, 2005 11:23 AM

Being laughed at goes with the turf. I've experienced far worse things because people disagreed with me. I'm a bit surprised that a guy in Dave Winer's position doesn't have a thicker skin.

Maybe I should be more skeptical?

Eric Scheie   ·  May 9, 2005 11:32 AM

I also said something like that in my comment. I thought also that Dave should have thicker skin. But "goes with the turf" , although a "real world" reminder, is not justification for using it ones self. I don't accept that. Not even when I do it.


Dale   ·  May 9, 2005 12:16 PM

I might add, it ESPECIALLY goes with the turf amongst the smug (and again, I have my "smug" times, and to those who disagree with me, that would likely seem a "way" of mine.....and the "smug level" amongst those in power (and their supporters) seems to be at an all time high (recognizing that smug happens on both sides of the aisle, for sure, through me and through Stan, and Dave Winer ---and Glenn Reynolds.


Dale   ·  May 9, 2005 12:20 PM

It's not a justification at all, and I don't laugh at people who are trying to make a serious point. But Winer's reaction -- at a public event -- was out of all proportion to the laughter in question, which wasn't even loud enough for me to hear. It wouldn't surprise me if he'd have freaked out over a dirty look.

Eric Scheie   ·  May 9, 2005 12:28 PM

And I agree with that. It was a bit out of proportion. I just wanted a bit more emphasis and importance on how the laugh ALSO is out of bounds, thus my point about BOTH of them violating the "boundaries" and becoming confrontive (Stan, laughing, and Dave, using too harsh a confrontation to call Stan on it. Recently I had a debate with a family member where I asked them to name me and instance of something they had just claimed, and when they coudn't, I kind of nodded my head as if to say "I thought so" and they hit the roof; "That right there just pisses me off" they said. So condescending (and in a way, it was)

NOt only did I fond the whole thing instructive and fascinating, so I find the ensuing discussion here and elsewhere (another in a long list of blog positive contributions to conversation) and however longer it goes, to be as well.

Dale   ·  May 9, 2005 1:55 PM

I was sitting immediately in front of Stan and I could not hear him laughing. I personally was amused at Dave's comment about the economy, because it was so stereotypical of the liberal talking points. I was unnerved when I looked up from live blogging the event to see Dave staring in my direction and flaming. I was relieved when it was Stan with whom he was mad at. The person next to me had the same reaction thinking he was blasting them.

I have been reading Dave for a number of years and he has always been notoriously thin skinned. I even asked him why he was leading this session with this topic when it so ill suited him. We had an interesting discussion that was saved by the commonality of being born in New York and living in the South.

I think if Dave had given a talk over about the history and opportunities in blogging, he would be roundly hailed today as a visionary. However, that is not the case.

Tom   ·  May 9, 2005 2:40 PM

What Winer fails to understand was that BlogNashville was held on the campus of a university that hosted a John Kerry campaign appearance that drew a very large crowd of students ON A SATURDAY MORNING. And that university is located in the most liberal section of Nashville, a neighborhood still dotted with "Why War?, Wage Peace" signs more than 2 years after the invasion of Iraq. And that Nashville itself is a "blue" city that voted for Kerry, Gore, etc...

His reference to holding a future conference in a "blue state" seems to indicate that he thinks that a state is all one color or the other. But that's not the case, of course. Step aside the big cities of California and you're in a red zone.

What seems to gnaw at Winer is that, by holding BlogNashville in a blue city in a red state, we managed to attract both conservatives and liberals as speakers and as attendees. Perhaps he is much more comfortable with people like himself, who agree with him all the time on everything, and treat him and his views with all the respect he dictates.

Bill Hobbs   ·  May 12, 2005 1:16 PM

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