The attacks last September had a lot of victims, both in the obvious, literal sense and in the countless numbers of us who have suffered smaller losses. I’d count among my losses the pleasure of a weblog I used to read on occasion, Little Green Footballs. Its older incarnation was described quite well by Joe: “Before September 11th, Little Green Footballs was a mildly political, middle-left personal weblog with frequent links about biking, web design and GWBush foibles.”
That was exactly my impression, and it was part of the reason I discovered things like the neat little bit of code called lgf-referrers that powers his referrer list and the "Some Froms" list on my sidebar. Cool geek stuff.
Since the attacks, Charles, at least in the context of his weblog, lost his shit.
There is one topic for Little Green Footballs now: The evils of contemporary Islamic society. That’s it. Sure, it’s explored in its many facets, from people in the U.S. who remain somewhat ambivalent about the causes of Palestinian violence, to those in the world who think that engagement or dialogue might be a more effective way to temper radical fundamentalism in Islamic countries. But always, always, this one topic.
It’s not just the single-mindedness that ruined the site. Topic-specific blogs are often more interesting than general interest weblogs like mine. And Charles has gotten no small amount of traffic for his efforts; In the community of webloggers who write primarily about politics and conflict, there has been plenty of attention focused on LGF. The problem is that there is no discussion.
That there could be a legitimate argument on the other side is never discussed. People with differing opinions are demonized. The worst, most egregious affronts to decency and civil discourse on the site are the comments, which range from biased to unabashedly racist.
Should a person be held responsible for the comments other people leave on his or her site? Normally, I’d say no. For someone who claims that a group ought to be able to control the actions of its most extreme members, I don’t think it’s asking too much for him to set a tone of respect or civility, and to control the comments by banning those who are clearly racist.
Of course, I don’t know that I agree with that sort of censorship, but I’m not the sort to hold an entire group responsible for the actions of some of its members.
Bring back the rest of your weblog, Charles. The interesting parts. There are great immoralities being perpetrated in the name of Islam, no question. I find any government based on the rules of a religion offensive. And I live in New York City, don’t forget, where we hold no truck with terrorists, especially suicidal ones. But what good does it do anyone to preach to an increasingly repulsive choir, working them up into a progressively more offensive frothing at the mouth?
Why don’t people like me (variously identified as webloggers writing about technology, or about the Internet, or about nothing) write about the horrible goings-on in the Middle East? Because we’re too busy building things. Look at the "Searches" linked in your sidebar, listing tips for PHP, or for the Netscape browser. They don’t turn up relevant recent results anymore. Inciting strangers to post their racist ramblings doesn’t accomplish anything. Come back and join us.