The Inconvenient TruthJanuary 6, 2007
It’s been interesting observing the roiling soup over at Daily Kos, the accusations and character assassinations flying back and forth, and all the different brawls. There are the brawls instigated by small-fry bullies trying to “make their bones” and impress the admins, and there are the long-standing grudge matches between Major Playahs who, like Japanese movie monsters, occasionally take a break from terrorizing the general population to spend some quality time breathing fire at each other.
It’s a very similar feeling to that I once experienced while sitting in the upper deck at a home opener at Yankee Stadium. Not being a Yankees fan, I didn’t realize until that day that it was a tradition to get insanely drunk at the home opener and start fights with fellow fans. The preferred method appeared to be to throw popcorn and/or beer down on people a few rows below you, and then scream obscenities at them when they turned around to see what the hell was happening. If you did this right, you could engineer quite a considerable free-for-all.
As I looked down from my lofty perch, I saw knots of combatants coalescing all throughout the stadium, the knots growing larger and finally spinning out of control while blue-suited security guards slowly waded towards them. There was a game taking place on the diamond, but nobody seemed to care about it – they were too engrossed in their own personal fights.
Leaving the stadium afterwards, walking down the long ramp toward the street, I was crushed in a mass with thousands of drunken, belligerent men, some of whom were so trashed they could hardly walk, and all of them uttering garbled cries that sounded like the bellowing of cattle going to the slaughter.
I resolved then and there never to go to Yankee Stadium again, under any circumstances.
Watching Daily Kos from afar, I see many similarities to that day at the stadium. It’s truly a toxic environment, wrapped up in its own narcissistic brutality and unsuited to any positive interaction at all, much less achieving a positive change in the world. I was planning to write a detailed account of the events leading up to my banning, with a description of the double standards and favoritism, the ways the “rules” are selectively enforced by a small band of thuggish semi-morons, and the way that lying, deception and manipulation permeate the entire site down from the very top of the hierarchy. This is an excellent example, from the Wizard of Kos himself:
One of the problems we’ve had in the past when people step out of bounds on the site, behavior-wise, is that our choice of responses was limited. We could ban, which was extreme, we could give a public warning, but being publicly called out sometimes elicits the exact opposite kind of response. And as for sending emails, we don’t demand current and working email addresses from our users for privacy reasons.
Now, we have a warning system in place. If someone steps out of bounds (being an asshole in the comments, copyright violation, etc.), an admin can lock down the user’s account. A warning shows up at the top of the page explaining the transgression. The user has to click a button acknowledging he or she has read the warning before being given access to the site.
That sounds good, but the inconvenient truth is that the admins don’t give a rat’s ass about this, at least where it affects people they dislike. When I was banned, I received no such warning. Neither did two other recently-banned Kossacks, whose only offense appeared to be that they said a few things critical of DKos Sacred Cows. On the other hand, two other posters who made a puerile sexist remark about a female front pager were quickly banned, and then, later on, quietly reinstated. These posters must have kissed the proper asses in the proper way.
As I said, I planned to write in detail about all this, but the longer I’ve been out of the Daily Kos environment, the less I give a shit about it. Like the day at Yankee Stadium, the immediate horror and disgust of living through it is past, leaving it a merely trivial episode, good for a laugh.
I only hope that none of the Big Swinging Snools at Daily Kos ever get any real-life power in our government, because if they do, we’re all fucked.
And now, on to bigger, better Supervixenish things. Happy Kosless New Year!