More important than the apology to Palin posted below, is an apology to people who are my friends and readers who were bothered by my use of the questioned term. Although many commenters at articles here and elsewhere supported me, many did not.
Steve's invention of the term "Blogger's Tourette," to describe my use of profanity and ad hominem attacks fails to resonate with me. I've used profanity and profane images in my protests for over 40 years. In most instances, I put a lot of thought into my use of profane terms and images before deciding whether to use a term, or not. I can be somewhat impulsive, both at this blog, and in other communications. I don't see that as a bad thing, though.
Frankly, Steve's concern about how politicians in Juneau think about bloggers in general is strange:
As I walk around the Capitol building these days and introduce myself as a blogger, people's eyebrows rise and I hear words like credibility. In part this is due to people like Phil when he's having a bout of blogger Tourettes.
The credibility of Alaska's progressive bloggers doesn't stem from our choices of when we use profanity or the personal nature of the way we fight back when attacked. It rests on other matters, as Eric Boehlert so fully covered in his chapter on our strengths and weaknesses, in his book, Bloggers on the Bus.
Though many friends thought Steve's column was quite funny, I'm more impressed with Mel's arguments, from the point of view of a feminist. Early Saturday, I posted a diary at firedoglake's Seminal, titled Did I Over-React to Threats from Sarahbots Late Last Week? firedoglake is the progressive community where I've gotten to know the most on-line personalities over the longest period of time, and I've made a lot of friends there since early 2005, when I began commenting.
Some of my friends supported me, but some people for whom I have enormous respect were critical of my use of "slut." As an example, my friend Darkblack, whose art has often adorned Progressive Alaska, wrote:
The basic sentiment troubles me not (although the specific word has a rather heavy load for some that envelops it irrespective of intent and context, thus rendering its use problematic) – Unfortunately, using it could be seen as handing a group of one’s enemies a cudgel with no compunctions about violence, and no concerns about any collateral damage during the event.
Unfortunately, regardless off our record as individuals, some terms and images carry so much associated historic baggage that I am inclined to consider their use in any public forum ill-advised.
Palin’s transgressions are the sort that could be committed by a person of either gender. In my opinion using a term in reference to her which has historically been used to demean women is at the very least, needlessly provocative.
then ratfood came back with another comment, after thinking it over for a while:
Ed, I would like to add that the saint/slut dichotomy strikes me as sophomoric and can only detract from the good work that you do. Please pull the plug on that poll as soon as possible.
I didn't. PA ran the poll for its duration. That troubled some people, including Mel.
The two nationally known writers from whom I feel I've learned the most are Howie Klein and Jane Hamsher. Howie uses profanity very seldom, and is careful in the ad hominum area. Jane uses profanity, sometimes to great effect. Her blackface caricature of Joe Lieberman during the 2006 Connecticut senatorial primary battle which Liebernam lost to Ned Lamont is well known. Jane is generally acknowledged to be the person Rahm Emanuel directed his "fucking retards" comment toward last summer. I wrote to Jane after reading Steve's article:
I recall you having to defend your use of profane terms from time to time. Has criticism of this aspect of your writing influenced how you use profanity in posts? I'm sure you try to use such terms sparingly, but are you swearing less, or about the same?Part of her reply was this:
As far as the PC police go, I hate 'em but I try to stay out of their way. Back stage we were laughing our asses off about rahm's foibles but we couldn't say it on the blog without drawing down rashers of shit.
I don't use the "c" word or the "n" word or the "s" word but my skin crawls every time someone has the language nannies jump all over them when their intent isn't [to] malign (though so often it is). But it just isn't worth going to the mat over.
Anyway, for the time being, I'm going to try to clean up my language at PA. I think that both Steve and Mel are right in sensing that use of overly derisive terms puts some off who would otherwise appreciate what I write here.
Thanks to everyone who commented either pro or con on how I termed Palin, and on the poll.
And to those who were offended, I really am sorry.