Rory Litwin critical of LISNews

The most recent issue of Library Juice includes an essay by editor Roy Litwin. He reflects on Blake Carver's decision in February to encourage more conservative contributors to LISNews.

When Blake made his original announcement, I linked to it in Library Juice and called it "Batty." It seemed batty to me for Blake to describe his own site as a "liberal echo chamber" when to me it had for years seemed like one of the more politically conservative sources of information relating to librarianship available, in terms of the stories that were posted, but especially the comments that people were leaving. The belligerant, "AM Talk Radio" style of much if not most of the discussion on LISNews had led me to stop posting stories there roughly a year earlier and to stop reading the site almost completely. A year ago it already seemed, to me, that LISNews had, far from being a "liberal echo chamber," been taken over by a right wing librarian's militia group.

So, basically I am still disturbed by Blake's sentiments about his site and about politics in the library community. It comes as a surprise and a disappointment. If you are a reader of LISNews, I hope you will read it with a critical eye and an awareness of this development.

I would like to add that I have nearly stopped reading the comments in recent weeks. Mainly because my work load has increased and my free time has decreased, but also because it seems to be the same folks, beating each other up over the same issues. Sometimes I get the feeling that my moderate, left-leaning opinion isn't wanted here.

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Gee Wiz.....

I would like to add that I have nearly stopped reading the comments in recent weeks. Mainly because my work load has increased and my free time has decreased, but also because it seems to be the same folks, beating each other up over the same issues. Sometimes I get the feeling that my moderate, left-leaning opinion isn't wanted here.

That is your choice. If you don't like reading conservative opinions in the comments then you don't have to read them.

As for this other guy, he sounds like he is just name-calling and belly-aching. I love this one, "
right wing librarian's militia group". He claims that Lisnews sounds like AM radio. Well, after reading his essay he certainly ripped a page out of the AM radio script.

So much for listening to more than one opinion.

belligerence is in the eye of the beholder

My perception is that much of the belligerence originates with certain left-wing/liberal posters. If I don't like a person's comments then I'll skip over their future posts, not try to shut them up. The Library Juice guy sounds like he has a real problem with democracy and free speech. This seems to be a common trait among true believers (in the Eric Hoffer sense).

commenting

I have to say that some of the things that we might be experiencing here probably just reflect the growth of LISNews. If people who lean to the right have the time to invest in commenting more than some of the left leaning readers, it is up to the people on the left to either comment or ignore the comments they disagree with. I think that in any internet community site, there are going to be people who are combative in tone no matter what their politics are. If Rory is unhappy with the direction of LISNews, why doesn't he start commenting or moderating himself?
The Slashcode gives any LISNews member the opportunity to rate comments, but people seldom take advantage of this.

Re:belligerence is in the eye of the beholder

The belligerence goes both ways. I don't think it's limited to either side of the political spectrum.

Left leaning opinions

I would like to add that I have nearly stopped reading the comments in recent weeks. Mainly because my work load has increased and my free time has decreased, but also because it seems to be the same folks, beating each other up over the same issues. Sometimes I get the feeling that my moderate, left-leaning opinion isn't wanted here.

No matter what kind of forum you run, be it Slashcode, Usenet, PHPBBS, or whatever; you're always going to have vocals and lurkers. I lurked on LISNews for a long time before I even signed up for an account and then it took a while before I ever got the juevos to post something. So you're always going to have a majority of the same folks duking it out over the topic of the moment. Just like you'll have the same folks answering 95% of questions in a class.

It's the lurkers you gotta be aware of. Sure they're not posting, that's their right. But, beloved, that doesn't mean they ain't reading. I learn tons of stuff from here, and from various listservs I belong to. I hardly ever post on those listservs. But goddess above do I learn a lot from them.

Your opinion needs to be heard, whether it's conservative or liberal or middle of the fence or whatever. Hells bells, I'm liberal and I don't care if a conservative poster rapes my opinion, as long as they realize that I maintain the right to do the same to theirs. So who cares how an opinion is received and who cares what the political makeup of LISNews is?

The idea that someone is looking at the political makeup of an online forum makes me giggle anyway, especially since this is place is for librarians. I'd find it more interesting if they looked at the political makeup of some Usenet binary group, say alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.*. Now that would be informative!

Don't you see, dear hearts? If you think your opinion isn't wanted then the terrorists... oops, I mean the conservatives have won. (Sorry, got caught mixing my media mumbo jumbo there.) You want this place to become a haven for conservative librariansim? That's easy, just do what you're saying, stop posting your opinions.

Perhaps.....

If people are so unhappy with the tone of comments rather than the content of comments then perhaps eliminating the anonymous feature would be a solution. One might view this feature as making it easier to take the low road by not taking ownership of a comment. This would assign ownership to comments, in the interests of full-disclosure.

I'm not advocating this drastic move, I'm merely offering it up for discussion. In addition, I really have no right to make this proposal because LISnews is not mine. Blake can do whatever he wants.

Open letter to Rory

I've emailed Rory privately, and letting him know that I would posting this in this thread.

"Hey Rory--

(I will also be posting this as a comment to the LISNews story about your essay.)

While I get mightily annoyed by what Walt Crawford calls the "Right Wing Coven" on LISNews, I'm not sure what would be accomplished by, in essence, encouraging folks to steer clear of the site. Part of the reason I've chosen to stay active with LISNews is because I would hate to see it become a site with a particular slant.

I'd also like to personally defend Blake's out-loud ruminating. It seems that you sense something very subversive about his posts addressing what he saw as a lack of diversity. I think Blake's just a thoughtful guy--not in the Hallmark way, but in the general sense. He's constantly evaluating and questioning the site--from code to content. LISNews, as I see it, is not an audience-specific blog, except in that it is aimed at LIS workers. I don't see any sort of targeted agenda in calling for diverse viewpoints, odious or dumb-ass as they might be. As put-out as I get by some of the comments I read, I value the thoughtful conservative input on LISNews, because it forces me to think hard about what I believe and make reasoned defenses of those beliefs. I tend to shoot from the hip, responding emotionally to issues I disagree with. It's been a good exercise for me to be a part of the LISnews community where I am confronted with viewpoints contrary to my own. If we can't defend our viewpoints to our colleagues, how can defend ourselves to those outside our professional circle?

One effect of our increasing reliance on the Internet as a news source is that it, in my opinion, is that people are more able to seek communities and sources that they agree with. That's not healthy or smart. I honestly believe that you have completely misunderstood Blake's intentions. I've never gotten the sense that he's trying to make LISNews into a conservative enclave, from my daily, close reading of the site or from my conversations and communications with Blake off-list.

What I wonder is: what do you hope to accomplish by your criticism? Do you want LISNews to be more of a reflection of your viewpoints--a more comfortable place for you? If that's your wish, I don't understand how public badmouthing and finger-wagging is going to be particularly effective. I would hate to think that you, of all people, are trying to discourage a free exchange of information and opinion, loathesome, contrary, crackpot or dumbass as it might be.

I have to confess my disappointment and befuddlement over your LISNews beef. Please help me to better understand what the issue is.

Rochelle
lisnews.com moderator

Re:Gee Wiz.....

Bottom line: Litwin is made tremendously uncomfortable by dissent.

After each vote at the SRRT Action Council meeting I attended in San Diego, Litwin would beam as he announced "the motion carries, UNANIMOUSLY." On one occasion, an AC member had voted against, and this uncomfortable fact had to be brought to Litwin's attention after he had intoned his "UNANIMOUSLY," after which he gave a sour look at the offending member, and reluctantly acknowledged the accurate vote.

Good Idea

The belligerant, "AM
Talk Radio" style of much if not most of the discussion on LISNews had led
me to stop posting stories there roughly a year earlier and to stop reading
the site almost completely.

You stopped posting stories because you didn't like the comments????
I like your policy of "if I disagree with it I will not read it". I think more people should have that policy. If we don't like an idea we should ignore it and turn to places that support the ideas we already have. I am sure that will make everything better.

So who is objective?

LisNews is more diverse and inclusive than Library Juice will ever be. Although LJ had a global perspective when it was still a library school project...it's now really just a personal blog focused exclusively on Rory Litwin's and Mark Rosenweig's exploits and whatever they consider interesting.If dissenting views get any space, they are attacked.LisNews is more successful and will be around alot longer than Library Juice. Perhaps some of Litwin's bitterness (some might say jealousy?)are inpsired by his realization that LisNews has far surpassed Library Juice.Blake's call for more conservative contributions seemed to me to be an invitation for increasing the diversity of articles and viewpoints on LisNews...not a request for conservativesto take control.Instead of participating in a community where diversity of content and ideas is welcome,Litwin decides to withdraw to the safety of his own blog where he controls the universe and no one is going to disagree with him.

Re:Open letter to Rory

...what Walt Crawford calls the "Right Wing Coven" on LISNews...

Crawford said that, did he? Such an inspiring commitment to the scholarly exchange of ideas one finds coming from our leftist colleagues!

Re:Perhaps.....

Sorry. I prefer to remain one of the anonymous. It's kind of like the concept of the secret ballot. It keeps democracy safe and I feel more secure.

Re:Open letter to Rory

Alas, conservator...You really don't have any talent for sarcasm, do you?

'Nuff Said

I can't really add much that hasn't been said already here, nor could I have said it any better myself. Rory an I have always disagreed on just about everything, so this comes as no suprise. the fact that the story is here and being discussed is a good reflection on how open things are @LISNews, as they should be.

Re:So who is objective?

If I could moderate this as "Brilliant" I would.

Re:Perhaps.....

As I said, I don't buy this argument. Reasonable people can differ.

Re:Open letter to Rory

I only note that my comment on Crawford's name-calling was moderated as "flame-bait," and the reply making personal reference to my "talent" was moderated as "funny."

Re:Perhaps.....

>> If people are so unhappy with the tone of comments rather than>> the content of comments then perhaps eliminating the>> anonymous feature would be a solution.I've thought about that, and had others suggest it, but I don't think it's Mr. Or Mrs. Anonymous Patron who are normally the biggest trolls around here. I've never seen cutting off AP access as a good idea, but, I have thought about making it impossible for those without accounts to post, but to allow anyone with an account post anonymously.>>… LISNews is not mine. Blake can do whatever he wants.LISNews isn't really mine, not in the same sense Juice is Rory's. Library Juice is Rory Litwin, it's his voice, he chooses what ends up there, and what happens. That's not the case here, while I could do that, I don't. There's a couple dozen people with author powers, and anyone can add to the discussion. So while technically I can do whatever I want, I don't. It's rare that I delete a comment or story, and I don't try to tell the other authors what to post. I love not knowing what I'm going to see next. Sure, everything is not a gem, especially in the comments, but the good stuff makes the crap worth it.I could stop doing anything at LISNews tomorrow and it would move forward without me just fine, which is a good thing.

Re:Open letter to Rory

Don't get mad at me. It's not my fault that I'm funnier than you are.

Re:Open letter to Rory

This is it: disagree with the LISNews moderator, you're a "troll."

Truly, what is "flamebait": the reference to a "'Right Wing Coven' on LISNews" ("5: Insightful") or the objection to such inflamatory name-calling from the left?

Re:Open letter to Rory

conservator: stop pouting! Sheesh!

Re:Open letter to Rory

This Rory chap shows his true colors and for some it is a real eye opening experience.

Sounds like an epiphany.

What swing to the right?

Can't say that I've noticed any macro shift in political slant for the articles posted to LISNews during the last several months.**

With some exceptions (e.g., stuff that begins "Fang-Face writes ...") most of the articles appear to be of the straightforward this-is-in-the-news-here's-a-link variety. I suspect that LISNews members tend to put their positions into the comments and journals rather than the article posts.

** Of course, this could be because I generally just scan LISNews and read only the items that catch my interest.

So much for....

Sometimes I get the feeling that my moderate, left-leaning opinion isn't wanted here.

Why? Because someone disagreed with you?

I guess you don't understand the concept of differing opinions.

Re:Open letter to Rory

Nothing like an epiphany! Maybe you can have one soon, too!

Re:Open letter to Rory

Maybe you can have one soon, too!

What? That you are a clown?

Re:Open letter to Rory

It seems a nerve was hit for poor pchuck. Take a nap. You'll feel better.

Re:Gee Wiz.....

SO! You admit there IS a script for A.M. radio! I knew as much...

Re:Open letter to Rory

It seems a nerve was hit for poor pchuck. Take a nap. You'll feel better.

Nah, no nerves hit here. I can take it and I can dish it out.

Re:Gee Wiz.....

SO! You admit there IS a script for A.M. radio! I knew as much...

Curses! I let it slip and you got to peek behind the curtain of the vast right wing conspiracy.

I can hear them giving the orders to "release the hounds."

Re:Open letter to Rory

We have to stop meeting this way.

Re:Open letter to Rory

Can we be expected to moderate based on one quotation? The rest of the comment by Rochelle was insightful.

Re:So much for....

No, because often those with similar opinions get slammed for them. I'm all for reasoned discussions, but there seems to be quite a bit of flaming going on in the comments. Granted, there are some really insightful things posted here. Unfortunately, they're getting drowned in the political battles.

I still appreciate what LISNews is as a resource for information, and I continue to be a faithful reader and occasional contibutor. I hope no one is angry with me for posting Rory's comments, but I thought it was important that this discussion happen in the open right here where it matters to us.

Re:So much for....

I hope no one is angry with me for posting Rory's comments, but I thought it was important that this discussion happen in the open right here where it matters to us.

Other than Rory, why on earth would anyone be angry at you for posting this story? I think it is a fantastic story and with a few exceptions, the comments are great.

I'd be disappointed if you gave up on LISNews because you felt your opinions were not welcome. I get the impression that LISNews strives to provide a forum where everyone has the opportunity to state their opinion. Encompassing everyone from the kooky-right to kooky-left. That should be considered a good thing.

Exactly

" If we can't defend our viewpoints to our colleagues, how can defend ourselves to those outside our professional circle?"


That is what makes LISNews most valuable, the ability to openly debate our differences.


Few can be as right wing as me. I even have photos of Richard Nixon on my refrigerator. However, postings from 'leftists' like slashgirl and shoe certainly revealed interesting insights and complicated my view of some things.


It is through challenging our ideas which we grow. I enjoy, even crave the intellectual tete-a-tete that goes on at LISNews (the unintellectual part just makes me giggle). I love it when people disagree with me and have cogent reasons. It allows me to see things through their eyes, broadening my view.


Sure there are things on which I will never change my opinion, matters of faith and life are sacrosanct to me. But I don't think anyone on LISNews cares about my view on abortion or the death penalty or any of the hot button issues not directly related to libraries and librarianship. While there are going to be books in libraries about such topics I think we can all agree that community standards should, and most often will, prevail over our politicized banter.


I hope we all agree that libraries are repositories of freedom- freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom from repression. What is good for libraries is good for librarians.


Utopia for me is not a land where everyone agrees with me, but a place where I can hear different opinions and come to my own conclusions. LISNews is closer to Utopia than any left-wing or right-wing echo chamber could be. The free debate of ideas is a prime element of scholarship, as librarians we encourage life-long learning and LISNews provides the forum for us to do just that.


If people want to think of me as some right-wing whacko that's fine. I'm sure many people already think of me that way and have for years. However as a librarian I am unbiased in my selection and presentation of materials. If you want a book on transvestite homosexual farm animals that are repressed because they do not wear a burqua I'll get you one, but it will have to be ILL as I know we don't have that locally.


Oro, confero, cogito, vivo vixi!


Vini,Vidi,Velcro

reply

This is Rory here.I posted a reply to Rochelle this morning and it didn't go through. I'm hoping Blake will post it tonight.I'm shocked at some of the accusations against me, which I find completely untrue (some of them actually factually untrue). I think some of you need to go ahead and read what I actually wrote. And please read my response to Rochelle when Blake posts it.I believe this response to Rochelle's posting linking to my article (and I'm glad she did it) helps me to make my point about LISNews.I also want to correct those who refer to Library Juice as a blog. It is an online serial. The authors are diverse but it is definitely an edited publication with a point of view and not an open forum. I don't believe a comparison to LISNews would be quite appropriate. The nature and intentions of the two things are very different.

Re:Gee Wiz.....

Rory here....That's just patent BS from an ideologue whom you know from his other postings....

Re:Good Idea

It 's not because I disagree with it that I don't read it. I don't it because the tenor of the discussion is unpleasant and the ideas are unenlightening and not very well thought out.Take this thread. In a forum that I would want to read, people would actually take the time to address the arguments I made in my editorial. I think I made some good arguments. They have been ignored here in favor of a lot of cheap shots, innuendo, unsubstantiated assertions, attacks on my character, and unintelligent sniping back and forth. I don't mind conservative opinion. I do mind hostility. Perhaps Blake, in making his call for more conservative posters, was hoping for a more peaceful discussion. That isn't what has happened.I suppose I should have distinguished the essence of my reason for no longer participating in this site a little better. I think I conflated the two separate things: conservative opinion, and the incivility of the people expressing it here. (I don't deny that people on the left can be uncivil, and it also bothers me - just not as much as when I am personally the object of it!)Rory Litwin

Re:So who is objective?

Library Juice is not a blog - it's an electronic serial, one with a wide range of authors but with a definite perspective. I'm the editor, and I make no pretense of being all-inclusive or of operating an open forum for free discourse without interference of any kind. Blake does this, and also calls for most postings of a certain nature, and I am saying that is a kind of editorial action.What I'm replying to looks like it was written by my wanne-be nemesis, Jack Stephens. If that's you, Jack, show yourself!

Reply from Rory

This is Rory speaking.I'm not trying to "discourage a free exchange of information and opinion"...I believe Blake began to interfere with that when he decided he needed to"adjust" the political content of this site.The kind of people who love LISNews tend, in my opinion, are often a little bittoo enthusiastic for weblogs in general, and I would like to cutthrough that blind enthusiasm to get people to focus a little morecritically on content.Rochelle, I somewhat resent your (and other posters') claim that I am hostile to freeexpression.  I am ENGAGING in free expression.  When did speaking critically aboutsomething become contrary to free speech?  It's ironic to me that you saythis now, when in the same issue as my brief editorial about LISNews I havea longer editorial about this very misconception about free speech.Rochelle, I also want to point out that you missed an important point in myeditorial, which is to question how Blake arrived at his idea of what thepolitical "center" is in library discourse.  In his original posting heclaimed that he had no definition of "right and left" and would leave thatto the reader, but this was obviously false based on the fact that he felthis site needed to be adjusted to better represent right wing libraryviews.  So how did he arrive at the conclusion that the site was skewed tothe left?  Why didn't he just conclude, as most would, that librarians tendto the liberal and the center in librarianship is a little to the left thanit is in society at large?  The answer, it seems to me, is that Blakehimself is a little to the right of the political center of librarianship,for one, and for another, believes that the political center of society atlarge represents an ideological balance point that somehow shows us thetruth, and that therefore we should make sure to maintain that balance inour discussion (rather than aiming for a truth that is independent of whatpeople think).  So, I don't accept your defense of Blake's call forconservative content as innocent "rumination."What most people here think is LISNews's strength - the fact that it doesn'thave a point of view except for the point of view of its audience - I thinkis kind of its weakness.  I think LISNews actually is a publication with an editor who doesn't admit that he is an editor with a publication.  He would like you to think there is NO editor and the contentdepends entirely on what people post.  But if Blake believes LISNews shouldbe entirely driven by readers then why did he feel the need to act as aneditor and attempt to shape the ultimate content of the site by taking thestep of inviting authors with a particular ideological bent?  In fact,Blake IS acting as an editor to shape the political face of LISNews.  Ithink that's what he SHOULD do - but only if he is open about the fact thathe is doing it, that LISNews is a publication with an editor and a range of views within a particular frame of reference, so that people who go to it (and I'm notencouraging people to stay away!) are aware that what they are reading isshaped by an editor with a particular point of view and don't imagine thatit an instance of utopian "cyber democracy."Rory Litwin

You should get an account

Not that I doubt that it is you, but it seems to me that an account would benefit you. Otherwise someone could simply say Rory here .... I'm not wearing pants!


Or is not having an account some political statement of which I miss the meaning?

Rory responds

Rory Litwin has finally expanded his attack on anyone who disagrees with him to include the single best source of info on libraries on the web. Rory and his SRRT friends have personally attacked me, Sandy Berman, and many, many others who have "dared to disagree" with him and his fellow Castro Supporters. Back when Rory was a friend and supporter of Sandy, he was a bit humanistic. Ever since he replaced Sandy with his new guru, Mark Rosensweig, he has become just another Castroite with a web journal or whatever he calls it. He has claimed that Library Juice was a key in getting Mitch Freedman elected to ALA president. His attack on Blake is his lowest blow yet - and I hope that all readers of LisNews remember this unacceptable act of intolerance. - Steve Fesenmaier

Re:Good Idea

I do mind hostility

From your essay you use these terms to describe LISNews or conservatives:1. angry right wing users2. these "underrepresented" conservative librarians to voice their profound opinions 3. belligerant, "AM Talk Radio" style 4. taken over by a right wing librarian's militia group

I have a hard time reading these without sensing some hostility. No?

Re:Good Idea

Hi Rory, I read your article before I commented, and my comments were reactions to the points you were making. I'm not going to argue that the tone of the commenting on LISNews is civil. I agree with you that it is sometimes uncivil. I think though that incivility occurs in almost any context where people are posting on forums online and I don't expect LISNews to be any different.

Where LISNews is different though is that we now have a long discussion thread discussing the tone of the discussions.

And the Slashcode lets people moderate comments, often the more uncivil comments are tagged as being flamebait or trolls anyway.

Re:You should get an account

Rory here!I'm not wearing pants!!!!

Re:'Nuff Said

Seems to me this is a pretty one sided discussion. Is that your idea of "open"?I'd say this whole thread makes my original point rather well.- Rory

Re:Rory responds

Steve,I have to respond to some of this. Unlike you, Sandy Berman was never my guru, though I admit we were on better terms in the past - not before he "dared to disagree with me," but I have to say rather decidedly, before I dared to disagree with him.I've known Mark Rosenzweig for as long as I've known Sanford Berman. In fact, I met them on the say day in 1997 and have been close friends with Mark Rosenzweig since then and on good, but not close, terms with Sandy.I never claimed that Library Juice was a key in getting Mitch Freedman elected to ALA president. I did report that Mitch said he thought it was a factor. Why do you need to attack me in this way?Members of SRRT Action Council didn't exactly "attack" you, Steve, we simply didn't tolerate YOUR attacks on us.And to call my editorial an "attack on Blake" and a "low blow" and an "unacceptable act of intolerance" is quite ridiculous. What my editorial was was simply criticism.And what this thread represents is simply an intolerance for criticism, despite the many accusations against me today of being "intolerant of free expression," etc. I think this whole discussion shows the reverse.- Rory Litwin

Re:belligerence is in the eye of the beholder

How do I have a problem with democracy and free speech? I am exercising it here, not trying to deny it.What have I done to deserve being called an anti-democratic censor? I have criticized a publication. Isn't that a the fundamental and most protected act of free expression? This is your reaction to criticism. Who are the intolerant ones here?

Re:So much for....

Other than Rory, why on earth would anyone be angry at you for posting this story? I think it is a fantastic story and with a few exceptions, the comments are great.Why would I be angry at Rochelle for posting the story? Of course I wanted LISnews readers to read my editorial. I'm not sure how you can say the comments are "great," unless by "great" you mean, "I agree with them." The one-sidedness of the discussion does tend to support my original point.I'd be disappointed if you gave up on LISNews because you felt your opinions were not welcome. I get the impression that LISNews strives to provide a forum where everyone has the opportunity to state their opinion. Encompassing everyone from the kooky-right to kooky-left. That should be considered a good thing. The notion that this is an open forum, that it doesn't have a frame of reference and a political culture which Blake has actively shaped, is a complete myth. For pointing this out I am called an "enemy of democracy and free speech."- Rory Litwin
 

Re:belligerence is in the eye of the beholder

And you really don't know me at all if you think I am a "true believer" (in the Eric Hoffer sense).What I am is a critic.- Rory Litwin

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