Rory Litwin responds to LISNews criticism


Litwin has written a long essay in the latest issue of Library Juice, intended to more clearly explain his perspective. He has some valid criticisms of the LISNews community's response to his earlier critiques that are well worth reading.


Regarding my hurt feelings... If LISNews were generally thougth of as a conservative site, or if the identity of the people who attacked me and their politics were generally known, it wouldn't have hurt at all, because it would have been an obvious example of political mudslinging. But when a visitor to the site only sees nicknames and thinks of the LISNews community as basically a bunch of librarians and not a political battleground then the attacks on me look a lot more substantial, because they don't appear to be politically motivated. The only reason it hurt is because of LISNews' claim to neutrality, which would be assumed to be true by a naive user of the site.Regarding the difference between the conservative nature of the comments and the issue of balancing the stories posted, I am well aware of the difference and have distinguished between the two things throughout my discussion. Both are relevant.Rory Litwin

Those with E*Subscribe or other access could consult ED 478 120. The paper written by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel is entitled "Do-It-Yourself Broadcasting: Writing Weblogs in a Knowledge Society." All sides might have interest in what the paper discusses, I bet.

"But I have to admit to being hurt, at the time, by the comments in response to my editorial. It
is not fun to be called an enemy of intellectual freedom and democracy on a popular website, after years of hard work and sacrifice to defend and
extend those values."

This comment of Rory's plus his article previous to this downplaying the importance of blogs shows an uncomfortablness with the changing times.

There's nothing wrong with blogging, its a way of stretching unused muscles, specifically your opinions and your ability to voice them. If its something you find yourself good at then you can start considering something more official. Though keep in mind we do all have jobs and an actual life outside libraries, blogging is much more adaptable then trying to put out a regular newsletter.

As for getting your feelings hurt, get used to it. There are some very tough, very hot issues in the library world these days and they are not all open to debate. And I'd bet money that some of the nasty little postings I've been getting on my Librarians For Victory petition are from your camp if not actually yourself. So try not to be too 'woe-is-me'.

Part of this whole arguement seems to be confusing comments with actual articles. Blake's original request was for conservative articles to be posted not to recruit conservatives or get us to comment more. Maybe he was interested in challenging the liberal end a little more. Maybe he saw what was happening outside the library world and decided a little political shadow boxing was in order, who knows.

To Blake I say this: Your original request focused not just on conservative articles but from conservative articles from library sources. I know your not a fan of SHUSH, I saw the post expressing your disappointment. But S* was started because other than Tomeboy's I don't know of any other conservative librarian websites that were in existence before S*. It ain't National Review, that's for damn sure but its a start. So for now the comments and occasional article from Tomeboy or myself or any other conservative that wants to step up to the plate (that's an offer to write for S* folks!) is all that's available. Put up your dukes!

I agree with much of what Mdoniel has to say, though the anonymity of others I'll defend, as it allows more for the expression of "unpopular" opinions. "Gales" is something of an injoke for family and friends (an obscure literay reference), so I use it. As for Mdoniel, I find him (her?) informative and entertaining, even if a self-professed Falangist. (My side lost the Spanish Civil War and I'm still somewhat...bitter!)

Read the article that this LISNews story is linking to.

I'd also like to say that you're insulting tone is not necessary and not appreciated. I am being sincere when I say that I am simply tired of explaining my point. I went to a lot of effort to elaborate and explain my arguments and I think you should appreciate my effort. At this point I am tired of repeating my arguments and I think I have a right to expect you to have read them the first time if you're going to address the issue now. I simply don't want to rehash the whole discussion in this thread.But I will say that to assert at this point, in this context, that LISNews is neutral seems dishonest to the point of perversity. I have trouble imagining a more pointed, less neutral culture than the one that goes along with LISNews. The slash code may be neutral, but LISNews' culture is the creation of the people who post stories and comment. If you can cut it with a knife, it's not neutrality.Rory

"Fang-Face".... If you're going to call me a fool and publicly insult me in other ways, isn't it rather cowardly of you to do it anonymously?

Thank you, Kathleen.Rory Litwin

Well, I'm a liberal, and I'm right here. I think that lisnews is approaching 3000 members. I don't think all of them are conservative. I don't think every single one posted in all of the thread devoted to this debate. Perhaps all the liberals and moderates and intellectuals perfer not to get caught up in a flame war.
What criteria are you using to judge who is liberal and who is moderate? Does someone have to agree with you to be liberal?

As for intellectuals, again, I don't know what criteria you are using to judge people. I guess I'm not intellectual enough.

Yes I am endorsing some strong critisism. But if you want to read what I said at my blog, please do. One of my points is that the tone of the discourse started with "Blake Carver of LISNews has gone batty; the LISNews community
politely pretends that nothing is wrong:" LJ 7.5 That was probably not wise. And it went downhill from there. I was a bit more kind in my blog than calling you a fool, "Rory jumped into the fire and then judging by the latest Library Juice couldn't
take the heat and came away burned."

But Fang Face states that point for and defends it in greater detail than I did.

And Fang Face has a simple solution to avioding comment spin. "This feature is easily circumvented: sign up for an account and adjust your
COMMENTS page to surf at -1. "

I'm only posting now to respond to Rory. I have made a vow now that I will no longer respond to troll behavior which is what anonymous posting amounts to. Our university discussion list was ruined by anonymous people who acted just like the anonymous posters on LISNews. The list changed from vibrant to WHACK-A-PROGRESSIVE. We would say something about the rush to war in a long deliberate post. Then they would play WHACK A calling, twisted responses, and shrill attacks. Tired of this kind of interaction we withdrew. The list then languished to a few ROTC people pumping up the war. This is not giving up, it is strategic withdrawal. The news I sent to LISNews about the success of my local SAFE & FREE initiative was met by nasty response...not thoughtful..nasty.
The anonymous posters don't want to read and deliberate. They just want to play WHACK A PROGRESSIVE which, really, I don't think was the initial intent of LISNews. Sadly this is what seems to have evolved. Thus unless one wants to draw fire and anonymous troll behavior, posting anything on LISNews that promotes civil liberties and thoughtful deliberation is now dangerous. One risks becoming the target of attacks by anonymous attackers. Of course this has always been the tactic of the right.
Kathleen de la Pena McCook

Rory, what hurts ME the most is realizing that mean-spirited, narrow-minded people like the anonymous name calling individuals who responded have responsibility for library service. I may not like a conservative bias because I feel it is usually a darwinistic, self-centered, uncaring approach...but I would not attack a conservative person's right to have his opinion. Also, I would not belittle or make fun of these people based on their ethnicity as they have done me. That is what hurts me...that people using libraries will be hurt by the bias, the meanness, the racism and the insensitivity to the fact that life in the 21st century is going to be more inclusive of people, not reserved just for the ANONYMOUS LIS News conservatives who clomp all over others to promote their narrow views. You are thoughtful and nuanced and exhibit tolerance for opinions that differ from yours. They are bombastic,cruel, and ignore all but their own reflection.

Kathleen de la Pena McCook

Yeah? So?! That's their problem, not mine. I've done my part to make the information accessible, if you and others can't be bothered to look at that information it is certainly not my place to cram it down your throat. Freedom of information includes an inherent right to freedom from information, as well. Don't blame me for you're choosing to live in ignorance.

I stated my argument clearly and concisely a half a dozen times and am now questioning whether I should have come onto these boards to respond my my attackers in the first place. Internet fora like this one have a way of lowering the quality of the discourse to the lowest common denominator, so that careful argument gets buried beneath a mountain mud that people sling at each other. If you couldn't follow my arguments, maybe it's because you've gotten too used to the mud and don't have patience with long sentences and concepts that don't get regular play in newspapers, popular magazines and television. I'm not trying to put you down when I say that (and I realize that you run a book club for librarians) - just that I don't think I could have rendered my arguments any more concisely than I did. I'm sorry, you'll just have to spend a little more time with them if you want to understand them. I've stated them and I'm done. I'm out of my element here and ready to put my money where my mouth is and leave this type of forum to people who don't mind the way it tends to work against productive rational discourse and encourage juvenile chatter.Rory Litwin

"which now one of you claims he can't find, though he is apparently familiar enough with them to call them "ramblings""

Ok Sparky, I never said I could not find the arguments. As in, "Oh gee where is that web page." I read your arguments and called them rambling because I could not make sense of them. Then I ask you to make your argument concisely and you are completely unable to do that. Mainly I believe because your argument does not exist.

Rory made this statement about people clicking on the link to Fang's site

"99.9% of visitors won't follow the link to your site"

How many of you have gone to Fang's site at least once? I bet half the people at LISNEWS.

Okay, then where are all the liberals and moderates? Where are the intellectuals? I don't see any..... Are they hiding?Rory

Supposedly from Rory, but who knows, it could be someone spoofing him because he refuses to get an account. "I went to a lot of effort to elaborate and explain my arguments and I think you should appreciate my effort. At this point I am tired of repeating my arguments and I think I have a right to expect you to have read them the first time if you're going to address the issue now. I simply don't want to rehash the whole discussion in this thread."Dude, I made an honest answer and read your stuff. I don't see the point you are trying to make. Maybe someone else can read it and explain it to me.

I don't agree with the political viewpoints of the conservative posters:)
But I don't think that conservatives have taken command of the "culture". I think that the openness maintained in the way that anyone can register for an account and anyone can submit a story is sufficient. It doesn't seem like it is that hard for people to become authors either, I remember Blake issuing an open call for people months before he was asking for opinions on adding a political section. And I feel that LISNews is as neutral as any online forum that attracts strong personalities can be.
I think that the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.

You're endorsing some pretty strong criticism there, Dan G. Are you sure you agree with all of that? Have you read enough of my other writings to genuinely endorse a statement that the most charitable thing one can say about me is that I'm a fool? I don't think so.I think there's been tremendous carelessness to the point of blatant disregard reason on the part of my critics on, who despite such a united front of opinion and culture still maintain that is neutral. It's really astounding that so many of you think that these direct attacks on me are a reasonable response to rational criticism. The lack of rationality in your discussion of the criticisms that I have presented, and the way the majority of the responses to them consist of personal attacks rather than real responses to my actual arguments (which now one of you claims he can't find, though he is apparently familiar enough with them to call them "ramblings") show rather clearly that is not the site of diverse, rational discourse on librarianship that it claims to be. It seems to me that the defensiveness of so many people here is grounded in an emotional attachment to something that no-one here seems willing to actually reflect upon. The criticisms I have made are based on a perspective about media and neutrality that is well enough established that any strong minority of liberal "authors" on LISNews should already be familiar with it and recognize its relevance and defend my criticisms. The fact that they have been silent shows, I think, two things: first, that the emotional attachment that authors have to the site is stronger than the demand to recognize rational criticism, and second, that the conservative voices on have become so dominant that dissenters have been drowned out and driven out, with rare exceptions now posting only to agree with the conservatives who have taken command of the culture (with Blake Carver's deliberate help).Rory Litwin

99.9% of visitors won't follow the link to your site, so why not sign your postings with your name?Rory Litwin

"Anonymous", you have nothing to snivel about. There is something like three hundred links on LISNews to my web site. Oh look. There's another. Right up there in the message header. See it?

Let's face it; the problem is not that you don't know who I am, it's that you won't make the effort to find out.

My take on this is at my blog but Fang Face states my point much better than I did

I both agree with and disagree with Rory's editorial in his newsletter, Library Juice.

I don't understand why Rory won't use his account to add authority to his postings. As librarians we all understand the need for authority, and we can see from the exchange about which Rory writes that anonymous users can impersonate one another.

I post under my name. My last name is O'Neil and the first two letters are my initals. I have posted several times that I live in Clearwater, Florida so if someone were interested enough they could look me up in the phonebook and give me a ring. I don't find a need to hide my comments behind some cloak of anonymity. I don't have a position where what I say could be used against me. I do have some ideas that are not quite mainstream, but those are my ideas and I stand behind them.

If we are to maintain civility it is imperative that there be consequences for incivility. Simply being known as a putz is consequence enough I would think. If we all know mdoneil is a putz and we should not read his posts or reply to them then the 'silent treatment' should be punishment enough. Anonymity -even if you sign your posts- really does not lead to accountability. I am not suggesting that Blake require registration, but if you are going to engage in thoughtful debate then you should register.

I personally think Rory is a bleeding heart liberal, he probably thinks I am a right wing kook. I am comfortable with that. Howevere that does not mean we can't debate all things librarian thoughtfully and civilly.

N.B. I also think we should stop being excited about the Web.