Wednesday, April 28, 2010

John Murphy: "You made yourself into a pariah..."

John Murphy

John Murphy is a good example of the San Francisco progressive mindset. He is, first of all, a bike guy, which is obligatory for city progs. If you don't actually ride a bike, you have to give lip-service to the cause, give money to the Bicycle Coalition---or both.

Murph has been commenting here for months, mostly about the great, planet-saving bike movement. He's a bit of a dim bulb, so it's not surprising that he's the Bicycle Coalition's Bike Commuter of the Year [Later: The Bicycle Coalition remodeled its website, so the item about Murphy is no longer available, along with, alas, a lot of dumb election year questionnaires I used to cite to show how city politicians pander shamelessly to this special interest group.]

Every now and then Murph strays from his central concern and favors us with some opinions on other topics. Here, he sneers at the very notion that the exalted editors at Beyond Chron should respond to my simple question: 

Beyond Chron rightly criticizes the National Day of Prayer but has yet to mention Comedy Central's censorship of South Park after threats from Islamic fanatics. What's the deal?

Murph's response:

Come on, you think those guys want to give you an audience? You picked your battle, made yourself into a pariah, not the other way around. BeyondChron has no obligation to give you airtime. Doesn't matter if you are right or wrong, if they agree with you or not. That letter arrived and they sent it to the circular file once they saw the "From" line. That's life in the big city.

Oh Murph, you're so cute when you try to talk tough! I "picked my battle"? Are you referring to the successful litigation against the city that's delaying implementation of the Bicycle Plan? What exactly does that have to do with the intimidation of the media by Islamic extremists? 

Right, I almost forgot: it's all about bikes. Actually, I don't think Randy Shaw cares much about bikes. At least he's never shown much interest in your cause in the past, which is to his credit. No, it's my criticism of his brand of "progressive" journalism that rankles.

Not giving me "airtime," as you put it, is one reason for his not publishing the letter, though he's published my letters before. 

The bigger problem Shaw---or whoever is making the call---has is that it's a question that's hard for them to answer plausibly, given the publishing history of BeyondChron. They could give me the kind of answer that Bruce Brugmann of the Guardian gave me several years ago when I asked him something similar, but that wouldn't be very convincing.

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Beyond Chron: Profile in lameness

BeyondChron's refusal to publish my letter on Comedy Central's censorhip of South Park nicely confirms my critique last year of that "progressive" online publication, which politically is nothing but an online version of the Bay Guardian.

My letter to the editor of April 26: "Beyond Chron rightly criticizes the National Day of Prayer but has yet to mention Comedy Central's censorship of South Park after threats from Islamic fanatics. What's the deal?" This follow-up inquiry got no response from our online guardian of PC opinion: "Can I assume that you're not going to publish my letter?"

Like those concerned about illegal immigration, are those who worry about how Islamic extremists bully the media also supposedly racists here in Progressive Land? And how is BeyondChron's lameness on this censorhip issue superior to the Chronicle? The latter at least published Phil Bronstein's column, but Beyond Chron won't even publish my letter on the issue.

I don't often agree with Ross Douthat of the NY Times, but he puts his finger on our "cowardice and self-censorhip" problem with Islam:

Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place. Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing. This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force. Happily, today’s would-be totalitarians are probably too marginal to take full advantage. This isn’t Weimar Germany, and Islam’s radical fringe is still a fringe, rather than an existential enemy. For that, we should be grateful. Because if a violent fringe is capable of inspiring so much cowardice and self-censorship, it suggests that there’s enough rot in our institutions that a stronger foe might be able to bring them crashing down.

My post on our wimpy "alternative" media from four years ago is here.

The Danish cartoons that sparked a previous outburst of violence and bullying by Islamic extremists can be seen here.

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