The rabbit punch routine

Once again Crikey has decided that Catallaxy is worthy of some added attention, in large part, I think, because I write there. I’m sure Jason doesn’t mind the free advertising – and nor does Thoughts on Freedom, which got some nice advertising courtesy of (link below). That said, I am heartily sick of what GMB & JC call ‘the rabbit punch routine’, where people are attacked, well, because it’s cool to do the attacking. Not because of anything they may or may not have said. I made this comment in the relevant thread over at Catallaxy. I’ve put it here so everyone can see it as a main blog post.

I wondered why I couldn’t get onto Catallaxy this morning while I was waiting for the jury’s verdict. Yet another bit of Crikey dross explains it.

Unfortunately, some of this attention has come Catallaxy’s way since I’ve been one of its writers. Much as libertarians may find Mark Davis’ politics annoying, his analysis of the way the commentariat reacted to me in Gangland is pretty much on the money (see my Quadrant piece for details). Margaret Simons is a bit player in that commentariat, and people like me are clearly a threat. I’m not sure why, but I am.

These people simultaneously believe that blogs contain the collective (and meaningless) outpourings of Gen X/Gen Y, are no threat to the MSM, are never fact-checked, are populated by TEH EVIL GMB, and so on. Yet I start writing for Catallaxy and Thoughts on Freedom and that is news – more than Crikey, too – see this piece from I’d like to think these asshats can see that their days are numbered, but I suspect they don’t want to see that far.

It’s worth pointing out that Simons wrote a major piece for the Australian during the controversy over me winning the Miles Franklin. This piece – among ather things – made comments on my physical appearance and depended entirely for its cachet on gossip. Like Weathergirl, Simons claimed to have spoken to all sorts of shadowy – and not so shadowy – people in my past. Funnily enough, when I spoke to some of these people later, they claimed either (a) that they’d been misquoted or (b) that no-one by the name of Margaret Simons had ever approached them. The piece ran in late 1995 or early 1996. If people with access poke around on Factiva, they should be able to track it down.

Simons has significant appearance issues of her own – which I will not detail here – that do help to explain some of her obsessions. And it is characteristic of the left (and even the non-political commentariat) to ‘pile on’ (Les Murray uses this phrase, too, GMB) when someone doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter model. Murray also makes the point that women are generally treated very badly – he has written some excellent stuff on this issue, excerpted here. This is actually a chapter-length excerpt from his biography, and details his views on exactly the issues Jason has flagged above. I highly recommend it if you’ve got some spare time.

For my part, I don’t ‘represent women’, and I don’t mind the sometimes rather masculine interactions on Catallaxy. Just as men stand to learn from how women manage interpersonal relations, I believe women also can learn from men on that score. I’m quite sure that if GMB or JC disagreed with me, I’d know about it. Instantly. And I’d probably get called a bunch of stuff. To which my response would probably be ‘phooey’.

The commentariat, by contrast, goes behind my back, writing sneaky, smearing articles about both me and co-bloggers in forums where no-one from Catallaxy is granted a right of reply. To be quite frank, I prefer the ‘blokey’ in your face model, rather than the ‘girly’ stab in the back model. I always feel much happier when I know where I stand.

There, that’s said it. Frankly, a large number of people in the commentariat need to get over themselves and get a life. I don’t think Crikey is leftist, by the way (although the two recent attacks on Catallaxy were both from leftists). Rather, I think it is symbolic of a broader problem in Australia’s commentariat – the substitution of personal attacks and smears for engagement with peoples’ actual views. The staff writers at Catallaxy and Thoughts on Freedom – to a man and woman – write thoughtful, reasoned copy. People in the comments sometimes don’t. This is the way the blogosphere works, folks. Get used to it.