Tuesday, March 22, 2005


What in the hell is a content-neutral movement?

I've been meaning to tell you about my trip to a MoveOn House Party, but first I must get a Round Tuit. In the meanwhile, Buzzflash has a link today: "Help Set MoveOn's Course"

This takes you to their "National Goals Action Forum." An action forum is a gimmick that I had not seen before. According to their own explanation,

ActionForums are structured to promote a productive dialogue by automatically filtering out inappropriate or marginally relevant comments. They make clear where agreement and disagreement lie and foster collaborative problem solving. ActionForums support threads of comments and replies to comments ordered by the preference of the participants rather than chronologically. ActionForums are fair and non-partisan because they operate according to a transparent, content neutral set of rules, which are applied automatically.

First, this is the sort of hooey that can turn a Red-Stater blue, and I don't mean that in a nice way. If you're going to try to start a mass movement, try using language that is a bit more direct. None of this "productive dialogue" and "collaborative problem solving." Try "Let's work together." And then "content neutral." Content neutral?!

Why on earth would a progressive organization want a content-neutral set of rules? I'll tell you why—because they either don't know or don't want to say what "progressive" stands for. They want "you" to say what "progressive" means—but not to them directly. They're harder to email than your Congressistas. Is this any way to form a mass movement?

Well, at the moment of writing there are 2959 comments on the "action forum," each of which you are invited to rate on a scale of from 1 to 5. If you start now you may be able to finish by Monday. You are also invited to add your own comment. I did not contribute as I didn't want to add to your burden.

One of the comments (out of 10) that appeared on my opening page was this [I've cleaned up the typos for legibility]—

I see that you are bitching again about Israel's acts.

Have you covered how Abbas isn't curbing the terrorists?

Oh, sorry, they aren't terrorists. They are "Freedom fighters" who insist on killing Jews in Gaza even when Israel is telling them that the Jews are leaving Gaza.

Have you posted anything about the continual shooting at Jews? How about the continuing attempts to send human sacrifices to explode in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv?

Aren't I a real pest, [to] bring this to you attention? - professional activist, Inforamtion technology (March 22, 2005; Manassas, VA)

This comment received a score of 66% agreement. Now can anyone tell me what the respondents are agreeing with? Are they agreeing with his anti-Palestinian position or with the notion that he's a real pest, or both? My guess is that he's a troll.

But the comment puts in question the action forum's supposed automatic ability to filter out "inappropriate or marginally relevant comments."

MoveOn appears to be badly in need of a leadership that knows how to lead.

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