January 12, 2003
The many faces of diversity

O-Dub recently mentioned the topic of blogger diversity (here and here) in reference to a recent blogger get-together in San Francisco. Oliver noted, in response to this approving InstaComment, that there wasn't much in the way of racial diversity in those photos, which sparked some heated comments in his posts.

There are several things that I'd like to mention here. One is that my first thought, upon looking at the names that accompanied the pics, is that (to my eyes, at least) there wasn't a whole lot of diversity of political opinions in the attendees there. All of the names I recognized belonged to right- and right-libertarian political types. If there were any liberal bloggers there, they were either unphotographed or unknown to me.

I mention this not because I think it casts any aspersions on those who were there but just to make the what-should-be-obvious point that "diversity" means different things to different people. As well it should, since it covers a lot of ground. InstaPundit was referring to diversity of professional backgrounds. Oliver was talking about race, and I noticed political leanings. There's a chart where I work that talks about different kinds of diversity, and it covers about two dozen distinct categories. We all have differences and similarities, and you can find them if you take the time to look.

Secondly, Oliver is speaking too broadly when he says that "bloggers are not exactly the most diverse group racially". Maybe that's true of political bloggers (more on this in a second), but we political bloggers sometimes forget that there's a lot of non-political types out there busily publishing away. The Houston bloggers group has over 90 members, but only about a dozen regularly talk about politics. That's a pretty small percentage.

(By the way, for those of you who never venture outside the political blogosphere and are thus of the impression that blogging is a mostly male thing, I invite you to read this post, which asks if male bloggers are taken seriously by their mostly-female readers. The question comes to me via Trish .)

Third, I don't think anyone really knows how racially diverse the political blogworld is. I know of three bloggers on my blogroll who are black, four who are Hispanic, and two who are of Asian or Middle Eastern extraction, but I can't say for sure that's the whole total because, well, this is the Internet and you just can't always tell. Last I checked, that was still considered a feature.

Whatever the status of Political Blogtopia's diversity is now, I agree with the comment Joanne Jacobs left in Oliver's first post, which is that it will get more diverse over time since there's such a low barrier to entry. You just may not realize it right away.

Finally, a question: Has there ever been a blog post which has attracted a comment from Richard Bennett in which he has not acted like a total asshole? See the comments in the second post from Oliver that I linked above for a prime example.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 12, 2003 to Blog stuff | TrackBack

I thought it was really interesting the last time I looked at a top 50 list, the only blogs I recognized as non-political were Wood's Lot and Rebecca's Pocket. Both of those link to dozens of blogs none of the political blogs I read link to.

This is kind of an issue for me - Instapundit links to right-leaning bus schedules and PTA minutes and leftish political blogs seems to link to leftish political blogs as much like themselves as possible.

In fairness, though, when Ms. asked for female blog recommendations I found about forty in my bookmarks, but I only knew that about ten of them were written by women off the top of my head.

Posted by: julia on January 12, 2003 5:49 PM

and yeah, either Bennet is a classic kneebiter or he's playing the longest round of charades in history.

Posted by: julia on January 12, 2003 5:52 PM

I've noticed that most of the female political bloggers I read speak a lot about Israel and Judaism. That's probably a lot to do with my tastes in reading, but I don't find as many female bloggers writing about domestic politics.

The prominent exceptions I read are on the "group blogs" like The Corner (National Review) or are more columnists than diarists.

Posted by: B. K. Oxley (binkley) on January 12, 2003 6:11 PM

I get comments from RB all the time in which he is not a "total asshole", or an asshole at all in any sense of the word. He just has a diametrically opposed political orientation than you and Oliver seem to, and he's not scared to throw it out there, but that doesn't make him an asshole. I would think that such a willingness to jump out and be sharp would be appreciated by someone who is so worried about so-called diversity. As always, I think that the diversity that is so important to you Lefties (that's a joke, kids) is more important physically than it is intellectually.

Yes, I read the comments. I think Oliver did his own bit of race-baiting with the "black men/white women" post, but there's no point in arguing it with him and Jesse. That's about the oldest troll in the book, and all I could do was the "sheesh" head-shake and shoulder-shrug.

In the interest of the argument, such that there is, of "blogger diversity", where is the "About" page, with pictures, for all the luminaries of the Left? I'll pick two - Atrios and Hesiod. And your own, Kuff? I'd put you up there with those two Fake Greek Guys, and even higher, since you've got the cojones to use your own name.

Whoa - that pushed a button, didn't it? Sorry for hijacking the comments section. Carter still doesn't deserve HoF selection, but he is as good as some that are in there.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on January 12, 2003 6:32 PM

Hey Chuck, thanks for pointing out Oliver Willis!

Posted by: B. K. Oxley (binkley) on January 12, 2003 6:36 PM

I don't have any problems with RB's political orientation. I get plenty of comments from righty bloggers - you, Owen, Kevin, Alex, Binkley - which I welcome. It's just that every time I read a comment thread that Bennett's involved in, he's calling people names. It's rude. I've never seen him add anything to a discussion, and if he did that here I'd ban him.

Which is in part why I asked. He must have some value, I've just never seen it.

I actually thought about having an "About" page when I moved to this site, but it felt a bit egotistical. (I have a hard time believing there are any Frequently Asked Questions about me, frex.) You can view our sadly out of date personal page if you're morbidly curious.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 12, 2003 7:09 PM

Like I said, I've read a lot of Bennett's comments and I can't recall a single name-calling incident. In the post you reference, there's this: "Mr. Whiney Crybaby". Very obviously used in a humorous fashion. Hardly reason to call him out, as the points he raises in the thread are very valid, and they remain unaddressed. They're just not terribly popular, especially with Oliver's normal retinue of commenters.

And Oliver WAS being whiny about so-called "diversity." (NB: I'm being whiny here about your pick-up of the whole silly thing, so that's not a valid argument against my points :-).) Was it funny and sarcastic, or was it something else? Was the race card referenced above a valuable data point? Honest to God, I'm not here to defend Bennett - Lord knows that he can do that on his own. Just like Oliver's tossed-off post about diversity doesn't need reinforcing from you.

And yes, I say you should be egotistical enough to put up your durn About page. We wouldn't bother reading you if we didn't care. Enough with the false modesty, good sir.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on January 12, 2003 7:32 PM

Hrm. Of course, I noticed the lack of sex-based diversity, but since I dropped out of political blogging to avoid hanging out with some of those folks, I probably shouldn't say anything ...

WRT Bennett, I don't know what he's like on right-leaning blogs, but I've seen him comment on several left-leaning blogs, and he's been a grade-A asshole every time. Maybe he just likes you, Scott, and that's why he acts like a decent human being in your neck of the woods.

Mind you, my impression of Bennett was formed when he accused Glenn Reynolds of some nasty sexual tendency involving underaged persons (don't remember which particular variety, just that it was a nasty accusation). I have no use for Reynolds, but that's just wrong.

The followups to that accusation, which involved somebody (Patrick Nielsen Hayden, IIRC) wandering through Google's USENET archives and finding out it wasn't the first time Bennett had done such a thing, cemented it for me. He's a troll.

Posted by: Ginger on January 12, 2003 7:56 PM

Obviously, I interpreted RB's comments differently. The other times I've seen him in action (including on a mailing list for Kos' Political State Report), it's been the same thing. I think we'll have to agree to disagree here.

OK, I'll work up a short bio. The things I do for my readers...

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 12, 2003 8:00 PM

Google to the rescue. Here is Patrick's piece, which referenced a comment on Ben Domenech's site. Patrick unfortunately pointed to the Haloscan comments URL instead of the post URl, but the comments thread there (in which RB calls Patrick "scum") is illuminating in and of itself.

All I can say, Scott, is that in the comments I've seen, he's been a jerk.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 12, 2003 8:12 PM

I'll give yall the "jerk" side, if you'll give me the "valid" side. I don't mind jerks, per se...sometime I wish RB was less strident, but not too terribly often. He says things that others (me, for example) won't say out of politeness. It's not a completely surprising occurrence on either side of the political aisle. For example, Kos called me a chickenhawk and told me that my opinion was not valid, since I'd never spent time in the military service of my country yet still supported the war against Hussein. I still read him and I still feel that some of his viewpoints are valid. I just quit commenting or linking there.

Ach, well...I'm not here to change your minds completely. I'm just saying don't dismiss RB or really anyone as a troll just because they point out inconvenient facts in an impolitic manner*. We all know what trolls are at this point, and Bennett isn't one. There are probably better windmills for all of us to tilt at. "Blogger diversity" and "RB=troll" is one of the lesser ones, and I'm feeling right silly for spending this much time on it. My apologies, but then if we can get the Kuff auto-bio up, well, then, my work here is done.

*Unless you want to, of course. This IS the internet, after all.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on January 12, 2003 9:55 PM