Is ideological segregation necessarily a bad thing?
There’s been a lot of debate over the past few years about the intensity of rhetorical partisanship in the blogosphere. Numerous high-profile blogs are routinely filled with accusations of treason or Nazism, half-joking hopes for the demise of prominent figures in opposing parties, etc. More and more blogs seem to have an exclusionary vision: “If you don’t see things my way, don’t even bother reading!”
While I cannot condone the insults and slurs that are increasingly prominent on certain high-profile blogs, I don’t think there’s anything wrong per se with having an ideologically focused blog and not being terribly keen on having those who don’t share such a vision visit. Better to have voices of opposition discouraged from visiting/posting than to have them be subjected to subtle, or blatant, scorn.
Some prominent blogs are specifically designed to “discriminate” against opposing ideologies. Seriously, what liberal in his or her right mind would want to post on FreeRepublic.com? Conversely, why would any sane-minded conservative want to have anything to do with the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post?
When I used to follow Blue Mass. Group, I’d be mortified by the level of contempt directed towards non-liberals in the comment sections. The non-lefties would be careful to make reasoned arguments, knowing that they were walking into an ideological lion’s den–and inevitably, they would be blasted as little more than idiotic shills for the reactionary right. Why would anyone want to be on the receiving end of such garbage?
If the operators of Blue Mass. Group decided to ban conservative posts, they’d take heat in some quarters–but certainly not from me. If one wants to run an ideologically disciplined blog that excludes all opposing perspectives, then that is entirely appropriate. If the operator of a blog has a specific vision–using his or her site to shape and influence social policy–then the operator is doing nothing objectionable if he or she decides that opinions from those who represent the opposing–and thus, “flawed”–point of view are forbidden.
At bottom, most folks are entirely comfortable with ideological segregation. Most conservatives have no desire to read comments from “moonbats” and most liberals do not want to hear the perspective of “wingnuts.” Some folks may find fault with a so-called “echo chamber”–but if an “echo chamber” can in fact influence policy, then that’s a good thing, isn’t it?