The Bitter Pill

The Bitter Pill April 19, 2009
As UK readers, and American readers of UK blogs will know, The Tablet is a Catholic liberal weekly. It is fondly referred to by those who dislike it’s dissenting tone as The Bitter Pill. In short, it is the Catholic journal conservatives love to hate.
Recently the Bitter Pill picked on Fr. Tim Finegan the Hermeneutic of Continuity blogger. In a longer editorial The Tablet have vented their fury on blogging and conservative Catholic bloggers in particular. 
Here is my Fr.Z type fisk of the paragraph in question:

Blogs – a corruption of web-logthat the readers have to have ‘blog’ defined for them is hilarious. Don’t be misled. This is not a journalistic attempt at clarity–it is a classic, upper middle class English attempt at a back hand slam. It’s an example of English snobbery. See, when you’re really upper class you don’t even know what such common and vulgar things are. Thus English UCTs (upper class twits) show their snobbery. Example: You mention Oprah Winfrey in conversation and they put on a fake confused look and a John Gielgud accent and say, “What is an Oprah? Is that the same thing as an ‘opera’?”were invented in America,the snobbery continues with one of the English literati’s stock items: anti-Americanism. Don’t you know if it comes from America it comes from the land of nose picking hillbillies who marry their sisters, believe in creationism, tote guns in their pick up trucks and slurp Mountain Dew non stop? “It’s from America my dear! How simply ghastly!” where they still thrive, “Goodness me! this funny American thingy called a ‘blog’ still thrives? You mean it hasn’t died out yet? What, those people in America cling to their blogs like they cling to their religion and their guns? How awfully, awfully backward of them!” Isn’t it more likely that it is the print media’s survival that should surprise us? What? a little weekly magazines with editors and reporters and subscribers? How quaint! You mean the English still do such things? And it still thrives? Not for long. particularly among the political and religious right wing. and there are no left wing blogs? Doesn’t anyone ask why right wing talk radio and right wing blogs are a success? It’s market forces. People are not getting what they want from the mainstream media, so they look elsewhere. Happily publishing and broadcasting is now totally open. Let the market decide who survives. What feeds the blogosphere’s paranoia is a sense of resentment that “they” – those in charge – are engaged in a conspiracy against “us” ordinary folk. Uh. This is a two way street.  This article sounds a little bit paranoid to me. Doesn’t such a tirade suggest that the writer at the Tablet feels threatened? All those invisible underground bloggers are all against ‘us’ main stream media types. They must be stopped! The main media is regarded as part of that conspiracy, which is why the internet – cheap, unregulated and with unlimited capacity – has drawn the bloggers to itself. In Britain, too, there are Catholic bloggers, again often right-wing, polemical and vituperative. What!? You mean there are some British people who actually have lowered themselves to write those awful American ‘weblog’ thingies? How too too horrid? It really is ghastly! Not only British, but even a few English? Dear me, what next? The targets in this case often seem to include The Tablet, in some sort of fantastical conspiracy with the bishops. Generally, blogs are far from an idealised forum for an exchange of intelligent ideas that would be constructive. I love this. Blogs are immediate, allow for readers to comment and exchange opinions with one another at length. This compared to the typical newspaper’s letters column–in which editors pick and choose the letters they publish, edit them down and have to limit in time and space all the comments that are made? Anybody can publish a blog and have instant global publishing. This is called freedom of speech. This is somehow inferior to a magazine whose editor is appointed by a rarified, self appointed board of directors in order to consciously promote a particular agenda? Notice too the assumptions in this pompous statement. The blogs are all, by implication stupid and destructive and it is the main media (like the Tablet) who are obviously ‘intelligent’ and ‘constructive’.More often they indulge in straight poison-pen character assassination without reference to any requirements of accuracy or balance. This is simply an untrue slander. To be sure there are some bloggers out there who are pretty nasty, but the vast number of conservative Catholic bloggers are intelligent, charitable, funny and not a few are genuinely scholarly, devout and humble.

What are you thoughts on Catholic blogging v. mainstream Catholic media?

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