Sunday, April 03, 2005

Punching the tar baby

I shouldn't have done it, but I stuck my nose into the faux "diversity in blogging" debate. Like the Schiavo case, one should just let these things play out and trust that people will pick out the credibility of the sides on their own.

But I do get frustrated by it all.

Here's my position: There is real, structural inequality in the "real world." Depending on how, where and to whom you are born, your opportunities are established. We have a real reason to care about this, and yes, sometimes that means that we need affirmative action programs.

So when educated people attempt to extend that rhetoric -- and by extension, identity politics -- into cyberspace, I get frustrated. I have yet to see a convincing argument for any structural inequality in the blogosphere. All I see is an anecdotal observation (white guys blog) and an inferred cause (structural inequality) being used to back the argument "You A-List bloggers should link to me more often."

The reason I hate this kind of talk is that it serves to undermine the credibility of those who poin out real-world structural inequalities. In my neighborhood, children attend segregated schools where discipline is out of control and very little learning goes on. These kids have a tough road ahead of them, and they need help.

By equating the blogosphere with real-world society, Jenny D and Halley Suitt are simply handing over crates of ammunition to who wish to dissolve the social contract with those in real need.

I shouldn't have punched the tar baby, because you can't beat one. But some days you just can't just keep on walking.