I was thinking of things to say about the Kellers using their mega platforms to talk about the cancer patient, Lisa Bonchek Adams, and I was pretty conflicted. As much as I hate Bill Keller for how he dragged the NYT down during his tenure and turned into a print version of Fox News, particularly during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, and how he doesn’t seem to feel any responsibility for the results of that mendacity, I didn’t read the evil intent or snobbishness in his column that a lot of people seem to have done. But being me, I’m not as articulate when I’m conflicted like that, so I turn over to the genius, Tbogg:
to be frank: I don’t get the outrage. Keller’s column about Lisa Bonchek Adams takes off from one his wife wrote over at The Guardian (since taken down presumably because Emma Keller quoted private DM’s from Bonchek Adams without permission, but you can read it here). To my reading, Bill Keller is writing about how we choose to prolong or not prolong our lives, economic consequences, and how the modern tendency to ‘live out loud’ via social media informs others. Emma Keller’s piece, on the other hand, is primarily devoted to the social media aspect, particularly how, even though it is presented freely for our consideration, it can make us feel like a voyeur. She also addresses our propensity to over-share. I think it is possible to argue the merits of their views as well as their tone but, in light of their effusive praise of the courage and fight in Lisa Bonchek Adams, I’m hard pressed to find the shaming, the bullying, and the death-wishing. If there is something to complain about, it is Bill Keller seemingly using his NYT column to defend his wife’s column published elsewhere. Poorly played, Bill.
And he doesn’t hold himself out above anyone here either:
… One last thing before everyone starts accusing me in the comments of “mansplaining” (as if cancer isn’t an equal opportunity destroyer), or “heathsplaining” or “mortalityplaining” or whatever catchy dismissive neologism bubbles up to the surface this week. I had no small part in an Internet mob in 2012 when I posted a tweet from George Tierney of Greenville, South Carolina for being a dick to Sandra Fluke. It was all fun and games with his request to be taken off the Google until it kind of exploded and then people starting harassing his parents and posting his address and phone number and being every bit as douchey as George. At that point, as awful of a person as I thought he was, I wished I could have taken all of it off of the Google.
Just because a mob is on the internet, doesn’t make it any less awful than the pitchforks and torches shouty kind.
I had part of that last one. It was great fun at the time, and while I didn’t go to the extremes some did, I didn’t cover myself in glory there either. Most people don’t know (maybe don’t even care) that Mr. Tierney apologized to Ms. Fluke.
I think we could all be a little more thoughtful, and save the venom for people who truly deserve it.