"Scalping?" Not aware of the term Posted by: McQ
on Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Ann Althouse brings up the term "scalping" and, like me, isn't familiar with the term as one commonly used in the rightosphere for ""pick a target and harass that person and his or her employer until the person either jumps or is pushed out of the public eye". Per Althouse it is also alleged the term is "exclusively the practice of the right wing".
Hmmm. I've heard "blogswarm" of course, and would characterize that a practice of both sides of the sphere, but "scalping" as an exclusive practice of the right? I don't think so. I mean if the attack on Joe Lieberman wasn't an example of 'scalping' on the left (granting arguendo that the term exists) I don't know what was. The focus of that attempt was certainly to push Lieberman out of the public eye. And there's no doubt that had it succeeded the Netroots crowd would have claimed a 'scalp'.
Of course the purpose of making the claim was to grant poor Amanda Marcotte official "victim" status.
But that term, or alleged term, aside, there's an interesting discussion of both the left and right sides of the blogsphere developed there. How each has developed differently. And the premise is the left side of the sphere does collective action better than the right (with the supposed exception of "scalping" which is the right's only demonstrated collective action). For the most part I agree, because I'm convinced the two sides of the blogosphere formed for completely different reasons.
Althouse quotes Lindsay Beyerstein's (who originally asserted that "scalping" was a rightosphere term) characterization of the blogosphere:
This is an overgeneralization, obviously, but it gets a lot closer to an interesting truth about the blogosphere, which is that the lefty blogs have become way better at doing political things - raising money, raising issues, and influencing elections at the grass/netroots level - than most of the right-wing blogs. The conservative 'sphere became adept at picking apart the MSM in the first couple years of the blogosphere, but it hasn't really adapted to the Kos/MyDD era - and its anti-MSM shtick has grown pretty stale since events in Iraq started proving Big Media right, and the warbloggers wrong.
While I don't agree that the "MSM" is or has been right, I think the observation that the left does on-line political activism better than the right is correct. For the most part, that's the primary reason the left went on-line. They discovered the potential with the Dean campaign and have never looked back.
As was obvious this last election cycle, the right is just now waking up to the potential. And we've seen a spate of hirings by Republican politicians who now see the need to plug into this vast network.
But politicians seeing the need doesn't translate into the right doing a better job of collective on-line activities. And that may be somewhat because of a difference in ideological grounding. The left, ideologically, is more open to collective political (or any other type) activity than is the right. A swarm of bees vs. a herd of cats, if you will.
And those different ideological tendencies tend to hurt the right if on-line activism is a goal. Efforts are and have been made to do more collective political action on-line (Pork Busters, Victory Caucus) but with limited success.
But as Althouse says:
I don't like the implication that there is a flow of things and that it goes in the direction of increasing agglomeration. Why isn't greater independence and individualism among bloggers a good thing?
Exactly. In fact, it is the wild-west, individualist atmosphere which most appealed to me when I began blogging. And I'll readily admit I'm not much of one for collective action (although, in a seeming contradiction, I certainly see the effect, and in some cases, the need for such action). I write that off to my libertarian foundation which stresses individualism.
But is that propensity and preference a hindrance to the blogospheric right?
Well that depends on your purpose for being on line I guess. It is evident why the left is on-line. It isn't as evident, as a clear meta-purpose, as to why the rightosphere is on-line. But I think one of Althouse's commenters gets as close to an answer for the present as anyone when he says:
The right and left side of the blogosphere really are apples an oranges. The right side has developed as an alternative news source. The left is a political organizing tool. The right may not be good at political action, but the left isn't doing anything like rathergate, or embedding bloggers in Iraq.
Not better or worse, but just the online representation of two different political philosophies.
I'm inclined to accept monkeyboy's characterization as the best distillation of the two sides of the sphere at this point in time. That said, I've still never heard of the term "scalping".
So, the Left is adept at using the web to generate "political action." And the Right is best at using the web to verify/gather information.
Digging for an embryological metaphor: one is a motor-neuron, the other is an eye-ball, and both derive from the same notochord neural tissues.
Obviously, any functioning nation needs both. But, Americans already have a functioning "Motor-response"-mechanism. In America it is a hybrid of individual self-policing, economic opportunity, samaritanism, and elected government policy. So, the Lefties are wasting their time building redundant, "shadow" functionality.
I’ll leave it to them to answer why.
Instead, it’s our worn-out, 60’s technology "eyeballs," like the milky-lensed MSM, that deserve a revamp. So the Right is filling a REAL vacuum.
But which approach is best for the "Party?" Election ’08 will tell.
One thing for principaled Libertarians to consider: Activism causes researcher-bias (ex. MSM reports RE "Climate-Change"). So I think the Right should leave the intellectual perversion of the Info-Super Highway to its opposition - on principal.
And with the clear-eyed confidence that Lasik for the Left is not going to be an "out-patient" procedure. Clarity of vision may cause untreatable complications.
I would use another analogy. Think of the right wing bloggers as skiers whose outfits are serviceable, but do not constitute an ensemble. Ask them and they can tell you why they are skiing a particular hill, how they came to be using their current set of skis, chose their equipment, etc. They will know about other ski areas and have pretty good reasons why they prefer the one they are using. Contrast this with the typical liberal. The TL thinks about skiing, but does nothing about it until a week before the all-inclusive package trip they book to the most popular (or most "in") ski area. They drop into the ski shop where they rely on "Hal" to fit them into gear and a knockout outfit or two, including suitable apres ski stuff. Once on the slopes, it’s off to the instructor. The Democratic think tanks or the equivalent needed a term to label the right blogoshere with for exposing Mandy. After trying out many possible terms, they settled on "scalping". It has the appropriate connotations (the right are uncouth savages compared to the svelte left) and scalping is a crude, neanderthal practice. If there are smiles all around the tank, one has but to offer the term to the suitable blogger and it will be taken up by the herd who have dropped by to find out what their political ensemble will be like this week.
Most people associate scalping with the natives of North America, but scalping is an ancient if grisly tradition. In the 5th century BC, Herodotus reported the Scythians, a nomadic people of Iranian origin, scalped their enemies as proof of a warrior’s prowess (Before scalping became fashionable, warriors just hacked off the whole head).
Other races that practiced scalping were the Persians, Visigoths, Anglo-Saxons, and Francs. Scalping in North America was seen increasingly as European settlers colonized the continent and fought amongst themselves. It was practiced by many Indian tribes, though the natives also learned it from the Europeans, often adopting the practice as a means of revenge. Scalping saw its heyday during the colonial wars. French-Canadians paid extremely well for scalps, whether belonging to white or red men. Scalping in North America was seen in almost every Indian war until 1875.
I didn’t say it was ONLY an American Indian practice, just that it was an Ameircan Indian practice.
The point I wanted to make was that Europeans are often blamed for introducing scalping to the New World, but modern forensic evidence shows that it was a practice the Indians developed on their own.
I wasn’t aware that "Persians, Visigoths, Anglo-Saxons, and Francs" also practiced scalping. I wonder how common of activity it was among them; my reading of Euro history indicates lots of heads seperated from bodies, but little scalping . . .
Well, the only "scalping" I ever saw was an idiot on a mountain bike without a helmet. It was only partial—not the whole scalp. Basically a strip ~1.5 wide fore to aft.
I was going along a loop trail, and coming up the other side was a guy w/o helmet, who had trouble making the uphill grade (and who was blocking others who could have made the grade). On the opposite side of the loop (~0.5 mile away), I saw him coming down the hill, very, very fast. I knew the trail, and knew the guy wasn’t going to make the "jump" at the bottom (my first ride on the trail I saw blood near the "jump", and I later watched an asian chick do a slow speed crash there).
I didn’t see him crash due to interveining brush, but I saw him fly, I saw dust, I heard a crash . . . then silence . . . then moaning.
I talked to him while he held someone’s T-shirt to his bleeding head. A girl had a cell phone, we called 911 several times . . . it was well before dark when we called and well after dark when the emergency responders arrived.
The guy who crashed claimed to be DEA. He also said he never crashed, so he never needed a helmet. And like other head injuries, he kept repeating himself, asking the same questions over and over . . .