The self-obsession of the blogosphere is something I’m fascinated by. I watched but did not post on the Ward Churchill controversy. (What can you really say about someone who would suggest that the 9/11 victims in the World Trade Center were “little Eichmann’s”, except that they are insane, opportunistic, and/or morally decrepit?) I take it for granted that there are insane, opportunistic, and morally decrepit people out there who hold ridiculous views and offensive opinions and will express them. Call it a side effect of diversity and openness. But I was amazed at how the rantings of an obscure academic aimed at whatever pseudo-lefty self-righteousness crowd and made quite sometime ago became a national issue. The Chronicle has this account of the Ward Chruchill affair.
“In the Internet age, that report in the Syracuse newspaper quickly reached far beyond upstate New York. A link to the article was posted on Little Green Footballs, a widely read conservative Weblog, at 9:40 a.m. Eastern time.
Eleven minutes later a reader posted a comment, saying Mr. Churchill deserved to be shot in the face. And then just before 10 a.m., a different reader provided the professor’s e-mail address. Before 11 a.m., another reader announced she had just called the Colorado governor and had written letters to The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. She followed up a few minutes later with contact information for the newspapers so that others could do the same.
Linking to a simple article from Syracuse had unleashed the power of hundreds of individuals, all using Google to add little bits of information. Within hours, 500 comments about the matter had been posted on Little Green Footballs alone. Readers linked to old news releases regarding squabbles between Mr. Churchill and the American Indian Movement. They linked to Hamilton news releases about alumni who were killed in the attacks. Someone requested the name of a September 11 widow from Colorado who might have political clout.”