We've all been following the story in which Presidential candidate John Edwards' campaign blogger Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon resigned after some arguments on her personal blog came to light, arguments that had played well with her regular readers but had positioned Edwards' campaign poorly in relation to Catholics in particular and Christians in general. In the Q&A last night, I argued that blogs like Marcotte's -- and other means of self -publication, such as MySpace and Facebook -- had exposed how poorly some arguments circulate by increasing the points to which they could circulate. Remarks that we could once make and closely delineate -- in our clubs or places of worship or other private spaces -- can leak into radically different contexts.
Now Edwards' part-time technical advisor Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare's Sister, has also resigned. She cites harassment:
the focus of sustained ideological attacks was inevitably making me a liability to the campaign, and making me increasingly uncomfortablewith my and my family's level of exposure.
This sort of harassment is a growing problem and we have to find ways to deal with it. But we also have to come to grips with the fact that arguments can circulate more broadly and can quickly make the jump from a small circle of readers to a national circle of critics. Just as argumentation changed in the shift from declamation to printed form, it will have to change again.
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