DougJ: I honestly don’t know why people at official publications are so excessively polite to one another (perhaps they save it for the listserves?).
True/Slant quite explicitly stated that we were not to insult other True/Slant writers. I don’t agree with that policy one iota, but there it is.
I can’t really speak for other publications.
But I do imagine that a lot of writers and bloggers who actually live in the same area, go to the same parties, and run in similar social circles, might temper their writing a little to keep the peace. I don’t know. At The League we had a specific mission in mind: to engage in conversation, attempt to see things from other perspectives, and get past the noise of typical political dispute. But I’m not sure that means you have to be polite, or can’t tell someone when they’re being really bloody stupid.
There are certainly plenty of places around the internet where you can find good ol’ fashioned brawls. Much of the right-wing blogosphere is dominated by sneering and name-calling. I suppose a fair portion of the left-wing blogosphere is, too.
I’ve had my moments of invective myself – and to be honest, it’s just not my cup of tea. Maybe a lot of these publications say it’s not their cup of tea either. I can do it, and sometimes I think I even do it fairly well, but I always end up feeling a sense of futility at the end of a good polemic. The trick is doing it well. If you can’t make your invective entertaining, what’s the point?