it’s politics, not a civil war

Byline: | Category: Uncategorized | Posted at: Monday, 31 October 2005

Bill Hobbs notes an alarming story.  Reader Chris Clem commented on one of Bill’s August posts.  Two months later Georgetown University student Joe McReynolds took it upon himself to try and get Clem fired from his job.

Subject: Why do you let Chris Clem write such vile things online?

As a business, you probably don’t like negative PR. So why do you let Chris Clem write, signed with his work e-mail address, such controversial political tirades online? … It’s one thing to find some fault with TennCare. But Chris is posting, using his work e-mail address, a long-winded screed … In the future, you should keep him on a shorter leash. It reflects poorly on your law firm.

Luckily for Clem, he and his law partners are all conservatives.  He also happens to be a state representative.  Furthermore, the complaint wasn’t factual in that Clem didn’t use his work email.

Apparently Mr. McReynolds (his real name?) is hunting down the employers of conservative web site commenters and advocating that they be fired.  Here’s an excerpt from Clem’s response to him:

Your politics of destruction is scary. It never occurred to me to randomly search blogs and research the names of liberal bloggers. Then research where they work and try to get them fired from their jobs. Yes, technically others who are not as fortunate as myself to own my business should be careful about using their employers’ email. But, to try and get someone you disagree with fired is beyond anything I have ever experienced.

I only wish that I could say that conservatives would never do such a thing. 

A couple years ago Nashville Architect Manuel Zeitlin wrote a letter to the editor about something or another.  Knowing his politics as a I do, it was probably some anti-Bush thing.  Anyway, the letter became the subject of discussion on a local radio talk show.  Someone (whether host or caller, I don’t know) advocated that conservatives should respond by boycotting the real estate company owned by his mother.

Though our politics are 180 degrees out of synch, I enjoy working with Manuel.  He is an intelligent and talented architect who is a pleasure to build for.  It outraged me that someone would lash out at a policy difference, not simply by attacking Manuel–which would have been bad enough, but by going so far as to retaliate against his mother at work.

It outrages me further that the someone who struck such a low blow presumably comes from my side of the aisle.  I want no part of a trend of retaliating against the livelihood of those with whom you have a philosophical disagreement.  For God’s sake, it’s politics, not civil war.  And if you’ve gotten to the point where you confuse the two, then even if you’re on my side, count me among those who are against you.

Share this post:

24 Responses to “it’s politics, not a civil war”

  1. toni Says:

    In part I agree with you on this trend. But, when you’ve got someone commenting during work hours and using inflammatory and sexually explicit derogatory language I think all bets are off. I’ve read some of the slimiest disgusting comments on Michelle Malkin’s site that astounded me. Michelle did push the envelope on one such troll and the person was fired.

  2. Kevin Newman Says:

    Your willingness to call this what it is and not attribute this behavior to just one side of the political divide is what makes me respect you even though I often disagree with you. Bill Hobbs isn’t doing anything to elevate the discourse here, as usual.

  3. Vol Abroad Says:

    Thanks for this. We can all disagree AND be civil. Call me wrong, but be reasoned and reasonable about it.

  4. Joe Says:

    On the facts of the matter, you’re entirely wrong, sir. Chris Clem did indeed post using his work e-mail address, and in fact his firm does have a website; I did not ask, implicitly nor explicitly, for him to be fired; and my disgust at his bigotted comment had nothing at all to do with his being a conservative. If anything, on the policy question involved, my position is probably pretty close to his.

    The idea that this is about “leftists tracking down conservatives’ employers” is baloney, plain and simple.

    As for the kid Michelle Malkin got fired; I read Michelle Malkin regularly, and I was around for that. I felt it fair justice for the kid, though I hasten to note that it can’t really be compared to this, in that I never asked in any way for Chris Clem to be fired.

  5. Lee Says:

    I don’t know about you, but I learned in First Grade that you don’t tattle tale on someone, Tattle Tale.

  6. smantix Says:

    So somebody writes something that offends your delicate sense of “class conciousness” and you complain to his employer. Bets are that if you agreed with him, that his posting from work would have been of no concern and wouldn’t have warranted a congratulatory e-mail on their hiring of such a morally sound individual.

    You knew exactly what you were doing. Why lie about it?

    As a business, you probably don’t like negative PR. So why do you let Chris Clem write, signed with his work e-mail address, such controversial political tirades online?

    Oh. Are you going to offer them some negative publicity?

    As a general rule, someone who runs a website must make a distinction between an opinion they may vehemently disagree with and someone who is diminishing their site to do whatever it is that they do by their spamming up the boards, harassing other users, etc.

    Georgetown fellow obviously wanted punitive actions taken against Clem by his employer. But in the scheme of things, Michelle Malkin did it to somebody so you’re just balancing the Left/Right karmic ledger.

  7. Joe Says:

    The “left/right karmic register”? I don’t view myself as a “member of the left who’s against the right”. Christ, most of my hostile blogging is directed at Democrats.

    Did you READ what Bob Krumm wrote? He’s right, with the exception that he got the facts of this individual case wrong — It’s politics, not a civil war.

    “”Oh. Are you going to offer them some negative publicity?”"

    What negative publicity? The negative publicity would be by someone reading what Clem wrote on a public and widely-read blog and being disgusted by it and saying “Well, I won’t be using Samples Law.” How would that have anything at all to do with me?

    Why do blog-commentors like to make everything sound so conspiratorial? As I said in the above, policy-wise, I probably agreed with Clem for the most part on the situation in question.

  8. smantix Says:

    I didn’t assert there was any conspiracy. I was just looking over people’s comments saying “Malkin did it” as if that would somehow justify it.

    So, in the spirit of comity, you just wanted to protect a business you had never heard of before from being harmed by some yahoo on the interweb from tarnishing their good name?

    Where’s a link to Clem’s comments? I’d like to see what was so offensive that it justified contacting the site administrator or other contact person.

  9. bruce Says:


    you’re a whiny fag.

    i go to georgetown too. now go tattle on me.


  10. bruce Says:


    forgot to add that i plan on googlefucking you by making repeated references (full name and undergrad class included) to your interracial homosexual behavior on google archived neo-nazi forums. enjoy answering those questions in future job interviews. how do them apples taste?


  11. cheryl Says:

    The guy looks about like I would’ve expected: see the Georgetown Ballroom Dance team

  12. Joe Says:

    Heh. I knew not shaving for a few days before that picture would catch up to me.


  13. Joe Says:

    Oh, and since we’re all so busy Googling stuff up, I’m also director of hip-hop for Georgetown Radio. Check us out at! (Plug plug plug.)

  14. Joe Says:

    Oh, and Bob: Abramson, posting over at NIT, was fair enough to publish my rebuttal over at Bill Hobbs’ website as a blogpost, in the same format as the original accusation was published. I’d appreciate it if you’d consider doing the same.

  15. smantix Says:

    The only thing it was attempting to persuade was somebody’s boss to either reprimand them or fire them because you didn’t like their opinion.

    I’ve got the link to Hobbs’ site if that’s what started it all. And if that is the case, there is nothing bigoted in anything Clem posted. This is about the most incendiary part he posted:

    “TennCare is based upon the principle that if I need someone else’s hard earned money more than they need it, then I am entitled to take their hard earned money to pay for my medical bills, food stamps, section 8 housing or other socialized entitlement. In other words, need is given a higher moral authority to take assets than the people who earned it.

    Mercy and grace have no part in such a socialized society. There is nothing voluntary about the government taking your money to build a socialized medical program. Few of the recipients are grateful. All the ones I hear from demand their rights and their entitlements to have others pay for their problems.”

    That’s what so offensive? That’s tantamount to bigotry? – asking that an out of control entitlement program that has provided free healthcare to everyone in driving distance of this state at a cost of tens of billions of dollars to this one particular state’s taxpayers?

    You were wrong Joe. It was a cheap shot. You didn’t give a shit about his work getting negative publicity from something he said. You just wanted to shut him up because you didn’t like his opinion and it backfired.

  16. Bob K Says:

    A friendly word of advice since you’re probably not very familiar with the Tennessee blogosphere: smantix is in a weight class entirely unto himself. Those who use the “less than” sign followed by the numeral three to mean a “heart,” i.e., “love,” ought to be very careful in how they respond.

  17. Joe Says:

    Eh, the less-than-three is a generational thing. Don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you.

    As for Smantix:

    If that’s so, and assuming by ‘weight class’ you’re calling him a heavy hitter as opposed to being the Tennessee blogosphere’s equivalent of James Wolcott, then why is his blog so asinine and poorly written? It reads as a poor man’s Instapunk, slathered with a bit of Tom Maguire’s occasional fits of preening self-righteousness.

    But yeah, I’ll be careful how I tread when speaking with the BlogLord Of Reposting Mediocre Photoshops. (“Hey, I made those mediocre photoshops myself!”, he retorts) So dangerous!

  18. Joe McKnowitall Says:

    Joe- I’m your age and I cant remember ever using the “

  19. smantix Says:

    I can’t Photoshop at all. So take that! James Wolcott??? Girl, you wrinkle my ascot with that kind of talk.

    This is the kind of response I get when I’m not being mean. I was going to give young Joe the benefit of the doubt until I read the post that got his ire up and then it was obvious what he was going for.

    So add liar to tattle-tale and junior’s parent’s money is being well-spent.

  20. Joe Says:

    That would be a compelling argument, except for this, which I’ll put in all-caps since apparently you’ve missed it every other time:


    Jesus Christ, how many times do I have to make this clear?

    It’s hard to make a case that I was trying to burn him for disagreeing with me politically when I DON’T DISAGREE WITH HIM. We’ve already been through this over at Bill Hobbs’ site.

    ‘Liar’ is a cheap charge when left unproven, tossed around freely by people with little to offer in terms of rational debate. It’s probably a good thing this thread is buried down the page where few will read it, because making an accusation that ridiculous has got to be embarassing.

    As for “tattle tale”, I never really considered that a bad thing; we are a society of laws and rules, and for good reason. Yeah, I’m the guy who drives a straight 65 MPH in the carpool lane and doesn’t like to jaywalk. Shrug.

  21. smantix Says:

    Well, there’s the guy who drives the speed limit and then there’s the old lady who grabs the phone and calls the police if somebody’s going 5 miles an hour faster than her. And then tell’s the police that not only are they speeding but they’re weaving between the lanes and you saw them pull out of a bar too. Somebody oughtta pull them aside and give them a talking to.

    I never mentioned TennCare. I don’t care about what part it played in whatever started you down the road you went.

    Likewise, I don’t know your history or what side of the spectrum you fall down on. Clem either – he’s not my rep. But what you did was uncalled for. Especially in light of what Clem had posted.

    Beat ‘em down in an argument if you think they’re wrong but don’t try to squeeze by on that “I’m looking out for his employer” junk. That’s a lie.

  22. deleted Says:

    deleted comment

  23. Joe Says:

    Well, my nickname isn’t “Semitic Superman” for nothin’.

    That said… I’m blinkered. Are we actually going to go down the route of blatant anti-semitism here?

  24. Joe Says:

    “”Beat ‘em down in an argument if you think they’re wrong but don’t try to squeeze by on that “I’m looking out for his employer” junk. That’s a lie.”"

    Fair enough, but I didn’t claim to be looking out for his employer; as I made clear, I said what I thought would persuade his employer.

    It’s the same as any advertising gig; you have a target audience, and you pick an approach to sell them that you think’ll work.

    My approach was shitty in two areas; It didn’t work, and it had the inadvertent consequence of Clem taking it that I wanted him fired, which couldn’t be further from what I intended.

    That said, by the same token it’s hard to impute sinister motives to me.

    “”Likewise, I don’t know your history or what side of the spectrum you fall down on. Clem either – he’s not my rep. But what you did was uncalled for. Especially in light of what Clem had posted.”"

    You and I have two very different interpretations of what he posted.

    I posted the full text of what he wrote to his employer (Clem edited it out when he put it on Hobbs’ website), with a link, and noted that he had signed it with his company e-mail address — Some of your points are decent, but the idea that I tried to ‘mislead’ Clem’s employer about what he had been writing isn’t.