Didn’t happen, but I can see why some people might think it must have, especially anyone aware of the fact that I’ve been blogging away as usual or even more so, yet not publishing at the HotAir Greenroom. We’ve heard here from one – possibly not very sane – individual who assumed that, having finally p-o’d the “boss” one p too o, I had been ordered to turn in my badge and gun, saber broken in two, branded, marked with the liberal’s shame, or anyway cut off. He claimed further to have it on “good authority” that that, Mr. and Mrs. America, is the way it was.
So, to put things plainly: They did not sack me. Though some HotAir-ites have made it abundantly clear that they don’t care for my style, for my approach, for my interests, or for my views or what they take to be my views, neither Ed nor Allahpundit has ever hinted at a problem with critical, divergent, or provocative opinions – including ones that openly confront theirs.
In another sense, though, I’ve got to say
Of course, I was kicked off the team – squelched, booted, sacked, rejected, exiled, proscribed, defenestrated.
Now, let me emphasize for anyone skimming: Neither Ed nor AP even once gave me the slightest indication that I wasn’t welcome or wouldn’t be welcome anymore. Indeed, the last e-mail I got from Ed, cc’d to AP, stressed how happy they were with my contributions and general conduct.
Well – about that last e-mail.
It happened to have been prompted by an “incident.” I had insisted that the conversation under one of my posts remain on topic and non-personalized, but the commenters in question, two of my biggest HotAir fans, with some volunteer support, refused my demand. Taking advantage of my Greenroomer’s prerogative, I deleted their defiant replies.
The commenters took the results as a victory for themselves personally and for the kind of place they want HotAir to be. And they were right to do so.
My only post since that time was a direct reply to having been “called out” by AP. The post wasn’t “green-headlined,” much less featured, but the fans were back, insults blazing. There was nothing to make me feel that I achieved anything, at HotAir anyway, beyond, at most, standing up for myself and sorting out my own thoughts.
OK – WAS IT “POLITICAL”?
Except in the sense that no one who mattered ever invoked what the far lefties call “line differences,” of course it was, and is, “political.”
Around six months ago, around the time that I was realizing just how annoyed with Glenn Beck I’d become, and reflecting on how much, unlike most conservatives, I enjoyed the movie Avatar, I started feeling a lot more comfortable criticizing conservatives and conservative positions than cheering them on.
I had originally hoped that the work that resulted would be taken as usefully challenging, that it might encourage fellow conservatives to reflect on potentially self-limiting, overly ideological and groupthunk approaches. Instead, I mainly met resistance, and the more resistance to criticism that I discovered, the more justified I felt in escalating.
There was also some encouragement – greedily devoured morsels of praise from commenters and bloggers, even some e-mail correspondence with well-known conservatives who, like, suddenly even knew my name! “Oh, you’re that CK?” is a question I may never have had to answer if AP hadn’t been kind enough to invite me in on the initial Greenroom experiment last year. Nor would I likely have been able to conduct public debates with well-known conservative figures.
All well and good, exciting if you’re just a knows-no-one has-nothing guy from the middle of anywhere, typing away instead of tending his day job, but I never got the impression that my support in HotAir-land was growing, or that the attention was leading anywhere. To the contrary, the comment threads seemed to be getting more uniformly negative, and more derogatorily so, now with complicity from on high… and an e-mail from so-and-so every few months isn’t anything to dine out on.
In addition to experiencing diminishing returns, I’ve also been sensing cross purposes. It’s not just that conservative comrades, including bloggers whom I’d recommended for HotAir Greenroom gigs, stopped linking to or visiting or co-authoring at Zombie Contentions. It’s that maybe being “that CK” – “CK from HotAir” – isn’t or shouldn’t be what I want, either because I belong on some other team or because I’m not suited to team play.
In other words, I came to recognize that, if being an “American conservative” in good standing requires, for instance, what I believe opposition to the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” has exemplified – in two words, religious bigotry – then I’m not a conservative in good standing. I’ve come to feel the same way about a number of other issues, in fact about most topics, events, and personalities I’ve been finding interesting enough to want to discuss.
I could launch an historical-philosophical argument about how my perspective represents some better, more authentic conservatism. I could explain why I still feel compelled to articulate my positions in relation to American conservatism. But, even if I had ever been enough in love with the label to fight for it, I’d still have reason to stand down at HotAir, where, if there are supportive lurkers and non-registered readers, they have not found a way to make themselves known (much); where the head honchos, though they have not banished me, have overruled me in favor of those who attack me for being myself; and where any defense of a conservatism with which I could be comfortable inspires “True Conservatives” to accuse me of blogging under false pretenses.
Moreover, from that TC point of view, which dominates at HotAir, I am a demon android Hell-bound freak in conservative sheep’s clothing.
At Zombie Contentions, we’ve lost several co-authors and regular participants in a more intimate version of the disagreements with Ed, AP, and the True Conservatives. I’d apologize, if I thought there was something to apologize for, but in offering to host and build this web site just almost a year ago, after the great exile from Contentions, as earlier when accepting the invitation to blog at HA’s new Greenroom, the last thing on my mind was a sectarian enterprise – or even less to keep my thoughts to myself.
If our obscure little circle expands, great. If it can’t or shouldn’t, or even if it fades to nothing – so be it.
Instead of apologizing, I’ll take it upon myself to congratulate everyone’s who’s left for preferring contentious discussion over the insistence on a particular content, or on a particular set of contentions favorable to one side or another in the great political divides of the day before yesterday (but not the prior).
Last thought on HA, for now: Maybe I was already gone a long time ago. Maybe I was never really there. Sometimes, it just takes a little while for a site to load properly – due to server, coding, caching, browser issues… that kind of thing. You never know what may turn up, or disappear, the next time you hit “refresh.”