Bloggers dish about the D.C. madam, worry over melamine-tainted pet food, and scratch their heads about misogynistic blog comments.
Madam leaker: As Deborah Jeane Palfrey came under fire for allegedly running a high-class escort service, she leaked reams of telephone records to ABC News. Randall L. Tobias, President Bush's abstinence-minded Bush AIDS-relief czar, has been exposed; Palfrey's headed for a 20/20 appearance; and bloggers want to see more names.
Liberal gender studies prof Hugo Schwyzer faults the clients: "After a day of reflection, I'm more and more inclined to say 'reveal all the names.' … I am convinced that prostitution is never, ever, a victimless crime. … When men—particularly men in positions of power—choose to focus on their own pleasure rather than on the plight of the exploited, then I think these fellas forfeit their right to have their names kept private."
Lisa Renee at Liberal Common Sense discredits Tobias' massage defense: "Yes, I realize some like Randall Tobias are trying to say they only used Pamela Martin & Associates for 'legal' services such as a massage but seriously people, even if you did only use them for massage services? Knowing that it was an escort firm is not a smart move."
Some bloggers shout legal advice from the sidelines. At true-crime outlet CrimeBlog, Steve Huff recommends admitting to prostitution: "I think if Ms. Palfrey really wants to garner some public support for her cause … she should drop the b.s. about the business NOT being prostitution. … The publicizing of that list of customers, if it is as remarkable as the press seems to think it could be—well, it would probably go a long way towards mitigating the current impression some surely have that Deborah Jeane Palfrey is not just a 'Madam,' but a con woman, in general. That, or make us forget all about her—and maybe she'd prefer that." Jeralyn Merritt at political-crime blog TalkLeft calls Palfrey's strategy "desperate": "The clients are hardly going to be willing witnesses. What if they just tell her lawyer, when they get their subpoenas, there was sex involved? Surely, she won't publish their comments since it would be adding to the Government's case against her and hurtful to her defense? Nor would she dare actually put them on the stand."
Misogyny 2.0: The Washington Post reported Monday on a study showing that the unfettered verbal abuse found in blog comments disproportionately targets female bloggers, both in quantity and in viciousness. (Disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)
Blogging for Brilliant at Breakfast, Jill wonders: "Are women whose photographs are online more at risk? Does knowing what a woman looks like somehow make her more 'real' to men seeking a target for their hatred?"
Trevor at The Will to Exist says the 'Net is no worse than the real world: "The game is power, and if the Internet is less civil than real life the only reason is because of the illusion of anonymity. The false idea that on the Internet someone cannot reach out and slap you on the mouth for your invective motivates the bullies, the cowards and the self-loathing to spew their bile more frequently. … Having an opinion on the Internet implies a willingness to hold up your shields when the spears get thrown. If you don't have the strength, then don't get into the game."
Kat Cooper of My Single Mom Life, who was featured in the Post article, has demonstrated that strength, continuing to blog despite a cyberstalker. "This blog is a part of my life, my history, my friendships, way to stay in touch with family and friends back home. While the pictures of my kids and family and friends that he stole from my site and posts horrible things about, bothers me a lot, it's not going to stop me."
Read more about cyber-sexism.
Coal cuts: Workers in Zhanqiu, China, freely admit that they regularly supplement animal feed products with melamine, a coal-derived chemical that resembles protein in tests but has no nutritional value. The fact that melamine inclusion is intentional is making bloggers nervous.
Lefty natasha at Pacific Views explains her loss in trust for the federal government: "I'm supposed to be able to buy with confidence a sealed drink from somebody I don't know in a town thousands of miles across the country and be able to believe that both the amount and the ingredients match the label. … Maybe we shouldn't trust so many strangers with growing and processing the stuff we depend on for our very lives, especially when it appears that our incompetent government has abdicated its exercise of due diligence on our behalf."
Goldy at progressive blog HorsesAss wonders about the timing of the FDA response: "It seems inconceivable that the regulators tasked with overseeing the safety and purity of our nation's food supply did not at least imagine the potential scope of this crisis back in early March when they first learned that Chinese wheat gluten was poisoning dogs and cats. Indeed, the very fact that they were so quick to focus in on melamine as the adulterating agent suggests they at least suspected what they were facing."
Read more about Chinese melamine use.