I am a documentary film director. Subjects of my films have included love, sex, 9/11, indigenous fisheries, hurricanes, refugees, HIV/AIDS orphans, and visualization of God. I am best known for the Real People, Real Life, Real Sex series of documentaries that simultaneously explore the vital role of sexual pleasure in committed relationships and the problematic place of explicit sexuality in cinema. This is my "Safe" blog.

Dave Weigel, The Beautiful Kind, Dissent and Discretion

Posted: June 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

A few weeks ago the blogger who goes by TBK was fired after her boss googled her name, and an obscure cache in Twitter’s database linked the blogger’s real name to her anonymous blog. Her boss decided their organization could not risk association with the ideas and images on TheBeautifulKind.com. TBK trusted Twitter, and it turned out her trust was misplaced.

Earlier this week, Dave Weigel’s comments to the private list-serv Journolist were leaked, and Weigel was fired from his job at The Washington Post. Weigel trusted his colleagues on Journolist, and it turned out his trust was misplaced.

My wife and I met online more than 15 years ago, back when that was an awkward thing to admit to “normal people”; and the conventional wisdom at Casa Comstock has been that having indiscreet information on the internet — off color jokes, sexual pictures, whatever — would become more and more common; and that much as past drug use is now tolerated among our politicians, over time having indiscreet online information would become “no big deal.”

But I’ve revised my opinion. Yes, for most people it will be “no big deal”, but it will always be a “big deal” for some people, and you never know when you might become one of those people.

And as every aspect of our society becomes digital — who we talk with, what we say, what we buy, everything — being discreet becomes more and more difficult.

It’s also worth taking a moment to think about what we’re losing. Here’s Marc Ambinder on the now defunct Journolist:

It was a forum. A members-only coffee shop where people who take ideas seriously, who want access to people who take ideas seriously, could test their own ideas before they refined and presented them to the public. As a reporter, I learned a lot about a lot of subjects. It was an enormous resource, and I’ll miss it.

There are plenty of things I miss about the “old internet”; but mostly I miss the optimism. But as much as that’s about the internet growing up, it’s probably just as much about me growing up too.


5 Comments on “Dave Weigel, The Beautiful Kind, Dissent and Discretion”

  1. 1 The Beautiful Kind said at 12:57 pm on June 26th, 2010:

    I don’t know Dave Weigel or the Journolist, but it sounds like that resource is gone now due to what went down. That’s a shame.

    I took my site down for three weeks while I regrouped, and after much deliberation, I put it back up last month. It’s such a valuable resource for so many people who are interested in exploring their sexuality. What a wonderful thing! It has plenty of naughty pics of me on it, but I don’t think there is anything wrong or shameful about that. I’m all about being open and honest.

    My former employers felt sex should be a private matter, not discussed in public. I don’t agree with that. I was definitely slut shamed, and if there’s anyone to blame for that, it’s society.

    A fan told me, “I admire you because you really are free and expressive about the most beautiful thing in life, a basic need we all yearn for, but because of our hangups never achieve.”

    We are all human beings on a journey. We’re all trying to figure things out. We all want to be loved. I’m totally OK with that. I wish others were as well.

  2. 2 anon said at 11:07 pm on June 26th, 2010:

    1. I consider myself liberal. I enjoyed reading Dave Weigel on the weird occasions I would read reason. When he left reason for the wapo and washington independent, he started getting mentioned EVERYWHERE and was on NPR and I wondered, why? Had he changed since reason? Well, now I think the answer is JournoList. Which is one reason of many JournoList was a bad idea. Journalists should compete, not collude.

    2. It’s somewhat ironic and relevant to your post that in 2007, another reason editor/writer Katharine Mangu Ross wrote a reason article and appeared on NPR to talk about how she, as some sort of libertarian, thought having government surveillance cameras everywhere was an okay thing, in fact a good thing: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6941784

    She wrote then that a camera on a gay bar’s door would stop no one from going in. Because gay bars were too much fun, and no one is in the closet or suffers from discrimination anymore.

    “Ms. MANGU-WARD: The upside is convenience. If you read the New York Civil Liberties Union report, they open with a quite dramatic question, which you quoted: would you go to a gay bar if you knew you were being watched? And the answer, is of course you would and you would pay with a credit card. So whether or not there’s a camera outside the gay bar, if someone wants to know if you were there, they’d been able to find that out for a long time just be getting your credit card records.

    Likewise, we greatly enjoy being able to sort through every purchase that we’ve made in the last three years.

    We love speeding through the EZ-pass lane. I know I always look smugly over at the anonymous people with their cash. But moreover, even though we know these databases exist, and pretty much everyone does if they think about it, we don’t worry about the ways they’re going to be used, because we live in a free country.”

    3. I like taking pictures of my kids (elementary school), but they dislike it when I put them online. And so I don’t.

  3. 3 anon said at 11:08 pm on June 26th, 2010:

    Katherine Mangu Ward.

    I’m still crushing on Katherine Ross.

  4. 4 TonyComstock said at 11:23 pm on June 26th, 2010:

    Hello TBK, and welcome to the Kōan of Silence. Your and Mr. Weigel’s misadventures bring up all sorts of interesting and even troubling questions about what constitutes “proper” connect in our new online society, and serve as a reminder that if the expression of an idea doesn’t entail some measure of risk, it probably isn’t dissent.

  5. 5 TonyComstock said at 12:22 am on June 27th, 2010:

    Hello anon, and welcome.

    Given the chance I’d like to ask Ms. Mangu Ward if she is familiar with the visitor suppressing effect of Blogger’s content warning page. I haven’t studied it formally, but all anecdotal evidence suggests the page has a significant supressive effect; and I think human history suggests that folks are bolder in theory than they are in fact.

    There is also the way we assess the risks we have to take and the risks we don’t have to take. Bluewater sailing is safer than driving on the LIE, but most folks don’t see it that way.

    Lastly, my wife has suggested that EZ Pass would be a wonderful way to give people speeding tickets.

    Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment!


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