06 March, 2007

I'll Write What I Want To Write. Thanks.

So all bloggers--even the libertarian ones--are now invited to participate in the viewing of our democratic processes. Woot.

There are a few serious journalists among us who seem to be of the opinion that this is our own little Schoolhouse Rock whereby we learn the workings of how a bill becomes a law, how to shake hands and write dry reports about drier goings-on.

In case you hadn't noticed, I am not a journalist. Sometimes I'm serious, sometimes I'm not. So while I appreciate the advice from Bill Hobbs, I'd like to point out a couple of things.

1 ) I've been to quite a few legislature events in my lifetime. I know how they work and I know how little gets done in each brief window of time. I also know what a fancy-dress parade looks like. I can't imagine that any event accompanied by donuts is going to be one wherein the legislative events we've been 'invited' to view are actually productive.

2 ) A person doesn't have live and breathe procedural politics in order to be aware of them. I bristle at the assumption that simply because I'm a blogger I need to be told how to behave as though I were an 8th grader going on a field trip to the fire station.

3 ) I don't write your blog. I'm not employed by your blog. I'm not largely read by the readers of your blog. I offer a different type of content to a different reader. Sometimes we do politics. Other times we do knitting or Harry Potter or television. That's how I roll. So you'd better believe that if I go I'll write about the thing my way.

At his own place, Bill Hobbs implores us
And whatever you do, don't blog about how cool it is to meet other bloggers, and how Rep. Mumpower is different than you thought he'd be. At least not until the next day.

To which I comment "Whyever not?"

Isn't the purpose of this invitation in part to make the legislative process seem more tangible and accessible to the public? Wouldn't such comments buttress any dry details with a level of versimillitude for the readers?

I'm a colour-commentary writer. That's the stuff of my business. People don't read me for procedural detail. They read me to know my opinion of what it's like to BE THERE.

In other words, you can be Josephus. I'll be Pepys' Diary. There's room for both types of writing in literature, and room for both types in coverage of this event.


At 9:49 AM, March 06, 2007, Anonymous brittney said...

"There are a few serious journalists among us who seem to be of the opinion that this is our own little Schoolhouse Rock whereby we learn the workings of how a bill becomes a law, how to shake hands and write dry reports about drier goings-on."

It's so patronizing. Really chaps my hide, but it says more about them than it does about the folks it's directed toward.

At 10:53 AM, March 06, 2007, Anonymous nm said...

He can make things up, and you can tell us how all the nice clothes made you horny? This really, really works for me.

At 11:39 AM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...


I think you'd HAVE to make stuff up in order to make most legislature proceedings interesting at all.

Which is why Stacey Campfield is such a breath of fresh air.

At 1:31 PM, March 06, 2007, Anonymous sista smiff said...

If I'm not working by then, I think I'm going to take my rather sumptuous behind down there and write about all sorts of trivial things I see. Dammit, that building is MINE. I pay for it just as much as the serious bloggers do with my tax money.

At 2:08 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

This isn't about shaking hands or writing dry reports. It's about knowing how the process works and reporting on it accurately. The purpose IS political. It was never set up as a social meet-up. It seems pretty simple to me, if you don't like politics or don't want to learn about the process, then why go? It's not a social event. If you don't like politics or writing about it, then don't. That's pretty simple. It's your respective blogs, and like everyone is saying, you can write what you want.

Aside from understanding the process fully,(and no, that can't be done with a cursory examination of it on one visit)bloggers have the unique ability--because they can write what they want, to make a difference in the process.

I can only speak for myself, but I have been lobbying to get bills passed that will make it mandatory for child molesters to go to jail. (I could not have done this as a MSM person)

Did you know your 4 year old could get raped today and the CONVICTED rapist could get sentenced to maybe 30 days of community service if the judge wanted to?

There are finally several bills this session to see there is a mandatory jail sentence for a convicted child molester.

This isn't a partisan issue, and it would be wonderful to see bloggers of all stripes getting involved in seeing convicted child molesters go to jail. To do this, however, you need to know who is introducing what, which ones are going to get bottled up and killed in committee, and which ones have a chance of becoming law THIS session.

I wish everyone would put away whatever bad feelings they harbor or whatever ideas they have about a journalist vs a blogger or whatever, and work together to affect this most important piece of legislation.

Again, only speaking for myself, I am doing everything I know how to do as a citizen and journalist/blogger to make this happen. It sure would be a lot easier if other bloggers put pressure on the legislators for this to happen.

So for those of you going, perhaps you will consider asking questions about this when you're there.

At 2:25 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Sista, exactly.


I think the point of blogging is that the event is what each individual makes of it.

It's not a social event.

I think it is at least in part. Most of the events are already open to the public. The point of labelling it "bloggers" day is to create a groundswell of social involvement, at least to my mind.

And no, I wouldn't go on and on about how funny it is to watch a blogger shove beans up his nose. But I certainly won't be told how to write any report I would write. If this were a freelance article for a publication with guidelines then I would tailor my reporting to that publication. As it stands this would be a freelance piece for my blog, so I'll tailor it to my blog.

On your other issue it does sound like a laudible goal on the one hand. On the other hand I'm adamantly opposed to any type of mandatory sentencing laws for any crime because those laws remove all mercy from the realm of justice. So unfortunately I can't be one of the blogging voices behind your proposal. I don't say this because of the conflicts we've had in the past. I say this wholly out of respect for your position, and wanted you to know that in not supporting the position it is simply about the position and not your role in proposing it.

At 2:47 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

All of your points are very well taken.

I've got to ask a question, though.
Whether it's a child molester or murderer, (proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt) you believe that person should be shown mercy? If so, where does the justice come from for the innocent victim?

I think there might be an interesting juxtaposition here where I am taking a more conservative view, and you're taking a more liberal view.

It's also confusing, because if I recall correctly, you are for the death penalty. So if you're for the death penalty and would want to see a convicted murderer killed,but you don't want a mandatory jail sentence for him? I'm confused!

Again, interesting juxtaposition!

At 3:43 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Kat Coble said...

I am for the death penalty. But not a MANDATORY death penalty.

The way I understand mandatory sentencing to work, if you are convicted of a certain crime, then you MUST serve the mandatory sentence.

If we had mandatory capital sentencing laws for murder, any person convicted of murder would automatically be sentenced to death. While I'm for the death penalty as an option, I am most decidedly against it as a certainty in murder cases.

I also firmly believe in the difference between justice and vengeance. I know that sounds odd coming from a death penalty advocate, but as I've said before in other places, I don't support using the legal system as a way to bring comfort to victims.

Because it can't.

There is no earthly way that sentencing a child molester to one, ten, fifty or a hundred years is going to repair the wrongs done to the children s/he molested.

There is no earthly way that putting a killer to death is going to bring back the person s/he murdered.

That's not why we have a criminal justice system. We have such a system because we as a society have decided that those who violate our system of order should receive punishment for wronging the societal code.

That societal code is riddled with all sorts of ins and outs and whirlygigs. Stealing a car is worse--according to the law--than stealing a pack of gum and we sentence accordingly.

The role of judges in the criminal system is to evaluate the crime committed against all facets of the crime and to impose sentence accordingly. To my mind, judges are the last line of defence in personal justice. To impose mandatory sentencing laws removes that line of defence.

For example, I'll use a made-up murder case.

Jane Doe shoots her husband through the eye.

She goes to trial, and various facts come out. She shot her husband through the eye because she says caught him in the act of raping their 3 year old son.

There isn't enough legal prrof that the husband was raping the boy, so the jury convicts Jane Doe of murder in the second degree.

If we had mandatory sentencing laws that said "anyone convicted of murder receives the death penalty" then Jane Doe would automatically be sentenced to die. The judge couldn't evaluate all the mertis of her case and recommend a lighter sentence.

However, without mandatory sentencing laws the judge can say "hey, I think that she may have been justified so I will give her 3 years."

(and yes, lawyers who read my blog, I did make all this up and am well aware that most states have penalty phases for capital cases leaving the decision in the hands of the jury. I'm oversimplifying.)

Yes, I realise that my position is very informed by my libertarianism and would be considered more socially liberal than conservative. It seems wierd from the outside, but it makes perfect sense in my world.

At 4:29 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

I just love the fact that they're terrified of what we might do.

I'm no stranger to the parlimentary process. I used to be one of those day and night CSPAN watchers. I took a good long look at my life and realized I was wasting it.

I think there should be a place at the table for those of us who have put politics in the proper place in our lives. We're not uneducated, but we no longer view it as sport, as many wonks do.

And if Sista, B, and Kat might be there, it's a party!

At 5:52 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I hope all of the people you mentioned will attend.

We were invited by the Republican caucus. It is a political event. At no time was it there intention to make this a blogger meet-up.

Actually, they initially invited just Republican political writers, but Bill Hobbs said he wouldn't attend unless it was open to all bloggers. (If he seems a little nervous about that, it's because it's his neck on the line if people outside of the people who were initially invited don't take this seriously) It would be very unfair to go to this event and treat it without the professionalism it deserves, no matter where you stand on the issues.
Again, if you're not interested in politics, it's probably not the best idea to attend this particular event.
Bloggers from around the State are coming to town for this who care very much about meeting with their reps and are involve3d with current legislation.
I hope a lot of new people will come and get involved in the process.
The more bloggers who know our State legislators and how they work and how the process works, the better for all of us.

At 6:00 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I agree there is a difference between justice and revenge, but when there is no justice, that is often when people take the law into their own hands.

Child molesters don't deserve to walk free. They need to pay for their crime. And yes, it will make a difference to the child when the child is older. Otherwise, that child will feel betrayed by the system and not worthy of justice when she/he is an adult.

I was going to write a piece about this last week, and then decided to wait until it got closer to the political coverage by bloggers at the hill, in hopes those in attendance would question the legislators about the various bills (Jessica's Law the most known)before them this session.

But I certainly appreciate your last sentence! I have my own world where things just makes sense to me, too.

At 6:01 PM, March 06, 2007, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

there=their in my post to Slart. ARGH I hate when I mess those two up.

At 7:07 AM, March 07, 2007, Blogger Slartibartfast said...


Remember that moment in Braveheart, when the attendant to the princess starts speaking to her in French, 'knowing' that the barbarian Wallace wouldn't understand? And then that sweet moment when Wallace not only responds in French, but several other languages as well?

You'd be amazed what some of us non-political bloggers know about politics. I probably am just as educated and aware of parlimentary procedure as Hobbs himself. I've actually had formal training in it.

There is a difference between blogging about things other than politics because you're uneducated and uninterested, and blogging about other things because you understand that politics, while important, is not the most important thing.

People like Hobbs view politics as sport. I think THEY are the ones who don't understand it, not me.

At 10:11 AM, March 07, 2007, Anonymous sistasmiff said...

Slarti Baby...If I'm not working I am there. I haven't been to the Capitol since about 1979 when my dad's best friend was inaugurated as a State Senator and then we watched a session of something. I was 10...I don't remember what it was about so I would love to see how it all works. I think a point of view from a non-political blogger would be interesting. And just like The Slart Man says, just cause I don't live and breathe politics and bills and stuff, doesn't mean I don't care about my world.

Yeah, I'm going.

At 5:23 PM, March 07, 2007, Anonymous Sharon Cobb said...

If I came off in anyway as condescending, please allow me to apologize now.
I tried to get across that I hope everyone will attend...political blogger or non political blogger.

And as Sista pointed out, (as did you with the Braveheart reference) there are a lot of non political bloggers who have a lot to bring to the table.
Please try to understand, on the other side of that coin, Hobbs and I have worked very hard to get politicians to take bloggers seriously. From starting the blogger lunches for politicians running for office to getting access to all candidates running for office.
Again, I would like to point out that it was Hobbs who went to bat for all the non political bloggers to attend this (originally) invitation only event.
Speaking only for myself, I've always been involved with politics and been active and thankfully effective in getting laws changed, or bills introduced. This session, I will not take "No" regarding the passage of Jessica's Law or a similar law. "No" is not an option, and I've let the legislators know it, and the more people who do that the better chance it has of passing.
I am fighting for something I believe passionately, and I am not getting paid by any group or organization to do this. And it will get done this session, because "No" is not an option this session. It's not.
I hope bloggers who attend this political event will use the time to affect positive change however they see fit.
Again, if I came off as condescending to you or anyone else, I apologize.
I'm sorry I won't get to meet you this time around. For all the talk above, music is my first love and I know you and Sista are still involved in the biz. I miss it so much, and would love to chat about music with both of you.
I used to be a staff writer for Don Gant (mid 80s) and a record producer, which was a real rare thing in the 80s--to have a female producer.
Anyhow, I look forward to meeting y'all and hearing about your music adventures and hearing your music.


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