THE MOTHER OF ALL SOAPBOXES….A couple of years ago I was at a small panel discussion in Los Angeles on the subject of blogging. My most vivid memory of the event — aside from the fact that Eugene Volokh actually had a bullet-pointed handout for the group — came about halfway through when a lady stood up and said, in a querulous tone, “The thing I don’t like about blogging is that it allows anybody to say anything.”

It’s the kind of remark that pretty much leaves you speechless. Luckily, Eugene and Virginia Postrel are not easily rendered speechless and managed to respond in some way or another before the conversation moved on. I just sat there with my jaw gaping.

This isn’t really apropos of much of anything, but it was prompted by the conversation on a variety of blogs today about why so many mainstream reporters fear and loathe the blogosphere. It was, for my taste, a wee bit disingenuous: bloggers could probably do themselves a favor by stepping back once in a while and trying to understand the impact of being on the receiving end of a hundred furious blog posts, a thousand livid comments, and five thousand enraged emails telling you in very personal terms why you’re a corrupt, sniveling, lying sycophant merely because you said something nice about Joe Lieberman or opposed net neutrality or opined that Harry Reid was wrong about the war. It’s really not the same thing as mere “blunt criticism.”

But then I remember that lady. And stamping out her attitude once and for all just seems a whole lot more important than worrying about hurt feelings due to verbal feeding frenzies. And then I feel better.

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