Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Advocacy on One's Own Behalf

During the four years in which I was paid to advocate on behalf of my own diffuse ethnic group, I occasionally referred to my work as "the Hispanic biz," from which I was grateful to depart. Decades later, as a blogger who happens to be Hispanic, I am watching a blogosphere in which identity is almost a profession entitled to disrespect everyone else for shock or sympathy value.

Since when is defending the ethnicity, sex or sexual preference into which, no doubt, you wisely chose to be born, or the religion your sagely selected parents brought you up in, a ticket to fame, fortune and a get-out-of-shame card when you spill your offensive bile against others?
  • In Fernham, a wannabe feminist literary analyst, devotes a post to a paper she heard about Jorge Luis Borges' translation of Virginia Woolf's A Room of Her Own, parroting the notion that the version is "fatally muted," despite her mangling of Spanish because she doesn't speak the language!

  • My adored Bloguera posted a funny but somewhat excessive slam on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, admittedly an unrivalled collection of blowhards, because they called the chairman "presidente" in the Spanish version of their Web page -- even though presidente happens to be an accurate translation of the title for the head of a committee.

  • Then there's Gawker's dizzying spin on the New Yorker cover caricature of Barack Obama: early in the morning they were outraged, by noon they recognized satire and in the afternoon they talked their way out of it by pretending that they were undergoing the five steps of "how you were supposed to respond."
OK, so it's only blogging, not neuroscience. And, pace regular readers, yours truly deeply resembles these remarks.

Still, here are the nagging philosophical conundri: What is the value, if any, and what are the ethical limits of advocacy on behalf of one's own interests, culture, point of view? What about when one blogger's identity treads on another?
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