Wednesday, November 29, 2006

One more reason to read's GA coverage

Somebody might be insulting you there.

This is a little late to be bitching about this, I realize, but I just found out about it tonight when Jamie Goodwin was kind enough to point to a June 24 UU World article where Doug Muder accuses me of "spreading gossip" because I wrote about discussion in the plenary about how the delegates were unhappy with the Global Warming resolution.

Doug doesn't spread gossip, so he didn't write about it. Other than to snottily suggest that Philo knows what he's talking about and I'm spreading gossip when I write about the same damn thing.

Yeah, it was gossip, you see, because only the select few thousand of us who showed up to the plenary and/or treated GA like the meeting of an association were in on it.

As someone who apparently had better things to do than, you know, vote, Doug couldn't be bothered to attend the plenary, so I guess he wouldn't know that this "gossip" he's talking about was discussed for several hours of an open meeting. I'm figuring he thinks I must be getting these hot tips from someplace else. I guess he assumes that when the folks who want the UUA to lobby harder for government-imposed environmental regulations need someone to talk about their next move with, they call up good ol' CC.

That's, you know, how I get all the gossip. I'm in the GA hippie inner circle.

Uh huh.



PG said...

What a dork. If he tries to defend himself and says something equally lame, I recommend that you ignore it -- getting you into some junior high style feud probably would get him off.

Anonymous said...

I'd read that, CC, but it didn't occur to me that he was saying you were spreading gossip, but that he had refrained from joining in the discussion because he was clueless about it.

Hopefully, I'm not the only one who interpreted it that way - and doesn't think you're a gossip!

Chalicechick said...

I'm kind of mystified, actually as Doug is not someone I always agree with, but he usually seems like a pretty reasonable guy.

LRC, I hope not everybody took it the way I did, but leaving aside the "gossip" bit, he at least seems to set up a clear distinction between Philo (who knows what he's talking about) and me. It's pretty clear whose ideas Doug takes seriously and whose he doesn't.


Donnald O'Blogggin said...

I find Doug's post rather insulting. As a (then) GAPC member, and a delegate, if he wasn't at Plenary (whether he was a delegate or not, I'm assuming he wasn't) I'd say he can go get stuffed.

GA is the meeting of congregations. Yes, there is more to our congregations and leaders engaging in dialogue than JUST Plenary, but the sessions are important, none the less.

kim said...

My impression was more like LRC's. I don't think he was using you as an example of gossip, but as an example of how to describe what was going on (and it was an excuse to stick your link in.)

Philocrites said...

I realize this is a very minor point, but Doug wasn't writing a UU World article; his GA Journal was part of's General Assembly coverage, which has always been separate from the magazine. (Doug does write for UU World, too, of course.)

I confess that I hadn't read Doug's post the way you just did, and can only imagine that lareinacobre's interpretation is correct. It's also possible that Doug was trying to maintain a somewhat artificial distinction between blogs as casual, informal coverage and journalism as reliable, formal coverage. I say "artificial" because there's no hard and fast separation, and Doug himself uses blogging to do citizen journalism with the best of 'em.

Still, there's a reason why would give preferential treatment to an account on's General Assembly news blog over an individual's pseudonymous blog: My professional reputation and the credibility of the magazine is at stake in's blogging, and so it comes preloaded with authority, as it were, or at least with the kind of authority that an institutional website can easily recognize and rely on. I hope you see that I mean absolutely no disrespect in saying this. And, unlike Doug, I did attend every plenary session, so I knew that the buzz about the draft Statement of Conscience was indeed negative, widespread, and vocal. It wasn't gossip, but maybe he needed an "authoritative" source before he felt comfortable mentioning it on After all, he had only heard about it, but you and I were there.

In fact, Chalicechick and I were seated right next to each other during one of the more lively plenary sessions and chatted about some of what we were seeing as it was happening!

Journalists know that sometimes, the "gossip" that bloggers feel free to pass along is actually closer to the pulsing heart of what's happening than the on-the-record "facts" that a journalist can use -- and that's why journalists are among the most dedicated blog readers out there. Journalists know that sometimes, there's fire where bloggers report seeing smoke. (Not always, but sometimes.)

Chalicechick said...

To me, yeah, that is a minor point, but I'm happy to fix it as I get that it isn't so minor a point to you.

I do get what you're saying about what his thought process likely was, Philo, but I'm not sure why that thought process translated to the finished product. I mean, this thing was written on Sunday.

Friday, sure, your theory could have been that there wasn't a controversy, CC was blowing things out of proportion. By Sunday, even a man who wasn't bothering with the plenaries probably had seen that extra plenary time for discussion of this and extra mini-assemblies devoted to rewriting the Global Warming resolution were both scheduled.

To me, that should have been a huge clue that a decent-sized group of people's* unhappiness with the resolution was not a mere rumor bantered around on the internet, but a well-established fact.

I had theCSO read my post, asking him specifically to tell me if I were overreacting, and his response was along the lines of "The way it is written does imply that when you talk about something it is gossip, but when Chris talks about the same thing, it is fact, but I think you should assume that's clumsy writing rather than malicious intent."

He's probably right, but still.

I will confess that I clicked on the link to the Chaliceblog peice Doug linked to with a certain degree of trepidation. I know how I can be sometimes, but I was pretty pleased with my own coverage of the plenary and the thoughtfulness of my own analysis.

I get how a lot of people would say "Unless the guy getting the UUA paycheck confirms it, it can't be true," but I'm sort of mystified to see this logic coming from Doug given Doug's background in citizen journalism.


*A group of people I disagreed with, BTW, so I didn't have much motivation to make them seem larger and more significant than they were.

Jeff Wilson said...

My reading is pretty close to the CSO's: to me it looks like one of those clumsy wordings all bloggers generate from time to time. As written, it does kind of suggest that your post might be "gossip," yet it really doesn't read with malicious intent to me. If anything, my first guess would be that Doug wanted to highlight you with a link and offer readers more than just "the official Chris Walton version" of events, but did it in a hurry and kinda flubbed it.

Anonymous said...

What Jeff said ... and also the word "gossip" isn't always meant to be something bad. Sometimes it means nasty, subversive talking, but other times it just means "the word on the street." That was the meaning I inferred from it in his piece.

You could always ask him!

Doug Muder said...

Sorry it took me this long to notice this thread. And I'm really sorry my words were open to the interpretation that your "big freaking mess" comment was gossip -- and that gossip is a bad thing you do but I don't. In retrospect, I can see how what I wrote can be read that way. I'm sorry for that.

I meant this: I'd been been running into people for days who were complaining about the process on the global warming resolution. They made various factual claims that I didn't pass on because I hadn't checked any of it out. Me passing on those claims would have been me gossiping.

In general, I was extremely nervous about using the official GA blog to say something negative about GA. Chris is right about that part: I was being wimpy. (I know. Chris didn't use the word "wimpy".) The subtext of me referencing Chris was: "I'm not saying this, UU World is saying this."

I quoted your "huge freaking mess" comment because I DIDN'T think it was gossip. I took it as your personal reaction to the process, not a specific charge that I ought to verify before I told anybody about it.

I was counting on my parentheses to provide more separation -- between your name and the word "gossip" -- than they actually did. I apologize for that.

BTW, under the circumstances I appreciate the "usually seems like a pretty reasonable guy" comment. And I choose to let pg's speculations about what gets me off pass unanswered.

Chalicechick said...

Smile. Thanks, Doug. We're good.