La Cieca is warning you she’s going to get meta for a while here, so if it’s opera (or even hunks) you’re interested in, you might want to skim or just skip this posting altogether. Anyway, your doyenne has noticed lately on another blog or two where she is a commenter a phenomenon she is not entirely comfortable with, a kind of bullying behavior that tends to quash minority opinion. This is different from the so-called “echo chamber” effect, the complaint that all the blogs tend to report the same story at the same time in more or less the same manner and attitude, but La Cieca does think that word “echo” is applicable to the problem she is trying to describe. 

To go into a little more detail without turning utter whiner, La Cieca engaged in some commentary conversation over the past weekend on the subject of the media coverage of John Edwards‘ admission of adultery. Basically there were two tiers of discussion. One, which La Cieca found not particularly interesting, was on the morality of Edwards himself, with side trips into the psyches of the ladies involved. The other, which your doyenne rather warmed up to, examined what media’s role should be when this sort of story breaks, e.g., were mainstream and traditional media too slow to delve into the story, what is the relevance of a public figure’s private misbehavior to political discourse, and the broader question of whether this story, however factual, could be called news in the classical sense.

So anyway, all this palaver is taking place on a blog about the media, so you would think (or you might think were you as naïve as La Cieca) that the meat of the discussion would be the media’s role. This was not the case; unfortunately the discussion degraded very quickly into an emotion-drenched parody of what we used to call sexual politics. To put it another way, it was, roughly speaking, the boys against the girls, with the boys saying, “so what’s the big fucking deal” and the girls saying “I am going to tear off John Edwards’ balls with my bare teeth.”

Now, this is where the echo effect comes in. The thread grew into hundreds of comments, but the discussion basically just became a series of variations on “you go, girl,” and any disagreement was immediately dismissed as an endorsement of date-rape.

So why am I telling you this sad story, cher public, especially at such great length? Well, La Cieca is actually quite proud of the fact that the “echo” effect does not prevail here at, or at least that’s her impression. There’s a lot of back and forth, but, so far as your doyenne can tell, there’s little sense of minority opinion being quashed. Is La Cieca right about this, i.e., that the discussions on are reasonably untrammelled, or are there in fact some of you cher public who feel you have been taunted or bullied into silence? Is there anything La Cieca can do to make the discussion here more welcoming without losing the edge of passion that so enlivens the comment pages?

And with that, La Cieca will begin anew her search for controversial operatic topics.