Monday, October 19, 2009

DNA Bloggers Call the Kettle Black

In a strange non-substantive complaint against marriage equality advocates, members of the alleged "grassroots" anti-gay group Digital Network Army (DNA) have been ridiculing marriage equality advocates and organizations for contributing to the marriage battle in Maine. Breathlessly titling her post "Equality Maine- Epic Grass Roots FAIL!" DNA-er Beetle Blogger "exposes" Top Secret and Very Elusive information about LGBT advocates that she scooped from the Twitter and the World Wide Web.

After first highlighting how someone in California tweeted about running a phone bank for marriage equality in Maine, Beetle then cited an article from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force that encouraged out-of-state volunteers to head to Maine to support marriage equality. Beetle's blogging buddy Pearl has also written a breathless post of her own boasting of Beetle's sleuthery with respect to Equality Maine's "Grass Roots Fail Fail Fail!" (I think if you repeat something enough times, it makes it true).

Alluding to, but failing to cite, "promises made in the beginning of the campaign that this would be a local deal," the overarching point of Beetle's faux-expose is apparently to demonstrate that equality advocates are a bunch of lying liars. Alluding to, but failing to cite, the outrage that some LGBT advocates felt with respect to anti-gay organizations' utilization of out-of-state volunteers during California's Proposition 8 battle, the overarching point of Pearl's post is apparently to demonstrate that equality advocates are "pretty darn hypocritical."

None of this, of course, has a lick to do with the substantive marriage debate. It does, however, serve the all-important purpose of fitting into an overarching message that frames LGBT people and equality advocates as Very Bad People Who Are Engaged in Unfair Shenanigans.

Yet, like those who claim to be tolerant while also comparing homosexuality to sticking bananas in one's ears, a bizarre cognitive dissonance can be observed.

Neither Beetle nor Pearl, you see, live in Maine.

Nonetheless, on her own site, Beetle sports a bright yellow "Stand for Marriage Maine" button, has devoted a rather long post to encouraging other bloggers to "Go yellow" themselves, and has posted (with sketchy attribution) anti-equality organization Stand For Marriage Maine's talking points regarding the Maine marriage battle.

Pearl, on her site, has posted a cut-n-paste message from the Digital Network Army (whatever that actually is) encouraging defenders of marriage to contribute to Stand For Marriage Maine. That post followed one in which Pearl complains:

"Equality CALIFORNIA waging a culture war in MAINE. CALIFORNIA – MAINE. Wow. EQCA has a loooooooong arm."

Consequently, whereas the majority of the No on 1 (Maine's pro-equality group) contributions have come from a multitude of small donations, the New Jersey-based National Organization for Marriage has contributed $425,000 to Stand for Marriage Maine- accounting for almost half of the Maine anti-equality group's budget.

You know, I often wonder if it is physically painful for one person's brain to hold two logically inconsistent positions. To Pearl, it is wow-able that an equality organization is "waging a culture war" in another state, but not at all notable for herself, her like-minded bloggers, or the most prominent anti-equality organization in the nation to use their looooooong arms to do the exact. same. thing.

Enhancing the irony, Beetle also alludes to astroturfing. I wonder if her Great and Powerful DNA Team Captain fed her that term. What's interesting about the "grassroots" DNA group is that a Team Captain regularly feeds DNA bloggers topics to write about. DNA bloggers then sometimes regurgitate these talking points, which read like statements from professional anti-gay organizations, almost verbatim. It makes one wonder, how "grass roots" is the DNA, really? Who and/or what entity is really behind it?

I ask these questions only because, with respect to the DNA, astroturfing does come to mind. It is fine for professional organizations to mobilize those who share their ideologies and goals. That's not the issue. The issue is that the public deserves to know whether the mobilization of a group of people has been orchestrated by those whose livelihoods depend on a certain issue remaining relevant. I may be mistaken, but I have my doubts about both the size and "grassroots" nature of the DNA. Anyone from the DNA is welcome to clarify, elaborate, or object to my opinion here. Inquiring minds certainly want to know the answer to these questions. In fact, with respect to this truth-finding mission, DNA responses are highly encouraged!



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