Eldridge and Barbie Dolls vs. Doogan and Mudflats: Because Nice Matters

barbie

An Alaskan blogger who goes by the pseudonym AKMuckraker on The Mudflats has had her identity outed by Alaskan State Representative Mike Doogan (D). In short, Doogan got his panties in a tangle when AKMuckraker took him to task on the subject of email etiquette. He is further disgruntled because he seems to feel that AKM has no right to free speech if she speaks anonymously. Doogan, it seems, has never read The Federalist Papers, or Benjamin Franklin, or any of the legendary political writers who wrote anonymously.

 

A tempest in a teapot? A moose in the two-lane? I don’t think so.

 

There are two main issues here – his actions and his response: 1) Doogan outed a private citizen who wished to blog anonymously; and 2) His constituency (and others) are letting him know that they don’t like it and he’s letting them know he doesn’t like their rants and is keeping count.

 

It’s the second issue I want to talk about.

One West Virginia state delegate, Jeff Eldridge, caught all kinds of flack for proposing a law that would ban Barbie dolls in the state of West Virginia. His reasons centered on how the doll damages (maybe) the self-esteem of young girls. I was one of the people who rolled my eyes in disgust.  Although I played with Barbies and think my self-esteem is fine (perhaps even veering toward narcissism), I agree that Barbie possesses the potential to send the wrong signals to young girls. The world is full of wrong signals – more so than when I was young, but that could be the old fart in me talking. BUT. . .but. . .but. . .Rome is burning and Nero wants to ban Barbie dolls. The timing was ill done and the cynical me wondered if it was a smokescreen to sidetrack more important legislation. I didn’t bother to write him.

Even worse, to some extent, is that the national news got hold of it and we were lampooned and lambasted world-wide. I’ve never heard so many toothless Barbie jokes in my life.

While in Charleston during the Barbie fiasco, a friend of mine happened to be staying at the same hotel Eldridge was. She ran into him in the business center. It started as one of those strange conversations that only happen to some of us, but she and he ended up talking. While I wasn’t there, the gist of the conversation was that he was getting thousands of emails and attempting to send a personal answer to each sender – yes, read that again – a personal response to each email. For negative comments, he was responding with something akin to “Thank you for your negative response.” I’m told he explained that often elicited a second email that was much calmer to which he explained his reasoning for proposing a bill that had no chance of success.

My friend was exhausted by the conference she was attending and the full impact of what he was saying didn’t hit her until she was relaying the story to me. During the legislative session, this guy was sitting in the business center of a downtown hotel frantically trying to send personal, polite email to thousands of people of whom, by his reckoning, 80% were furious with him. A great deal of that mail was, no doubt, vitriolic and foul. I’m sure he was called lots of nasty things.

Now let’s talk about what Doogan is doing. Doogan stripped a blogger of her right to privacy without regard for her reasons or her safety. When her supporters, some of them really angry and nasty, emailed him, how has he responded?

Ooooo wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. He didn’t need to state that he doesn’t believe in any such thing as email etiquette. It’s quite apparent that this guy is far too hot-tempered to be a public servant.  All over the internet, folks are posting their responses from Doogan. Here’s one of my favorites from the comments section of Dawn Teo’s excellent piece on the Doogan fiasco at the Huffington Post: “If you send more than one rant, you mess up my count.”

Doogan is keeping a tab on who sends him email. If you send more than one “rant”, you’re messing up his count.

Yes, folks. Doogan is responding to at least some email. (He didn’t to mine, but I only sent one. I’m sorely tempted to send another.)  Clearly, Doogan has strong convictions which to his mind justifies his actions. Rather than share those convictions, he sends what could be veiled threats – I’m keeping track of you all and you’re messing up my count.

Why, exactly, does he need to keep count?

But back to Eldridge for a moment.

The following day, after a late evening in the business center, Eldridge made a speech on the floor of the legislature and explained his reasons for the Barbie bill. He also apologized for allowing West Virginia to be made the butt of yet more hillbilly jokes. He received a standing ovation from his colleagues. Of course, his intentions were honorable – as were his actions. His email etiquette was impeccable.

Doogan’s situation couldn’t be more different. Doogan made a mistake. Instead of apologizing and explaining his thought processes, he is taking names, keeping a list, and counting AKMuckraker supporters. I doubt anyone in Alaska is going to get an apology.  I hope his colleagues in Alaska stand in ovation when he is reprimanded. I know I will.

My doctor has a sign in her office that reads: because nice matters.

Here’s Doogan’s official contact information again in case you want to be included in the count.

Mike Doogan: CONTACT ME
Ph: (907) 465-4998
Or (800) 689-4998
Fax: (907) 465-4419
doogan@akdemocrats.org
Representative_Mike_Doogan@legis.state.ak.us

6 Comments

Filed under March 2009

6 responses to “Eldridge and Barbie Dolls vs. Doogan and Mudflats: Because Nice Matters

  1. We’re never all going to agree all the time. But when people act like Doogan has acted, it vulgarizes the very idea of discourse and disagreement, vilifying anyone with an opposing viewpoint… which ultimately makes it impossible to get anything done.

    We’ve had enough of this over the past 16 years. And anyone who doesn’t realize that is part of the problem.

  2. Politicians are, for the most part, scumbags. Now more than ever I believe that.
    As for anonymity in cyberspace. . . how did AKMuckraker get outted? She must have provided someone with information on her identity.
    Anonymity is something you’ve got to maintain yourself.
    Very few people know who I am, of the few who do, only one or two have passed that information on to others. Hopefully, it will not spread too far as my reputation in the outside world could be shattered.
    “WHA!?!? OMG! You’re the SagaciousHillbilly?!” I actually heard that not to long ago.
    “Yes dear, lovable, unassuming, calm, cool and mild me is the SagaciousHillbilly.”

  3. Great post… Eldridge vs. Doogan is spot on.

    I was unaware of this until I just read your posts. I wish I’d known of the Mudflats when Palin was tapped by McCain. Generally I would give a rat’s about AK politics, but maybe I should, since Palin’s ambitions won’t allow her to disappear.

    This shit with Doogan is simply surreal.

    Mudflats and the Mudflats forum are wonderful communities. While there is a focus on the Alaskan perspective, we’re not only national, but international. Lots of good people there and lots of good conversation. We’ve even got a gardening thread. 🙂

  4. Writing from Alaska

    Thank you Ms TRConnie. When the world of Mudflats was languishing and awaiting word from AKM, I found solace here. So happy we are all back together as a community and just wanted to visit your site again and say hello to you on this Sunday morning – I am out the door soon to go SING some gospel. Be blessed – WfAK

  5. We have satellite internet. Incredibly expensive, but we have no “high speed” choice up here Just Past the Meth Labs. A lovely feature of this “service” is a large download will exceed “fair use” and redline surfing for 24 hours.

    Nonetheless, I have been tolerating dial-up speeds to read The Mudflats and others. You can count me now as a Mudflats fan! When browsing speed is back to normal, I look forward to reading more.

    But in the meantime, Doogan gives horse’s asses a bad name. Don Blankenship needs to cede a bit of his special place in hell for Doogan.

  6. Greytdog Δ

    And mudflats also has a “cookbook” with recipes contributed by readers from around the globe. And those recipes are good. . .
    As for Doogan and other bullies residing in state and national legislatures, only a constant stream of citizen watchdog correspondence works. Sure there are going to be issues that are more vital to some than to others, but the gist is that our elected representatives need to be reminded THEY WORK FOR US

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