If you’re new to Anti-Strib.com, a Twin Cities-based blog named after its opposition to the Star Tribune and liberalism, tread softly.
Like many political blogs, both left- and right-leaning, Anti-Strib.com aims to incite, posting content of the name-calling, jaw-dropping, rabble-rousing variety (along with random images of scantily clad women, two of whom appear to endorse same-sex marriage).
Standards of appropriate content seem nonexistent, so be forewarned if you browse them.
And yet, Tracy Eberly, one of Anti-Strib’s 17 contributors, took the notion of “incendiary” to a new level last month, responding to what he called “an annoying poster” with an explanation of why he thinks American Indians do not deserve the label “Noble Savages.”
“The life of an Indian was no nobler, nor much different, from that of a bear, a snake or a timber wolf,” Eberly wrote Oct. 11. “I’d compare them to the entire animal kingdom, but that would be an insult to beavers.”
The post elicited 80 comments, 30 percent of which were written by Tracy. Many posters adamantly disagreed with Tracy; some supported his idea.
Others said nothing at all, for quite some time. That surprised Karl Bremer, a member of the Daily Mole who wrote about a “deafening” silence among Republican bloggers in a Nov. 9 post. (He criticized Michael Brodkorb, a Republican researcher whose blog, Minnesota Democrats Exposed, is linked to the state GOP’s blogroll and also featured a prominent link to Anti-Strib.com on its list of “daily reads.”)
Brodkorb published a note Nov. 10 calling Eberly’s post “a vile and racist, hate-filled rant.” He wrote, “I have pulled Anti-Strib down from my list of ‘daily reads’ blogs after reading this post authored by Tracy Eberly. I have also removed Anti-Strib from Party of Pawlenty’s blogroll … I will not reward a blog that proudly engages in racism…by providing them with [a] prominent link …”
Brodkorb said that, despite having called the Anti-Strib a “daily” read, he hadn’t read the post until Nov. 9, when Bremer pointed it out.
Eberly responded in a Nov. 11 post, accusing Brodkorb of succumbing to politically correct pressures, which he called “PC bandwagon jumping.”
The exchange illustrates how the First Amendment, which both Eberly and Brodkorb invoked in interviews, can hotly divide members of the same political party.
“People can say whatever they want,” said Eberly, a 41-year-old medical device consultant from Minneapolis. “Most of us are of the opinion you’d rather hear it above ground than keep it below ground. That was the reasoning of the ACLU when they defended the Nazis for their march.”
Eberly’s post raises some important questions, said Jane Kirtley, a U of M professor of media, ethics and law: “‘Does the blogosphere have rules? Does it have netiquette? Does it have expectations?’ And I think the answer, for the most part, is no.”
Anti-Strib does have some rules, Eberly said: “You can’t insult somebody’s wife or kids. That’s beyond the pale. We don’t smear people personally. Personal information gets deleted immediately.”
In general, Eberly said, the blog’s writers try to avoid “name calling” in preference for more creative insults, such as, “‘May the fleas of 1,000 camels nest in your arm pits.’ Things like that are very lively, and they’re somewhat productive.”
But some days, Eberly said, “unfortunately,” he lacks the energy to think of innovative insults and resorts to unsavory language.
“If I had to do it over,” he said, “I wouldn’t insert some of the inflammatory language, and I probably wouldn’t put the tags in,” which mocked the alcoholism and poverty plaguing the Indian community.
Eberly elaborated: “I regret that people don’t understand the way I view the medium, and that they don’t have enough understanding of our blog. I regret the amount of attention it’s gotten. Do I regret posting a rant on Native Americans? In some ways, no, because it shows how defensive people are on this issue.”
And so, despite his wife’s prodding to remove the post, he’s keeping it up.
By the numbers
Tracy Eberly said he’s not upset by Michael Brodkorb’s decision to remove the link to Anti-Strib.com. But Eberly did get defensive about the blog’s traffic in an online post. “The Anti-Strib regularly gets 1,000 hits a day,” he wrote.
Minnesota Democrats Exposed garners even more hits, according to Alexa.com, a site that ranks Web traffic. Yahoo’s traffic rank is No. 1, and Google is No. 2. The lower the number, the more popular the site. Here’s how these two blogs stack up:
Minnesota Democrats Exposed: No. 719,567; contributors: 1
Anti-Strib: No. 1,352,290; contributors: 17