A weblog’s value probably depends quite a bit on the richness of the project the writer takes on and the vigor, intelligence, playfullness, honesty, clarity, openness, and imagination with which it is pursued. Without those values, our subjects are rough puppets dancing to crude tunes played by vain and indifferent musicians. (You dance to my tune)
Blogging is work. Despite its relative ease of use, it’s still a challenge because of all of the reasons and shifts we talk about in this community almost every day. We don’t have time. We don’t all like the transparency that blogs create. Early adoption is a risk. And on and on. But there’s nothing different here than with any other new technology or process. (EduBlogs as “Slow Motion Distributed Car Wreck”)
Writing students and teachers alike need to come to terms with the myth that free speech is protected as a right that can be exercised without fear of retaliation. Indeed, our speech is only protected by our government from the government itself. The government does not protect us from each other when we speak freely. Thus, free speech is not a given for the speaker or writer: it is more a process that begins in the knowledge that its use, its exercise, might bring harm to the user; at the same time, the exercise of free speech in the face of possible harm asserts the value of such exercise and works to promote that value universally. (Michael Kleine, Toward an Ethics of Teaching Writing in a Hazardous Context—The American University, JAC 12.2— 1992).
I found the last article, co-authored by my thesis chair, while searching for an article of his I always wanted to read: “The Rhetoric of I Am an Alcoholic” from RSQ 17:2. Oh well, I guess that one will mean I’ll actually have to go to the library. It is an article about the rhetoric of twelve-step programs written by a man who did go through it. Unlike most articles, it uses principles from discourse analysis to show how the program actually works.
Update: the excellent girlfriend saved me the trip. She had the article in her files. Though it might seem like an odd article to seek out (unless you are grappling with alcoholism), it actually isn’t. It’s about the power of saying things. Michael says it best, near the end of the article:
I am thinking, of course, of the community of you and me—you as readers and me as writer. By writing I am an alcoholic into the discourse of this community (a community that will exist only by virtue of your reading and my writing), I have not only published my declaration, and thus made it somehow indelible, but I have also increased the urgency of my commitment to future sobriety; if I “slip” and get drunk before this text is printed, is read, then the particular identification I achieve in writing this text as it is read, the speech acts I intend, and the discourse between you and me will be invalidated. Thus, by writing I am an alcoholic, I have declared it more deeply, and committed myself to sobriety more sincerely. (163)
The article was written in 1987; Michael hasn’t slipped. He has been an inspiration to me that I won’t soon forget. Not because I have any substance abuse problems (other than cigarettes), but because he has helped teach me about the power of words.