I met Joey (again) last evening.
In August of 2006 at BlogsUnited, Joey was one of the many diverse attendees. I found him to be somewhat shy, but engaging and personable. He even seemed to take my good natured ribbing in stride. (Anyone who knows me will attest that I am an incurable kidder; I find that to be the easiest means I have of opening up to those I wish to get to know).
I know Joey is a fierce partisan, but that has never held me back from cultivating friendships before. At least not before I became a blogger and met some fellow bloggers from that other party. It still does not deter me from attempting to strike up congenial conversation, and I have many Democratic friends, but party affiliation sure seems to influence many of my Demokratick brethren in the blog community. Anonymity almost certainly is a factor in this phenomenon, even with those like myself who use a real name. After all, on the internet, no one knows you're a dog.
Competition and testosterone combine in strange ways in some people, especially, it seems, in Demokratik bloggers. They all seem to divert those compelling combative drives in different ways. Joey's shtick is somewhat unique, he likes to purloin folk's names, buy the rights to that name from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and direct the resulting URL to someone else's website. Almost always under the cover of contrived anonymity, and always toward what he conceives to be a political advantage. Great fun, hilarity enjoyed by all.
Joey is also adept at PhotoShop. And he is certainly familiar with YouTube; Even to the point of using that tool in becoming one of many factors that led to the defeat of Senator George Allen last year. Joey has recently been stung by one of his own tools, and has retaliated with his favorite tool. He has now, it seems, become a bitter, angry, even hostile young man.
Several members of a conservative group of bloggers have recently featured a quite amusing and highly educational series of YouTube videos that star one of Joey's customers. This apparently stirred the competitive and combative juices in Joey's soul and raised his testosterone to levels unknown to him since puberty. His retaliation was bizarre, even for Joey.
That conservative group of bloggers, of which I'm a member, has a name. And a logo. And a reputation among other conservative bloggers for honesty, integrity, and ethical blog behavior. Sure, some of us fail those high standards on occasion, as do all bloggers, (it's an inherent fault in blogging, and by nature must happen on occasion with all blogs regardless of affiliation or party), but overall that group still maintains a stellar reputation.
That reputation leads us to Joey's ultimate retaliation. Remember, no one in that group ever mentioned Joey when they featured his customer's starring role in the series of videos. His customer's reputation was never impugned either. Joey's customer was simply shown in a true light, as the arrogant imbecile he his. Joey's retaliation consisted of, (as I said earlier), his favorite shtick, a purloined name linked to an alternative website. If that website had been one of a conflicting political viewpoint all would have had a good laugh and moved on.
But no, Joey linked the good name of many Virginians to the most repugnant group the world has ever known, a group that advocates the sexual exploitation of underage boys by depraved adult men. A group that he has stated he believes is no worse in his eyes than the aforementioned group of conservative Virginians.
Virginians who's only distinction is that they hold a different political view than he does. His political views are righteous, theirs, and by extension mine, are on a par with those that would rape little boys.
Now we come full circle. As I said I met Joey again last evening. In spite of his recent blog adventure, I still attempted to initiate a friendly conversation. Joey ostentatiously ignored me. Those who know me know that I'm not thin-skinned, it did not hurt my feelings when I was treated badly by someone I had previously had friendly conversations with. (Did I mention that I personally called Joey and invited him to the BlogsUnited conference this year? No? I did. We had a very cordial conversation by phone that evening, but Joey said his commitment to his niece meant that he would not be likely to attend. I said I understood, but was genuinely disappointed.)
Still, I wanted Joey to tell me just why I had suddenly become worthy of such treatment. I was finally able to speak to Joey in the privacy of the Floyd County Courthouse front steps, whereupon I was told that the reason I was being shunned was because I was a ********(beep), who attacked a 7 year old girl.
I ask you all, at least all of you who are at least moderately adept at internet and blog searches, to find any instance where I have ever attacked anyone, especially a 7 year old girl. It ain't to be found. It never happened, and it never will. In spite of what Joey did to me and my fellow Virginians, I've never seen any need to retaliate. Not against Joey, and certainly not against his niece, Mary. Joey, for all his imagined imminence is simply not that important to me.
This last paragraph is intended for the one person most likely to have read this far.
Last evening you put a video camera into my face and recorded part of our conversation. You are widely known in Virginia, as I said earlier, for your internet video and PhotoShop skills. Do what you will with that footage, but also know that I had a digital recorder, turned on and recording, in my shirt pocket the entire evening. That mp3 file is ready to be posted if and when the need arises. Let us both hope that need never occurs.
Alton B. Foley