Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Stefan Sharkansky again resorts to personal vilification to demean NPI

Local Republican Stefan Sharkansky has over the last few years developed quite the reputation for trashing people in public on the group blog that he created and still administers - (unSoundPolitics).

From comparing King County Executive Ron Sims to an African dictator to sliming 8th Congressional District candidate Darcy Burner, Stefan's willingness to throw mud and attempt to discredit people seems to know no bounds.

The latest example came today when Stefan again attacked me (and my family by extension) as well as NPI:
Burner's most fervid supporter, Andrew Villeneuve, a teenager who still lives with his parents and calls himself the "Northwest Progessive [sic] Institute", writes that "We're confident the 8th District is ready for an authentic progressive". Curiously, Villeneuve and his parents live in the 1st district, not the 8th.
Stefan, if you cared about at least getting your facts correct, you would know that I'm twenty and a half years old - not a teenager - and you could have easily discerned from reading this blog that NPI is a team of people, not a single person. But then again, facts have never been important to you. You prefer myths, lies, and distortions.

(Also, you might want to check your spelling. I recall that you are a fan of correctly spelled words. Progressive has two Rs in it).

More importantly....what's really sickening is that you seem to enjoy snickering to your readers that I'm a young if that somehow disqualifies me from political activism. I became involved in politics over five years ago, when I was just fifteen and a freshman in high school. I haven't regretted doing that.

What do you have against young people, Stefan? What is your vendetta? Or is it just that I'm progressive? It seems you can't stand what I'm doing. You rarely miss an opportunity to label me with a derogative term in addition to needlessly dragging my family, age, and place of residence into the discussion.

My age is irrelevant. It shouldn't matter. We're all equals. I am a citizen of this country and I have every right to exercise the Constitutional liberties guaranteed to me and every other American by our Founding Fathers - freedoms that our ancestors have fought to protect throughout our history.

What really troubles me, though, is the unfortunate precedent that this type of personal vilification reinforces. What incentive do young people have to become involved in civics if they will simply be attacked on account of their age for speaking out and making their opinions known?

Or daring to take the next step and using their First Amendment right of freedom of assembly to build an organization to further their cause? I may not be intimidated, but that's not going to be true of everyone else.

Most disgustingly of all, you sneer that I'm still living with my parents. That is such a petty, ridiculous insult. Do you realize how pathetic you sound when you write these things? It should make no difference to you where I live or with whom. You seem to derive pleasure from probing through the private lives of activists and public officials and then attempting to mock them on your blog. You have demonstrated time and again your eagerness to vindictively assault or even libel people who disagree with you.

Sadly, way too many of your commenters seem to think it's funny or amusing when you do it. Most of the Republicans I have met, though, are personally nice people, and I don't think the language of either you or your regular commenters is evidence that everyone on the right is so nasty.

I feel blessed to be part of a family that cares about me and supports my work. But my family life is none of your business. Do you understand?

And enough of this complete and utter hypocritical nonsense about not living in the 8th District. Curiously, you don't live in the 8th District, and that hasn't stopped you from supporting Dave Reichert or blogging about the race.

Which districts we live in are irrelevant. We're free to support candidates even if we can't vote for them. Given your support for Dave Reichert, I'd venture a guess that you understand this.

The last time you attacked me, I issued a private challenge to you which you ignored. I am reprinting the message I sent to you then, below, so that our readers can be aware of my efforts to change your behavior.
A few words of advice, Stefan: when you attempt to personally discredit people by bringing up their age, place of residence, etc. (personal information) you demonstrate only that you have little faith in your own arguments or points.

A blogger with integrity would not use their blog as a blunt instrument for personal vilification, as you do. I am not the first person you have attempted to demean or ridicule in an inappropriate fashion. But I would like to be the last.

I challenge you to begin abiding by the principles of Online Integrity (even though you have clearly not done so in the past). If you don't want people to think of you as a hack (and I suspect you don't, given that you have repeatedly tried to sell yourself as something of an investigative journalist to people), then stop acting like one.

The principles are as follows:
  • Private persons are entitled to respect for their privacy regardless of their activities online. This includes respect for the non-public nature of their personal contact information, the inviolability of their homes, and the safety of their families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted. The separateness of private persons’ professional lives should also be respected as much as is reasonable.
  • Public figures are entitled to respect for the non-public nature of their personal, non-professional contact information, and their privacy with regard to their homes and families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted.
  • Persons seeking anonymity or pseudonymity online should have their wishes in this regard respected as much as is reasonable. Exceptions include cases of criminal, misleading, or intentionally disruptive behavior.
  • Violations of these principles should be met with a lack of positive publicity and traffic.
We at NPI (sorry, it really isn't a one person organization) believe in these principles. I personally agree with them.

As you may have heard, the Online Integrity project wasn't even started by someone on our side of the ideological fence. But it's a good idea. I'm not holding my breath in anticipation that you'll start behaving more ethically. Nonetheless, I am making this challenge. You really have nothing to lose by accepting and everything to gain. The choice is yours.
Since I issued this challenge, back on Monday, September 18th, 2006, Online Integrity's website has disappeared and the project has foundered somewhat. But the principles are still there, and make a great starting point or reference.

A number of bloggers who at the time said they wouldn't be signatories to the original project went out of their way to explain that they believe in the idea behind the principles and make an effort to respect the private lives of others. We at NPI have incorporated the principles into our mandatory guidelines which all contributors must follow.

To encourage a more respectful discourse, we also prohibit profanity.

Our adherence to and belief in the principles is the reason why months ago we stopped linking to (un)SoundPolitics, and why we will continue not to link there until Stefan changes his ways. As far as I'm concerned, the challenge still stands, and I look forward to the day when Stefan realizes he can argue his views without disrespecting the privacy of his fellow citizens.

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