March 14, 2013

Guilt By Association

Guilt by Association Vol. 1
Guilt by Association Vol. 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm not back yet, but I have a few unexpected minutes at a computer so I wanted to share a quick thought that occurred to me before I started this break.

Hypothetical scenario time. Suppose you discover an atheist blog with which you are previously unfamiliar. It is not brand new, but it is new to you. The title suggests that you may have some interest in the subject matter and the perspective of the author. Perhaps this is a blog you should add to your blogroll, RSS aggregator, or whatever other method you use to read blogs you like. But then you notice something that gives you pause. The blogroll of this particular blog is filled with links to PZ Myers, Richard Carrier, Ophelia Benson, and even Greg Laden. What do you do? Do you go ahead and link to this blog anyway, or do you pass? Is this a matter of guilt by association, or is it something else?

Suppose you decide to go ahead and link to the blog in question. You tell yourself that it is their content you are interested in and not the content of these others bloggers. But since they are linking to these other bloggers, does it seem almost as if you are driving traffic to these other bloggers? If so, does that present a problem?

Alternatively, suppose you decide to pass on linking to this blog. Is this fair? By refusing to link to them because of who they link to, are you engaging in guilt by association? And if so, is what you are doing really that different from Melody Hensley preemptively blocking anyone who follows @ElevatorGATE on Twitter?

If guilt by association is bad when "they" do it, isn't it still bad when "we" do it? What do you think?

Update: The @ElevatorGATE account has been banned by Twitter since this post was written.

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