The advent of Sarah Palin, however, seemed to usher in a genuine madness that affected every inch of the political spectrum, and it brought about the blog’s second “crisis of civility.” If I found something praiseworthy in Palin, my “liberal” readers sneered and called me names. If I mildly critiqued the woman, her defensive fans became stunningly abusive. Ironically, as I tried to be both honest and fair-minded about Palin, I discovered neither left nor right could allow an assumption of good faith on my part. Perhaps projecting their passions on to me, both sides assumed that whatever I was writing about Palin was meant as a political manipulation against them. If I tried to offer balanced criticism, Palin fans accused me of “hating her from the first.” When I—because I detest bullies—defended her from an unconscionable assault by supposedly “liberal” people and the press after the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, I was derided, even by progressives whom I considered real friends, as being a “secret Palin lover.”

A good-faith assumption that I simply meant the exact words I wrote, in either case, and nothing more, was not permitted. It was deemed not possible.