A friend of mine sent me a link to this NY Times article about the spying conducted by the New York City Police Department on anti-Bush activists prior to the RNC convention in 2004. It’s a good article and the Times should be commended for their reporting. I’m not sure I object to all intelligence gathering in the United States (given our present circumstances), but the Times is doing its job in making the public aware of the practice.

In the accompanying note to myself and another former newspaper colleague, my friend wrote: “No wonder Matt is so restrained on his blog. This is something you expect in North Korea and Zimbabwe, not in the United States of America.”

He’s right about one thing — my blog is much more restrained than it once was. I scrolled through my archives the other day and was amazed at how much more punch my posts once contained. Check out my archive from January 2005. I certainly had more to say.

I think this George Will column offers some explanation. He talks about Americans’ “infatuation with anger.” It’s a good piece about how Americans are constantly seething over something — be it partisan politics, reckless drivers, or bad customer service. I once shared this infatuation, but I find I’m mellowing in my old age. This effect is fantastic for the well-being of me, my family and my friends — but it wreaks havoc on a blog.

In addition, I’m rather worried that my comments will one day affect my ability to get an academic job. I feel I may have crossed a boundary a couple of years ago with this post. Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t want to engage the academic debate too much, too early. I’ve decided to go ahead and pursue a PhD in Mass Communication. Eventually, the battle will be joined.

So, combine the two elements, and you’ve got the makings of a restrained blog. My apologies. The “Fearless Critic” moniker has become my own personal oxymoron.