Townhall.com ought to be one of my favorite websites, but I rarely hit a link from my reader.

Why?

If I go there, I am assaulted by an aesthetic weapon of mass destruction.

It is problem for a believer. Would a good God put Hugh Hewitt on a site with this design?

“Yes,” we must say with sorrow, “the free will of the art department has been perverted to give us our good in a fallen web site.”

The pity is that brilliant voices like Hugh Hewitt live there, but some bizarre art director has taken this pearl and returned it to the shell and left it broken.

Today I was reading, I cannot recall where, a person who has finally given up on going to Townhall, because of the horror of the design. He or she was right and I am emboldened by their passion to join their cause.

Who can blame him? There is too much information there for me to ignore Townhall utterly, but surely the Townhall designers did not mean to create an opportunity to learn through pain every time we visit.

It is the Via Dolorosa of conservative commentary.

The colors seemed designed to wake you up to the value of print newspapers. Townhall: Binny Hinn should not have better web design than you. Content should not be destroyed by presentation.

Pop up ads are annoying and the American Spectator site has them, but once past the cheery Michelle Malkin ad, I can get to well designed and interesting content. Townhall has excellent content, but with a Beck ad far harder to close where he is grinning at me in Soviet attire. If you are going to give me a pop up ad at least use Michelle Malkin.

Past Beck, I reach an ad cluttered space that makes my local strip mall seem sedate. Every column ends up being two clicks long, because the site is so chock full of  link. It is like having a full table of contents on every page of a novel.

The front page is fairly good, but then the design seems to transmogrify on every page. You can play “where’s the info” on every click and the clunky design means you can make coffee while waiting for the next round.

Ads scream, “We are shills!” while some of those most thoughtful men and women in America make arguments against “cotton candy conservatism” with too little substance. Quick rule: you may not criticize Sarah Palin for lack of intellectual integrity when you are on a site advertising overpriced gold.

I will go so far as to say that many of the people writing at Townhall are amongst the important for our generation, but they are dressed in clown suits by their web design.

Christians and conservatives have long believed in objective beauty. C.S. Lewis argued the value of getting emotions right in the best essay of the twentieth century:  Abolition of Man. I know brilliant writers there like Meredith Turney have read and studied this essay. I know they agree with it.

How then did they end up on a site where Stalinist aesthetics meet Sham-Wow! subtlety.

To borrow from a Star Trek episode borrowing from the Bard, “Is there in truth no beauty?”

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