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April 01, 2008

All Apologies

Or some apologies, at least.

I've been putting this off for a few days.

I want to apologize for the hot tone and unfair surprise of my flare-up over the weekend. I say "unfair surprise" because I've never really cautioned anyone against the naming Muslims generally as enemies, and I myself write like that from time to time. Hypocrisy, thy name is Ace.

So it was a douchebag move to storm out there and basically denigrate anyone posting there without giving much of a warning.

And I apologize for that. I really am sorry. Docweasel was giving me crap about that last night, and I told him, truthfully, yes, I've been meaning to apologize but am trying to think of how to say it, and figure out precisely what I'm apologizing for.

What I'm apologizing for is:

1) A hot, preening morally-superior tone

2) Lumping everyone together without specifically stating which comments drew my ire

3) The unfair surprise of throwing the red flag at this late date on this particular subject

4) Getting overly personal and seeming to call people out even if not by name

5) General hypocrisy, because I've been there

I'm sorry about that.

The only thing I can say in my defense is that I went into that thread and first offered a less out-of-my-skull comment. I wrote something like, "This thread is getting ugly and I'd like everyone to to ratchet it down at least three good turns."

The second post after that, somebody wrote (under a fake name) "Fuck Mohammad and the camel he road in on."

And that pissed me off. I was trying to more gently get people to have a little more care in what they were writing -- specifically, how they were writing it; a very tough-on-all-Muslims attitude combined with a very hot and angry tone really helps no cause except personal catharsis -- and then some jerkoff basically says "fuck you" to me with that comment.

Maybe he didn't see my caution. I know not everyone reads every comment. I sure don't. Looking back I should have played with the fonts to make it big-font red so that people would be sure to see it.

But my intent was just to calm people down, initially, and without making a big ass stink about it.

I know Fitna arouses passions and one watches again this unending torrent of murders coming out of the Islamic world, with what often seems like majority-support for the murders, and I certainly am not above getting pissed off about that, or drawing some very cruel conclusions on occasion. I can't play holier-than-thou on that, though I guess that's exactly what I did in my "Thread Closed" post.

However, seriously, while one might have truly angry reactions, it's not always a good thing to vent them publicly, at least not without serious thoughtfulness about what one means and does not mean to say. Calling for genocide may be a bit of angry hyperbole, but it does look pretty ugly, even if not very seriously meant.

Cathartic, angry venting has its place -- it's one of the main reasons I even started the blog -- but the personal value of it also has to be weighed against the drawbacks of it, namely, well, it's really sort of ugly to call for the extermination of a billion people. Yes, I know no one probably meant that very seriously, and it was more a bit of "Oh yeah, keep pushing it and you'll see what's what" bluster, but still. Pretty ugly.

And there is a cumulative effect here I've mentioned. It's not always just this post or that post which is over the line. In fact, this or that post may be just on the line, but otherwise nothing I'd get bothered by. But in cumulative effect, where a long series of close-to-the-line or over-the-line comments are made -- especially where people seem to be trying to top each other a bit -- it all looks very ugly.

Which is why my initial caution was just general, and not calling anyone out. I just didn't like the general, cumulative tone of the comments, and wanted everyone to take a breather and write a little less hot.

And then I got all pissy when I was ignored, way too pissy and angry I admit.

And my general caution of everyone, while meant to not call anyone out, didn't work. I should have been specific about precisely what I was objecting to. I'm sure that would have helped.

Point is: I'm sorry if anyone wrote in that thread and feels unjustly maligned. Or that I was preening hypocritically. (I was.) As is usually the case, when it gets personal, it gets irrational and nasty. And I did take it personally, and reacted angrily. I just got really pissed off that after what I thought was a gentle, friendly caution I was ignored, at least by a couple of people.

But overall I'm pretty chagrined by the whole thing and even an hour after it happened I was on the phone with someone saying, "I was a dick, I got too angry and too personally invested in the whole dispute."

Anyway, I am sorry.

But... and of course there's a but: Do try to watch it with the truly angry and hasty venting.

And when I come into a thread, as an impartial observer (at least as regards the substance of the debate), and offer a caution that the thread is getting ugly, please take that as serious. I wouldn't come in and offer a caution unless things really were getting ugly. It's not as if it's fun for me to criticize the people who read this site and keep it interesting (and sometimes too interesting) with comments.

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posted by Ace at 12:28 PM

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