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July 08, 2009

Apologies for Being a Dick

I've been a real dick lately and I want to apologize for being thin-skinned, whiny, and also for insulting people. I insulted because I felt insulted, but that was largely because I was being thin-skinned.

What got under my skin is this: We conservatives have certain ways of thinking, certain techniques of dismissing or insulting those we don't consider worthy of debate. One of the main ways we do this -- and by "we," I mean me too; I do this a lot -- is to brand a disagreement as occurring between the "elites" (out of touch, condescending, snobbish, and possessed of that very bad mixture of overestimation of brainpower and wisdom and actual underutilization of the same) between what is called variously the "grassroots" or "real people" or just "non-liberals." I don't know what the other side (us) is called, really; but I know what the wrong side is called. Elite, RINO, liberal, etc.

Correction: Elitist, I really mean, though frequently this term gets conflated with "elite" as in "media elites" or "political elites." The meanings often blur together, and I have so blurred them here.

The thing is, this really is a pretty powerful and stinging put-down -- especially if, like me, you are accustomed to tossing that put-down out there yourself. I've come to internalize very bad associations with such words. "Elite" is everything I don't want to be.

It also pretty clearly tracks with "insider, ally" and "outsider, enemy." We don't often say "Hey, that guy is an elite! What a great guy!"

And so I react badly when people either call me that, or imply that, or, sometimes, when I'm being overly sensitive, I merely think they're implying that.

And being off cigarettes, mostly, is not helping.

So I am sorry to everyone I insulted. I can only offer the mitigation (not justification; mitigation) that at various points that "elitist" sort of insult was being directed my way, that I was being lumped in with David Frum and so on. And it really stings.

But I reacted very badly to it.

Also, in an effort to keep my thoughts out of the main posts, which are more prominent and therefore more provocative to people who don't agree, I violated one of my main rules -- never get sucked into an argument in a comment section, especially with your own readers. It's a good rule, and has kept me in good shape for the last five years, and I violated it for what I thought was a good reason, but it turned out that actually it completely backfired.

Everytime I do violate it, I regret having done so, and this is time is no exception.

So, I'm going to sort of retire from the comments again, and do what I used to do -- skim them, make occasional comments, but keep it mostly light, and refrain from arguing too much with people.

Again, sorry. Back to posting for me. No more comment-fights, and no more getting crazy and insulting about it.

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posted by Ace at 12:41 PM

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