Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Farewell...

This is a farewell…of sorts. After this, no more will I post “heavy” topics here. This blog will be reserved for non-controversy. My other blog Complex Topics is where I will continue to post sensitive issues and where bare-knuckle brawling is expected. I came to this conclusion visiting other blogs. Simply put, there are at least three major topics that ought not to be blogged about (with comments turned on), if one does not wish gloves to come off: religion, politics and human sexuality (gay rights).

No one posts on these topics without having strong convictions of their own. Posting these topics is only done to advance one’s view on those topics. Despite protestations to the contrary, few people who make such posts are really interested in having their point of view skewered and they are equally unwilling to defend their position with facts or well-conceived logic.

What they seek is a pleasant “discussion” with like-minded friends who will not seriously challenge their thought processes or assertions. They welcome an occasional buffoon whose arguments consist of “I don’t care what you think” or “Boo Hoo” or any number of inane comments, because then they can put on their condescending leftist liberal airs (there, I said it) and lecture that person. Throw them a serious challenge (delivered in condescending conservative airs) and they protest, “but I just wanted a discussion. This is going nowhere, leave me alone”.

A recent visit to another blog with political content brought me to this conclusion. The blogger posted a handful of facts extracted primarily from a blatantly slanted news article and concluded with his highly charged input. Given the facts posted and the blogger’s prior statements of political leanings, I assumed he was continuing to push his political view about the Republican Presidential candidate. Most of the comments were like-minded cheerleading, sage nodding and shaking of heads over how wise we are and how evil this politician is and oh how evil America has become. A handful of comments went completely in the other direction…way out there condoning torture. Yes, the topic was President Bush's recent veto.

When I finally joined the discussion, I came in hard. It was clear to me that most, if not all the participants in the “discussion” knew nothing beyond the news article. They had not read the legislation about which they were commenting. They had not read any statements apart from those provided in the article. They had not drawn any conclusions except those conveniently laid out for them in the article or the original post. Or the obvious, "torture is bad".

I challenged all to read the legislation, and read the real statements…multiple times. Some were content to draw implied conclusions from quotes, but took offense when I did the same to their comments. I was taken to task for assuming they had not read the legislation or other primary sources. Excuse me, but if you tell me that according to Genesis, God created Eve first, and Adam from her rib, then I would accuse you of not reading Genesis and I would be right. “His damn job is information-seeking on political issues!” I was told, by one person defending another with the air of “how dare you say he didn’t read the source material.”

Um, well, about the same time that comment came through, the person whose “damn job is information-seeking on political issues” steps forward to admit he had not read the source documents and that he relies on other agencies to synthesize things for him…agencies that happen to share his political views. Now let me state that I consider this individual to be honorable. I can give no higher acclaim. I do not know if he saw the other comment before his admission, but to admit at all that he did not read the source documents showed integrity. That I respect. Those who truly know me know this to be true. I am old fashioned in this sense: I am willing to die over a point of honor.

As the discussion wound down and the blogger who made the original post rejoined the discussion, he too wound up admitting that he had simply plucked his disjointed “facts” from the news article he had cited. Only one person commenting ever asserted that they had read the source documents. So, it seems I was right all along, most had not read the source documents. After being taken to task for accusing others of not reading the sources, I was right. The readers’ conclusions were formed based upon what a third party wanted the readers to believe.

It’s an election year. People are charged up with their political views. They happily latch on to reports that reinforce those views, seldom bothering to check the facts. Let the “experts” do the analysis for me, they say. Not me. Social and political commentary is but a starting point. On issues I care about and wish to publicly comment upon, I educate myself not with other’s opinions, but with the facts from which opinions and conclusions are drawn. As much as I respect and like George Will, I check his facts.

So I have promulgated some “laws” and “corollaries”.

1. In discussing religion, politics or gay rights, there will be mud. Deal with it.

2. Do not post about religion, politics or gay rights unless you are prepared to get dirty, or stay the hell out of it.

3. Any discussion of religion, politics or gay rights isn’t really a discussion, but a bare-knuckled brawl. Deal with it.

4. When posting about religion, politics or gay rights, be certain you have your facts straight, in context, and can back them up, or be prepared to be skewered.

5. In posts about religion, politics or gay rights, anything not a fact will be pure raw emotion. Deal with it.

6. Don’t visit blogs where the owners want to have a “discussion” about religion, politics or gay rights, unless you intend to agree with their every word. They seldom really mean it.

7. If in doubt about #6, sit back for a bit and watch the flow of the "discussion". Enter only if mud is flying freely and people are not bemoaning the fact.

I shall henceforth follow my self-promulgated laws and corollaries when navigating through blog land. And so, Writer’s Musings bows out of further charged “discussion”. It’s too hard to keep the furniture clean if there is mud flying and I do like to lighten up now and then.


Charged topics will be moved to Complex Topics where all nice furniture, rugs and such have been removed. Feel free to take off the gloves, grab a handful of mud and fight for what you believe in. Think of it as cage-fighting in blogosphere. The only rules are no direct name-calling or excessive profanity permitted. Imply all you want. Asking charged leading questions. Fling inuendo. Don't boo hoo when the mud smacks you in the face.

15 comments:

Ello said...

Wow! I didn't see what came later on but after reading this, I went back to check it out. I too took what was in the post at face value and did not study the source materials. All I can say is that I'm sorry it got messy for you. And I agree that certain topics are just dangerous territory. Which is why I usually avoid discussion about politics, religion and other very touch issues (abortion, etc) on my blog - unless it is to make fun of my mother! ;o)

J. L. Krueger said...

Yes, people tend to get emotional...and I get sarcastic...naughty me. I don't mind things getting messy. I'm not afraid of being proved wrong...heck if I'm wrong I darn sure want to know it!

You took the wise course keeping your blog fun and light. That's why I visit so often (if only to lurk).

;)

Even though my other blog is "serious" take a look at today's post. It is still funny if only for the insanity of the interview...though the overall topic is very serious.

Thanks for staying cheerful!

Tempest in a Teapot said...

Hooray! I look forward to commenting on soft, fluffy topics in the future. May I suggest we begin with: Why Dogs Are Infinitely Superior to Cats in Every Way.

:)

Ello said...

Hey JL, I'll definitely check out your "serious" blog. And I really like your sarcasm so I hope you keep it even in your serious mode.

I smiled when I saw you say you liked Little Women. I'm glad you read it and I think that there is much to like about the book even for men as it is a universal book set in an interesting time period. I wonder though if you would feel the same way about Souvenir, which is so very clearly a women's oriented book. I would be interested to hear your take on it, but I would recommend this book more for those who enjoy that Nicholas Sparks type novels. For example, I wouldn't push this on my husband.

Stephen Parrish said...

Good post. Good points. The only thing I'd add is that attacking arguments with bare knuckles is fine. Attacking people (calling them idiots or accusing them of deliberate deception) is not.

J. L. Krueger said...

Stephen,

I have never called you an "idiot". I have already said, here and on your blog, that I made an incorrect assumption. I made that assumption based upon your track record of fact-checking and your penchant for arranging said facts to promote a specific message (as we all do when discussing/fighting politics).

Therefore I thought you were making a deliberately misleading representation of the facts. So thinking, I came out and said it point-blank. As we barbed on Richard's blog, having come to that sort of conclusion, I am not afraid to come out and say it point-blank without any inuendo or sarcasm.

Quite simply, I was so incredulous with the post and resulting comments, that I could not imagine that it was anything but deliberate. Perhaps I could have come in "lighter"...but I had two-days of steam built up by the time I entered the discussion. You should have seen (maybe not) what I cut out of my comments before posting!

J. L. Krueger said...

Tempest,

Great idea! Though maybe that will anger Stephen.

Dogs are superior because I'm not as alergic to them as I am to cats...and then there are all the other reasons.

;)

Stephen Parrish said...

May I suggest we begin with: Why Dogs Are Infinitely Superior to Cats in Every Way.

Dogs are superior because I'm not as alergic to them as I am to cats...and then there are all the other reasons.

Them's fightin' words. Let's begin with the subject of intelligence.

J. L. Krueger said...

Stephen,

Do I detect a hint of rapprochement in the air betwixt us?

I'd still match my foxhound's intelligence to any cat I've ever owned...he's uncanny at times! Probably the smartest dog I've ever had...even edging out my three German Shepherds.

His loyalty, courage and ability to defend family members trumps pure brainpower anyway.

Stephen Parrish said...

Do I detect a hint of rapprochement in the air betwixt us?

Rapprochement? I love it when you talk dirty.

Yes. I was overly sensitive (it happens when friends of 33 years kick sand in my face) and my post was uninformed.

I'd still match my foxhound's intelligence to any cat I've ever owned

Were the cats lobotomized?

J. L. Krueger said...

Stephen,

...it happens when friends of 33 years kick sand in my face...

Aw, I wasn't trying to kick it in your face, I kicking in your general direction.

Were the cats lobotomized?

No, and the female cat was generally the "boss", but she died before the foxhound joined us. But, I'm telling you this hound is something else!

How many cats do you know that bring their toys in from the rain? OK, toys are beneath most cats...at least the ones that cost money.

How many cats do you know who can manipulate a door lock and door handle in order to open a door? Oliver can open the locked front storm door in less than 10 seconds. I've had to install an additional latch at about my eye-level to keep him from getting out that way.

Stephen Parrish said...

Oliver can open the locked front storm door in less than 10 seconds.

Okay, okay. There's one smart dog in the world. One.

Oliver? Cromwell? A historian doesn't name his animals purposelessly.

By the way, "purposelessly" is easier to write than say.

J. L. Krueger said...

Actually, Oliver was the name given by the first family who adopted him. (We're the fourth.) We think their motivation was Dickens.

I might have named him Atilla or more likely Hector. (As in Hector MacDonald, the most highly decorated soldier in the history of the British Army...2 Victoria Crosses.)

My two yellow tabbies (brothers) were named Montgomery and Patton.

You are right...I tend to name my male animals at least with historically significant names.

The Muse said...

On my blog I only had that one post about God. I avoid controversial topics like the plague. I really don't like to stir the pot, never have, never will. I will pop over to the other blog from time to time, but consider me a lurker.

My dog got a hold of another pair of panties yesterday. What the heck is wrong with her? The teen was furious. I could not help but to laugh. Then the little one piped in and told her to clean her room. My sentiments exactly. In fact that's my mantra.

Have a good one!

Aerin said...

I love controversy. I'm such a bottom-feeder.

I promise not to start any here. But I will give you a funny quote, from a prof I had when I was in Div School at Duke (I miss NC...*sniff*..)

"No religion is worth its salt unless it tells you what to do with your pots and pans and genitals."

So your swearing off religion, politics & sexuality could be reduced to religion & politics.

(Don't mind me, I'm giddy this morning. It's having the kids home for Spring Break.)