Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Chalk Up Another One For the Forces of Darkness

I had to let this post sit for 24 hours. The first version was too obscene for even me to put out in public. I had to let the anger ease and the hurt fade just a tad before I could be coherent.

Mik has taken down her Celtic Dreamer blog. It looks like somebody was bombing her with hate mail for something she said. What I don't know. That doesn't matter. Also, let me say up front that I don't know Mik. I do know that I enjoyed reading her blog. I also know that she has the right to live free of abuse just like everybody else.

What does matter, and what is making me so damn mad I'm having trouble thinking straight, is the fact that some unknown person has aggravated this woman to the point that she has decided the hassle is not worth it. We have lost the benefit of a unique outlook, and we need all the different opinions we can gather in order to make some kind of sense out of this mess we live in.

Why are people so intolerant of different opinions? Are so many people so insecure in their beliefs that the just absolutely cannot tolerate disagreement? I think so. Well, how did we get into this fix? That's a subject for an entire book, but I will offer my summary opinion for what it's worth.

Up until fairly recently, well into the 20th Century, education was geared more towards teaching students to think. For a variety of social and economic reasons, that educational philosophy fell out of favor. In it's place has arisen a system in which students are actually discouraged from independent and creative thought and are often penalized for it. The result has been several generations of people who cannot form a valid opinion on their own. They have no reasoning power of their own. They follow whatever authority figure is currently in front of them without question.

This is bad for an awful lot of reasons. For the purpose of this rant, the reason it's bad is that such people are extremely intolerant of differing opinions. They see the other opinion as a vicious personal attack on themselves. Since they cannot back up their opinions with any logic or facts, their only recourse is to resort to personal attacks as a defensive measure. This kind of reflexive scorched-earth reaction quickly turns a debate into a mud-wrestling match, and nothing gets resolved. Feelings are hurt, people get very angry at each other, and rational communication becomes impossible.

I consider this a tragedy. Every time an opinion is suppressed, a light goes out, a little spark of humanity dies. Every act of intolerance reduces the quality of life for all of us. We're better than that. Every human has the potential to be a benefit to the world. We cannot let ignorance and intolerance smother the creative intelligence of the species. There are fates worse than mere death.

I challenge the person or persons who attacked Mik to come out of the closet. Say your piece right out in front of God and everybody and sign your name to it. I will be glad to engage in intelligent, cogent conversation on almost any topic. I challenge you to convince me that you are right and I am wrong. If I am wrong, I can change my mind. As a human being, I have that innate right. I don't see changing my mind as a weakness on my part, but rather a strength. It shows that I am mature and reasonable. In other words, I am an adult.


At 8:28 AM, Blogger Demented M said...

I love this post and you know why since you read my blog (I am a pariah in the If community anymore).

BUT I also think there are some occasions where people could've done more to make their wording sound less critical--perhaps myself included :).(And I'm not referring to Mik here as I don't think I've been to her site)

On the other hand, people need to give each other the benefit of the doubt. We can't all write as eloquently as you did here.

Yet, on the other, other hand, abusive behavior is abusive behavior. It's one thing to offend without intent, a different animal all together to be out for blood. The trick is to distinguish between the two.

As for myself, I have been surprised at how highly dysfunctional people on the internet can be.

I guess, if you blog, you have to go in realizing that, if you have opinions and express them publicly, you will eventually become a target.


At 4:39 PM, Blogger Carter said...

The trick is to distinguish between the two.

That's some trick, too. I'm usually willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt, and I appreciate honesty, even when it's blunt. As long as the coments sty on target and avoid the person, I can deal.

...I have been surprised at how highly dysfunctional people on the internet can be.

I think that's because of the impersonality of online communication. It's easy to attack someone you don't really know and probably will never have to look in the face. Too many people lose sight of the fact that there's another pseron at the other end of that cable.

...if you have opinions and express them publicly, you will eventually become a target.

I've had a big red circle painted on my butt for years. Anybody that wants to can take a shot. :)

At 11:00 PM, Blogger Michelle Miles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:58 AM, Blogger Devon Ellington said...

Right on, Carter.

I actually had someone show up at my door after I wrote an article defending someone I knew who was unfairly attacked. The guy pounded on my door and told me he was "going to teach me my place."

I told him I would rip off his balls and feed them to him.

He backed down.

After the election, I got so much hate mail from opinions (which weren't even worded that strongly), I temporarily disallowed comments. But they came in through the website anyway. Some of them had to be turned over to the cops.

What was interesting -- and disturbing -- was that, out of 800 pieces of hate mail, ONE was an articulated argument. ONE. The rest were along the lines of "you unpatriotic bitch" and worse.

I don't mind it if people disagree with me, but at least set out reasons and evidence and try to convince me!

In Mik's case, I suspect it's someone she knows. Another friend recently had to take down and create a new blog because a family member kept posting hate mail.

If you're going to speak publicly, people are not going to agree with you. Sometimes, they will disagree in an unacceptable fashion.

What NEEDS to happen is that we all give each other room to disagree, which, over the past few years, has been strongly discouraged in this country. And we need to get back to respectful disagreement.

I'm not sure how to do it, though.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Carter said...

OK, let me try this again.

If you have anything to say, at least have the courage to SIGN YOUR NAME!!!

Anonymous posts will be deleted posthaste. If you don't have the courage to stand behind your own statements, then I'm not interested in them.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Mr. Right said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Carter said...

Since the entity known as Mr. Right is unable to abide by the rules, ALL his posts will be deleted.

Mr. Right is NOT your name. Your Blogger profile is empty, as is the blog attached to it.

"Liberal Fascist"? I have to admit that's a new one. Liberals believe in few or no restrictions on the individual. Fascists believe in ultimate control of the individual by the State. A Liberal Fascist cannot exist, by definition.


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