I'm no Pollyanna, but the unpleasantness at Metacomments has really knocked me for a loop, to the extent that I've had no desire to post anything here lately.
It's not worth going over the details, any more than it'd be worthwhile to go swimming in the manure lagoon at a hog farm. What's shocking to me is the energy that people will spend justifying their bad qualities, versus cultivating their good ones. It's human nature, God knows, but blogs do seem to exacerbate it, and it bothers me.
I could also say that I'm amazed at the lengths to which people will go to defend personal failings that, if the truth were known, are probably the cause of most of their unhappiness. But as someone once said to me, "Why are you surprised at how badly people treat other people? Look at how they treat themselves."
Anyway, just for the record: If anyone wants to call me names, or attack my pet theories, or make pitiless fun of my beliefs, or announce that I have no fucking idea what I'm talking about...go right ahead. I'm a grown-up, and I can take it in stride (even if you use bad language). Hell, I may even agree with you.
But in cases where I don't agree, you'll find that I understand the difference between defending my point of view, and retaliating against you. Your IP address is of no interest to me. I don't care where you live, what you do for a living, or what your educational background is. All of that is your business, not mine. I figure that if I can't win an argument with my own words, and whatever tenuous grasp I have of facts and logic, I'm not going to be able to win it by posting information about where you work, or what sort of car you drive. I have no respect whatsoever for the intelligence or morality of bloggers who cross this line, whether they do so to attack my friends, or my opponents.
All of which is less important than this: I'm grateful for friends like Thers and NYMary. Anything else I might want to say is summed up very economically by M.M. Bakhtin:
The rhetorical dispute is a dispute in which it is important to gain victory over the opponent, not to approach the truth. This is the lowest form of rhetoric. In all higher forms one can reach solutions to questions that are capable of temporal, historical solutions, but not to ultimate questions (where rhetoric is impossible).UPDATE: What Watertiger said.