Isaac calls me out:
Either Isaac misunderstood my post, or I didn't make myself clear -- which is very possible, because I only devoted a few lines to the idea.
I do not believe that Thomas Garvey was speaking in good faith. I stopped reading his blog a long time ago because I realized exactly what Isaac says -- he enjoys baiting people, he throws bombs without providing much substance, and I never left a post of his feeling enlightened. Just sometimes angry.
But suppose a troll lands a bomb at you and you decide to argue back -- after all, you can simply ignore them -- what is the point in arguing? What was the point of that furious post?
- You want to convince Garvey to change his mind
- You want to convince your blog-roll readers that Garvey is wrong
- You want to have some sort of public catharsis by screaming at a wall
Isaac things I'm advocating option number one, but I'm not. I agree that it's pointless. But if your goal is number 2, I think you're much better served by a sharply written post that focuses the anger into tearing your opponent's argument apart, rather than just spewing anger. The spewing anger route might get an "amen" from your own choir, but like it or not there are going to be people on the fence who'll miss what you have to say because they're put off by the anger.
If you're going for option 3, then I probably have already spent too much time talking about the post and I'm tired.
This isn't just about 99 Seats. This is about how we debate major issues in this country. We talk about the partisan rancor in this country, and it's precisely because of this process -- the trolls control the tone, because people feel they have to match the tone of the trolls or get drowned out.
This is what has always appealed to me about Obama over his opponents. That Q&A Obama had with the Republicans is perfect. And it's not just perfect because I (who already agree with him) was happy to see him take on the Republican party -- it's perfect because it allows the independents who may be watching the chance to hear both sides.
In the primary election, I happen to know that what decided the primary for my mother was the fact that as time wore on, the Clintons got more and more desperate, were basically lobbing bombs and saying ugly things of increasingly unpleasant caliber, and Obama simply stuck to the issues and the facts. Which didn't mean not fighting back -- it just meant avoiding the lure of personal attacks.
That's what I was getting at. It is precisely if you don't think the other side of the conversation is dealing with even hands that you shouldn't waste your time flying off the handle. In those cases, the conversation isn't about you, it's about the people listening.
Oh and one more thing. It's not that I don't like the word fuck. I can fucking drop that fucking word every other fucking word if I fucking feel like it. Fuck is a fucking FANTASTIC word in some contexts -- I actually even like the way that it gives Glengarry Glenn Ross the Mametian rhythm. I fucking LOVE George Carlin and I've definitely yelled a good hearty "FUCK OFF" in someone's face before.
I just meant that, in the context of a heated response in a heated debate, all the fucking makes it sound like what you're saying is just sound and fury.
Aaaaand.... one more fuck for the road.