Update: Zippy and I have agreed to disagree. Here is my most recent comment to Zippy at his site:
I presume it is mutual that we are past the point where we might have a beer (or a scotch) and put all of this past us.
Not from my POV. I’d buy you a beer tomorrow.
I’ve given this a bit of thought and while we clearly don’t (and won’t) see eye to eye on this issue I’ve given it awful hard to you personally and you are responding here with a great deal of grace. You even offered again after I continued. That can’t have been easy and in my book is a very manly gesture.
If you are still so inclined, I propose we agree to disagree on this issue, raise a virtual glass, and look forward to what we might learn from one another in the new year.
My prayers are for the best for you and yours in 2013, and that God will bless you.
Here is Zippy’s Reply:
May Providence smile upon you, your family, and all of your projects in the new year.
If someone has one handy, please give Cane Caldo a hanky.
———————- Original Post, Comments Now Closed ———————-
Note: Several of my commenters have questioned the need for my previous post, and I think this is a valid question. zhai2nan2 offered a humorous link to a quickmeme on internet fights, and I agree that this is generally an accurate depiction of the phenomenon. Empathologicalism framed it similarly:
But…..I guess pick your favorite guy and escalate the drama!
Again, this is very often a fair observation. As I explain below this is to some extent for me personal, but there is an extremely important larger issue around the honest exchange of ideas and the most basic forms of blogging courtesy required for this to occur.
I want to stress that I’m not looking to silence Zippy, but that I continue to ask him to have a fair and honest discussion, something I’ve been asking for since August of this year.
I’ve slightly modified the comment below to include links, but you can see the original comment in context here. I’ll update below with a link to any response from Zippy [done], so please let me know if one is up and I haven’t yet done so.
From the comments of some of your readers I gather that my short 2.5 years of blogging experience pales in comparison to your own length of experience. However, even in my much shorter blogging time I quickly noticed that any time I mention another blogger in a post who is at least controversial to my audience that this often has the unintended side effect of hanging them up as a sort of piñata for my commenters to tear apart personally. Ironically this effect is worst when I quote the other blogger not to criticize them but to find some area of limited common agreement. This is to a large degree an unavoidable cost to having the kinds of discussions which I find most valuable, the kinds of conversations with the potential to profit from vigorous intellectual disagreement and synthesize something larger than either side began with. However, as a moderator I can at least be aware of the footing I’ve put the other blogger in by analyzing their ideas in front of a hostile crowd. The absolute worst thing I can do is moderately praise a fellow blogger to whom my audience is hostile to and then prevent the “foreign” blogger from defending himself. Censoring those who vigorously disagree with the blogger would make no sense either, because this prevents the very exchange I hope to profit from. If I do this I’m only hanging the poor outside-of-the-group blogger up as a piñata to be attacked purely for entertainment, since the only potential benefit is now off the table.
Consider your treatment of me in your original rubbernecking post. You hung me up in front of a hostile crowd while expressing limited agreement for my ideas. So far, no foul, and I’m eager for the potential to profit from exactly this type of exchange so I’m happy to pay the price of admission. When I do it to other bloggers I’m aware of the position I’m putting them in, and I think this is tacitly understood amongst all but the least experienced bloggers because they generally handle the situation with a great deal of grace.
But you then tilted the field away from an intellectual exchange by tying the hands of myself and anyone else who wanted to have the exchange. Lydia opened the comments with a long series of slanders against me personally, without even pretending to offer anything of intellectual value. When Chris called her on this early in the thread you made it as clear as possible that you wouldn’t permit anyone to challenge Lydia when she behaved in this way. You rebuked him despite the fact that Chris explained that he works in mental health and regularly counsels men who have failed in their attempts at suicide after being crushed by the system. If you look at the thread you will see that his comment closes with this explanation and the very next words in the thread are your very strong rebuke to Chris for daring to challenge Lydia. She was as you explained a “lady”, who would receive special protection on your blog. Then when another commenter pointed out her refusal to argue with logic, facts, and reason you found your moderator legs yet again and smacked him down publicly for doing this. Yet not once in the 130+ comment exchange did you rebuke Lydia for her repeated slander of me. I have come to expect to have to argue my ideas in front of a hostile crowd on an absurdly tilted playing field, and elected to simply “play through”. But to say that you were an ungracious host would be the epitome of understatement. Adding insult to injury, you have repeatedly lectured me since then on my own failure to keep my commenters in line, frequently alluding to the superior class of commenters on your own blog. This after setting the stage for your commenters to abuse me personally in the most intellectually dishonest ways and actively preventing any and all defense. And all of this merely for sport, since as you yourself explained in your Dalrock and a Hard Case post the only possible profit to be gained, a serious exchange of ideas, you allowed Lydia to take off the table.
Yet with all of this I’ve held my tongue and elected to let it slide, because I still hoped to profit from an exchange of ideas. Yet in your Cynicism post you now declare that Lydia was right in her marathon slander of me on your blog, and both of your last two posts amount to what you yourself define as the sin of calumny:
I prefer linear comments because they make it easier to follow a thread over time. I also prefer them because they encourage us to directly quote the part of someone else’s post to which we are responding. This has lots of benefits, not least of which is that it makes it a bit harder (though of course not impossible) to pretend someone said something he didn’t say. Bad paraphrase (“Bob said he wants to pitchfork children!”) is one of my pet peeves, though I know I’m not completely immune myself. I consider it a vicious form of calumny when it is done on purpose; so lets never do it on purpose and try hard not to do it on accident.
I can’t say if you are doing this on purpose of course, since that would require me to psychoanalyze you over the wire. All I can do is ask you whether it was on purpose or not, continue to ask you to cease, and remind you of your other words on the topic:
Calumny is when someone tells falsehoods about a person in a way damaging to that person’s reputation or standing in the community. In the case of the Todd Akin affair, many people have told lies about what he actually said…
I’ve personally only seen one single person retract and apologize, and good for him. That’s the kind of guy I want in the moral foxhole with me.
Is Zippy Catholic the kind of man you would like to be in the moral foxhole with?
I’ll also politely ask that you stop referring to me as “brain damaged” as you did here, even while accusing me of ad hominem using a form of argument you yourself define as a vicious form of calumny. If I’ve committed ad hominem, please do me the courtesy of quoting the text and explaining my error. If you can’t do this, please acknowledge that this is the case and cease making the claim.
Update: Zippy’s responses are here. I’m not impressed to say the least, but I’ve said my piece. I’ll get some new posts out time permitting.