Apology to The Ryan (!)

Yeah, I know. I gleefully jumped into that other 'Pit thread (no link; The Ryan knows which one I’m talking about, and if anyone else wants to find it, they need only look for it), and called him a few names. I didn’t get nearly as vicious as I felt like getting, but I certainly made a point to be disdainful and blunt about my feelings.

A nice person emailed me about it and wondered when I’d gotten so petty. She chastised me for piling on and engaging in the lowest form of criticism (the gang rapes we tend to see in the BBQ Pit periodically). She was absolutely correct to dope slap me, which is why I’m starting this thread.

For The Record: I apologize to The Ryan for taking part in a cowardly action against him. Mea maxima culpa.

To The Ryan: I hope you’ll accept my apology, but I don’t blame you if you choose not to respond, either to the apology itself or to the sincere advice below.

You are a very clever and intelligent poster, TR. You’re also quite witty and charming on many occassions. The problem I have with you is the same problem I have with the ad hominem style posters and with the reactionary ideologues who think they have a lock on the truth. You do not argue fairly and you do not seem to care to contribute towards an understanding of the topic being discussed.

My observation is that you are concerned merely with winning “points” in a debate, and thus your microexaminations of your opponents’ wording is designed to obscure rather than to clarify; to evade rather than to confront, and to generate heat rather than illumination. If you truly wish to fight ignorance, you must remember that the point of debate is to test the strength of ideas, not to try the patience and test the endurance of the debaters.

I hope you decide to apply your incisive wit to the fair examination of issues. If you continue to obfuscate and annoy, then you will contribute much less to this board than you are capable of contributing.


I understand the impulse behind starting this thread, but hang on a gosh darn minute here.

One of the reasons the Pit exists is to let other posters know that they are perceived as being jerks, either in general or in particular threads. I should now, I’ve been dragged to that particular woodshed a time or two myself. That does not mean that such a thread is a “gang rape” or that starting it or participating in it – to post legitimately held opinions, as opposed to gratuitous venom – is “cowardly.”

I mean, re-read the last three paragraphs of your post. That could just as easily been posted in the other thread – the one you apparently are considering a “gang-rape” of THE RYAN, even though your post here is far more critical than some of those found in that thread. This is IMO a classic example of simultaneously extending the right hand for a handshake and and the left for a slap across the face, and I’m at a loss to imagine why you consider it less cowardly than an honest “You know what? I think you’re being a jerk.” I will of course leave it to THE RYAN to determine the value of such an apology.

Again, I believe your purpose here is admirable and you’ll have to forgive my asperity, but I find I am none to happy to be painted as a gang-rapist.

Here’s the difference, Jodi; as the OP, I am directly accountable for my remarks here and for the direction of the thread, just as ENugent is for his thread. My first post to that thread was excusable in that it was a humorous little put-down, but my subsequent post was just “piling on” to a group attack, which makes it cowardly. I did not accuse anyone else of cowardice; I know only how I felt about it.

Exactly. It is critical. It is explanatory. It is advisory. It’s my damn personal statement to The Ryan, and when I made it I did not get the feeling I was standing in a circle with other villagers screaming “Kill the monster!” My best choice would’ve been not to participate in the other thread, but having made that choice I felt the only remedy was to start my own thread, taking me away from the torch-waving. Maybe I’m overreaching; maybe I’m just rubbing salt into several wounds by doing this. In either case, at least I’m singly to blame for it, and directly answerable for it.

Since I made my opinion plain as part of a mob, I felt it only fair that individually I state specifically what I dislike about The Ryan’s style of debate, and what I suggest be done about it. While I do not expect him to recognize anything I’ve said as valid, I fully expect he’ll have a pointed remark or two, which I’ll take with as much grace as I can muster. I hope he has suggestions of his own.

That was hyperbole on my part, to be sure; but the analogy is not too far off. Other people besides The Ryan have been eviscerated in the 'Pit by people with far less cause. I’ve taken stands in some of those thread defending those folks; I don’t enjoy feeling like a hypocrite. I did not intend to insult anyone who participated in the other thread; your sensibilities are not mine, and I acknowledge that my perceptions of culpability may not be commonly held. Obviously I agree with most of the criticisms offered there; my discomfort came from the gang mentality I feared was building up (based on prior Pit experiences).

I hope that adequately answers your objections, Jodi.

andros, I have no idea how to answer your post, except by saying:

Good point, andros.

To follow up on xeno’s point, Jodi, it seems to me that the difference between his OP and the gist of the other thread is that here his criticisms of The Ryan are being presented in a constructive manner seemingly meant to elicit an improved debating style on The Ryan’s part. On the other thread’s hand, on the other hand, most responses seemed almost reflexive, devoid of any real critical content other than, “Man, what an asshole he is!”

In other words, my perception is that while in the first thread the contribution of xeno and others was basically, “You’re a jerk, The Ryan!”, here it’s more like, “I think you can come off as a jerk sometimes, The Ryan, and here’s why.”

Explanatory rather than eviscerating. Which thread do you think The Ryan would be more likely to respond to in something approaching a civil manner? (Because, of course, his not being perfectly civil in the other thread was taken by most to be more fuel for the mill; more grist for the fire.)

For the record, I am female. Further, I have no particular control over what anyone posts in the thread I started; I simply had reached the breaking point of frustration over the same issues that you eloquently described in this one. What’s more, I think I may have headed off the “gang-rape” aspects of that one by explicitly requesting statements in support of The Ryan.

As usual, I agree with Jodi wholeheartedly.

Doh! Sorry for assuming a gender for you.

True, you are responsible only for the initial post; I and everyone else who followed were responsible for either following or countering the direction of the thread. Of course, as the thread starter you have some justification for an attempt to reclaim a certain direction for the thread. If I am unable to maintain such control in this thread, I’ll ask a mod to close it.

Um, you are always accountable for your posts, regardless of whether you start the thread or not. There’s your name, right next to what you wrote, so it’s hard to disavow it. And you are not accountable for the direction of a thread (whether you started it or not), and thank goodness; threads get ugly, threads get silly, threads get hijacked to Cuba. The OP is not the cruise director, and it is not within his or her power to control where the thread goes. All of which is another way of saying that I think you could have posted this in the other thread instead of opening a new one, but it’s your option to open a new one, so nevermind.

Well, you may not have meant to, but you did by implication accuse everyone posting in that thread of cowardice. You did not say “my post was cowardly;” you said that the entire thread was “a cowardly action against him.”

Hell yes, it was far off; it was miles and miles off – especially since you apparently agree (based on your posts here and there) that the sentiment “RYAN can be a big ol’ jerk” is an accurate one, if not a constructive one. That is incomparable to the baseless witch-hunting that sometimes goes on around here, and the level of bile in that thread has not even approached the world-class venom the Pit has unfortunately seen. With those to measure against, to call that thread a gang-rape, and by inference those who participate in it gang-rapists, remains offensive in the extreme.

Yes, they have, but that’s not the here and now. RYAN has hardly been “eviscerated” and the criticism against him is legitimate, at least in your opinion. So to compare the thread dealing with him to those prior evicerations is unfair to those of us who participate in the former (criticism that is deserved) but not in the latter (gratuitous mean-spiritedness for its own sake).

But, by saying that we are participating in something “not too far off” from a gang-rape, you do.

You could easily make that point within that thread or within a new one, without likening the old thread to an “evisceration” or a “gang-rape,” when manifestly it is not. In other words, I don’t think you have to try to make the rest of us look so bad in order to make your point, and that’s where I see hyperbole, and that’s what I object to.

If you hold it up to a candle flame my message is perfectly clear. Sheesh.


If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Jodi, please tell me where I called that other thread specifically a gang rape. Here is the sentence to which I think you’re referring: “She chastised me for piling on and engaging in the lowest form of criticism (the gang rapes we tend to see in the BBQ Pit periodically).” I remind you that every one of those threads containing “world-class venom” looked a alot like that one starting out. Perhaps I failed to make my point clearly. If so, here it is, simply stated: regardless of the level of vitriol of a “Poster ‘X’ sux big rocks” thread, it invites a group attack on another poster, rather than individual, reasoned critiques.

No it isn’t unfair. If I compared the posters who do not participate in mean-spiritedness with those who do, then that would be unfair. The thread in question, however, resembles those prior eviscerations in every aspect except intensity, which as you pointed out can quickly escalate.

Again, you seem to be defending something I haven’t attacked except as it relates to my own hypocrisy. Show me where and how I’ve tried to make the rest of you look bad, Counselor. Remember to point out the declarative statements I made criticising anybody but myself and The Ryan, okay? And if you can’t find those declarative statements, maybe I’m not painting any such insulting picture. If you feel insulted, I suggest you examine your own position; I’ve examined mine. And I’ve neither insulted you nor implied anything bad about you.

Wrong, or at least not entirely correct. I can ask for the thread to be closed by a moderator, I can plead for fairness from other posters, I can cajole and persuade in my own posts, and I can argue my points passionately in a tone of address that leads by example. By starting a thread I do take on the honus to try and maintain it, or to declare my disinvolvement in it. At no time do I completely lose my influence over the thread, unless my posting priveleges are revoked.

I will give The Ryan another day to post if he so desires. If he hasn’t by then, I’ll email Lynn to request this thread be closed. In the meantime, if you wish to continue to explain how I’ve insulted you, I will listen closely and respond as honestly as I can.

XENO, I have explained my point as well as I can. You really have no reason to defend yourself to me; you apparently feel your opening of this thread was justified, and I’m not inclined to try to argue you out of it. It’s just not worth making it into some big hairy deal; you either see the (relatively minor) point I was trying to make, or you don’t. Either way, I am not inclined to make it appear to be something it is not (like, important in general or important to me specifically) by beating it to death any further.

Thanks for the apology, xenophon41. You are lucky to have a friend like that, and to be able to be able to have the courage to listen to her. I realize that not only do I have trouble listening to advice, I have even more trouble convincing people that I am listening to their advice. So to you and everyone that offered advice in that thread rather than insults, thank and please don’t assume that just because I am questioning your advice, I am dismissing it.

City Gent

That’s interesting. I have tried to divorce the statement I am attacking from the person who said it; in thread you mention I said “I’m surprised to see such an ignorant statement coming from you.” When I wrote that, my intent was to make it clear that I was calling the statement, not the poster, ignorant, but looking back I can see how it may have seen as offensive.


Can you elaborate?

How so?

And since you seem to be in a receptive mood, xenophon41, I would an explanation of your behavior in the 209 thread. I mean, I don’t mean to push my luck here, but I wonder how someone as rational as you have been is this thread can simply refuse to explain what their opponent is missing.

Fair enough.

I’ll need to summarize a bit here. If you feel my summary is inaccurate in any way, I trust you’ll correct me. In any case, for others, here’s a link to that thread.

The OP asked the question (regarding California Proposition 209) “What I don’t understand is how anyone could think that this is unconstitutional. Can anyone present an argument for this position?”

In response, I quoted the ACLU’s position as stated in their web site (www.aclu.org). Part of their statement read as follows: “…it places special burdens upon women and minorities in the political process; while other groups can approach their city councils, boards of education, or state Legislature for protection, women and minorities cannot.”

You objected to that part of the ACLU’s statement. Here are your quotations from the passage and your responses:

And now, here is where I made the statement that became the major bone of contention between us, quoted in its full context. Since that context includes my response to both of your assertions regarding the passage from the ACLU’s position, I’ll include both. I apologize in advance for the nested quotes, but I’m striving for clarity and accuracy here:

Now, in the above self quote, I added the underlining of the phrase “in this case they are the same” because this is the phrase you subsequently isolated and began to focus on outside of the context in which I was speaking, and to the exclusion of everything else I said:

To which I responded by asking if you thought that my simple assertion that the laws which will not be applied equally deal with AA preferences indicated I thought the two concepts were indistinguishable. (I also asked if you knew the difference between the statements A=B and If B, then first A; Not A then Not B.) You responded:

Well, we went on from there, and even continued the argument on a different Affirmative Action thread!

Re-reading our exchange, I tried very hard to understand your objection to my phrasing, and why you thought it negated my argument or was unclear. I still don’t understand why you isolated and removed it from context, and why you repeatedly claimed I couldn’t distinguish between the concepts of “equal consideration under the law” and “special treatment” when I manifestly did distinguish between the two.

Please remember that all of this was pursuant to your direct request for someone to explain the ACLU’s objection to the constitutionality of Prop 209. I attempted to answere your request by showing why the ACLU felt that Prop 209’s denial of remedial action based on gender or race violates the equal protection clause.

If, after consideration, you still don’t understand why I felt your microexamination of my phrasing -out of the context of my argument- was objectionable, I’ll try and explain it differently. In turn, I would be quite interested in seeing a justification for such microexamination, or an explanation of how it can ever add to understanding of an issue rather than detract and obscure.

Short answer: Your manner of using quotes sucks.

Detailed answer: If you’re looking to further a discussion using quotes, you do sort of make it hard. You’re prone to quoting a huge amount of text, often from two or three levels of quote, to provide a simple one-sentence answer to something.

As an example, this thread contains a number of messages in which you quote a hideously huge amount of text for fairly minimal responses (and I’ve seen even worse quoting from you.) The effect is to make your messages hard to read and to detract from your central point. In the linked case, you might have had more luck explaining your point (which I thought was excellent) by avoiding all but the most basic quoting and replying in detailed paragraph form, restating and expanding on your thesis.

At some point you do have to trust the reader to be able to follow the thread. If the quoting goes beyond providing a reference to what you’re replying to, there’s too much of it. In many cases in the linked thread you could hack off 50% of more of the quoted text and you’d make the discussion easier to follow.

It’s not THAT big a deal, but I felt obligated to make sure I was clearly neither in the “Ryan blows goats” camp nor a cheerleader.

I can understand the desire to hyperquote a message so you can reply to every sentence, but it detracts from the overall flow of the discussion. Things tend to be more cohesive when you keep the quoting to a minimum and reply with well-prepared paragraphs.

Come on, do you need to be following people around and complaining about other threads? :slight_smile: Not that Scylla wasn’t a dick in return - but that’s another thread.

Hmm. Talk about mixed messages.

RickJay, at first glance you and I appear to have almost diametrically opposite objections. I’m asking for full contextual consideration, and you’re asking for abbreviated quoting and expanded examination. If you don’t mind, I’d like to try and clarify the similar focus I believe we’re both trying to convey.

I think we’re both asking for more precise examination from The Ryan of his thesis, and of the theses with which he’s in disagreement. In most cases, this requires not only a consideration of the context of his opponents’ remarks (my point) but also an uncluttered exposition from him of the idea he wishes to convey (your point).
The Ryan, I, too, find myself in agreement with you on many points, but find your techniques alternately irritating or confusing. While this is fairly easy to ignore when one is not directly involved in a discussion with you, it can be maddening when in opposition with you, and is only exacerbated by ill-tempered rejoinders from you. (OTOH, when you’ve made your point clearly and fairly, your rejoinders seem much pithier and more humorous.)

If you think I was being a dick, you should see what happened before.

Check this thread;


and the other one, which I’ll post next.

Just read my and his posts, and tell me I’m wrong, and he’s an honest and worthwhile debater.

And this one:

Combine that with following me around from thread to thread, making stupid-ass accusations, and you will see why I’m convinced he’s dishonest, a shithead, and not worthy of the benefit of the doubt.

Read those as well as my previous links, and tell me why I’m wrong, and what a swell guy he is, and I’ll listen.

If you don’t then I’d suggest you don’t understand the destructive impact of his nastly little word games and one upmanship on sincere debate.

Scylla, the other thread is still open if you just want to repeat what you said there. I was kinda hoping that in this thread, those of us who care to could state specifically what we’re offended by, and state why we find it offensive. By “specifically” I mean through quoted examples accompanied by our dispassionate observations, or through detailed descriptions of the objectionable tactics.

Merely posting links and asking us to judge who’s the bigger asshole doesn’t seem to be helpful at all. Possibly we would all agree with you, but in what way would that change The Ryan’s perceptions?

Thanks in advance for your studied input into this thread, or for abstaining from it.

Scylla, no offense, but give it a rest. Your links prove nothing, if but to characterize The Ryan as a detail obsessed debater and to characterize you as a hot under the collar generalizer. I could go on and point out who went negative first, who was being a dick, etc., but I think xenophon41 has an excellent point. This isn’t the place for your personal squabble.

Why have I gotten involved? Because I’ve been reading all the threads in question, and not being an entirely smart man, had gotten confused on several points regarding The Ryan’s arguments. I figured he would be shedding light on them, which is when people started ganging up on him (I’ll refrain from using the “r” word). Becoming intrigued, I kept reading. Therefore, here I am, urging people to “stay on target”, even though there clearly is no “moderator” underneath my name. Sorry for any intrusion.

Scylla, Scylla, Scylla. My friend. I know how you’re feeling - really I do. But as a neutral third party I feel its my duty to say this: you and Ryan had a fight. A spat, really. He felt that your position was ambiguous whilst you did not. As far as you were concerned he was wilfully ignoring your carefully constructed point and simply REFUSING to understand. As far as he was concerned however you were wilfully ignoring his explanation of his confusion and simply REFUSING to give a straight answer. It escalated.

Now FWIW I think that you probably had a stronger argument than he. I also think that in typical fashion your answers tended to the witty whilst his tended toward the irritated. Nevertheless I feel that the most constructive thing would be for BOTH of you at this point to recognise eachothers points of view, acknowledge that you both have a lot to offer the board and get on with something more fun instead.

C’mon guys. Please.