I left a classical music board a couple of days ago when I realized that I had posted a message that was basically an ad hominem attack of another member.
Now, this guy, let’s call him A, is difficult. He admits that he doesn’t know anything about music theory. He’s basically an amateur enthusiast. There’s absloutely nothing wrong with that, of course. A lot of other members are like him. The problem however, is that he’s extremely judgmental about almost everything. He is on records as describing some well-established genres as “deplorable” and “minor”. According to him, contemporary classical music as a whole is bullshit. He has described the music of some major composers as “flat” and “uninteresting”. Classical traditions from other parts of the world (Chinese, Arabic, Indian)? He has no interest in any of that. Non-classical Western music? Brainwashing for feeble-minded, manipulated people. That includes jazz, rock, rap, folk. John Coltrane = Miley Cyrus. He’s also admiited that he started litening to classical music because that was what intelligent people listened to.
When asked to elaborate, he says that he doesn’t need to, because these are “established facts” and “it’s been proven”. When asked whether he has ever listened to any of that he answers that he soldiered through a couple of extracts on youtube and that that’s enough for him to have a definitive opinion. He never has the time to listen to some suggested pieces (how convenient…).
Well, let’s say that his exchanges with many other members, including me, have been very tense.
A couple a years ago, I was on the verge of calling him “racist” regarding some comments he had made about non-Western music traditions. I didn’t say the word but my thinking was clear enough for other members to defend him. I had indeed crossed a line: he hadn’t said anything that was racist, I interpreted his reasoning as racist.
After that incident, I decided to ignore him as best as I could. It worked for some time. I was still annoyed by some of his silly judgments but I refrained from commenting or took great care to contradict him in a constructive manner. Until last Friday. He was at it again, expressing shock at B’s tastes (a brilliant young man who graduated from CNSMDP, France’s elite college of music and who also happens to be the board’s founder) because B had ranked some works by Ligeti above that of composers that he liked (including some pretty minor ones). There was quite a bit of discussion between them with B giving reasonable musical arguments for his opinion and A basically saying that Ligeti’s works were entirely devoid of artistic merit. They were “nothing”.
And that’s where I made a mistake. I said something like: "Look B. Just repeat what A says and you’ll end up believing it. He’s always right. He knows everything there is to know about music. " Then I made a list of some composers that A likes, with very disparaging comments. I then listed some of the outrageous things he’d said over the years. I ended with an very sarcastic “A is a real connoisseur.”
Less than 5 minutes later, I got a private message from B saying that I was not contributing anything constructive and that what I had done was, quite simply, a personal attack on A and an attempt to ridicule him in public.
When I cooled off, I realize that what B had said was right. In spite of all the stupid things that A says all the time, he has never mocked another member’s tastes. I have. Since I don’t want to be caught up in another incident like this, I’ve decided to “ban myself”.