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Monday, December 31, 2007

what a lovely mess

I thought I was done blogging but someone annoyed me, and I’m in the mood for employing the one strategy to combat idiots other than just plain ignoring them. I’m going to try employing some reason. Boring! I know, I’m thinking again. Damnit.

Any old boy can stand in the middle of the street and shout and call it “expressing himself.” I’m expressing myself, I’m expressing myself, look at me! Now bending down to the ear of your friend and speaking in a clear voice and careful tone, that’s the impetus towards communication. Not to mention art, which is tuning intonation and structuring style to manifest a vision, with the ultimate aim of allowing the vision to speak for itself. The reason I’m mentioning all this is because it is important to recognize the difference between expression and communication, and the difference between criticism and intolerance. There should be an ethics of communication we refer to in order to mitigate the destructiveness of those who disregard reasoned criticism in favor of emotional rants.

Intolerance has its applications. What we should be intolerant of are attack dog sociopaths whose one goal is to gain the illusion of a few rungs advantage by bringing others down to their level. Their goal is to feel good about themselves. The problem is the means they choose to do it. It is unfortunate that there are so many examples of unreasoned attacks in the public discourse by supposed public intellectuals, for example O’Reilly, Limbaugh, Beck, Dobbs. The attack dog sociopaths criticize based on emotion, not merit, and make people afraid to believe in things by swinging fear, tapping into prejudices, and relishing in the joy of unleashed ego and squawking omnipotence. What it really is: an act to hide basic incompetence. Problem is this advantage comes from constantly talking, and dissipates when listening. Thus they talk a lot. They’re the loud ones. Unregulated arrogance. It is unpleasant to hear.

Criticism, as opposed to unreasoned dismissiveness, is a healthy thing and helps the cream of the crop surface in the marketplace of ideas. It is one of the strengths of our country. It is what the system of peer review is based on in the sciences. Theories, opinions and suppositions are supposed to be challenged to find any weaknesses, mal assumptions, or things that were overlooked. Criticism and reasoned argument can be the great strength of a blogging community, the means by which people learn things by connecting on the internet.

The difficulty is there are plenty of dismissive sociopaths trolling for prey on the internet as an outlet for their shouts and rants, their bursts of hurtful expression. An ethic of conduct to guide interactive forums on the internet would be a good addition to any blog. Anonymous sociopaths could be redirected to the code of ethics when they decide to chime in. I mean, lay the rules of conduct down to steer fruitful public discourse, so we can rest on our civilized laurels and don’t have to waste energy counteracting each new episode of mean spiritedness. You can also lay reasoned arguments next to the sociopath’s rant so that those on the fence of the continuum of expression-communication can have a clear choice to make. They can see the difference. Will they give in to their frustrations and lay down with mr. angry, or will they pick up their wand and try to fine tune it, choosing to believe we live in a progressive society? So you can lay down a reasoned argument to counteract the dangers of a rant (dangers being 1. it will find sympathy 2. it will discourage reasoned discourse by creating an emotional turbulence of fear and dislocation), but in the end, remember the limitations caused by the sociopath’s disregard for reason. From Jonathan Swift: “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”

I met an old friend of oV’s and we talked about oV’s blog, and this old friend said, “yeah, what a mess it is.” I said, yeah, but what a LOVELY mess. Most of the time that’s the way I feel.

Thanks for the mystery posts all. I am grateful for getting to post with you. Good luck in all your endeavors, peaceful warriors. Happy New Year, ~~lg


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