You know, I don’t totally mind being attacked in the blogosphere. What really gets my goat, though, is when people I respect blithely dismiss what I’m saying, make no attempt whatsoever to understand where I’m coming from, or act as if my good point is unworthy of their consideration.
Here’s an example of an interaction I don’t mind.
I said: “If anyone is interested about Moore’s doctored facts, get the book Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man, by David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke. Moore makes things up, distorts facts, and splices scenes to make conservatives look bad. I think that’s what happened in Jesus Camp as well–I got the impression that the scenes were heavily edited to make people look worse than they really are.”
And here’s my noble opponent’s response: “James Pate, you really are an ignorant moronic white trash loser. Conversatives make themselves look terrible own their own. They don’t need any help from Michael Moore[.]”
To be honest, these comments don’t keep me awake at night. I could really care less what this person thinks! He’s just blowing off steam. He can’t even spell “conservatives”! If I don’t respect the person making the comment, then I don’t care too much if his comment trashes me.
What I can’t abide, however, is when people I do respect treat me like doo-doo. Why do I respect them? Maybe because they have a high academic position, or they’ve demonstrated at some point that they’re at least capable of rationality. Here are some statements I don’t care for.
“As I already said…” Sure, you may have already said it, but am I out of line to probe your statement or ask for clarification?
“I’ll respond to your rant in one point…” Well, thank you, your royal highness! Why is it that your anger is righteous indignation, whereas my anger constitutes a “rant”?
“Such a statement is not taken seriously…” It is by me!
“I don’t respond to ad hominem attacks…” No, you just make them.
“You’re projecting what you want onto this issue, rather than letting the sources speak for themselves…” Well, I provided quotes from the sources. Can you at least address those, rather than blithely blowing my point off?
“I would qualify such an assertion…” Why thank you, Mr. Nuance! I’ve had to put up with a lot of this in academia. “Well, I think it’s more complex than that,” a person says, before proceeding to restate my point in different words.
“You’re being disingenuous…” You know, this was a setting in which I really tried my best to be diplomatic, but I felt like telling this guy off after he said that! I typed in something to tell him off, but (to my credit) I did not post it.
“Such false humility…” Excuse me! You can’t read my mind!
I wish I didn’t get so touchy about this stuff, especially since I’ll be encountering a lot of it if I get an academic career. Whoopee! Can’t wait. Maybe there are gems in those kinds of discussions, but I’m not sure what.