June 13, 2003

The Lost Art of Contempt

"Dwight Meredith has a must read post for anyone who has been following the disturbing saga of a certain out of control blogger ...

Such was the first line of Brian Linse's most recent entry this morning, and if you're anything like me, it was a line that made you sit up and take notice.

Mr Linse links to reports that a certain blogger, who bravely uses a pseudonym, has been running amok and nastily criticizing other bloggers in false, yet very personal terms. Other bloggers have also stepped in to declare that such behavior is inconsiderate, uncalled for, beyond the pale, etc. etc. While I'm not familiar enough with the situation at hand to comment on it, I can say that this brings up a question I've been meaning to address. Namely: is it better for one to rhetorically bastinado stupid criticism of one's views, or simply ignore such idiocy?

The answer is: it depends on the situation.

Now I must say that my answer does not apply to reasoned, legitimate criticism of one's arguments. One ought to address such things if one becomes aware of them, because failing to do so can tend to weaken one's position. But that's not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about is criticism that comes straight from the outfield: badly-formed ideas and ill-thought out rambling so intellectually pathetic that it's downright offensive.

There are times when this merits a response, but only for one of two reasons. First, I think one should respond to such things if one can be really funny about it. The second is when the blogger in question is of equal or greater importance to oneself. In such instances, I feel it would be warranted to either issue a dismissive, one-line response noting the foolishness; or cast said foolishness down to the depths like Capernaum.

But we're not really talking about that either -- primarily because bloggers who have achieved some measure of fame in this endeavour of ours don't often write stupid things. Well, once in a while they do, but you get my point. Rather, the uninformed ad hominem attacks primarily come from previously unheard-of players on the scene. As such folks are unheard-of for a reason, this is where the Lost Art of Contempt can enter onto the scene.

I mean, let's face it. There are some things, some ideas, and some arguments out there that do not deserve the dignity of a response. Combined with the fact that such a state of affairs is intolerable for the yammering morons who enjoy throwing around false, ad hominem attacks, it is a win-win situation for the reasonable fellow who finds himself under fire. Through ignoring such idiocy, reasonable people not only save time, they express their dissatisfaction in a pretty damning way. Best of all, though, is that the stupidity is not given any further exposure.

So while I am sure the folks dealing with this particular situation are well-meaning in openly criticizing this pseudonymous blogger, I would humbly suggest they try a different tack: absolute - freakin' - silence. Cast this odious personage out into the darkness, and go back to enjoying the party as this person wails and gnashes his or her teeth.

Also you could ban said person's IP address.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 13, 2003 10:48 AM | TrackBack

I'm not sure, Ben. There's something to be said for ignoring people like that - the best being that it probably would annoy the hell out of them (I find stuff like this is usually done to get attention. Screw 'em. They ain't getting it from me.).

But in this case, the person in question is accusing people of being racist. I'm not sure who's telling the truth in all of this, but if the person is also making pokes at another's disability, as it has been said, that is just unforgiveable. I have epiliepsy; a co-worker made fun of it a few years ago. Man, that *hurt*. It still does. I'm not sure if I wouldn't step up and say something under those circumstances.

Posted by: Emily at June 13, 2003 07:08 PM