7 thoughts on “Learning a Lesson, Offering An Apology

  1. @Tom Gilson:

    got an email the other day from “David,” who had a lot of nice things to say about my articles, but who was concerned about my sometimes snide or snarky attitude in comment discussion. I think he’s right.

    Being among the worst offenders in the Snide, Snark, Sarcasm and Co. in this blog (this is not self-congratulation, but a rebuke and a gentle nudge towards change), I can resonate with both the concerns of David and your response to it. Having said this however, I would like to add a couple of things as mitigating, not excusatory, factors.

    1. Snide and Snark (a dynamic duo like Batman and Robin, Abbott and Costello, etc.) may be, and probably most often is, an expression of impatience but when it grades into Irony and even the fiercer Sarcasm, it can be the expression of intellectual indignation against the villainies of the spirit. It sharpens the debate and forces the opposing side to come up with something better. Culture and Civilization come out loosing when such modes of expression become unavailable.

    2. It is a pattern, a pattern of human affairs, that many who complain about Snide and Snark are the ones who shot the first salvos, and when their arguments are exposed as groundless and untenable, retreat with a pout and whining about how mean their opponents are. It is a psychological defense mechanism.

    3. And for the record, I do not think David is right. Or to put it in other words, in my judgment your attitude is rarely snide or snarky, and very often you show a genuine concern for the debater on the other side, who more often than not is an obnoxious little punk.

    Please, do not misunderstand me. In particular, it could be the case that my 3. is just a devious way to excuse myself. I do tend to exaggerate and I do *in*tend to make an effort to tone down on the snarkyness, but are people’s egos so fragile that they cannot withstand some jabs and punches? Debates get testy. The air around us is burning, shrapnel flies everywhere, we hit the dirt on the floor. This is war.

  2. Thank you, G. Rodrigues,

    I agree that sarcasm can be a good communication tool in the right contexts. I know in my case I’ve been using it in impatience, not advisedly.

    This is war. On that you are exactly right. I think it’s going to get hotter before it gets cooler. I just don’t want to fight it by the other side’s rules. God has a different way for us.

  3. It happens, and it will always happen to some extent. In times of conflict and disagreement, in lieu of fisticuffs we’ll have to make do with wit and sarcasm.

    I’ll grant you that you use it less than others, and that can be a good thing. On the other hand, sometimes irony and sarcasm are the very devices that one needs to point out an unreasonable position. As long as the fallacy or error is explained clearly, I don’t see a problem with using a bit of judicious sarcasm to poke a hole in another person’s argument… the only question becomes “how hard the poke?”

    I just don’t want to fight it by the other side’s rules. God has a different way for us.

    Awww, how cute! *chuckle*

    It is important to have a sense of moral superiority in any conflict, isn’t it?

    Too bad you have to think of it as a fight, instead of finding a way to just let it be. Instead of a heterogeneous society, you would have uniformity. We’re not like that… most of us just don’t want you lot legislating your morality on the rest of us, or accusing us of threatening the “moral fabric” of our society, or immorality, or whatever the popular slander happens to be at the time.

  4. It is important to have a sense of being right in a conflict. Why fight for being wrong?

    And do I detect a hint of moral superiority here?

    Too bad you have to think of it as a fight, instead of finding a way to just let it be. Instead of a heterogeneous society, you would have uniformity.

    It’s that pot & kettle thing, you know.

  5. I’ve done this for a while… I’m pretty thick-skinned. That said, thank you for the apology. I appreciate that you are trying to be the best person that you can be, and I value that.

    Even when I disagree with you, it is this quality that allows me the willingness to learn what I can from you.

  6. @G. Rodrigues

    And for the record, I do not think David is right. Or to put it in other words, in my judgment your attitude is rarely snide or snarky, and very often you show a genuine concern for the debater on the other side

    Since I fear I may have been misunderstood, I must say that I am in complete agreement with your judgment here. I had simply noticed one of those rare moments of snark on my first visit here, and so thought to make a small friendly suggestion regarding that alongside more general feedback for Tom. That is all, really. I didn’t mean to cause a fuss, but at least this kind of discussion can be fruitful nonetheless!

  7. Apology gladly accepted, and appreciated. For what it’s worth, you’ve never made me feel unwelcome, and the snark and rapier like wit with which you occasionally lace your comments to me is, if I’m completely honest, perhaps somewhat justified. You know, like when I’m arguing about things I don’t really know much about. 

    I do think snark has a place in debate, because it can jar someone into considering what they’re saying in a more critical way. I’m a testament to that. Plus, it can be hilarious. There’s a balance, though, of course. Too much snark, and it just becomes a snark fight, rather than reasoned discourse where people can actually learn something, because the message gets lost.

    Thanks for this post.

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