An apology for that time a left-winger somewhere on the internet was mean to you.


On another thread, “lseter” wrote:

What I find funny on certain websites is that they will go to great pains to outdo one another in showing their sensitivity. They provide detailed triggering warnings for any possible thing that anyone could be sensitive to, they only use politically correct words and they otherwise go overboard in showing they they are truly good, kind people.

Until someone says something that goes against their ideology. That person is then targeted with vile abuse and smears. Anything and everything they can try to do to hurt that person on-line.

I experienced that way back when the first news reports came out about the Duke “rape” case years ago. I didn’t go with the flow (and most rational people today agree that was correct), but I was clearly a rapist defending the right of entitled, privileged white boys to go around raping anyone they wanted. No holds barred as to the abuse.

I feel awful about your bad experience with left-wingers somewhere on the internet, both recently, and back in 2006 when the Duke false rape accusation was in the news and no one in the entire world other than you expressed any skepticism about the accusations. Thank you for taking your complaint to me here, on this blog, on a thread where your story of woe was entirely off-topic.

I have been honored to hear from many conservatives over the years about times they have been treated badly by liberals merely for asking sensible questions or bringing a bit of logic into the discussion. I tremble with shame to think that unnamed left-wingers on the internet have sometimes been rude while disagreeing about politics. If only everyone could be as kind, polite and considerate in disagreement as conservatives always are, without fail, no exceptions ever.

And now, I will start to make things right. Speaking for all left-wingers everywhere, I humbly apologize for your bad experience.

A few minutes ago, I tore holes in all my clothing to symbolize my abject regret for the rudeness you experienced. I then whipped myself bloody with a rolled-up copy of The National Review dipped in vinegar, before placing my laptop on the floor so I could crawl to it on my belly and type this post. I sincerely hope my rather over-the-top groveling has brought you enough satisfaction so that you can finally put being disagreed with in 2006 behind you, and will no longer feel the impulse to bring it up out of the blue on random liberal blogs.

If any left-winger somewhere on the internet is ever mean to you again, I hope you will once again bring a report of the incident to my blog, even if it is five or ten years from now. This is what I’m here for.

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26 Responses to An apology for that time a left-winger somewhere on the internet was mean to you.

  1. 1
    Iseter says:

    Well, I don’t accept your apology or your symbolic destruction of garments because you didn’t provide a trigger warning.

    Actually, I don’t care about the mean thing at all. I said I find it “funny”, as in I actually get amused at hypocrites trying to show they are the best darn people in the whole world.

    I’m not deeply offended, and I realize that people argue on the Internet.

    Edited to add: Hmmmm … I was sure that this comment would come up with “Awaiting moderation”. It didn’t. Something must be broke here.

  2. 2
    Ampersand says:

    Actually, I don’t care about the mean thing at all. I said I find it “funny”, as in I actually get amused at hypocrites trying to show they are the best darn people in the whole world.

    It really doesn’t matter if you’re saying “it’s funny how mean those people were back during the Duke rape accusation controversy” or if you say you were offended. In either case, you’re going on about something that happened seven years ago in some argument on the internet, and that’s never a good thing. Let it go, dude.

    ETA: Apologies if I misgendered you; I keep on reading your name as “lester,” and hence thinking of you as male.

  3. 3
    Brian says:

    ARRRRGH! My allergy to sarcasm was triggered! Someone, quick there’s an epi-pen in my…. *thud*

    As someone who considers himself a Taoist, I prefer to knock people out of whatever their inner robot tells them and get them to actually think for a minute as a human being. This involves offending everyone sooner or later, since the human neurological system slips into auto-pilot the second you stop exercising your will.

    If you’re feeling offended, odds are your inner robot is in control. The robot isn’t “evil,” and it’s great at long distance driving, dish washing, other boring tasks. But just don’t let it take control while communicating anything more sophisticated than “I’m hungry.”

    That applies where ever you put yourself on the socio-political map. If something gets you to react by reflex, make sure you WANT the robot talking right then. Otherwise you will parrot Fox News or the hippie-crunchy granola opposite robots.

    If you’re offended, that means you need to WAKE UP.

  4. 4
    closetpuritan says:

    Nice is different than good.

    I place higher value on being polite to and considerate of people who may suffer from PTSD, or people who may be treated unfairly because of their appearance or because they’re not the default person in society, than to people who are being obtuse. Apparently doing that is somehow hypocritical.

  5. 5
    Georg says:

    Post: “the Duke false rape accusation”
    Amp’s comment: “the Duke rape accusation controversy”

    So… calling it the accusation “false” was part of the sarcasm, right? Sorry if the answer should be obvious; just want be sure I’m not misreading you.

  6. 6
    Ampersand says:

    No, calling the accusation “false” wasn’t sarcastic. I don’t know exactly what happened that night, but I’m convinced that the three players accused of rape were falsely accused.

    There really wasn’t any meaning to the difference in wording between my post and the comment. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and all that.

  7. 7
    RonF says:

    I don’t get my underpants in a wad when someone says something rude or cruel to me here or anywhere else. The internet is blessedly devoid of any controls over what people say or do, other than those of the people controlling sites such as these – and those people have every right to be arbitrary and inconsistent on such matters if they choose. Don’t like it? Drink a great big cup of STFU and go find somewhere else to read and comment. I’ve seen vicious commentary from both sides of just about any topic, God knows. Despite what the Patent and Trademark Office says, no one has a right to not be offended.

    Plus, what Brian said.

  8. 8
    Schroeder4213 says:

    Just out of curiosity, why is it more important to be sensitive to the feelings of some people than the feelings of other people?

    If the answer is just that it’s good to level the playing field, I’m fine with that. (This is what I understand closetpuritan to be saying.) I appreciate people who are gadflies to the rich and powerful and who discomfort the comfortable. If they can’t take it, they probably need to be taken down a notch anyway.

    The only thing I would add is that, with the anonymity of the Internet, it can be hard to tell who is who, so the best policy is probably to be respectful to everyone here.

    Also, not sure where this leads, but it seems a little paternalistic for me to tell you what it’s okay to be sensitive about, regardless of who “you” are.

  9. 9
    Harlequin says:

    Minor point: the post quotes “lseter”, with a lower-case L/l, but the commenter seems to be writing their name as “Iseter”, with an upper-case I/i.

  10. 10
    fannie says:

    This post is awesome.

    I, too, would like to apologize on behalf of all feminists, for that time a feminist somewhere on the Internet was mean to a man, or said mean things about men, or even made suggestions about male privilege that made some men uncomfortable, somewhere.

    This seems like the best place and most appropriate time to bring up any and every conceivable wrong done by feminists, ever, and demand that any present feminist answer for it.

  11. 11
    closetpuritan says:

    Well, I didn’t quite say what I mean–that’s the general idea, but it’s not so much about the person as about their actions at the time or the characteristics of them that are relevant at the time. For example, if the person in question is a white person who has had an eating disorder, I will post trigger warnings when discussing things that could trigger disordered eating, but that won’t have any bearing on whether I’m polite to them if they say something that IMO is racist. So it’s a similar principle, but based on the nature of the speech rather than the nature of the person. And even if I mock them, I won’t go after them for things like their appearance that I don’t believe are a good reason to attack people in general (unlike the Good Men Project).

  12. 12
    closetpuritan says:

    Oh, and I would also like to apologize for all the feminists who yell at men who hold doors open for them. There must be millions out there, based on how often the subject comes up.

  13. 13
    Georg says:

    Thanks for humoring me and clarifying, Amp. I’ve long been wondering what your position on this is, for example because of this discussion. In the main post, you directly say you no longer believe the players are guilty. In the comments, however, Mandolin insists there is no evidence that they aren’t, at least none that people around here can reasonably be expected to know about, and effectively bans “LL” simply for disagreeing. Conflicting signals.

    Also, the typos in my previous comment are crazy embarrassing :/

  14. 14
    Ampersand says:

    Georg, are you deliberately being satirical? In a post partly about how I think it’s silly to worry over something someone said on the internet seven years ago, you… try to re-litigate something said in blog comments here seven years ago.

    As it happens, I think you’re wrong, and you’re being unfair to Mandolin (whose position in that thread was FAR more nuanced than you seem to realize). But I’m not going to argue with you about it, nor am I going to re-litigate the moderation that took place in that thread.

    Instead, let me ask, why do you even care? It was a blog discussion that took place seven years ago. Let it go, Georg.

    (Note: I’m not saying it’s wrong to care about a false accusation of rape from 2007, or from 1907, for that matter. But there’s a huge difference between caring about important events from the past, versus caring about some blog discussion from seven years ago.)

  15. 15
    Iseter says:

    This may be a side note or maybe not, but I believe that I am allowed this under the Geneva Convention for International Fair Play in Blog Communications because the entire article was written in honor of me.

    I’ve often heard that there is nothing you can write that cannot be misconstrued in a multitude of ways. And it frequently WILL be misconstrued in a multitude of ways.

    I simply wanted to point out that some feminists make a big show of trigger warnings and being sensitive, but the minute they feel someone is WRONG (even if that’s not the case) or more likely “on the other side”, the entire show of tact goes right out the window. Then things are said that could certainly inadvertently trigger someone (I’ve seen some nasty stuff about veterans, for instance, who really may have PTSD).

    So I wanted to pick an example – any example – that many or even some feminists agree turned out to not be true. It’s going to have to go back a ways to be clear. Feminists are not going to believe that their point of view on current issues is false. And if I hadn’t searched for a clear example, I know the retort would come up that I AM wrong so people are just naturally responding to me in a harsh way. Or something like that.

    So I randomly picked the Duke case. It – and the Tawanna Brawley case – were the first things that came to mind. That’s it. I wasn’t trying to harp on the past, I wasn’t trying to open anything up, I simply wanted a clear example of what I meant.

    And then Ampersand writes a huge post mocking me, with assertions about the Duke case. Someone responds to that – which is quite natural – and he is told to finally let it go after all these years.

    Weird. And I notice that some people seem to mostly understand what I write without misconstruing it, and other people seem to read everything in the wrong way and pick up on minor details instead of the thrust of what I am saying. Someday I would like to find out why that is.

  16. 16
    Harlequin says:

    Iseter, what you perceive as “some people understood what I was saying, and some people didn’t get it” may also be understood as “most people understood what I was saying, but some people agreed and some didn’t.”

    Okay: some feminists are hypocrites, or are more careful of some people’s feelings than others, or have violent impulses, or don’t always exactly follow their own ideology…so, in other words, feminists are human. Why bring it up? Feminism isn’t based on the personal virtue of its adherents; it’s based on a set of ideas. It would be one thing if your point was to demonstrate that all feminists use trigger warnings as a ploy of some sort (to accomplish…what?), but you didn’t do that, and can’t do that because it’s not true. (For example, a lot of feminist websites get the occasional comment approvingly mentioning retributory violence, and on most of those sites they always get quick responses telling them to knock it off.)

    So instead, you basically brought up that some people somewhere who vaguely agree with me did something stupid. The fact that it was seven years ago makes it especially ridiculous, but it’s not like it would be a salient point if it had happened yesterday: you’ve still just made a statement that feminists/left-wingers are human, which should have been perfectly obvious.

  17. 17
    Marcus the Confused says:

    Ya know, the Duke Situation (how’s that for a nice, non-committal reference?) was what led to me first discovering this blog. I was having one of those free-association-train-of-thought web surfing episodes. Ya know, the kind where you start out Googling “how to eliminate fruit flies” and ten minutes later you’re reading about the history of wicker baskets and ten minutes after that you’re reliving the Duke Situation. It was then that I first saw the creepy multi-faced figures that would soon haunt some of my nightmares (I keep hoping the girl with the sword will show up to chase them away but she never does). Despite the creepy multi-face things, I liked what I read enough to come back for more.

    Okay, enough of the heart warming “how I found Alas,” story.

    Now that I am here (but still a bit of a newbie) I can assure everyone I am a good person. I know this because the first time I heard about the Duke Situation I had no trouble believing that some drunken jock party devolved into a gang rape. I remember thinking to myself things like, poor girl and I hope those bastards get what’s coming to them.

    But wait . . . I was informed later on that I’m a bad person because I jumped to a conclusion based upon a stereotype about young white males who participate in athletics.

    But wait . . . despite my prejudgment I am really a good person because I thought that people really shouldn’t protest in front of the defendant’s residence. As a good American I believe that we should let the justice system play itself out . . . Isn’t that what “innocent until proven guilty” is all about?

    But wait . . . I’m a bad person because I am trying to stifle free speech, and I obviously don’t care about issues that are important to women.

    But wait . . . I’m a good person because I reevaluated my previous judgment when the DNA came back as “no match” and I thought hmm, maybe they’re innocent after all.

    Nope . . . I’m a bad person because I am focusing on this rare case of apparent false accusation and that devalues actual rape victims.

    Damn it! There are seven billion people in the world! I’m trying to get every one of them to like me all of the time but it’s just not happening!

    Seriously, if there is one thing that the left and the right have in common on the internet, it is that both have a certain percentage that can be unreasonably indignant real quick. To some degree it is understandable. Without tone of voice and body language we tend to fill in the gaps with our own biases. It is easy to misconstrue, partially or wholly, what someone wrote about any given topic. Combine that with our tendency to forget that there are actual people (with actual feelings) behind the words we see on the screen and it is easy to see why so many internet conversations devolve into shit flinging contests.

    Nobody likes feeling that they have been misconstrued, misrepresented, misunderstood or just plain ill served. I’ve felt that little sting in the back of my head too. You know, the one that makes you think you bastard. To quote Marcellus Wallace: “that’s pride fucking with you.”

    I won’t go so far as to say “fuck pride!” but I will say that pride should never be a reason for wasting time mocking and denigrating others on the internet (making fun of Christian fundies on the internet – that’s entirely different). I actually have a sign on my billboard: NEVER CLICK “OK” WHEN YOU ARE ANGRY OR TIRED. It has helped to cut down the number of times where pride causes me to unwittingly allow Primitive Brain (a crude, rather simplistic and naive fellow) to over rule Civilized Brain (a much more conscientious and reflective guy).

    As for those individual who are less than gentle in their disagreements with me . . . I just think to myself (after the customary, you bastard), how unfortunate that they do not know me, the actual me . . . oh well, their loss.

  18. 18
    RonF says:

    Seriously, if there is one thing that the left and the right have in common on the internet, it is that both have a certain percentage that can be unreasonably indignant real quick.

    “A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest.”

    To some degree it is understandable. Without tone of voice and body language we tend to fill in the gaps with our own biases. It is easy to misconstrue, partially or wholly, what someone wrote about any given topic.

    Except that anyone using the Internet knows this. The occasional honest mistake is one thing, but consistency in such things – and attempts to change the subject or making ad hominem attacks when found to have been too quick on the trigger – bespeaks malice.

  19. 19
    Georg says:

    Amp, I didn’t mean to “re-litigate” anything, I was just explaining why I had asked. I respect that you don’t want this discussion, so I’ll just answer your question and then I’ll be slinking off.

    So, why do I even care?

    I find the Duke case fascinating because nothing like it could have happened in any country I’ve ever been to, for a dozen reasons. Every new development makes me aware of some new kind of values dissonance between the US and Europe; it’s endlessly striking. For example, until The Price of Silence came out this April, I had no idea that it is common for US university presidents to be presidents in name only and serve essentially at the pleasure of the athletics department.

    We don’t have your kind of college athletics or your kind of athletics scholarships; we don’t have the jock culture that comes with them. Kids do play ball sports, but not because college sports teams are gateways to careers. “Lacrosse is a pipeline to Wall Street”? No sentence anything like this could be written about any sport or any profession in Germany, or the Netherlands, or Italy, or any place here in the Balkans.

    We don’t have campuses effectively run by coaches. Hell, we barely even have campuses. The campuses we do have don’t have the Duke kind of hyperaggressive party life. Getting plastered is not one of the main things kids are looking forward to when they enroll; they’ve already been legally drinking for two years and many of the socially dominant ones already don’t care very much anymore.

    We don’t have the Durham/Duke kind of town/gown conflict. Most students in any given university are locals. We have rich places and poor places, but we don’t have one of the richest universities in one of the most destitute cities.

    We don’t elect prosecutors. We have them selected by committees of judges and/or senior state attorneys, so we don’t have any Nifongs feeling pressured to pander to segments of the electorate. I’m not saying our approach is better or anything. Our criminal justice system is every bit as random and unequal as yours, just in completely different ways.

    Even our media shitstorms are different; they’re a lot less colorful. It’s illegal for commentators to declare defendants guilty before the trial, in many cases they can’t even name them. Again, I’m not saying our rules are better; we’re just less Libertarian. Our laws don’t believe that crucifying someone without hearing them out first is only bad when The State does it. There is a stark power imbalance between private individuals and huge-ass media corporations too.

    Then again, why do I even care about ancient comment threads?

    Everybody from KC Johnson to Wahneema Lubiano agrees that “the blogs” have played a major role in shaping public perception of the case. It’s pretty much the only thing everyone agrees on; it’s less controversial than whether Nifong was consciously disingenuous or just exceptionally clumsy. As “the blogs” go, you were one of the most prominent voices back then. As of right now, you are also the only prominent blogger in your part of the Internet who says they have changed their mind and no longer believe the accused are guilty. Some of your peers are on record saying they still believe in spite of the AG report and everything. Everyone else has switched from “nobody in good faith can doubt something happened” to “nobody in good faith can claim they have any way of knowing.”

    So yeah, from where I am standing it looks as though trying to understand the case and its fallout has to involve trying to understand your old comment threads.

  20. 20
    Ampersand says:

    I’m sorry, Georg. You seem like a nice person, and smart, and I hope you won’t “slink off.” Thanks for your comment.

    I didn’t ask why the Duke case is fascinating – it’s obviously a matter of great interest – but your explanation of why you find it fascinating was enjoyable. I hadn’t thought of it as an “only in America” sort of thing before, but you make a very strong case for that.

    I doubt I’m the only feminist blogger to say that I don’t think the accused men are guilty – for example, Jill at Feministe wrote “I don’t think that they raped her.” (I don’t know if that was a change of mind on her part or not.)

    My suspicion is that a lot of feminist bloggers would, if they were in a private conversation among friends, admit that they got the Duke case wrong at first. I think it’s harder to admit that in public because of the neverending conflict between anti-feminists and feminists in the blogosphere, and in particular because of how extreme a pitch the conflict became during the Duke controversy. (See Jill’s post for a couple of quotes of the kind of attacks that all prominent feminist bloggers – but in particular female bloggers – were getting in inboxes at that time.)

    In that context, admitting error can feel like an admission of defeat, or ceding ground to the enemy (wording chosen with tongue partly in cheek).

    Of course, that’s not true; no one is “defeated” in the blogosphere, and it doesn’t actually harm us to admit to error. But I can understand why people don’t want to.

  21. 21
    hf says:

    If you’re offended, that means you need to WAKE UP.

    *punches Brian in the nose*

    Buddha is pain.

  22. 22
    Brian says:

    Why does everyone keep bringing up the Duke case? Richard the IIIrd has been dead since 1485, let the matter lie. Yes the Duke of York was rightful King but it’s far too late to re-fight the War of the Roses.

    And HF, why do you think Buddhist and Taoist monks have the best Kung Fu? Pain focuses your attention away from distracting bullshit like debating political issues until your tongue cramps and other people’s eardrums bleed.

  23. 23
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    *punches Brian in the nose*

    Buddha is pain.

    *shoots hf*

    BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! And two in the head for good measure BANG! BANG!

    If you meet the Buddha on the Internet, kill him.

  24. 24
    Brian says:

    Phoenician in a time of Romans – HA!

    The Tao that can be beaten in a gun fight is not the true Tao. ;)

  25. 26
    Brian says:

    HF: Good article. I may tinker with my MS Publisher and design a t-shirt for Cafe Press. I can see myself walking down the sidewalk in my TRIGGER WARNING shirt, an arrow pointed in the general direction of my head.

    I also can see selling signs with WARNING: MAY TRIGGER TRAUMATIC MEMORIES that people can hang on their front door so they see it every time they leave home.

    Or maybe PRODUCT WARNING: CONTACT WITH REALITY MAY BE AWFUL, ICKY AND UNPLEASANT stickers people can slap on dang near anything. Garden slugs, cigarette butts, neck beards….