I’ve been blogging or maintaining personal websites since (roughly) 1994. I switched over from a personal website to a blog as the primary form of self expression a long time ago– roughly 2000 or so (see the original point of singularity on Xanga). Blogging is easier than maintaining a static website, doesn’t require a special level of connectivity and I find I enjoy it quite a bit. Output has waxed and waned over the years, depending on how lazy I am any given week, or what connectivity issues I’m having at the moment.
In all those years, I have never been castigated for what I put on a blog. I’ve had people disagree with me, and correct me (often enough) and take issue in a polite fashion or for the sake of being informative. I’ve had people take issue with some of the things I’ve said and actually followed up with a phone call– in the case of the recent HMGS elections, which make up about 1% of my total blogging output so far, I received no less than 3 phone calls with HMGS officials, requesting clarifications and making requests for edits. I have no problem with this, and even have gone to great lengths to respect one BoD member’s desire to not have his name crop up in an idle Google search. I have no problem with that either. In these exchanges, there was disagreement, yes. Sometimes even antagonism. But always mutual respect.
For the first time I’m encountering blatant hostility about something I wrote here. I make no bones about it, I was engaged during the recent HMGS elections. Some events had occurred that I took issue with. The ringleader behind that event, in my mind, deserved scrutiny, and I think the issue deserves the light of day. The membership saw fit to elect him anyway. Such is life. I’m disappointed, but the world keeps on turning.
Enter into the list one “the Britmarine” (hereafter “the BM” for brevity). I’ll withhold his name out of respect for privacy. The BM has a tendency to be quite partisan on the behalf of certain individuals on the BoD, and his natural inclination is to ascribe the worst possible motives to those that disagree with them. You might say he’s famous for it. And so, this blog, which I make no secret of, came under the BM’s overly critical eye. Starting with a series of leading questions on The Miniatures Page thread about the Election Results (put in the most disrespectful manner) he questioned my motives in blogging about HMGS East issues and not adhering to the party line. He wondered if I was trying to be fired. Other convention directors, the BM pointed out, don’t maintain blogs, and choose to be silent about HMGS politics.
I countered with a reminder of the First Amendment, and an allusion to perhaps the BM should take a remedial course in HMGS East correspondence history. How well do I remember the grand old days of the HMGS East newlsetter “letters” column, when Pat Condrey and Bob Giglio would go at it hammer and tongs, but always respectfully. And they were HMGS officials, a point brought up by Pat himself.
My first amendment rights being confirmed, the BM went on to question my motivations, accusing me of all sorts of things, from being jealous of our HISTORICON director (totally untrue– just ask him), to being Politically eel-like (for the sin of being friendly with people who hate each other), to thinly veiled charges of my incompetence as Cold Wars CD, to being a lousy prose stylist (can’t argue that one) and ending with loud pondering on why I didn’t honorably retire after 3 years (because, plain and simple, the BoD requested I do another year). Along the way I was accused of promoting a “Hadley crony” as my replacement (Ruth Torres? The same woman who served on our election committee and has a nodding acquaintance with Jay at best?) and ignoring somebody else who wanted the job (who? where? I only learned anyone was interested just this last Cold Wars).
It’s always, always, a mistake to engage in fisticuffs with tar babies, as Uncle Remus tells us. But the BM had my Irish up, an activity which appears to be his sole sustenance in life (we have had our contretemps before– read my bit about the BM’s observations of my Bun-Bun Land game, where he strongly implied I was not safe around children, an insult I’ll never forget and find it hard to summon up Christian forgiveness over). So my response was terse at best, wondering what pain meds he was on and wondering if logic would prevail or would “the become another pig wrestle?”
Those lsat two were probably a mistake with a guy like this.
Of course, a response typed with emotion is exactly what the BM likes. He can nitpick to his heart’s content, drawing out ammunition for a rejoinder that presents himself in a lofty, above-it-all manner and ignoring any truths I’ve presented. So it played out. The BM countered with a shrug, saying if I wanted to “wallow in it” so be it, but he had “certain standards, higher than” mine. Oh, of course he does. And he didn’t appreciate being referred to as an animal or the pain meds comment, deeming them childish.
Perhaps they were, and for that much, I would apologize, and I mean it, as the BM HAS been on pain medication and other kinds of medication in the past, and the allusion to being “someone who needs meds” was not intentional. As for the “pig comment”, I was surprised that the BM had not heard of the old saw: “Never Wrestle with a Pig. It gets you Filthy, and Amuses the Pig”. I would think a guy who enjoys picking online fights so much would have heard that one by now. It’s a very old saying, directly applicable to online behavior. So I would apologize for that to the BM, if his standards kept him from wallowing in it here.
Besides, the pigs called and registered a complaint about the comparison.
Now you might be thinking, this BM might be a real stinker in person. Such is not actually the case. I have met him, once, in passing, and he seemed like a pleasant fellow at the time. I was comparing notes with my friend Nigel the other night after we had our game night, and he told me he had at least one lengthy conversation with the BM and he was very pleasant and mannerly in the flesh. He works quite hard on being a GM for HMGS east and his games seem reasonably popular and have won awards– I’m not a WW2 fan and can’t comment on it. So I really have to wonder what possesses people once they get online… Is it an evil spirit that takes us all over the top? I’m not guiltless in this and don’t presume to be holier than thou about it. He (and “trolls” of his ilk) have baited me into a position of saying things I regret in the past, and I know better than to wade in the same muck. It happens. I guess I need to take a few more “calming breaths” the next time I’m online, and find that inner happy place.