Good Grief, Charlie Brown!
I take off for a few days to have cataract surgery – and in my absence, this site is riven with dissention. Harsh words are exchanged. Steve Harvey is banned. Romanoff shills, metastasizing like cancer cells, go beyond vilifying Senator Bennet to attacking their host, Coloradopols itself, calling for the humiliation and vilification of the very community of which they are an integral, if frequently disrespectful, part.
In the immortal words of Rodney King:
“Can’t we all just get along?”
Of course, the answer is that we can’t. Because there really is no “we” here but, rather, as the song says,
“There ain’t no good guys. There ain’t no bad guys. There’s only you and me and we just disagree.”
(I forgot the group that popularized that song, but to avoid the kind of plagiarism charge that BJWilson threw at Steve Harvey, let me assure our readers that the original author was Scott McInnis.)
We have even lost, temporarily at least, such estimable members of our community as Phoenix Rising – who is worn out by the crossfire of Bennet/Romanoff.
Thus, it is time to ask, in the words of the founder of this site, Vladimir Lenin,
“What is to be done?”
(Outing alert. Officially, the founders of this site are dead governors Alva Adams, James Peabody and Jesse McDonald, all of whom served as governor on the same day, March 17, 1905. Alva Adams won the election, apparently because of the high premium voters placed on alphabetical order. But soon after he took office, the legislature declared his opponent, Peabody, governor – but on the bizarre condition that he immediately resign, so that his lieutenant governor, McDonald, could be governor. Thus, Peabody served only moments as governor. But as Dan Maes recently revealed, that story is a lie. The real founder of this site was Lenin, who created it to promote bicycle riding, thereby delivering Colorado to that one-world hellhole, the United Nations.)
Where were we?
Oh, yes: “What is to be done?”
The answer is quite clear: “Not much.”
I have been an avid member of the on-line community since 1983, when I married my Kaypro 64k CP/M machine to a Hayes 300 baud Smartmodem. That was long before Scott McInnis invented the Internet and received $300,000 from the Al Gore Sr. Foundation for his troubles. We communicated on line by means of BBS systems – community “bulletin boards” where we left messages sequentially. We were about as raucous and rude to each other then as we are now. My greatest fear in those days was coming across a reference to homosexuality – which was certain to inspire a hundred-plus message chain as gays and gay bashers traded blows and made it very difficult for the rest of us to follow our own interests, such as finding out what the term “CP/M” meant.
(Seriously, in those days, a lot of the message traffic was devoted to the techniques of our incompatible computer systems. Depending on which manual you read, CP/M either stood for Control Program/Monitor or Control Program for Microcomputers. It was an 8-bit precursor to MS Dos which is a great thing to know to impress whippersnappers like BJWilson – who wasn’t even born when I was a great on-line warrior on the 12-inch green screen of the Kaypro.)
Then as now, most but not all on-line traffic was done under what I now call a nome de blog. As far as I know, I coined that term to describe a pseudonym on a blog. So, if Scott McInnis claims it, I’ll see him in court.
There was and is something about sitting in front of a monitor and typing anonymous messages that brings out the bold and sassy in us – and often the disrespectful. Without the social buffer of having to look your adversary in the eye, exchanges can get out of hand. All I can say is that modern blogs – with all the bile and vilification hurled upon them – are the closest thing today of the Jeffersonian ideal of a free press.
Journalists often quote Jefferson’s letter to Edward Carrington in 1787 that: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
Yet that doesn’t mean Jefferson liked or respected the press of his day. As his biographers note on an unsourced Internet reference, “He knew newspapers too often take advantage of their freedom and publish lies and scurrilous gossip that could only deceive and mislead the people. Jefferson himself suffered greatly under the latter kind of press during his presidency. But he was a great believer in the ultimate triumph of truth in the free marketplace of ideas, and looked to that for his final vindication.”
The Colonial press and that of the early republic is best described as a pack of rabid dogs. Not surprisingly, many articles, including even the famous federalist papers, were published under pseudonyms. Yet, the marketplace of ideas that these venomous and savage attacks were a part of ultimately produced our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. It is one of the miracles of nature, as the Russian monk Grigori Rasputin noted, that a lovely flower can grow from a base of manure.
So, what is to be done? What will it take to get our Coloradopols back, to recapture the vibrant online community that we all enjoyed just a few weeks ago. Here are some suggestions.
1-Count on that old doctor’s remedy, tincture of time. In a couple of days, the Bennet/Romanoff rivalry will be as irrelevant as that between Rome and Carthage. Things will get back to normal rather quickly. Then, of course, we can get on with the job of insulting each other along Republican/Democrat lines. That’s actually better because the internal family fights of a primary are the most vicious.
As the late Owen Murphy observed, in Colorado the differences within political parties are greater than the differences between them. When that particular Murphy’s Law was written, moderates still dominated the Colorado GOP. Today, the differences in November may be great but the personal viciousness between advocates of a given candidate is still amplified in a primary, in part because the political differences are so small.
2-Remember that we’ve been here before. There never was a pastoral ideal when we universally treated each other with respect. Four years ago, this site was ravaged and trashed by Holtzman shills as thoroughly as it is now beset by Romanoff shills - and like today’s Romanoff shills, Holtzman shills attacked their host, Coloradopols, as viciously as they attacked “Both Ways Bob” Beauprez.
The fact that there are virtually no shills for Maes or McInnis this year doesn’t reflect Republican maturity so much as a recognition that both candidates are a disaster. Getting into that fight is like arguing whether the Titanic or the Lusitania (sister ships from the same maker, by the way) looked better as they plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic. It can be said, however, that the warring Romanoff/Bennet factions could learn from the relative civility of the Norton/Buck partisans on this site. And two years ago, many of us blogged valiantly and hopelessly for the Fair Hillary, only to be overwhelmed by Team Obama. The Democrats got over it and went on to win in November.
3-To the extent possible, remember the words of ColoradoPols: “Be Excellent with each other.” (Of course, the original quote is from Scott McInnis.) Try to avoid the endless exchange with a foe that produces the increasingly disparaging insult. (Pause here for a hearty cry of “Physician, heal thyself!” for Voyageur has indeed often been guilty of such obsessive and excessive quests for the last word himself. As Scott McInnis would say, “Mea Culpa.) Remember that a former adversary can be tomorrow’s friend. (The current respectful changes between Libertad and moiself weren’t always that polite, as oldtimers may remember.) We all write things from time to time that we feel ashamed of in the cold light of morning. Try to keep our disputes focused on issues, not personalities.
4-And when we or our foes go too far, remember the words of the Editorialist’s Prayer:”
Give us oh Lord, our daily idea. And forgive us the one we had yesterday.