Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Monday, February 02, 2004
Clearing the Air
Although no one has called me on it yet, I realized that I may have given a false impression with some of what I wrote in my last post. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, and having reread it this morning, believe it needs a little clarification. I was writing about abandoning an attempt to do a breakdown of a Phil Rogers column. Here’s a quote for context:
So, you won’t see that post anytime soon. Not only was it no fun to write, but after I had completed about 70% of the thing, I realized it wouldn’t be any fun to read, either. It’s truly a masturbatory exercise, and it reeks of an ill-advised attempt to prove oneself as the Smart Kid. Obviously, there’s a level of narcissism involved in any sort of similar endeavor, the assumption being that I have something to say and a way of saying it that others will find worthy of their time. However, laying a mean-spirited smack-down on someone else’s work, no matter how deserving of opprobrium, is inviting the same demon to visit me one day, and I don’t like his looks or his smell.
There is an implication in that snippet that I don’t believe writers should hold other writers accountable for their lousy work, and nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I firmly believe that there’s a duty of sorts to point out when others are spreading bad information or reaching conclusions based on twisted or even non-existent facts. This is something that Phil Rogers does on a regular basis, although I would argue that it’s due more to laziness and incompetence than to malice.
My problem, which I expressed in too general terms above, was with my personal ability to present the issues with the column in question in a manner that went beyond simple cruelty and into the arena of well-reasoned critique and entertainment. Ridicule for it’s own sake isn’t pretty, and if that’s the route you choose to go, don’t be surprised if it comes back at you bigger and uglier than before.
I fully expect to feel compelled to take someone to the woodshed at a future date, but my desire is that I do so in a way that adds up to something beyond malicious attack. If I can construct a reasoned argument, and have some fun along the way, even if that fun is at the offender’s expense, then it’s worth doing. Otherwise, it’s just hurtful bluster, and I hope that’s never my style.