Re: personal attacks

Subject: Re: personal attacks
From: "Wing, Michael J" <mjwing -at- INGR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 1996 11:36:29 -0500

Apologies to everyone -- I just can't help having some fun with this
one. Forgive me, Thom, but I feel like Roger Rabbit trying to resist
responding to the "shave-and-a-haircut" tap. I know answering
"two-bits" makes me vulnerable, but here's my two bits.

>Fellow techwr-lers:

>In the couple of years that I've been on the list, I've found myself
>astonished from time to time by vitriolic personal attacks.

You don't have any brothers or an ex-spouse, do you? Nothing said on
the net astonishes me anymore. You have to grow a thick skin.
Appealing to all through the same shield used by those that attack you
(what other choice do you have) is a finger-in-the dike solution.
Everyone reading it thinks it applies to someone else.

>Calling this "flaming" is, in my view, only a way of softening the fact
>that these are
>direct personal attacks.

Not all flames are personal attacks. The ones that are obviously
personal attacks (usually the ones about intelligence, hygiene, or
ancestry) are a sign that the person with whom you are in disagreement
is losing the discussion and is desperate. Consider each of these
flames as a point for your side ;^).

Some flames are a zealous support of a contrasting view. Often the
recipient views an attack on their ideas as an attack on them. Thus,
they consider all contrasting viewpoints as personal attacks.

>Ask yourself if you would say the same things to a person's face. If
>why say it here?

Do I get a green light from you if I am the type that will say these
things to your face? :^o

>It all reminds me of graffiti. Go anywhere, and you'll see names,
>and other messages written, scratched, and carved on surfaces. What
>tells me is that whoever felt compelled to deface something with his or
>name has no common sense and no sense of self.

I would say that they have too much of a sense of self, and thus, feel
compelled to express it for all to see.

>Flaming - attacking a person who expresses and idea, rather than
>the idea itself - is a little like graffiti. It's inane, and it's
>people only do when they don't have to face you.

Whining - a public complaint, often accompanied by tears and/or a
strident tone, made in hopes that someone of authority will "make fair"
what the whiner feels impotent to do anything about.

>Before you attack someone, ask if you'd do it face to face. If not,
>don't do
>it via e-mail either.

Electronic communication works both ways. Yes, it does allow a person
to become a sniper. It also removes the formalities and intimidation
that is inherent with face-to-face. What do I do if I want to attack
someone's ideas face-to-face, only they are quite a bit bigger than me,
ill-tempered, and not of the resolve to differentiate between an attack
on their ideas and an attack on them? E-mail and newsgroups are a great
equalizer. If I disagree with them, they can't hover over me, give me
the look, crack their knuckles, and so forth in attempt to intimidate
me. They must articulate.

>If you don't like my ideas, say so. You don't know me, and you can't
>intelligently on who I am or what I am.

This guy is begging for a flaming!

All in jest,

Mike "Fighting Fire with Gasoline" Wing

Disclaimer - I am in no way espousing personal attacks. They are
deplorable. However, this medium is wide open to them. The same shield
that electronic communication provides for you to express your ideas
without intimidation also extends to any pariah with an Internet
connection. Most flames burn out if not fed or fanned.

>_/ Michael Wing
>_/ Principal Technical Writer
>_/ Infrastructure Technical Information Development
>_/ Intergraph Corporation
>_/ Huntsville, Alabama
>_/ (205) 730-7250
>_/ mjwing -at- ingr -dot- com

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