Re: personal attacks

Subject: Re: personal attacks
From: Sabahat Ashraf <sabahat -at- OPENIX -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 20 Aug 1996 13:17:58 -0400

Please don't get me wrong, I am not saying that ad hominem attacks are
okay. However, I disagree with a sweeping parallel between FTF and CMC
[impress 'em with abbr.'s -- Face-to-Face vs. Computer Mediated

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

and I think the following is as good a justification as I have seen for
making a distinction, thanks for making it before I had the time to
think one up, Mike:

> 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.

Which is not to say that Electronic Communication does not have its
downside. My usual stand is that it is not better or worse; more
democratic or less, it is a different ballgame. For instance, it was
relying on only face to face, I would not be in touch with so many
technical communicators at one time either. I would certainly not be
able to talk back to people with much more experience than I do. [Like I
am right now? 8-)]

The following disclaimer stands for me as well.

> 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.

or, in more literary terms:

"I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right
to say it."
-- Voltaire.

sabahat -at- openix -dot- com - ashrafs -at- rpi -dot- edu - (201) 301 4232
"If I know your sect, I anticipate your argument"
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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