Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mailbag: On bad language and name-calling (again)

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Honestly, when I look around the Web at some of the harsher bloggers – PZ Myers, Uzza, the team at God is for Suckers!, and etc. – it continually amuses me how some folks actually seem to think I’m someone who ought to cool his tongue towards some of the people I criticize on my blog. (Hell, it also amuses me that some actually think they have any business telling me what or how to write on my own personal blog, but that’s a moot issue.) For example, here’s a message from Tomas, who takes issue with my supposedly rampant name-calling:

I just came across your blog, and what I noticed straight away is your name calling of people who you have different opinions with. Such a shame really because I am prepared to listen to and read an aethiests views on all formats. But you let yourself down and I dont think I will seek out your website ever again.
For an educated guy you come across as a silly little man who was never listened to at school or in the home.

Why is it that those who complain about tone and “name-calling” always do so in the same tedious and seemingly disingenuous manner? First, I don’t call others names just because of a difference in opinions. When I call someone by any of my chosen epithets, you can be sure of two things: I have ample evidence to back up my use of such rhetoric, and it’s reasonably merited. When Rush Limbaugh blames the Icelandic volcanic eruption on the passage of healthcare, or when Sean Hannity lies his ass off about President Obama and his administration, or when Sarah Palin continually propagates that infamous “death panels” bullshit, or when Bill Donohue of the Catholic League actually downplays the horrific child abuse that took place under the Catholic Church’s watch, then I feel, as would most reasonable people, that it is perfectly acceptable for me to unleash a few choice terms such as “idiot”, “liar”, “batshit insane”, and even “complete fucking asshole” at times (such as in the latter case). This is not being childish, or churlish, or needlessly vile or vulgar. This is being appropriately responsive to instances of stupidity, bigotry and vileness so profound and unconscionable that any other form of response just doesn’t carry the right amount of weight.

But, by all means, if people like Tomas are so offended by this sort of language, even when it’s more than deserved, then go on, stop reading my blog. I’m certainly not gonna stop you.[1] It’s really quite amusing to me how this sort of a “rebuke” – that one or two pearl-clutchers announce their departure (especially if, like Tomas, they were never even regular readers to begin with) – is given as though it would vex me. It makes me grin with derision. Not to brag or anything, but I have more than enough readers who not only can handle my occasional bouts of petulance and my cruel, cruel tongue, but who even enjoy it when I unleash some much-needed attacks on bigots, assholes, liars, kooks, cranks and bullshitters who so dearly deserve it. I don’t claim to be unbiased – hell, I’m probably as biased as it’s possible to get in some cases – but I do try to be fair. I don’t attack those who haven’t worked to earn my ire.

And, finally, no, I don’t quite comprehend what his intended point was with that last bit about my supposedly being a “silly little man” because I (supposedly) never listened at school or at home, or whatever that was. For the record, my home environment is precisely what gave me such a foul tongue at times (and even then, I assure you, I’m quite restrained in my vitriol on my blog). Swearing is simply a non-issue around here. It’s a habit, a form of speech. It’s meaningless. What discerns random cussing from actual anger is in the tone, not the choice of words, something that I do try to convey in my writings, here.

[1] Yes, I recognize the foolishness of the idea that I could “force” a random Internet denizen to read my content. I’m trying to make a point, here!