punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Long letter to a closed mind

I have had quite a few letters in my mailbox about this, so I thought I would share. It also explains the "left wing" post earlier.

So, on my *former* alumni list (the moderator closed it in disgust last night), there was this girl named Terri. I want to stereotype her, but that's mean. So I will instead tell you I am not sure how someone educated by our secular school system ended up as the kind of girl who not only touts a chosen religion, but works in a church, and feels the need to post a lot of powder keg material about God, abortions, and voting for McCain. These are all good topics, but not the kind liked on an alumni board. Perhaps if she was alone in this, it would have been fine, but there were a few people who supported her, and these people were also rather rude. Their debate tactics pretty much centered around the fact that they were right, and if you didn't agree with them, they made some personal remarks that were pretty inflammatory and didn't so much support their beliefs as just mock you and attach you to labels.

My biggest issue with Terri is she never relented for long. She'd be quiet for a while, and then post some link, often under the guise of some other generalized purpose. Two that spring to mind is she posted a link to "a summer blockbuster trailer" which was some Christian film about a fireman who can't keep his marriage in order, so he turns to God, and everything is aaallllll better. It starts off like "Backdraft," and then suddenly he's standing in front of a glowing cross, offering subservience to invisible voices. Another time, she posted a link about "this current economic crisis" and it was a link, with a tracking seed URL, posted by the American Family Association. The AFA is a notorious Christian, anti-non-Christian group who has ... well, Wikipedia explains it best.

One of the things that always amazes me is people like this often speak of some group's "agenda." Like how homosexuals have some organized plan to... I don't know... be homosexuals. But if anyone is sneaky and underhanded, it's the "Religious Right," which use generic terms, like, "American Family Association," to really mean "Christ is Lord and anyone who doesn't believe that hates families." I don't know any Jewish foundation like that. Usually they have the name "Judism" in them, or they are in Hebrew. That Fireman film ("Fireproof," if you want to look it up) link is more of an example of sneaking religion in. If it was, "God and the Fireman," that would be more honest. if the site had in some text, "Fireman finds God, solves problems," or a picture of a cross... no. You find out halfway through the trailer, you have been had. I am sure if I had posted a link like:
Hey guys, Grig here. Look, I know that things are chaotic in the world now, but here's a trailer that explains why people are still fighting with one another. Check out the facts!


Peace be with you.

... I would have made some people uncomfortable. And not because of Keanu Reeves and his stilted acting! (I actually like this film a LOT, despite that). But even my link pretty much tells you when you load it in Youtube that it's probably going to be about Buddhism... all over the page. Maybe if I snuck it in another page. See, now THAT would be an agenda!

Because I felt that pointing out another religion would possibly make others mad, I felt maybe I could show her how she was affecting others with a post about spiders.

Terri, I know you mean well. I know you are proud of your religion and your views, and that's cool. We're Americans. Maybe you don't understand why this is impolite. Let me explain something from another point of view.

I like spiders. They are cool, eat bugs, spin webs, and there are many different kinds. Like all of God's creatures, spiders play their part in nature.

Sadly, some people do not like spiders. They find them freaky, hairy, and frightening. If I were to take a spider and put in on some people on this list, they would probably scream, run around, and yell at me never to do such a thing. I could explain until I was blue in the face the benefit of spiders and their role in nature, and some people would call them bugs and say they should all be stomped on. I would say that they were wrong, and how could they hate such a cool animal? Someone might tell stories about how they were scared by spiders as a kid, or some story about the black widow, or the brown recluse spider, and how they can kill people with their poison. "Not all spiders are like that," I may say. And they will not care because just the SIGHT of s huge hairy spider might make them VERY unhappy, poisonous or not.

Someone might eventually post, "Grig, this is a reunion list for McLean High School, please stop talking about spiders. There are spider lists for that."

Now, imagine if I continued to send posts about spider with pictures, movies about spiders, or spiders around the world. Maybe I find roundabout ways to "educate people about spiders," by pointing to movies that suddenly had spiders in them, even in unpredictable and unnecessary plot vehicles. "Jane was a lonely girl, until she found that studying spiders got her to meet a boyfriend who was into Spiderman... spiders are a cure for lonely people!"

People would think I was a little nuts. They'd be right, too.

Even worse, it may make people uncomfortable, especially because of their past with spiders. The some people might tell those people to stop being pussies, "it's just a spider." Then people would yell at those people for calling others pussies. And so on. People eventually leave the list because they cant stand the fights between the spider lovers and the spider haters and the people who tell each side to shut up.

And there I was, still posting links about spiders, either obvious to the fights I caused, thinking everyone was uneducated about spiders and it was my job to educate them because spiders are cool, right? "Ya'll liked Charlotte's Web, don't tell me you didn't...!" or "Spiders are fried and eaten in the Congo, are you saying you want people in the Congo to starve?"

I would be a complete jerk. Whether I meant well or not was not the point, it was the fact I didn't respect the wishes of others, and felt the need to post my spider views in a list specifically NOT spider-related, and kept trying to sneak in spider topics even though I had been told this was inappropriate.

This is the direction you are going. You post consistently ultra-Christian, right-wing, and political powder kegs in a list not geared for this kind of debate. We all come from different religious and political backgrounds. Please respect this and keep the topics related to McLean High School and the memories thereof.

It probably surprises no one that this didn't work. In fact, it generated responses like these:

I like what you are posting Teri!!!!!!! KEEP IT COMING!!!!! Whenever i see a Spider i just step on it!! Spiders suck! Typical Left wing analogy....You should hook up with Keith Olbermann... ..and make a career out of bashing the right wing.....

Note, I never mentioned bashing the right wing at all. I simply said this wasn't the place for this kind of debate. The web is FULL of places for this kind of debate. But not a multicultural, omni-polictal high school alumni list.

Right on [name]. First Amendment above all else.

and when someone retorted to stop "posting in ignorance":

Really? Support of free speech is an ignorant view?

I feel very strongly about the First Amendment. And all the others, for that matter. I also believe in the right for free speech. But I also know basic civil discourse and politeness. Dude, when you order your food at a restaurant, you don't want the waiter to suddenly start ranting about worshipping his god or something. Or, "does this look infected to you?" That's just rude.

Then they just got mean:

Yea!!! you're annoying [name of another person]!! get me out of here!! get me outta here!!!
I can't take it anymore!!!! blah blah blah.....this is great...i just got
home from a nice day at work chasing people around and i get to read about a
girl who can't handle a web page! This is great!!!
Hey [one of his pals] get a load of this!!! We got some really sensitive people here who
can't handle a web page with constructive dialogue, disagreements and
exchanges of points of view........

That's just bullying. This person is an adult. In his late 30s. Good lord, I'd be embarrassed to be this person's mother. It gets better when someone replies that this is not a public forum, it's her e-mail box:

whatever darling!!! this bully has saved more lives in the past ten years
then you can count....and guess what...i don't ask for anything in return....now
take your sweet self down to the local pub and cool off with a tall one

Darling. Wow. I bet this person smacks the ass of his secretary. And wait, he's saved lives! And doesn't ask anything in return! Not that this has to do with anything said, but he apparently felt like he had to use this as a crux for his argument. If he doesn't ask for anything in return, why bring it up? If I was a psychologist, I'd say he was trying to compensate for an insecurity, but I didn't go to school and become a psychologist.

By the way, the guy who "chases people around" is in law enforcement. I wonder how he treats a rape case? I wonder if he favors "some lives" to save over "others?" I don't know, but I am weary of someone who posts like they are 13.

So... that's been the morning's drama.
Tags: mclean
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