No Name-Calling On FrontBurner

If you noticed your post has been deleted, it is for a very good reason. We welcome all who have something worthwhile to contribute to learning about our city. We welcome good jokes and pointed one-liners. As for you others, Commenter Rawlins, as usual, says it best, below the jump: 

What appeals to me, or has in the past, whether it is with PegasusNews, the DMNews Views Editorial blog or FrontBurner, is the variety of formats to join in a political debate/discussion nationally (DMN) or flippantly make cracks regarding things pegged locally (FB, Pegasus). As someone quick on my feet, self-employed, a home-based writer, it’s like taking a break to interact with others. No less than taking a break walking the dog in the adjacent forest before resuming a project. Compare it to a coffee or smoke break.

That said, the amount of anonymous vitriol that has become an oozing new norm is disturbing to me, and has lately…in fact this past weekend…found me talking with friends and other editors about my concerns that one only plays in that sandbox is at the risk of personal assault. And when one is known on whatever level, but the attacker remains closeted in cyberspace, it is no longer a playground but a minefield. Who wants to make a minefield a playground?

Oddly, I intended to write a commentary on this subject on this but there again, we live in a two-fold world where half the listeners are completely unaware what a ‘blog’ is while the other half is someone who cannot relate to my concerns because they correctly feel that no one is forced to contribute. So the point central to any opinion piece becomes dead on arrival since it is not relevant to most persons who are anonymous even if they used their true name.

As trey Garrison learned when he wrote the Op-Ed I book-ended in the piece I linked to in this thread, it is irrational how readers seize on a word, a phrase, a line. There is always a predatory reader ready to react. I was particularly impressed with ‘D’ publisher Wick Allison’s post a while back, where he succinctly listed his observations of how nuanced postings were decimated, etc. Wick is a thinker and his thoughts were that of someone who, like me, has a point of reference as to what once was normal and what is now the name of the game.

Me? I just like being irreverent or funny or insightful or dueling with words. It’s what writers and independent thinkers do, and at its best what the blogs offer. A free-form forum democracy of humor, snipe and snark opinion. But without some standard of decorum it’s no place for a writer to sharpen his craft. It just becomes a place where anonymous predators sharpen their claws.


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37 responses to “No Name-Calling On FrontBurner”

  1. Long Memory says:

    Hear! Hear!

  2. Bethany says:

    I agree completely.

  3. Spamboy says:

    I agree also. However, whatever happened to ignoring irrevalent people (like batshit crazy commentors) and paying attention to the more worthy paragraphs?

  4. amandacobra says:

    I agree with everyone. As Spamboy said, the batshit crazy ones are easy to ignore and even easier to get a chuckle out of. Can’t imagine anything in the comments section of a blog really getting to anyone too badly. And quite often the name calling ones are so filled with spelling and punctuation errors that their battle is lost before they even begin to fight it and you get to slink away with your OED tucked firmly under your arm and a smile on your face.

    I totally agree, btw, that this is my daily “just got finished writing something that keeps the lights on, gonna mosey over to FrontBurner to read or write something that might actually amuse or interest me.” And I thank you.

  5. Tom says:

    Ignoring the attacking commenters is the best way to get them to go away. It pains me to see so many threads being hijacked by one or two sour apples.

  6. Wes Mantooth says:

    In typical FrontBurner style, I’d like to make a snarky riposte, but I’m all out of clever. Some would say that I never go to the store to restock — but now they can’t namecall me. BUAHAHAHAHA!

    Seriously, I agree with amandacobra, as usual.

  7. Andrew says:

    As the wise Sheriff Ed Tom Bell said, ‘It starts when you begin to overlook bad manners.”

  8. Puddin'Tane says:

    What’s so worng with being crazy as bat guano?

  9. Puddin'Tane says:

    Make that crazy as bat guano AND dyslexic.


  10. Ex-E, Ex-S says:

    And here I thought I was the only one bothered by such blatant incivility. Thank you Wick for having the fortitude to take a stand.

  11. Col. Bat Guano says:

    I am not crazy. How ironic to call me crazy in a post about not calling names.

    Now you want crazy? That Capt. Mandrake, he was one crazy dude. Him and General Ripper, the both of them.

  12. I, for one, appreciate this post. Partly for the content, bit partly because it fulfills the quota that requires I be mentioned at least twice a day on Frontburner.

  13. DM says:

    What about normally good contributors who may occasionally.. eh, say… ‘drunk blog’?

  14. amandacobra says:

    I appreciate so many mentions of “guano” in one post.

    And to answer your question DM, I think you earn credits for witty banter throughout the weeks and months from which “drunk blogging” can be deducted and forgiven. Unless you have the rare ability to be a clever and witty clever drunk blogger. And in that case, God help us all….

  15. amandacobra says:

    Btw, “clever and witty clever” is totally something. I don’t know what it is, but it’s totally a thing.

    Also, I’m drunk.

  16. Spamboy says:

    @Col. Bat Guano I worry about all of your precious bodily fluids

  17. Col. Bat Guano says:

    @Spamboy, you’ll have to answer to the Coca Cola company for that!

  18. HCL says:

    “But without some standard of decorum it’s no place for a writer to sharpen his craft. It just becomes a place where anonymous predators sharpen their claws.”

    ITA. I believe people, in general, are getting meaner. And not just to writers but to everyone; for there is always something (even if it’s a small something) about everybody else that makes them feel inferior.

    The game has changed, and the world is growing full of Marlos, figuratively offing innocent citizens over a piece of effing candy.

  19. Andrew says:

    A poignant “Wire” reference tops off some great comments.

  20. Dear Rawlins:

    Calling yourself “quick on [your] feet,” “funny,” and “insightful” shows that you have a bit of work to do in the word-craft department. Better to demonstrate those characteristics, and let your readers come to that conclusion themselves, than to claim you have them and have your readers disagree.

    And I don’t agree with Trey that it’s “irrational” to seize on a single word, phrase, or line in an argument. If the writer chose the word, phrase, or line, then he or she intended something by it (to persuade, to insult, to establish a fact, etc.). Therefore, to let it go unanswered may lead to the conclusion that the writer was right.

    And, so, I had to take issue (I hope constructively) with your over-generous self-assessment. May we all continue to improve ourselves.


  21. Rawlins Gilliland says:

    Marty…I did say I’m ‘quick on my feet’. I however never described myself as ‘funny, insightful.’ Rather, I said, “I just like being irreverent or funny or insightful or dueling with words.” None of which I have always enjoyed being any more than you have always been rich.

  22. T. Paine says:

    I always find it highly entertaining when a media entity organizes a public forum to cultivate opinion, then takes it upon itself to regulate free speech on that forum in the nebulous name of civility and decorum. One man’s name-calling is sometimes another man’s political discourse.

    I’m not suggesting that yelling fire in a crowded theater is to be condoned, but then this forum is hardly one where the expression of an untoward thought will result in the fiery deaths of those trampled asunder as a result of that expression.

    I am suggesting that the selective use of the memory hole can be a very dangerous precedent to set.

  23. jrp says:

    wonder if anybody’s gonna call me names Monday night when i saunter into Texas Stadium for the first time wearing a Brian Dawkins jersey…

    and i don’t think people are any meaner in 2008 then we were in say 1968 or 1692 or 1206

    i, for one, think it’s the opposite and people are more thin skinned, paranoid and insecure now

    what ever happened to “sticks and stones may break my bones my names will never hurt me”

    i’m probably a little masochistic and enjoy a good barb thrown my way every once in a while, but do agree that name calling in print is useless and a reflection upon the writer

    kudos to Mr Allison for setting the standard, here on FB at least, and making sure his editors adhere to it

  24. Bethany says:

    Having a blog myself, I can tell you that I’ve been conflicted when the occasional rude poster comes through. Do I delete the comment? Do I ban repeated offenses? I mean, as a journalist, I pretty much have an issue with any impinging on someone’s freedom of speech, but I realized one night – with one particular poster – that repeated attacks and abuse are the antithesis of that – because it makes it more difficult for anyone else to have an enjoyable conversation.

    To me, commenting on someone else’s blog is like driving on the freeway. Sure, I have every right to be there, but it’s the state’s highway, not mine alone. That means I have to obey the rules of the road, or face consequences.

  25. jrp says:

    “…but names will never…”

    fingers move faster than brain sometimes…4:20 yet?

  26. PR Chick says:

    As a practitioner of the dark art of public relations, my clients recognize the need to play in the Wild West known as the blogoshere. It’s a double edged sword though. If you get a disgruntled customer or former employee who is using the comments section to vent, it’s going to be ugly and we just have to hope that the moderator sees the IP addresses and the pattern and puts a stop to it. On the other hand, blogs can be an excellent way to get a read on how the public views your product.

    FB and its associate blogs are such powerful forums so I appreciate Wick and Rawlins for bringing up the topic.

  27. Josh Pearson says:

    It has been my experience that when attending a Cowboys/Eagles game at Texas Stadium, the people to be most concerned with are the ones wearing the Brian Dawkins jerseys. I have been to the last three such games at TS and seen no fewer than ten fights/altercations. Nine of those were started by overzealous (read: over-served) Philly fans. Doesn’t do much to disuade my opinion of Philly folks.

    However, from your previous comments, I think you are an exception to that rule, not an example. Enjoy the game, I vowed last year that I would never again darken the door of the concrete toilet that Jerry has allowed TS to become…

  28. Wes Mantooth says:

    I attended the Cows/Vikes game last year. When a German cockroach ambled over and demanded that I allow it to finish my beer for me, I remembered the words of my sainted mother, Dorothy, that discretion is the better part of valor, and I let the roach just have the beer.

    Did anyone else notice the comparison in last week’s DMN between the new JerryDome in Arlington and the new stadium in Indianapolis? PSL’s in thrifty Indy for the entire stadium came to the whopping sum of $0.00. The Colts didn’t have any problem selling season tix there for this season; that doesn’t seem to be true for the ‘Boys for 2009.

  29. Billusa99 says:

    Rawlins… I’ve seen your party shoes. I’m sure the feet inside were funny.

  30. Sophie says:

    Yeah, good luck with all that.

    I used to be on a committee responsible for trying to maintain civility (or at least avoid libel suits) on the discussion boards of a journalism organization. What a beating that was.

    People will be rude and it’s a crying shame but trying to stop it is like trying to grab mercury. One man’s wit is another’s insult. The committee couldn’t even agree on a definition of ad hominem attacks. And deleting posts we felt crossed the line brought on howls of protest that we had created a “nanny state.” Oy, I get a headache just thinking about it. We had half the organization bitching about incivility and the other half bitching about freedom of speech.

    All that to say, public forums such as this are very hot kitchens and the best you can do is ignore the flames and try not to jump in. Just rise above it it, remain civil and make your mama proud.

  31. Katherine says:

    PR Chick – I.P checks are useless are useless thanks to anonymous proxy servers.

  32. tickled says:

    no doubt, Josh, Philly Phans are idiots

    sorry couldn’t help myself

    promise to intercede in as many fights as possible and only yell at Yoko Romo to thank her for being a jinx and maybe throw a few a few boos TO’s way after he scores…

    and to give yous all an idea of one of the reasons there’s a bitter black hole where this Philly Phan once had a heart, here’s TO’s last play as an Eagle

  33. jrp says:

    i need an editor and apparently someone else uses this computer to post as ‘tickled’…i need to look into that…i’m such an idiot

  34. Harvey Lacey says:

    DMN is facing the same issues. It’s like the adults found the playground and are now demanding the horseplay stop.

    It’s a difficult subject. And I’ve found the most common position on it is kids will be kids and making them act responsibly is an impossible task.

    Of course I’m sure these are the same folks who explain the misbehaving of their own children the same way.

  35. towski says:

    You people are all voldemorts.

  36. Harvey Lacey says:

    It’s a conspiracy I tell you. And Rawlins is at least partially responsible! It started at the DMN news Blog comments. Then Wick jumped on at Rawlins’ urging obviously.

    Now this morning Dreher has put on his robe and is getting it into knot twisting mode over the madness.

    Go Rawlins!

  37. Oh My Eyes says:

    While I appreciate the desire to keep things civil… I have but one question:


    We have seen multiple events that required the locking of threads, the deleting of sexually graphic (and quite disgusting posts), as well as the guano-brained ramblings of one litigious buffoon… and those were all fine until…what?

    What was the big ‘I smell the coffee in Bolivia” moment?

    I often regret that it requires a direct contact to Tim, or Wick to get something resected from the threads… And that is only after things deteriorate to such a level (IE: the girl in the red dress photo spread that brought out every perv with an ISP account, and a need to offend), that it required not one, but three purgative efforts on Tim’s part.

    I think it is great to be civil… but at this point, it is more of the “Horse has left the barn” moment that we are at.

    Perhaps a more aggressive editing effort is needed on certain threads to prevent the nutcases from taking over the board.