Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Marginalizing" a true moron

Captious Nut, a semi-regular commenter on my blog, decided to start a flamewar last week about American Idol. I ended it by closing comments, for the simple reason that it wasn't civil discourse.

Calling someone a socialist, particularly when you're too boneheaded to realize what constitutes a true "socialist," is hardly civil discourse. I'm not about to let some half-brained jerk turn my blog into a pissing contest, thank you very much. It's not good for the ratings daily readership, and more importantly, that's not why I started my blog. My time is limited enough that I don't instigate flamewars, but I will end them.

It was only a matter of time, I suppose, before the jackass thought he'd flame me on his blog. I was catching up on my blog reading, then thought I'd check my referrer stats.

He insists that I did read his e-mail, though I said I didn't. Well, I really didn't. I saw the first few words in my GMail inbox, decided I really didn't care what he had to say, deleted his message, then sent him the following as a new message:
Subject: I deleted your message without reading

I'm really not in the mood for arguing, all right? Especially with someone who improperly uses "socialist." to label those with whom he disagrees.

That's as polite and sociable as I could make it. No vitriol, just an implied "Can you shut up now?" I'm really not in the mood for arguing, all right?

Reading through his post, I was rather disappointed that his wife's only heckle was accusing me of having a "man crush" on Chris? Sorry to burst her bubble, but even though I said Taylor is my favorite, I'm still quite straight, thanks. I can, however, recognize a great musical talent. For a few minutes I toyed with the idea of writing a little "Good luck in your career" card for my mother to send Chris; she likes him a lot.

Good heavens, what kind of delusions does this guy's wife have? Maybe she also thinks Katherine can actually sing...

Well, it's time to take his e-mail, the one I really didn't read, apart. I suppose my response would have been less harsh had I read his e-mail, or had he simply dropped the matter and stopped wasting my time:
First of all, I do use the term "socialist" quite liberally. For instance, I have complained that the illegal defense rule in the NBA is a socialist attempt at regulating play.
Bullshit. The NBA is a private organization. So strictly speaking, the players agree to the rules voluntarily, which is not socialism. This applies to the illegal defense rule, entering the stands (even to defend your wife), or a strict dress code off the court. If a team's owners didn't like that the illegal defense rule was replaced with a 3-second one, they could have left the NBA to form their own league.

Socialism is the forcible redistribution of wealth. Even in certain leagues where more profitable teams have their money transferred to less successful teams, that is still not socialism. Those teams are perfectly free to leave and form their own association. In true socialism, there is no such option.
I don't think you can equate excessive use of "socialist" with with excessive use of "Nazi" for the simple fact that we don't really have Nazi's ruining our country but we certainly have socialists throughout the power structure of the country. I am sure we agree on that!
Actually there are many fascist (i.e. Nazi) elements to our present government, from the Patriot Act to the NSA's long-time infiltration of people's private, lawful communications. These are not mutually exclusive with the socialist elements, such as a gargantuan welfare state.
Anyway, I started off by calling you a socialist, as a joke. Anyone who looks at your blog for a millisecond knows that you are capitalism incarnate. Furthermore, even from the paucity of comments I have posted, you should have an inkling that I generally don't act like "a horse's ass" and have a pretty good understanding of economics and its terms.

Sarcasm doesn't transmit well over the internet. Yeah, I could have characterized you as a "whiner" or even a "sophist" because at root, I found your reasoning uncompelling. I even could have appended "sarcasm" parenthetically as I have done often times.
It was a ridiculous thing for him to call me, yet he pursued it in a second comment without such an explanation.

You know, people, the only thing I ask for is civil discourse. It doesn't even have to be intelligent, because otherwise, well, I'd have to delete every liberal's comment.
Sure it's a stretch to liken anyone who complains about outcomes to a socialist, but it's no more a stretch than using a popularity contest decided by the multiple votes of 9 year old girls as a vehicle to illustrate the failings of democracy.

It's all theoretical. It's all good. And it's all innocuous.
Again, there are only so many votes that get through the phone lines. Ten votes from a single person are as effective as single votes from ten individual people, because the ability to vote is scarce.

So it makes perfect sense to look on American Idol as another reason pure democracy is stupid, but it still makes no sense to repeatedly call someone a "socialist" not just when he clearly is not, but when you later concede, and readily, that he isn't.
Yeah, I ripped you with that Enron analogy. But that is what I do, remember "captious" - my name is its own disclamer. If you had said 2+2=4, but had shoddy reasoning I would have pointed that out as well.
He "ripped" me by effectively saying, "I'm right, you're wrong, and I don't have to say why." No rebuttal at all.
There were several ways you could have responded to me: ignore my comment, delete my comment, laugh it off, or engage in further argument. And I am quite disappointed in the tack you chose. Your last comment didn't need the invective-ridden first two paragraphs to make its point. I have some pretty thick skin so that doesn't bother me at all. For years I stood in a trading pit all day, fighting with the biggest scumbags around.
I responded in kind to someone who started polluting my blog with inanity. If he doesn't like it, I really don't give a damn. And if a trading pit is all he's been through, I'm not impressed.
As I said in my first comment, I am a fan of yours. But quite frankly, you overreacted. I guess you thought my comments were making you look bad or something. They weren't - at least not nearly in the degree that you discerned.
With fans like him, who needs Brad DeLong to smear me?
However, your response, replete with profanity, a toothless threat, and the closing of comments, doesn't behoove you one bit.
Once again, I really don't give a damn. I don't blog to get fans. Other than the occasional entertainment post (like Star Trek), I blog to provide what I think the truth is, however "rough" it can occasionally be. I don't even care if people agree with me, only that my writing makes them think, and that if they respond in comments or e-mail, that they also think and not resort to ridiculous usage of political terminology.
If I didn't care what you thought, I would neither read your blog, comment on it, or spend my time with this clarifying email.

If you still think I am crazy, then I would encourage you to have some of your friends/family read your original post and our dialogue (including of course this email) and render their opinions.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. My family and friends are too busy to read my blog. I'm almost too busy to read my blog.

And I never said he was crazy, only that he was acting like a horse's ass. So it makes one wonder how much he's erroneously reading into my words.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It does become a chore to manage the comments section of a blog. I come to the Eidelblog for your "editorial" entries anyway and don’t usually have enough time to read the comments (constructive or otherwise.) I apologize for plagiarizing some of your articles but whenever we do an economic topic on our pod cast I always check and see if you have written about the topic. I am somewhat illiterate when it comes to economics and you are definitely a “pretty smart guy” as Stitch would say. Keep up the blog and don’t get hung up on the critics – there seems to more of them out there than we ever imagined.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006 12:43:00 PM  
Anonymous jk said...

Yup. I've enmjoyed your blog a great deal and have linked many times. Don't let them get you down.

I missed the whole Idol thing from day one. But is it not funny that you do well with economic and political views that are pointed, but a flamewar erupts or American Idol?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 7:29:00 PM  

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