What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Posts Tagged ‘civility’

Concerned Citizen

Posted by Dirck on 31 May, 2012

The Fountain Pen Network has fallen into something not unlike the Bermuda Triangle, and I’m a little worried.  Most of it is just what little techno-addiction I have manifesting itself; I can walk away from the internet for a week or two without a qualm, but to have that choice made for me is deeply unnerving.  I’m sure that presently the fire will be out (hopefully only in metaphor) and the FPN will be back to inform and amuse.

The other real concern-generator lies in the comments over at the FPGeeks’ thread on this very same topic.  Concern and quivering addiction is expressed, but there is also a dig at the moderators and administrators of FPN.  That board is a generally quite civil place, but it is also full of deeply opinionated folks and sometimes the aforementioned holders of power have to swing in an clamp down; usually when the topic wanders to gun control or religion, but there are also a few instances of people with nothing more constructive to offer than “I think Nardwar Brand Pen Cozies SUUUUUX!” in increasing invective.  The clamping down is seen by some as an abridgement of a right of free speech (see you local constitution for details and whether this applies to you).

The concern-provoking bit of that thread is what is suggests about us inter-nutters.  Thus far, the moderate camp on that comment thread is mainly pointing out that FPN is a salon, not Hyde Park, and the owners of the space have a right to decide when the discussion is too boisterous; generally, founded and reasonably-expressed opinions are OK.  The response, which is not entirely unfounded, is that there are a few topics (politics, religion, the merits of Bay State Blue ink) that are entirely off the table, and that the suspicion is that if one’s opinion is different from the moderators, it won’t get aired at all.

I don’t think that’s the case.  I’ve once said something sufficiently immoderate on FPN to draw moderator attention; it was a private word, it was entirely civil, and on reflection I found the moderator to be entirely right to tap me on the shoulder.  I think its that last bit that the internet’s fora suffer from a want of– reflection.  We all have a right to out own opinion, yes, but the right to expression of that opinion has some contingencies.  The one we forget most often is, even one’s own opinion may be mistaken.

I’ve seen a bumper sticker that sort of distills the problem.  It reads, Haters Gonna Hate.  The implication is this; if I say anything contrary to that bumper-owner’s opinion (“say, maybe 150 is too fast for a school zone”), it is entirely a result of a failure in me.  If I don’t like what they’re doing or saying, I’m a Hater, trapped by my own inability to see their correctness.

This is not a good direction for society to proceed.  No man is an island, no person is necessarily and at all times correct… and even when they are, the way they manifest that correctness might not be quite the thing for polite company.

Now, having no doubt offended many, I am off to reflect on how I might have expressed this better.

Today’s pen: Mabie, Todd & Co. Blackbird
Today’s ink: Herbin Pousièrre de Lune

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why We Fight (Metaphorically)

Posted by Dirck on 31 May, 2010

I mentioned last week that I’d been put off my stride by a couple of encounters on the walk I take prior to sitting down at this endeavour. In an effort to exorcise the vestiges of this event, I’m going to ramble a bit.

The first of these encounters was purely observational. Some young chap was yelling at a similarly youngish woman (early 20s, let us say) in front of the access to a shopping mall. I’m not given to eavesdropping as a habit, but there was no avoiding hearing the harangue. He was apparently upset with some mutual female friend, who had spurned him in favour of some other fellow– he seemed to blame the young lady he was yelling at for not convincing the object of his desire that she was making a mistake.

So far, this is unhappy, but not unpleasant. The unpleasant aspect comes from the language in use on both side, which I will describe evasively as “salty”. Why do I care? Because occasionally I take my toddler son through that very door. Because other parents do the same. Because it’s just plain rude.

The other encounter involved me directly as I was crossing the street. I stepped onto the street at the change of the light, and by the time I was halfway across, a car in the far curbside lane had crept almost entirely across the crosswalk, and as I kept moving, so did he, the nose of his car actually sticking into traffic. Rather than walk into moving traffic while my back was to it, I amended my course to pass behind the goof, and said to him (as still he crept), “The light’s still red,” in what I’ll admit was a somewhat harsh tone.

The response I Bowdlerize as, “So what?” There you have it, folks– civilization in the very act of crumbling. I will blame media to a certain extent, for it is but a reflection of the do-as-you-like attitude that had developed since… the 1970s, perhaps? The roots were in the ’50s and ’60s, but I think the ’70s is when the brakes really came off. I am, as I’ve previously mentioned, a realist, and I don’t think the massive social constrictions that this letting off of brakes is a response to was that great, but there is a middle ground to be had. I don’t want to be in a position of being able to say to someone, or have said to me, “Mind your station!” but I’m also not a great fan of the current standards of public scatology. It doesn’t to anything but elevate the blood pressure and lower the possibility of a mutually satisfactory conclusion to any discussion. I’m not the only one who feels this way, and the problem is now afflicting the way we govern our nation.

For the moment, I will do no more than try to be a good example and to raise my son to some kind of standard. I can curse like the proverbial sailor, but I chose not to except in suitable contexts (because, “Say, you have parked your car on my foot. Bother, that stings so,” is deeply unsatisfying). I think it’s important to understand that one can be civil without being servile.

Today’s pen of well-considered statements: Sheaffer Valiant TM touchdown
Today’s ink of reason: Diamine China Blue (which is indeed very Delft-ish)

Posted in General Blather | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »