Robert (gurdonark) wrote,


This evening, as work wound down, I found myself reading web page after web page about this week's au courant Los Angeles First Amendment in the media issue. I found one weblog I thought quite interesting, and set out to write a long comment. The particular weblog engine limited comments to 1,000 characters, so I had to edit the comment down to just enough to lose the kernel of all my meaning. Indeed, the "part that fit" seems more silly and a fair bit more petty than incisive, whereas I really liked my original. But the original comment is lost in the ether now, so it's all beside the point. It's a subtle joy of weblogs that the most fervent posts and comments visit the afterlife without having been properly born.

I love reading these "paradigm" dilemmas--free speech v. community standards,
mixed motives v. pure motives, and all that. But I find so often that I agree with people on different grounds than their stated grounds, and disagree with people for different reasons than the way their opponents frame the opposition to the issue. I infer from this not that I am particularly odd or quirky (though I suppose, I admit, in true weblog fashion, that I am), but that sometimes there are so many point of views one can only be reduced to general statements like "observe the worth and dignity of each person" and "resist injustice".

I must admit, too, that I get bored with analytically unsatisfactory arguments.
Call me an aesthetic purist if you will, but I like for the arguments to justify the position more than for them to score points off someone. I dislike the school of thought that a pithy line is worth any strain of logic or ad hominem attack. I try to praise even adversaries when praise is due. I try to evolve my position when I believe that someone saying something different than me has a point.

Of course, I am suddenly reminded of the evening in which I argued my theory of bad literature--that there is an importance in self-expression unburdened by the "critical eye", with one of my wife's writer friends from college. With a delight that I can only describe as lawyerly, I changed the field of conflict so often that my antagonist did not realize I was having fun with her rather than debating with my heart. It was a wicked thing to do, I suppose, so I should not be quite so self-congratulatory.

I'm sitting here,though, thinking of an old grievance related, ironically, to the issue that intrigued me. I am pretty thick-skinned in many ways, but a few things
pierce through the the rind. It's all complex--people hurt me when they probably least mean to do so, and people sometimes fails to offend me even when I can tell they're trying. C.S. Lewis said something fun about that, but I can't remember the quote and am too tired to google it up.

As to the main issue, though, I do like when life creates a "picture perfect issue", an issue not weighted down with irrelevant details or needless cross-purposes. Then one can define a rule, and adopt a credo, and all that.

But perhaps life has too many creeds, and not enough simple kindness.

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