On conversation + housekeeping.

On the one hand, I am a big believer in dialogue. Dialogue — the genuine and respectful exchange of opinions and stories both small and large — is, in my humble opinion, the only thing that will save us humans from our own damn selves. If we can learn to hear each other, we may make it through. If not? Probably not.

On the other hand, often what is sometimes disguised as “dialogue” is actually the simple repetition of contrary viewpoints. No one is listening, everyone is shouting, and nothing but individual catharsis is ever achieved (and sometimes not even that). People get to feel like they told someone off. Whoot.

Now, it’s worth noting that I’m also a believer in telling people off. Sometimes, a person just needs to be told. Period. “What you are saying is nonsense, hurtful, damaging” — whatever. Particularly if that person is a person in power. Speaking your truth, even if you know it will not affect the individual to whom you are speaking it, is also valuable.

But there is, as they say, a time and a place for everything. And this blog, which is the tiniest of specks in the blog sea, is not the place for telling people off. Even with the understanding that I have some very strong opinions about some very polarizing issues, it’s a place for engaging in genuine dialogue, or taking your trucks and going home. It is not a space for continually saying, on the same issue, over and over again, to me and the occasional commenter: “You’re wrong!” Even when the contrarian statements manage to (usually) stay on the right side of nominally polite, continually knocking on someone’s front door so as to tell them how wrong they are — when you knew you would think them wrong even before they opened the door — is just plain rude. And really tiring.

All of which is a very long and round about way of saying that I banned someone today. That someone knows it, others may be able to guess, but it really doesn’t matter who it is. My point is that I really, but really, don’t want my teeny-tiny, itty-bitty, dust mite of internet to be yet another place where yelling-at is the preferred method of communication. There are a metric shit-ton of sites available on which such behavior is entirely acceptable; there are half a metric shit-ton on which the opinions on Israel/Palestine (for yes, dear reader, this is the issue that has inspired the nearly-civil yelling) are the direct opposite of mine. Such sites would no doubt be grateful for even more support.

So, right. Ban hammer wielded! And, moving on….

On a much brighter note, I thought I would also mention that I’ve done a little dusting and polishing on the blog rolls, and must now urge you to skedaddle on over to Library Grapes, the new collaborative effort in which Lev (of Balloon Juice commenting fame) is taking part, as well as to the film blog maintained by thekahn (from Ta-Nehisi’s Golden Horde/Team Commie/Lost Battalion), called Les Fous du Cinema (as I am a Real American [tm], I do not speak French and thus do not know what the blog’s name means. I assume it’s something along the lines of “I spit on you, you lousy American cinema, you!” But I could be wrong). You must check them!

And finally! In the comments to one of the posts I wrote from Israel, commenter extraordinaire and all around swell guy Sorn wrote

you seem to have hit on something that I understand exists but don’t necessarily know how to explain or articulate. There seems to be a difference in mentality and experience between someone who is Jewish and someone who is Israeli, and correspondingly a process whereby Jews “become” Israeli. I have a feeling that the process of becoming an Israeli has more to it than living in Israel and being Jewish and I was wondering if you had already spoken to that somewhere or were planning to speak on it. I know you have a policy of not replying to comments, so I will understand if you don’t say anything, and like an old talk-show call-in-program take my comments off the air.

To which, in spite of the correctly-noted policy of not replying to comments, I replied that I would reply in the form of a post “sometime next week.”

Well. “Next week” was last week and here we are! So I just want to say that I will be writing about that this week (and if anyone has any thoughts they’d like to throw into the comments, please do!).



  1. dmf

     /  December 13, 2010

    there was an unfortunately raw response back at the mothership a while ago to something that cynic wrote and while i don’t condone that sort of spewing of venom i could relate to the experience behind it. there is the obvious kind of trolling and then there is an attitude of knowing, from people who aren’t involved in, living in, the matter at hand that can be maddening not only because of a lack of firsthand knowledge but for ignoring the suffering of the people of good will and effort caught up in kafkaesque systems beyond their control. i’m most grateful for well tended spaces like this where the exchange of ideas serves the greater goal of taking care of actual people.

  2. I think Les Fous de Cinema means crazy for film, or something like that

  3. BJonthegrid

     /  December 13, 2010

    It took me a long time to give up my newspapers for the Internet. Letters to newspapers are tame when compared to Internet comments, which I found threatening and mostly ignorant. I spent a couple years just reading. I am picky about what I read. I don’t want to just read someone else’s opinion, I want to learn and expand. It took me a long time to find some place I felt like commenting and from that I found you. I think anyone who puts the time and thought into a creation such as your blog is not only smart but brave. So sorry you had to ban someone but life is short, and we all have to make choices on how to spend it.

  4. Hey Emily, thanks for the plug! Your writing is a constant delight.

  5. ee, I agree with the dialogue v. dual monologue distinction. Like many others, I read blogs to be entertained, to learn things, and to engage in thoughtful discussions. That can only happen if all parties are engaging in good faith. And, it only takes one determined individual to really make a blog not enjoyable to read. I have to say that I have really come to appreciate the moderating TNC does because thoughtful, civil (but still humorous) discussions are fostered and encouraged. It’s refreshing.

    On my blog, I actually say that it’s my domain and what I say goes. You are much kinder than I am, but the same tenet holds true. Your blog, your guidelines.