Late in the month once again, I'm afraid, but there were some things that I wanted to sleep on—repeatedly—before making hasty remarks.
Up here south of Lake Michigan we're still recovering from a spring that didn't sneak up on us as much as it jumped out of a dark alley, clobbered us with a baseball bat, and made us scramble for the summer gear before it ran off with our wallet. Just a few days after the daffodils the redbuds, goldenrod, cherry trees, magnolias, and dogwoods, some weeks ahead of time, exploded all together into the most fantastic riot of colour this side of an acid trip. We remain impressed and are preparing for a long, hot season.
The Rush Limbaugh Experience
For those who were living under a rock for the last month, within or outside the United States, Mr Limbaugh is a radio personality who specialises in preaching outrage and hatred to a right-wing choir. He's not hip enough to be called a shock jock but is consistently bizarre and offensive enough to be called a raving wingnut. A couple of weeks ago Mr Limbaugh outdid himself and put himself back in the news by suggesting that a woman demanding better access to contraception was a 'slut' and a 'prostitute.'
In the minds of most people other than his most ardent fans and supremely spineless politicians, Mr Limbaugh crossed a line between absurdist commentary and gratuitously insulting everyone's mother, daughter, and sister, and the men who stand behind them. I guess my history of escorting my girls to insurance-covered, contraception-related appointments with the lady doctor makes me some sort of pimp in this person's worldview. I'll wear my diamond grill with pride.
Anyway, what makes this sort of left-of-centre political commentary relevant to this space is that, even in an environment where almost anything goes, even when freedom of expression is an important guiding principle—and my loyal audience knows well that I am not afraid to make myself unpopular in order to keep E2 such a place—there are lines that can be crossed. More often than not these lines are not mentioned because we (I) naively expect that it would not occur to someone to go there. But, to my deluded chagrin, someone always manages to be a Columbus and tries to sail off the edge of the earth.
So I am informed that a certain user was spotted in the catbox casually describing another user with an expression which is typically used as a derogatory name for a person of a particular sex and ethnic background. For this, I am unable to find any justification in the name of context or entertainment, and ignorance is about as implausible an explanation as any.
I confess that I was taken aback. Even in the heat of personal arguments, racial or homophobic epithets have always been beyond the pale (permit me to not to touch sexist expressions here because that's something that has a very complex relationship with both culture and language and I only have 65000-odd characters to write in). While common in the world-at-large, I see them as something that on E2 is not simply avoided because it's improper but because the mentality behind them is alien to this site's culture. Finding a user of standing and experience casually employing that sort of language is sobering. This is not who we are. This is not who we want to be.
I could rain down a torrent of righteous fire and brimstone in this space (you've seen me do it before) but not before contemplating my own responsibility in this unpleasantness and the likelihood that my hands-off management has contributed to the souring of the public airspace. Make no mistake: To me it is a personal embarrassment that it has come to this. I will not apologise for this user but I will be ashamed of his behaviour even if he will not be ashamed because witnessing such behaviour in this community is an object of shame to me.
Having said hands-off, you know my opinion of censorship. I advocate civility but often avoid enforcing it because it is generally not the role of government to do such a thing and I take a dim view of mandating political correctness. Nevertheless, the management has to look out for the well-being of the community and strike a balance. Given that there is only one catbox right now and, while I do encourage /ignore as an important line of defence, this incident and a few lesser ones have persuaded me that the coarsening of the level of discourse has reached an actionable level.
As of right now, members of the chanops group, starting with my own good self, will be using their mandate to take a more active stance on blatant, destructive -isms, bigotry, and gross impropriety. Before someone asks who decides what constitutes impropriety and how, the answers are respectively, we, and by applying the Potter Stewart test—we know it when we see it.
Thank you for your attention. The above is Official Policy and not having read it will not be accepted as an excuse. Hell, it should not even have to be brought up. And, no, I do not feel a burning need to assert my relevance in the New Order. Several weeks after the incident I'm still as shocked as I ever get and this time I have no plans to just get over it.
I shot the Sheriff (and I also shot n-a-t-e)
As of last month, clampe is the only remaining member of the Michigan crew with continued access. If you'd told me ten years ago that one day I'd be the one to "fire" nate, I'd have asked you for some of whatever you were smoking. Autre temps. We have acquired a tech-admin in tbonci as a free agent from the New England Patriots. I think this is not a case of nepotism but rather one of exploiting family members for cheap labour.
In other staff news, vandewal has retired due to Real Life craziness. I may have to go on a sanity mission to Chicago armed with a case of beer. Dimview has also stepped down, leaving the position of Viking editor vacant after a long time. We thank both for their service and wisdoms.
As an almost final word today in more than one way, I'd appreciate it if you spared some time to read a personal message between people who have been very special to this community. This is important. Lastly, and just so I don't exit on too sentimental a note, witnessing the downvotes that that piece gathered in its first few hours of existence I feel even less of a need to justify my above opinions. We do apparently have some really petty motherfuckers on this site. But we shall overcome. We always do.
Me and my wife live all alone
In a little log hut we call our own;
She loves gin and I love rum,
And don't we have a lot of fun!
--Little Brown Jug by Joseph Winner