Every once in a while I read something about community dynamics which really resonates with me, and I felt like I'd share this one.

There's a lady by the name of Marian Call who sings some music and keeps a very active, friendly online presence with her fanbase. This friendliness is a bit unusual for a traditional artist. For instance, she recently did a 50-state tour, mostly driving herself from location to location and staying in the offered homes of fans in the cities she was playing. Despite following over 6,800 people on Twitter, she still regularly responds to fan comments on there. In an interview in November, Jonathan Coulton, another world-small-but-Internet-big musician specifically mentioned this practice, noting that he has had to distance himself from direct communication with fans as the size of his audience has grown beyond his abilities to directly interface with it.

Recently, Miss Call announced that she was going to take some steps to separate her personal Facebook presence from her music presence, and someone asked her to be more detailed about this in a Formspring question.

Her reply, in part:

In those instances I might opt to feign rather than confront — not in order to be fake, but because I'm old-fashioned, and a fan of manners, and I believe that in a community you try your damnedest to love everyone, including folks who get on your nerves sometimes. You keep people in the community, you don't drive them out, even if they're occasionally a little awkward.

I can't think of anything to add to that.

Just some thoughts on the recent shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, and the arguments on our political tone and if right-wing hate speech was behind the horrible event.

The real issue here isn’t left vs. right, it’s extremists vs. sanity. Just because this guy may not be a right-winger doesn’t mean he doesn’t resonate with the fear-, race-, and hatemongering being spewed by right-wing extremist personalities with such vitriol incessantly on faux news and talk radio.

Sarah Palin did not call this guy up and tell him to shoot somebody, but her pandering to extremists using threatening language against fellow citizens who just happen not to agree with her sets up an environment where people begin to think that violence, insults, and threats are how a democracy is run.

Palin and her ilk (I include most of the talking heads on faux news as well as Rush Limbaugh and the other rodeo clowns of reality on talk radio) don’t want their followers to kill other people, of course not. Nobody really wants to kill those they do not agree with. However, by their own words it is obvious that they do want to create a threatening atmosphere that stifles dissent.

The problem is that you cannot constantly threaten violence as intimidation to your foes (for example, there is no other reason than to intimidate others to bring a weapon to a political event) without creating an environment where violence is acceptable as a tool and intimidation is accepted as a policy.

We forget that our “opponents” are fellow citizens who hopefully love the country as well. We must reduce the level of hate and fear in our rhetoric and stop wedge-issue politics. But sadly I believe that will probably never happen.

I fervently believe in all of the 1st amendment. I only wish that our “leadership” would act like adults.

True, there has been incredible vitriol in our history. There has also been some terrible violence, against individuals as well as groups. I’d like to think we are more mature than that as a society by now.

There are people alive today who have attended lynchings, but we don’t lynch people anymore today. There are people today who use hate and fear and racism and greed as policy drivers, but that doesn’t mean we have to always act in that fashion.

Mature and intelligent behavior is not censorship.

This was all very cinematic - I was watching it happen, not part of it.

On a sidewalk in a downtown area of two- to five-story buildings are two men heading somewhere nearby to commit a heist or some such. Two accomplices are just above them, on the roof of a two-story building. Something goes wrong, shots ring out, one of the rooftop guys falls out of sight; the other falls to the sidewalk. The leader, who looks much like Robert De Niro, and his cohort grab their dying associate and all three get on a motorcycle and tear off. That there is pursuit is a given but the police or whoever aren't right behind them. They have a wild ride through the city, making lots of sharp turns and threading through traffic. On a wide boulevard a long electric train is coming up the median but they miss their chance to swerve across the road ahead of it to use the train to hide their next moves. They still manage to make some more maneuvers and shake the pursuers. Meanwhile the guy who fell from the roof has died but has not fallen from the bike. They ride to the beach and speed right across the sand and into the ocean. Fully submerged, they leave the bike and the corpse and walk out of the water and down the beach, casually. No one seems to notice that three went in and only two emerged.

They proceed farther down the beach, to a more isolated, narrow section with rip-rap piled high close to the water and a building or house on a jetty nearby. A lone guy on the beach taunts the leader, commenting about trying to look so tough while soaking-wet. They ignore the guy as they pass and he shakes his beer and sprays the leader's head. The leader whirls around and gets the guy in a headlock, throwing him to the ground and sticking a shotgun in his face. The Beach Patrol happens upon the scene and they arrest them all for brawling. The two go quietly, figuring they can't be connected to the previous, more serious events.

The paddy wagon arrives and as the two climb aboard they see their wounded rooftop accomplice already inside. All are careful to not indicate that they know each other; messages are exchanged with glances and nods. En route to the processing center there is some disruption - a big pothole in the road or an accident just ahead, and the wagon tips. The door of the paddy wagon bursts open and the three manage to escape amidst the mayhem.

I became aware that I had been watching a story at this point and tried to puzzle-out what was coming next as wakefulness slowly pushed the whole scene into the dim distance.

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