Rabbits, Ninkasi, John Adams, Pocket Knives and Hate Speech
July 23, 2003
Good thing it wasn’t an airline!
I found it ironic that the Greenville couple whose plane when down on a flight to New York escaped using a tool that would not have been allowed on your typical airline flight. Paul Alongi of the Greenville News writes, “With his two children on his mind, Jeff Purcell said he used a pocket knife to cut the window out of the sinking plane.”
Wouldn’t have been able to do that had his chartered flight had the same security measures as the traditional airlines. I’m not saying that is good or bad. I just think it is interesting.
They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
I continue to labor away at my current read, John Adams by David McCullough. I really shouldn’t say “labor.” It has been a fascinating read. It is just that now I have a little more time to devote to it. There are some interesting quotations in there. Two caught my interest in my most recent reading.
Unfaithfulness in public stations is deeply criminal. But there is no encouragement to be faithful. Neither profit, nor honor, nor applause is acquired by faithfulness. . . . There is too much corruption, even in this infant age of our Republic. Virtue is not in fashion. Vice is not infamous.
Well, I guess the more things change the more things stay the same. Probably every generation believes theirs is the worst.
The next quotation should be a convicting one for our current politicians. Adams wrote the following in a letter Adams upon accepting the commission to represent the fledgling nation in France.
But when I see my brothers at the bar here so easily making fortunes for themselves and their families . . and when I see my own children growing up in something very like real want, because I have taken no care of them, it requires as much philosophy as I am master of, to determine to persevere in public life, and engage in a new scene for which I fear I am very ill qualified.
They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
The elusive Beerman
We have all come to know (and love?) Beerman, a.k.a. Ninkasi. I had an interesting experience trying to carry out some communication with the keeper of kegs. Earlier this week, Ninkasi wrote what I thought was a very reasonable posting. It was once where I detected no sarcasm and no attempt to get under my skin. It was entitled, “Relax Jonathan.”
I then made the mistake of trying to be funny. Every time I try, I fail miserably. I don’t know when I will learn. I responded with the following, “Relax . . . must relax . . . I'm hyperventilating! Must not pound . . . keyboard . . . must not let Beerman intoxicate me with his supurb logic . . . I . . . can't . . . stop . . . arrrggghhhh!” It was meant in fun and I was poking at myself more than Beerman.
Anyway, I am afraid it offended our hops loving poster and I sensed he felt rebuffed for his honest and open post. I didn’t want him to think that so I posted a response. I never saw Ninkasi’s reply to the post and I was afraid he may have missed it. So, I decided I would send him a private E-mail. Ah, but how to do so. Then I remembered a Web site that Ninkasi had mentioned earlier (www.ninkasi.com). I linked over and submitted a personal message.
I receive a very nice reply. Unfortunately, it wasn’t our Beerman. It was a nice guy named Richard. He wrote back, “Not a problem, Jonathan - although I suspect that you may have the wrong email address so I think you're apologizing to the wrong god!” Ah! I had been snookered! Then I went back and looked at the posts about the Web site and realized that Beerman had not actually said it was his site. However, he certainly didn’t attempt to keep us from thinking that!
Here is a warning for you, Beerman. I followed up with “So, you are not the 'Ninkasi from Babylon' that posts on The Common Voice?” Richard wrote back, “Nope . . . will have to smite him, it seems.”
A different kind of rabbit trick
A friend of mine had a very interesting experience yesterday. I’ll let him tell it.
“We've all heard of magicians who pull rabbits out of hats, but I'll bet you've never heard of a purse snatcher who pulled one out of a purse!
“Boy do I have an interesting ‘cops and robbers’ story to share with you. My wife and youngest son were the victims of a pursue snatching this afternoon at BiLo on 291 and Rutherford. The unusual thing was that my wife had just bought a baby rabbit for my son and needed to stop by and pick up some groceries. Needing a way to take the rabbit into the store with her w/o drawing attention to the rabbit, she emptied her pursue and put the rabbit inside it while they shopped.
“When they returned to the car a man forced his way into the car. He grabbed the purse from my son's lap and sped off in a waiting vehicle. Joseph was anxiously waiting to let the little pet out of the purse. In fact, the guy ran off so fast that the bottom of his shoe fell off. I sure would like to have seen the look on these men’s faces when they opened up my wife's purse to claim their prize! The police told us this was the 25th purse snatching in the past month or so. They are trying to figure out who is behind all of these. We are praying that the rabbit story will be used to help them flush out the bandits! Surely they won't be able to resist telling others about this story and perhaps someone will hear our side of it and will give police enough information to catch these guys before they continue to terrorize Greenville shoppers!
“When I came to the scene I was surprised to see not just 1, but 4 police cars around the Bi Lo parking lot! One of the police officers was holding an umbrella over the car door the robber opened. He was keeping the rain off the fingerprints until the forensics guy arrived. One of the officers on the scene was a friend from church, Kelly Riggs. He spent about 30 minutes explaining to me what they we doing to apprehend the bandits. I was most impressed with the computer and network technology he had right inside his car! He explained to me how they take crimes like this personally, especially when it happens on their shift. I was impressed by the professional way in which they carried out their duties to collect enough evidence and information to track these guys down.”
Commonvoice.com – free speech – hate speech
Well, last but not least, a little house cleaning. Most regular readers are aware of a little spat that began on the site a day or two ago. The anonymous E-7 posted a piece that used some words that most people would find offensive. He was specifically targeting homosexuals. I did not read the piece because I typically don’t read some posts out of disinterest. Well, Andy Arnold did. He was upset that I allowed such a posting to go on the site. He E-mailed me to tell me as much.
I then went and looked at the post. Yes, I found it offensive. However, it put me in an interesting situation. I had let some language ride in the past. As the resident prude and editor, I have tried to be lenient to allow people to say things and use language that I would not use. I didn’t want to be accused of my “prudeness” getting in the way of people expressing themselves.
I then determined that I would write a piece to remind everyone of the objective of the discussion section and to layout the ground rules. Well, Andy decided that I wasn’t moving fast enough and posted a vulgar posting (for the purpose of pointing out the vulgarity of the earlier one). I have since deleted Andy’s posting as well as the original offending post (which turned out to be a thread of offensive posts between E-7 and Mike from Greer – I got rid of most of the thread). So, here is what I want everyone to understand about the discussion section.
The original intent never made room for the type of anonymous posting that currently exists. The idea was to treat the discussion area much as an editorial page in a paper. It was important that people list the city they were from because it helped to give some background to how they viewed certain issues in the state. I initially planned to confirm identities (as editorial pages do) and approve a poster before they could be participants. Of course, that meant a lot of time following up and with privacy being the issue it is on the Web it also meant less participants. So, when the first “handle” came across, I let it ride instead of disallowing their post. Once again, I was fearful that people would say, “You just don’t want to have to deal with my incredible wit! Some ‘Common Voice’ this is!”
Second, the discussion area was supposed to be tied directly to the news headline linked to the posting. The topic was supposed to be limited to that issue. The whole deal of immature attacks against each other was never the intention. Actually, it wouldn’t have been allowed back when the posting was moderated. However, it was obvious that moderated posting was holding back participation. Once again I may have made a mistake of going to the open posting format in order to allow more activity.
I do not want to stifle free speech. That is why I did not immediately delete the offensive posting when I finally read it and I did not immediately delete Andy’s. Yet, I have set up this “community” and I have certain standards that I can enforce because it is my site. Posting here is a privilege and not a right. If we cannot return to the original intent of the discussion section and carry on conversations in a mature, issues-focused manner, I will be forced to first turn off the open posting feature. That could kill the whole feature. The best way to avoid such a result is to be responsible.
I will allow the posting of unpopular ideas. However, I reserve all rights to decide when the WAY the ideas are expressed steps outside the bounds of my standards here. The inclusion of ideas on this site does not in any way condone those positions. In my mind, the posters condemn themselves.