For those of you who’ve expressed concern about the comments, rest assured I hear you. There’s an expression about bad apples and barrels, but I don’t think it’s entirely true. I’ve seen with my own eyes how often one contrary voice, one bad attitude, one Mr. Grumpypants, can clear a room, an office, a blog comment section, the way a bad egg fart clears an elevator. So I feel your pain.
That said, I’m not banning anyone from the comments. At least not yet. I know that balancing voices in a comment section can sometimes be a tricky matter, because most of them aren’t balanced at all. Birds of a feather, etc., to add a second cliché to this entry.
To be honest, while I love having my opinions affirmed and echoed and repeated back to me in different words as much as the next person, I can’t take too much of it. I lived for 20 years in a state where I frequently felt like a stranger, where you couldn’t put a bumper sticker making fun of Dan Quayle on your car without risking it being keyed. I liked and respected my neighbors (most of them, anyway) who disagreed with me on issues ranging from presidential politics to the cultural impact of “Dark Side of the Moon.” After a few years, I came up with a sentence that I would sometimes repeat as a mantra: Everybody arrives at this moment in time via a different path, and they may have drawn different conclusions along the way.
Also, I was a newspaper columnist, a job where your very own employer regularly runs letters from readers opining that you suck. So I’m sort of used to that.
Ultimately, I think most of our right-leaning commenters here offer a lot, because ultimately, they help make for a spicy mix. As I’ve said before, I think of our comment sections as sort of an idealized tavern, or maybe a cocktail party, with tables here and there, different conversations going on at each, people flitting between them, agreeing, taking offense, whatever. (Prospero, however, will always be the guy at the end of the bar, bellowing opinions and sometimes falling off his stool.) If someone here bugs you, I’d ask you to just slip past his or her name and really — don’t let it get to you. Because, ultimately, it all boils down to this.
Let’s keep having fun.
Speaking of our most prized commenters, I’m indebted, once again, to Jeff, for digging up this old story by Gene Weingarten, which I read and then forgot. Shouldn’t have forgotten this profile of a man who doesn’t vote, because he doesn’t give a rat’s ass:
We took a list of 90-odd names, eliminated those people who were not from battleground states (we wanted people with resonant nonvotes) and then started telephoning. To eliminate any bias in our choice, we decided to profile the very first person who agreed. The first name on the list, as it happens, was Ted Prus. Here is how the call went:
“Hi. This is The Washington Post. Are you registered to vote?”
“Are you planning on voting?”
“We’d like to write a long story about you. Would you be interested? It would make you famous.”
“You mean a famous idiot?”
“Actually, we’re not sure. There’s no guarantee one way or the other.”
I guess I have to see “Zero Dark Thirty.”
What it’s like to be in a mass shooting. HT: Laura Lippman.
And tomorrow we start anew. On the downside of the week.