Bullies

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OK. I wanted to try – – really try – – to address this issue one more time. Let’s start off with this recent comment:

For those of you newer to Slope who perhaps aren’t acquainted with this lunacy, allow me to summarize:

  1. The comments section is the most popular part of Slope;
  2. As with everywhere else, people have different political opinions;
  3. In spite of frequent urgings to avoid political talk, particularly in this heated year, people persist in doing so (although it isn’t quite as horrible as the days approaching the election);
  4. Years ago, I offered the unprecedented feature of an Ignore button in comments, effectively allowing you to make any human disappear from your world;
  5. Yet some people continue to insist that I simply ban people whose opinions or behavior they find objectionable.

So let’s view this through an allegory of sorts. Let’s hop in our time machine and go back to when I was in the 7th grade.

Indeed, you don’t even need a time machine. Seven years ago, I wrote one of my longest posts ever on Slope about my experience in the 7th grade in a piece called Distant Voices, Altered Lives.

Let’s just pretend that, during my time in the 7th grade, one of the teachers made an announcement: “Class, I’m very excited to tell you something that was just released by Louisiana State University for a trial experiment right here at Sherwood. It’s a button that each of you will find on your desk. Some of you have been asking me about it, since it wasn’t there yesterday. Well, the way it works is this: I know some of you have been treated unkindly by others, and we wanted a way to stop it. So all you have to do now is look at the person being mean to you, press the button, and you will never see them or hear from them again! OK, that’s it. Now open your books.”

I would have killed – – absolutely killed! – – for such a device. I’d be clicking that button left, right, and sideways, and I’d probably be carrying around that school desk to this very day. What a marvel it would be to permanently silence the blowhards, meanies, nasties, and uglies from your life! What a blessing!

And you have precisely that. It’s a button. Just one click, and boom, the offender disappears.

So let’s say I never used my magical 7th grade desk button. Day after day, the same kid would call me a fag, call me gay, push my books to the floor, and so forth. And I was just miserable. So, one day, after school was over, I would go to the teacher’s desk, tears streaming down my cheeks, and complain to her about the asshole that was tormenting me day in and day out.

“Well, Tim, dear, just press the button on your desk. Bob Kully is, in fact, an asshole, and you should just use that button!”

“But, teacher, I don’t want to use the button!”

“Why not?”

“I just don’t want to!”

“Well, Tim, then you’re a retard.”

(Remember this was the 1970s; they weren’t very P.C. back then)

I might prefer, instead, that the teacher have them expelled from school. But why? Maybe I’m a weak little puss, and the other kid has parents going through a divorce, and he’s just acting out? Why should the teacher expel him just because one other person asks? Where’s the justice in that?

I am in exactly the same position. I’m the teacher at the head of the class. I’ve given everyone a button. Plenty of kids have used it to make other kids disappear. Good. That’s what it’s there for. But some kids insist – – demand!! — that I expel them, even though they a way to very surgically achieve the same goal, which is to excise them from their lives.

Regarding the image at the top of this post, I did indeed lose a Gold member to this total nonsense, and he wrote me twice to say he would happily re-subscribe if I banned Myopia. No, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to establish a precedent in which I’m blackmailed into banning people in exchange for a subscription. And if you knew how much I bust my ass for each and every paying member here, you would understand why I’m more than a little miffed than a Gold member has ditched me just because someone was, as he put it, a “bully.”

In any event, I don’t know how many more ways I can say it, but: please use Ignore. And, although I wrote it seven years ago, the final lines from the aforementioned post are appropriate to share again here:

Let’s treat each other kindly. And let’s help teach the others in our lives to do the same. The echoes from those voices decades ago still are with me, and I wish for you, and for myself, whatever healing needs to happen for us to let go of that pain. It hurt then, and it harms now.