Saturday, September 08, 2007

A FOUR LETTER WORD


THE WORD
Three years ago I wrote a little essay which was published in the Daily Pilot that talked about "four-letter words". It was a fun thing to write and was well received. Today I'm going to write about one of those words - FEAR.

DEFINING IT
Fear is a very interesting word. One dictionary describes it as:
a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. That sounds about right.

REAL FEAR
I imagine most of us feel fear from time to time. Sometimes it's just the fear of failure, or of being late for an appointment. We might be afraid to fly, or fearful of encountering a snarling pit bull on our daily walk. Our young soldiers in the middle east likely feel real fear as they head out on patrol, never knowing if they will return intact or if they will encounter those damnable IEDs. That's real fear. While it's difficult for me to admit it, I write today because I'm experiencing real fear - that almost paralyzing, looking-over-your-shoulder kind of fear. That cartoon above might make you think I'm taking this lightly. As you read further, you will see that I'm not.

THE JOUST
For several years I've sparred with another writer, both here in the blogosphere and on the pages of the Daily Pilot. My views of his actions and opinions have been well-documented on my blog. He and I have created fictitious characterizations of each other - he is "Your Neighbor" and I am, according to him, "Lonely Old Man". We've used those characters to jeer at and criticize each other. In years past the Daily Pilot would occasionally place commentaries from of us adjacent to each other on the same page. It was kind of a "balanced" approach to the same issues.

ATTRIBUTION
I've attributed acts by local politicians to his "grand plan" based on my observations of him, of them, and from reading his voluminous works. Certainly, none of this has made him a happy person. Some folks just don't like the light of truth shined on them.

STIMULATION AND SPECULATION

While I wouldn't consider our back-and-forth exchanges particularly pleasant, I think we both made our points and I enjoyed the intellectual stimulation. I don't think either of us has felt cordially about the other for a a long time. A few years ago I speculated about what might happen if a majority that followed his views were to be elected to the city council. Well, as you know, that happened and now each of those things I thought would come to pass either have happened or are well on their way to completion.

THE THREAT

However, things changed a couple days ago when he posted on his blog, here, what can only be described as a not-too-veiled threat against me and included my wife. In his own, special way - there are no "accidental words" in his work - he made it very clear that he's keeping a short leash on some of his associates and that it's only his benevolence that keeps them from physically attacking me. I have a good idea just who these leashed mutts are and, quite honestly, I'm afraid of them. Actually, I'm scared "excrementless", because this group is notorious for mindless violence. I have it on good authority that these thugs have physically intimidated a former city official that this guy regards with special contempt. When you carefully read his posting you will see that it certainly looks as though he may be exercising similar restraint as respects a former long term councilman, as well. I wonder what that's all about?

THE WINNER IS... "YOUR NEIGHBOR"!
I am unwilling to put the safety of my wife and myself in jeopardy in order to keep this city from going over the brink, so, I hereby announce to my nemesis, "Your Neighbor", that he has won. His tactics have worked. Fear has carried the day for him.

THE DECISION
From this point on I will no longer discuss him, his essays, philosophy or his influence over events in our city. I'll just step aside and let the chips fall where they may, because it's clear to me now that he is willing to hurt people who stand in his way or criticize him. I'll leave it to others to follow his actions and comment when they feel it's appropriate. I'm not comfortable with this decision, but, having consulted with friends and law enforcement officials, I see no real alternative. Considering how easy it was to shut me up, I imagine he's wishing he'd thought of this a long time ago.

SORRY, AND CAUTION
I apologize to those of you who have come to expect me to keep track of his actions and report my opinions for you to consider. I realize that this is a little like pulling the goalie in a hockey game, but I'm afraid you're on your own now. I caution any who might be tempted to jump into the goal to understand who you're dealing with before you make that leap.

STICKIN' AROUND?
My wife and I now must decide if we can continue to live in a city - our home for more than 34 years - where the agenda is controlled by a thug and bully, and where important issues can be regulated by turning the screws on the decision-makers in this town. The parallel to the pre-World War II Germany of Hitler and his Stormtroopers is remarkable.

THROTTLING BACK

I'll continue to post my views here when I think it's appropriate, but probably not with the same frequency and certainly not with the same intensity. Who knows, maybe I'll just decide to bypass all the angst of commenting on futile city matters entirely and turn this into a knitting blog. (Listen closely, that noise you hear is the cheering coming from my "friends" on the Westside of our town.)

WHY THIS POST?
I decided to write this post explaining my decision so you, my readers, would understand what's happening. I could have simply tucked my tail between my legs, skulked off into the bushes and said nothing, and considered doing exactly that. After a couple days of contemplation and consultation, that seemed like the wrong choice. I think it's important for you to know why I will no longer make any reference to him or his influence in this city.

RETRO READING
I'll close this entry now with a couple of links for your reading pleasure. This one will take you to my original blog, and contains a couple entries from two years ago that you might find of interest. This one takes you to a second entry where additional relevant reading can be found.

SEE YA DOWN THE ROAD
Thank you all for reading. Please check back from time to time to see what's simmering in the old Cauldron. Good luck to you all.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Gutless Anonymous Posters - GAPs

"GAPs"
Returning from a long weekend out of town I scanned the accumulated comments on the Daily Pilot blog for signs of wisdom. It was a tough search, since most of the comments posted continue to be entered by writers I'll refer to as "GAPs" - Gutless Anonymous Posters.

THE EXAMPLE
I've been critical of anonymous posters for a long time. The opportunity provided by the Daily Pilot to hold a meaningful debate on important issues is diminished by those cowards who won't identify themselves. One of these is a guy who frequently signs his messages as "Ron", but who uses many other pen names on the P
ilot blog, sometimes having conversations with himself. After you read a recent post, I'll bet you can guess his identity. Here's what he had to say yesterday evening in defense of his gutless anonymous postings:

"Ron
wrote on Sep 3, 2007 6:07 PM:
Complaints that some don't use their real names here miss the point that what is written should stand or fall on its own merits and not depend upon the name/reputation of the person who wrote it. Anonymity avoids a fallacious appeal to prestige. For example, suppose a poster has a genius level I.Q. and you know it. Would you give his message more weight beause of who he is? Some of us would like to avoid that, at least in this type of forum. We believe a simpe appeal to reason is best. "

I reproduced his comment as it appeared, typos and all.

THE REBUTTAL
His position, that it's the comment that counts, not the author, is bogus. For example, does it not mean more to you to read a comment attributed to Mayor Mansoor or Mayor Pro Tem Bever than the same comment signed anonymously? Of course it does! When you assess the things you read in most news articles you consider the source of the information. An article in the liberal-leaning Los Angeles Times, for example, may be viewed differently than an article on the same subject in the Orange County Register or the Wall Street Journal. Anonymous Ron complains, under one of his numerous other names, that the Daily Pilot editors publish their editorials "anonymously", yet lacks the courage of his own convictions.

GENIUS OR JACKASS?
And, sure, I'd like to know if the author of an opinion "has a genius level I.Q.", just as I would like to know if the author is an overt racist who publishes his vile stuff all over the internet and has published at least three books to spread his gospel. Yeah, I'd like to know that. I'd like to know that it's the same guy who exercised influence over our City Council - wouldn't you? Of course you would!

LIKE IT OR LUMP IT
When you read the stuff I post on the Daily Pilot blog, or the commentaries that occasionally appear on the print pages, you know those opinions come from a guy who has lived half his life in this city, cares about it's future, pays attention to what's going on and is willing to suffer the abuse that regularly comes following the publication of my views. You don't have to agree with my views - or even read them. They are my views and, if you don't like them, such is life.

COURAGE OF CONVICTIONS
In my humble opinion, it takes much more fortitude to post a comment for the world to read using your true identity than to post the same comment anonymously. If you use your true identity you must be willing to accept the criticism that might follow or, in my case, is sure to follow. You must be willing to have the cowards who post anonymously denigrate and mischaracterize your opinions and to be the subject of comments usually seen on bathroom walls. That's why, even though I don't agree with some of them, I think those people willing to sign their names to their comments demonstrate tremendous courage. They are willing to accept the abuse that is sure to follow.

GAPS = GRAFFITI
Those GAPs who post what amounts to graffiti on the Daily Pilot blog are probably not actually from Costa Mesa - they are likely kooks from other areas like Rancho Cucamonga, Upland or Ontario, trying to influence things in our city with their cowardly comments. I'll continue to refer to them as such until they identify themselves.

FRUSTRATED "GENIUS"
Of course, there are those comments posted by Mar..., er, "Ron" under his many aliases that take up so much space. My guess is that's the only he can get his views in the Daily Pilot these days.

INVITATION TO DEBATE
Those of you without the courage to stand behind your comments are just a bunch of school yard bullies, hiding behind the big guys and yelling epithets like a bunch of yapping hyenas. I invite each of you GAPs to begin posting your views using your true identity. Some of you obviously have passion about the subjects discussed on the Daily Pilot blog. Instead of engaging in a spitting match, why don't you try to use your intellect to frame your views so you can influence opinion in a positive way? Instead of derailing the debate of the issue at hand with your infantile jibes and taunts, why don't you attempt an adult conversation on the issue instead, for a change? If you guys are as smart as you think you are, you should have no trouble at all presenting your views without the petty pontifications.

HUMMING THE JEOPARDY! THEME, WAITING...
I'll look forward to those discussions.

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