Heh heh heh.

Apparently, in the conversation at Chad’s place, someone got his feelings hurt.

I particularly like this comment about me:

“Obviously Scalzi is a genius in line for a MacArthur grant; obviously he is someone whose very cyber-presence confers beneficence. Though, actually, when you read what he writes he comes off as a sort of self-important creep. The kind of guy whose loud certainty makes you edge away from him in a bar, you know. He’s the big guy with the shaved head & a lot of opinions about tolerance.”

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha!

I have to imagine he thinks I’m a big guy because of the picture here. I suppose the camera does add about 40 pounds, and six inches.

But if you think he gets angry with me, check this out. He gets positively apoplectic over Patrick Nielsen Hayden. At least he’s getting cardio out of it.

Update: Turns out the aggrieved party is a published author and a professor of creative writing. The mind positively boggles.

Update: Michael Rawdon wrote something very true in the comments, so I’m elevating it out of the comments for general consumption:

The Internet should come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Something like:

“WARNING: The Internet may contain people and subject matter which you find offensive. Engaging in dialogues with other inhabitants of the Internet may expose you to ideas, comments and language which you find offensive. Further, you may be made fun of for being offended. You may particularly be made fun of for posting journal entries complaining about people disagreeing with or making fun of you.”

Right on. So right on, in fact, that I propose this concept is henceforth codified as Rawdon’s Law of Blog Retreat:

When you write on your blog how mean everyone else was to you on some other blog, you are officially the loser.

Update: Mr. Duemer, the fellow who generated that lovely quote about me that is excerpted above, has made an appearance in the comment thread. We seem to be playing a little more nicely. Scroll down to 12/30 at 8:48 pm.

64 thoughts on “Heh heh heh.

  1. “obviously he is someone whose very cyber-presence confers beneficence.”

    Well, hell, that’s why I’ve been reading Scalzi for years now. Keep up the good work, John.

    K

  2. LOL! Big guy! Gotta love it. The picture of you as a bully in a bar is about as far off the mark as anyone has ever been. What a riot! Take it easy Scalzi! Tom Z

  3. Heh. A little background for y’all: Tom’s one of my best friends, and he knew me way back in junior high, when I was all of about 4 foot 10. Let just say that among Tom’s other admirable qualities, he kept some of the more obnoxious jerks off me.

  4. Your not 8 ft. tall and bulletproof? Now my image of you is tottally shattered. Oh well maybe in your next life.

    You do believe in reincarnation don’t you? I mean, everybody knows that the reason there is no heaven or hell is because we keep coming back here, for more abuse or prosperity depending on how we did in the life before! :)

  5. Apropos of very little, did you take your author picture on _Old Man’s War_ yourself? It has that faint “I’m holding this camera out at arm’s length” feel to it.

  6. The Internet should come with a Surgeon General’s warning. Something like:

    “WARNING: The Internet may contain people and subject matter which you find offensive. Engaging in dialogues with other inhabitants of the Internet may expose you to ideas, comments and language which you find offensive. Further, you may be made fun of for being offended. You may particularly be made fun of for posting journal entries complaining about people disagreeing with or making fun of you.”

    Something like that.

    Insert obligatory height/weight joke here.

    Having met you in person before I started reading the Whatever, I will admit that I found you perfectly charming company to walk back from dinner with.

  7. Kate: Yes, indeed. As I noted elsewhere, Tor needed a photo, fast.

    Michael: Thank you, sir. I found you to be delightful company as well.

  8. “But I really don’t think that’s it. It really is more about you.”

    HAHAHAAHAHAHAH.

    Thanks, I’m droning away at work, and supposed to go to a holiday/birthday/going-away party in a couple hours, and it really is better to go to parties with a smile rather than the blank “been coding” stare.

    As they say, “It’s funny because it’s true.”

    Not really relevant, but… fortunately for J. Duemer, your contemporary Jerry K. (Tycho at Penny-arcade) has far more in the way of brain-washed attack dogs.

    Also… in case anybody read Pattern Recognition (W. Gibson) something about Duemer’s side of the discussion made my mind leap to Mama Anarchia. For those that the reference hits… you can IMAGINE the level of respect for the authenticity and efficiency of his rhetoric. Yes, that makes Scalzi into Parkaboy, so I guess he gets the girl in the end.

  9. “Yes, that makes Scalzi into Parkaboy, so I guess he gets the girl in the end.”

    Excellent. Don’t tell my wife.

  10. So when you write on your weblog about what a loser someone else is, what does that make you? A winner? Or more of the same?

    As for your being a creative writer, I see little creativity with your recent exchanges with Joe, or the person who goes by jam in the original post that started all this. You seem to take delight in finding the lowest blow with which to hit your opponent, hopefully demeaning them into quiet.

    Sad.

  11. “So when you write on your weblog about what a loser someone else is, what does that make you? A winner?”

    An observer, I would think. Mr. Duemer was in a contest with himself to express himself, and he lost.

    “You seem to take delight in finding the lowest blow with which to hit your opponent.”

    I assure you, there were lower blows to be had.

    You are operating under the impression that I was responding to Mr. Duemer in the manner I did because I was trying to silence him, which is incorrect. I was responding to him in the manner I did because he was smug and apparently ignorant, and that’s how I feel the smug and ignorant should be responded to. Mr. Duemer would contest the assertion he is smug and ignorant, of course; would that his writing backed him up. Do I take delight is taking apart his bad writing? “Delight” is probably too strong a word.

    Mr. Duemer isn’t an *opponent,* anyway. We’re not mortal enemies, locked in a heroic battle. We’re two guys talking on the Internet. The difference appears to be that I have the capability to say what I want to say the first time I say it.

    The subtext to all this is that I am somehow a bully, thumping on people who can’t express themselves as well as I. But Mr. Duemer is a published author. He’s a professor of literature and creative writing. Are these *not* the qualifications of someone who can be reasonably expected to express ideas clearly in the written form? Should this person *not* be able to then defend these ideas in a robust way? What I had to say ain’t nothin’ compared to what gets said an academic conference, Shelley. I am again notably unsympathetic towards Mr. Duemer. If he can’t defend himself against me, some schmoe on the Internet, he’s got trouble.

    “Sad.”

    Contempt only works if the other person cares, Shelley.

  12. “obviously he is someone whose very cyber-presence confers beneficence.”

    Precisely why I went to all the trouble to install Haloscan’s trackback function on my sans-a-back blog service last week. You lay out cookies for Santa, and trackbacks for Scalzi. Sounds reasonable, no?

  13. This is my favorite website ever. As I commented to a friend, “…and I didn’t even read the exchange :) that’s nice with Scalzi..you really don’t have to lower yourself completely in the muck – you know he took care of it for you and was nice enough to leave an entertaining commentary”.

    Thanks John. For keeping your end of the world together, and sharing the outcomes so the rest of us don’t get discouraged and give up altogether.
    Oh, and for adding ‘Contempt only works if the other person cares.’ to my lexicon.

    And I swear I’m only not reading OMW because I’m in the midst of my Year End rituals, and I haven’t yet gotten to the ‘hot, luxurious bath with good book’ part.

    Happy New Year!

  14. If I recall correctly, Joseph Duemer refers to himself as an ex-Christian at one point, and that might explain a lot.

    I have encountered people who lost faith and are much more hostile to religion than I am. I can’t remember any time when I was a believer, I always thought religion was, for me, a waste of time, and I was very happy when I was 11 or 12 and my parents decided that I was old enough to not go to synagogue if I didn’t want to.

    Now, my father was raised Orthodox and became a nonbeliever in middle age. Religion made him furious. When he was well into his 70s, one of his childhood friends joined a synagogue and became temple president. My father was outraged—accused his friend of being intellectually weak and a downright hypocrite who ran scurrying to God when he was afraid of dying. Me, I thought it was great for my Dad’s friend, it solved many of the problems of men in retirement: gave my Dad’s friend something to do, a place to go, and people to be with.

    When my Mom got cancer, my father was very angry and struggled hard to figure out how such a thing could happen to a good person. It wasn’t a question I bothered with; I knew that bad things happened occasionally to good people, and there was no reason why. Or if there was a reason, I didn’t know what it was, and never would.

    Around that time, I found a quote on the Internet from someone who described someone else as being angry at God for not existing. I thought that so aptly described my father that I sent it to him in e-mail. And he liked it so much he wrote it out and carried it around in his wallet.

    And as to the question of whether God exists: Hey, do I know the answer to that one? I’m not even smart enough to figure out where the light goes when you shut the refrigerator door.

  15. I like Rawdon’s law but I would amend it slightly, to say that the person who retreats is _the_ loser, not _a_ loser. This correlates it to Godwin’s Law, and holds open the possibility that while a person may be acting like a loser in the short term, it might not be a permanent affliction, and as such one shouldn’t be permanently labeled “a loser,” but merely “the loser” of the debate.

    K

  16. John:

    I would not put you in the same category as Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

    You do voice some strong opinions which not everyone will agree with. However, you comport yourself with dignity and generally take the rhetorical high road.

    Patrick Nielsen Hayden, on the other hand, comes across as a college sophomore who has made the giddy discovery that he can say “f–k” without incurring the wrath of the adults in the room.

    Take, for example, the “Asses of Evil” banner, and the words “F–k you, Salon” currently on his homepage. This would be cute coming from a thirteen-year-old, but it is not exactly befitting an editor at a major publishing company.

    Whether conservative, liberal, or moderate, you can take a strong position and still be a class act.

    Ed

  17. “Whether conservative, liberal, or moderate, you can take a strong position and still be a class act.”

    Ed, your words should be permanently etched into plastic (or titanium) of all of our computers. That and “Thou art mortal. Thou art mortal.”

    Mr. Scalzi, Joe’s defense is up to Joe, as the debate (whether you refer to it as a true ‘debate’ or not) between the two of you should have stayed between the two of you. The people I read, and who read me, don’t rush to each other’s defense. Neither do we take our disagreement with, or even disdain of, a specific comment and extrapolate it into universal condemnation of an individual’s primary worth.

    I don’t see you as a bully. Being a bully implies that you are somehow more capable that others and are using your superior wit, or whatever, to discredit those who are less worthy. So, no, I don’t see you as a bully.

    But I think it would be almost impossible to have a truely interesting debate with you. And that’s where the sad comes in–another opportunity lost.

    As for this discussion that’s extended across many posts, and which could have been a very rewarding exchange of views: to be honest, few people in any of the discussions related to this little thread can take pride in their participation. This includes me, who should not have rode in defense of one who is more than capable of defending himself.

  18. PNH just strikes me as someone who has better things to do with his time that take the gentle flowery way around to expressing his dislike of something/one. There are times when a detailed and elaborate chain of reasoning is required to justify ones displeasure, there are other times when the argument is sufficiently self-evident that a “f*ck off xyz” will get the idea across just fine on its own, it’s not sophomoric, it’s brief and to the point. Best suggestion to anyone who doesn’t like this particular way of expressing himself, don’t read his page and/or posts *shrug*.

  19. “But I think it would be almost impossible to have a truly interesting debate with you.”

    Well, you’d be wrong, as it can and does happen often, as a tour through the comments on this site make amply clear. I am capable of expressing myself in more than one mode.

    “few people in any of the discussions related to this little thread can take pride in their participation. This includes me, who should not have rode in defense of one who is more than capable of defending himself.”

    While I dispute this last part, based on the evidence (which is to say that Mr. Duemer has yet to do a very good job of it), I don’t feel you should be ashamed of your action. You saw what you thought to be a wrong and you moved to correct it. Why should you not take pride in that?

  20. “I don’t see you as a bully. Being a bully implies that you are somehow more capable that others and are using your superior wit, or whatever, to discredit those who are less worthy. So, no, I don’t see you as a bully.”

    This is a new definition to me, I was under the impression that bullies were commonly underachievers intent on throwing their weight around whenever possible to compensate for their innate sense of insecurity.

  21. “This is a new definition to me, I was under the impression that bullies were commonly underachievers intent on throwing their weight around whenever possible to compensate for their innate sense of insecurity.”

    Possibly I’m insecure about something.

    Kevin Q: Good amendment to the proposed Rawdon’s Law. I’ve incorporated it.

    Ed: PNH is his own person, so I leave it to him to comment. I note I am of course not PNH, and how he and I express ourselves is necessarily different. I don’t know that I always take the rhetorical high road, but I do tend to follow a modified golden rule setting, which is to respond to others as I feel I am being responded.

  22. Ed: “Take, for example, the “Asses of Evil” banner, and the words “F–k you, Salon” currently on his homepage. This would be cute coming from a thirteen-year-old, but it is not exactly befitting an editor at a major publishing company.”

    The banner is an ad. But more importantly, Patrick is blogging on his own time and in his own space. He is not required to wear his editor hat 24/7.

    If you dislike his tone, fine. But “editor,” last I looked, was not a public figure in the manner of “politician” or “clergy,” and distracts from your expression of disapproval.

    See also this post of Teresa’s.

  23. Sorry, Kate. I’ll see what I can do.

    The link you provide is an ironic one, since I’m the Tor author who she mentions the fellow has previous slagged. Apparently, trouble follows me wherever I go.

  24. He must be a Taurus… he is SO stubborn. I don’t think either of you is totally at fault nor totally blameless. As a semi-frequent reader of the Whatever I know that John has no qualms about liberally applying the smackdown when he feels it needs to be applied. I also know that sometimes the best way to attract more vileness thrown your way is to start off with the wrong tone… especially on the net. Without the change in voice or other visual/ auditory clues to indicate when something is not meant to be taken harshly it is very easy to have something be taken the wrong when when all we have are words.

    I tried to be calm and reasonable to try to illustrate to him that his very first sentence in his first post set the tone for everything else he said, but he couldn’t see that or at least wouldn’t accept any blame without coming back with another shot at John. If he had said “Mr. Scalzi ‘couldn’t possibly care less’ about what I think.” and ended that with :-D or ;-p or ;-) or ^_^ or anything to let the reader know that he was joking around a little I think we could have avoided this whole mess.

    It’s a shame really.

  25. Kate writes: “Patrick is blogging on his own time and in his own space.” Guy also pointed out that “Best suggestion to anyone who doesn’t like this particular way of expressing himself, don’t read his page and/or posts *shrug*.”

    PNH is indeed in his own space and he has every right to say what he wants there. However, when you blog, you are willingly subjecting what you write to public criticism. In this regard, everything that you, John Scalzi, PNH, or myself posts in the blogsphere is fair game. Critics, fire away.

    Kate suggests that I make too much of the fact that PNH is an editor at a publishing house. I read the post of Teresa’s, and I see the point about the deluge of mail from aspiring writers who expect special treatment because PNH and his spouse are editors. So let’s forget that he’s an editor. Let’s pretend that he is an investment banker or an engineer.

    Much of his website content still does not match the degree of poise and restraint that one would expect from someone with his level of professional and educational attainment. Once again, it comes back to the “class act” thing. We all know how to swear. But posting “F–k this” and “F–k that” on your website just isn’t something that educated adults do.

    Nonetheless, it is a free country–and I have no desire to curb PNH’s appetite for expletives. I was merely commenting as a reader.

  26. Ed: “But posting “F–k this” and “F–k that” on your website just isn’t something that educated adults do.”

    ITYM, “isn’t something that educated adults _should_ do,” meaning, this is a statement of your opinion. Because manifestly they *do*.

    Since we’re talking about clarity and commenting as a reader and all.

    Okay, I’m done now. Honest.

  27. I have only one request: please find synonyms for “parse”! Every time I hear it, I feel atavistic terror of my undergraduate computer science classes. Those of you who have used Lex and Yak will understand my sentiment…

  28. umop writes:

    “He must be a Taurus… he is SO stubborn.”

    Ha! Well, that would make two of us, then.

    “As a semi-frequent reader of the Whatever I know that John has no qualms about liberally applying the smackdown when he feels it needs to be applied. I also know that sometimes the best way to attract more vileness thrown your way is to start off with the wrong tone… especially on the net. Without the change in voice or other visual/ auditory clues to indicate when something is not meant to be taken harshly it is very easy to have something be taken the wrong when when all we have are words.”

    Well, you bring up an interesting point here. It’s no secret to anyone here that I can at times be rude and confrontational. I think what generally less known is I’m not *always* rude because I’m a hothead; I’m sometimes rude because I find it’s a surprisingly effective rhetorical device that causes people to focus and clarify their arguments, and occasionally to understand how someone (and specifically, me) might find the formulation of their statements offensive and dismissive.

    I think the assumption is that when you’re rude online, people will automatically be rude back, but I’ve found much of the time that’s not the case; heck, even I’m not rude every time someone is rude to me online (I pick and choose, although I submit I may think about my online rhetoric in a more strategic manner than most people). Often times when I am rude to someone online, they take a step back examine, why I’m suddenly antagonistic and move to clarify.

    Interestingly, before Mr. Duemer entered the conversational thread over at Chad’s, the first poster “jam” was doing just that. S/he was obviously taken aback by my antagonism and responded carefully and thoughtfully, and made some interesting and intelligent points. I suspect that the thread would have settled into a more conversational and exploratory tone had not Mr. Duemer arrived with his badly-wrought arguments *and* (full responsibility here) had I not chosen to employ the same rhetorical maneuver.

    Obviously, Mr. Duemer took it personally and poorly. I don’t think he covered himself glory, either with his badly-designed responses at Chad’s or in his own self-pitying entries on his own site. Neither am I covered in glory, but I didn’t expect to be. Being rude as a rhetorical maneuver *is* antagonistic, after all, and it does have risks. I do tend to look like a jerk. But as I mention, a lot of the time terms and intentions are clarified more quickly, and we can move on to the meat of the discussion.

    Mind you, sometimes I’m just *rude*. I can be as much a jerk as anyone. And I don’t tend to advertise when I *am* being rude as a strategic rhetorical maneuver, since quite obviously it undercuts the effectiveness of being so. It’s *not* a strategy to use unless you are willing to look like a jerk. And it’s also not something you want to have as your “go-to” online conversational mode (or indeed, as conversational mode, online or off).

    As a rhetorical maneuver, I tend to use rudeness for discussions where I feel some intellectual investment; no one wants to be like that jerk everyone remembers in college who used to enrage people by saying something rude and then holds up his hands and say “Hey, I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate.” That guy needs to be buried alive. But if you’re committed to the subject, it can be a useful tool.

    If you’re going to use rudeness as a rhetorical tool, however, you have to make sure you don’t really become too emotionally involved with the responses, since if it does work in a positive way, you need to step down from rudeness *very* quickly to keep the conversation going. Again, a tricky rhetorical tool and not for everyone. But I find it useful.

    As for Mr. Duemer, well. As I said, I did engage in some strategic rudeness to him; I felt the construction of his initial post fully warranted it. As I said, he didn’t seem to take it well, and I would imagine PNH’s interjection, while accurately noting my rhetorical maneuver (that’s why he’s a rockin’ editor, kids — he knows what people are doing when they write!), definitely didn’t help Mr. Duemer’s state of mind.

    On his own site, I tried to make a couple of points, but largely I’ve been just plain rude to him, since his self-pitying lamentations about how everyone ganged up on him because I am too precious a writer to brook disagreement deserved it (he’s tried to be rude back, but he doesn’t really have the knack). He’s since warned me that he’ll delete any future comments I leave, so I sent him a nice kiss-off e-mail and I think I’ll leave it at that.

    In any event, that’s rudeness as a rhetorical maneuver.

  29. “Those of you who have used Lex and Yak will understand my sentiment…” -PeterP

    Not to pick nits… but… oh look, there’s a nit.

    Don’t you mean YACC? I mean, it stands for Yet Another Compiler-Compiler so wouldn’t that be CC rather then K… ^_^. And yes, I do understand completely what you mean. CS 4-something. I don’t recall which one it was… 421 I think… maybe.

  30. True. I may have been subconciously referring to my gastrointestinal inclinations as opposed to the software itself…

  31. Well clearly John (can I call you that?) you didn’t need me getting involved to help make your point, but I felt that maybe another approach (as opposed to your “rudeness as a rhetorical maneuver” [reminds me of Eddie Izzard’s bit on the Heimlich “gesture”]) might help him realize that there was blame enough in the first sentence of his post to spark a little counter flame be it real or (in this case and unknown to me… hence me NOT being a rockin’ editor) not. Anyway, I tried to get him to realize that he started off on the wrong foot but like you saw he just turned it back at you blaming you for “setting the tone.”

    I still don’t know what he intends nor what he believes in as far as this topic goes other then he now has a serious hate on for you. It has sounded to me the whole time like while he would like people to believe he doesn’t dismiss all Christians out of hand, that that is in fact what he is doing. Chad presented him with two different views on how agnostic / atheists could handle this time of year and while he said he didn’t agree with Myers statement which as he said, “has all the problems associated with a doctrinal atheism” his attitude made it clearly sound more preferable then the “Lacodicean attitude” that you were serving up.

    So while he doesn’t agree in dismissing Christians (as he interprets Myers to do) he also doesn’t believe in tolerating them / understanding them… so what does he believe? Indifference maybe? That “meh” feeling that the internet is so well known for where you can argue against both sides of an issue simply to argue. I don’t know… does he? I certainly think it would have been easier to see him as a sympathetic character if he had taken a stance and made it clear what he believes.

  32. “I still don’t know what he intends nor what he believes in as far as this topic goes other then he now has a serious hate on for you.”

    Well, that’s part of the problem, I suppose. He is either unable or unwilling to clarify the point he wanted to make, and focusing on me is easier.

  33. In an entry titled “What Do You Think? Or, Patrick Neilsen Hayden is an Asshole”:

    “Write one single thing as good as my worst published poem, you pathetic son of a bitch.”

    http://chujoe.net/index.php?id=273

    Inasmuch as there are winners and losers in arguments like this one, Duemer certainly proclaimed himself the loser with that comment. On the other hand, should anyone ever be made to feel so defensive that they start saying things like that?

    It’s true that each person has control over how defensive they feel, but it’s also true that each person is heavily influenced by how others treat them. The first thing in John Scalzi’s first response to the first comment was that he didn’t care what the poster thought about him. But I don’t think he wrote that because it is true; I think he wrote it because it was an effective opening. Doesn’t the fact that he has put so much effort into responding mean that, on some level, he does care what is thought of him? If he does, I don’t think he’s exceptional in that regard. Both Scalzi’s and Duemer’s feelings are influenced by the behavior of everyone else.

    I think that means that “everyone else” has some responsibility to behave in a way that has a positive influence on each person’s feelings–Duemer should have tried to avoid making Scalzi feel insulted, and Scalzi should have tried to avoid making Duemer so desperate that he called PNH a pathetic son of a bitch.

    Sure, Duemer retains some responsibility for lowering himself to that, but then, Scalzi retains some responsibility for responding to Duemer so much more aggressively than he needed to that Duemer’s feelings were hurt.

    We’ve made fun of Duemer because his feelings were hurt, because we think it’s pitiful to be that sensitive. Nevertheless, his feelings were hurt. Will anything good come of that?

  34. “I find it’s a surprisingly effective rhetorical device that causes people to focus and clarify their arguments, and occasionally to understand how someone (and specifically, me) might find the formulation of their statements offensive and dismissive.”

    I don’t find that it does that at all. If you do find that, I guess it’s a defensible tactic. Still, you looking like a jerk is not the only risk. It also has the risk of hurting people, as Duemer was hurt.

  35. “But posting “F–k this” and “F–k that” on your website just isn’t something that educated adults do.”

    I was going to remark that it’s a good thing, then, that I’m a high-school dropout; I wouldn’t want to let down the side on behalf of “educated adults.”

    However, even us uneddikated numbskulls can use the Find function in a web browser, through which I discover the the number of times I have used the F word in a post to Electrolite in 2004 is exactly…one.

    Obviously I have impressed Ed Trimnell as a terrible person and a disgrace to my profession, but it’s hard to escape the suspicion that perhaps his sensibilities are just a tad overrefined.

  36. Adam Nelson writes:

    “It also has the risk of hurting people, as Duemer was hurt.”

    It does, but then what follows is the question of how one gauges what’s an acceptable level of discourse beyond the bland and cautious.

    Also, there’s a the practical issue that one never knows how another person will react. I can recall online conversations where I have been perfectly genial and polite, and another person in the conversation has gone off in a rage; likewise I’ve had knock-down drag-out flame-like conversations where at the end the other guy and I are perfectly fine with each other. You never can tell.

    In the particular case of Mr. Duemer, he entered a thread that was already in a rhetorically heightened state, appeared to recognize the fact within the first sentence, and then additionally appeared to comment in a similar rhetorical manner; in other words, to my eye, he seemed well aware what he was doing, and seemed a reasonable candidate to handle that level of rhetorical exchange.

    In retrospect, this appears to be an incorrect assumption — he was clearly in over his head — but alas, he did not come with a warning label that suggested he should not interact with the rhetorically inflamed, and also, he kept plugging away in the same vein until the point he left. I will of course take that into consideration the next time I’m on the same online chat board as he.

    I am perfectly willing to take responsibility for my own actions: I was intentionally rude to someone I thought was rude and dismissive (and also factually wrong). As a rhetorical maneuver, it carries risks. Some of Mr. Duemer’s hurt comes from me. However, as I said, I don’t think Mr. Duemer entered into the conversation *unaware,* and so his latter protestations of shocked innocence, he’s got his own healthy share of the fallout.

    “Should anyone ever be made to feel so defensive that they start saying things like that?”

    I suppose that depends on whether they deserve to feel defensive. I clearly felt, based on what Mr. Duemer was writing (in particular about Quakers) that he was contemptuous and dismissive, and that could be reasonably challenged. If he felt defensive about that, that was fine. I wouldn’t have gone as far to start talking about bigotry, but PNH is a big boy and can handle these sorts of decisions himself.

    Again, a major problem here is the apparent disconnect between what Mr. Duemer was trying to say, and what he wrote. I don’t have too much doubt that if I were wildly off base with Mr. Duemer, someone would have tapped me on the shoulder and mentioned it. It’s that kind of chat board.

  37. John – re: your tactic of deliberate rhetorical rudeness. Do you actually find that it’s effective that often? I’m not objecting a priori, but my observation is that such tactics rarely either a) convince the target of the speaker’s viewpoint or b) encourage the target to offer a clearer or more reasoned argument. Usually, in my experience, the target just gets more and more belligerent and intractable. Perhaps your experience has been different.

    One thing your rhetorical rudeness does accomplish is entertain. (At least it entertains those of us on the sidelines.) You have the rare knack of expressing yourself both clearly and entertainingly. If I had such a knack, I might want to be careful that I wasn’t seduced into playing for the peanut gallery as I demonstrated that I could rhetorically trounce a professor of literature and creative writing.

  38. “I might want to be careful that I wasn’t seduced into playing for the peanut gallery as I demonstrated that I could rhetorically trounce a professor of literature and creative writing.”

    Heh. Well, I didn’t know he was a professor of literature and creative writing when I started. I learned that after he left.

    In fact, I *do* find rudeness effective, which is why I use it — but again, as I mentioned, it’s not usually the first rhetorical tool out of the bag. It is indeed a blunt instrument, and not every problem is solved with a blunt instrument. And to be clear: there have been times when I’ve used it and it *wasn’t* the best tool. As I mentioned, it seemed to be working fine over at Chad’s until Mr. Duemer arrived. Two different people, two separate responses. You live and learn.

    I’m reasonably sure I don’t play to the crowd — the crowd’s not *that* big, you know — but of course, from the inside of my own head it’s hard to say. As with most things, I’m usually just trying to amuse myself. There’s also the matter that many in the peanut gallery don’t actually find such antics amusing; I think Adam Nelson, who previously made some good points in this thread, might be a representative sample.

  39. Patrick, formal education’s only one kind, and it does violence to the language to suggest that you aren’t educated.

    (Okay, maybe that’s not the connotation intended, but it’s why I didn’t mention it.)

  40. I’ve found that Patrick is an extremely precise writer, even online, where so many of us toss things off carelessly. I expect Patrick knows precisely the baggage the phrase “fuck you” implies, and used it quite deliberately.

  41. John Scalzi has kindly invited me to contribute to this thread, which I didn’t know about until receiving his email & I certainly didn’t know what to expect. (I have also re-opened posting privileges to him at my own site, after shutting him off this morning.) I really didn’t know what to expect when I clicked through. I am gratified to find what I have found — both from those who have questioned Scalzi’s Rhetoric of Rudeness & Scalzi’s own description of that Rhetoric in his long post above.

    In that post, Scalzi indicts himself far more fully & carefully than I ever could, so I won’t bother, except to note that the ancient Greeks invented the art of Rhetoric as a way to restrain political & personal passions in the use of language (Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor). Scalzi’s Rhetoric of Rudeness, then, is a direct inversion, not to say perversion, of the fundamentals of Rhetoric.

    I guess I’d also like to respond to my role as “victim” in this little drama. I suppose it’s not too inaccurate to say that Scalzi “hurt my feelings,” but what he really did was activate my outrage at his dismisive manner of discourse. He began, as someone noted above, by dismissing the standing of those who dared to criticize him. I can’t get that image of a loudmouth in a bar out of my mind — the guy who is full of wit & opinion & whose message is: “I am such a bastard–don’t you love me for it?” On the evidence, some people do love him for it. There’s no accounting for erotic attraction.

    As to the actual substance of our disagreements about religion, John has kindly offered to come over to my blog & “reasonably politely” take “a sledgehammer” to my statements about religion. For some reason, I have agreed to this. Scalzi clearly enjoys his role as the elder brother in the Grimms’ tale, so I’ll happily accept that of the young idiot. In an email Scalzi commends Tor for “handing me my ass” in the comments at my blog. And here I thought that Tor (& umop) & I had been having a conversation about matters that concerned us. You can go over there & read the exchanges for yourself. And I suppose we can look forward to Mr. Scalzi handing me my ass. (What is he, a proctologist? When reading Dr. Scalzi, best to put on your rubber gloves.) Anyhow, I don’t feel like a victim, though Scalzi clearly feels like a victor. The meek shall inherit the earth & all that Christian stuff . . . I take comfort in the words of Jesus.

    As for the actual argument about the nature of religion, check out the fairly edifying discussion at chujoe.net if that’s what you’re interested in.

    In both his email to me & his public postings John Scalzi has belittled my abilities as a writer based on his reading of a series of blog comments. I may well have been less than clear in those comments — writing, for me, is a means of discovery. A difficult & slow process. Apparently, for Scalzi, this is not the case, God bless him. Perfect Platonic sentences & paragraphs appear to him fully formed & in need of no further revision. Bully. I’ll stand by my published work.

    One final note: It seems to bother Scalzi that I am a professor at a university. About every six months I have an exchange with someone online who is similarly bothered. How can anyone as stupid & untalented as me have a tenured position as a professor at a university? Obviously, I am just lucky. Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with talent or ability or accomplishments, could it?

  42. Joseph Duemer: [T]he ancient Greeks invented the art of Rhetoric as a way to restrain political & personal passions in the use of language.

    It may be worth noting that the world has changed somewhat since the days of the ancient Greeks.

    I may well have been less than clear in those comments — writing, for me, is a means of discovery. A difficult & slow process.

    I can relate. That said, using writing on the World Wide Web as a difficult and slow process of discovery may yield some less-than-pleasant experiences. Quick wits and sharp tongues abound out here.

  43. Welcome, Mr. Duemer. It is a pleasure to have you here.

    Now to address some points:

    “Scalzi’s Rhetoric of Rudeness, then, is a direct inversion, not to say perversion, of the fundamentals of Rhetoric.”

    An interesting point, although, as I mentioned, *I* don’t tend to get worked up personally from its use; I tend to use it somewhat more clinically than that. I do admit it’s unconventional and — again, to make this point — not a tool once uses all the time with everyone. I’ve learned it’s not the best rhetorical tool to use with you; I doubt I will use it with you again.

    “What he really did was activate my outrage at his dismisive manner of discourse.”

    Pot, meet kettle. It’s rather clearer now you didn’t intend to come across as smugly as you did; be that as it may, one works with what one has, and one’s interpretation of it. One of the aspects of communicating online, particularly in semi-public forums, is that we often have conversation partners whose rhetorical styles don’t mesh; accidents happen. This was a bad mesh, clearly.

    “On the evidence, some people do love him for it. There’s no accounting for erotic attraction.”

    Heh heh heh.

    I don’t think people love me for only my obnoxious qualities — spend any amount of time here, Mr. Duemer, and you’ll see a wider range of conversational modes. Now, to be clear, I don’t think everyone who reads or posts here agrees with me or even necessarily *likes* me, but they do find me interesting for various reasons. Some of it *does* have to do with me getting all het up. But most of it (and here I knock on wood) does not.

    “As for the actual argument about the nature of religion, check out the fairly edifying discussion at chujoe.net if that’s what you’re interested in.”

    I will second this; the conversation there has been interesting and fun to read.

    “In both his email to me & his public postings John Scalzi has belittled my abilities as a writer based on his reading of a series of blog comments. I may well have been less than clear in those comments — writing, for me, is a means of discovery. A difficult & slow process. Apparently, for Scalzi, this is not the case, God bless him. Perfect Platonic sentences & paragraphs appear to him fully formed & in need of no further revision. Bully. I’ll stand by my published work.”

    Indeed, as it happens, I do write very quickly and (another knock on wood) very cleanly. I shy away from claiming my prose is a Platonic ideal. I do appreciate that your process may be slower and more difficult, but here’s the thing: As readers, we have to go with what we’re given to read. If it takes you more time and effort to craft an online comment, please take the time, so we (and I) can be assured that what you’ve written expresses what you’ve intended to say.

    Based on your blog comments, yes, I was a little concerned about your writing skills. I would note, however, that I didn’t extend a thought toward the quality of your published work, which as we both know, is an editorially-mediated process that hopefully makes us all look like the writers we like everyone to think we are. Certainly the blog posts on your own site show rather better skills; I imagine you take more time with them than your blog comments.

    “One final note: It seems to bother Scalzi that I am a professor at a university.”

    Why deny it? I was bothered that your posts were riddled with spelling errors and poor construction, yet you taught creative writing. If you say your thoughts clean up well with the benefit of a longer writing timeframe, I don’t see why I should doubt you.

    In any event, Mr. Duemer, let us work toward mutual understanding and comity with our varying styles of discourse, and I do hope you’ll forgive when, every now and again, I become a raging dickhead. Please come by any time you wish. You are always welcome.

    On preview: Ah, yes, housecat sodomy. Thank *so* much for bringing that up, anonymous bastard. Mr. Duemer (who I am now going to stop calling Mr. Duemer and start calling Joseph), the reference there is to a previous post, which you may find here:

    http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/002809.html

    At the end of it, there’s a link to a very very horrible picture involving me and a cat. Lies, all of it.

  44. Well, John, I won’t say that we have exactly reached a state of comity, but let it go. As for spelling, Feh! I spit on spelling. There was no such thing until the pedantic grammarians of the 19th century got their hands on the language. It’s a lower-level cognitive skill.

    I take serious exception to “poor construction,” though. My sentences are fucking beautiful. But let it go, let it go.

  45. “On preview: Ah, yes, housecat sodomy. Thank *so* much for bringing that up, anonymous bastard.”

    “Lies, all of it.”

    C’mon John. You can’t run from your past.

    PS: Santa got all the cookies. You’ll have to settle for trackbacks. Besides, the crumbs are hard on the USB.

    PPS: OMW is sitting in my living room waiting for me to get done “working.” Hee heeee…like Christmas all over again (but without the cookies).

  46. Joseph Duemer:

    “I take serious exception to ‘poor construction,’ though. My sentences are fucking beautiful.”

    Heh! These two I like a lot, to be sure.

    Soni:

    “C’mon John. You can’t run from your past.”

    I can. The cat, not so much.

  47. Actually, if there’s one thing I’m convinced of, it’s that the ability to spell has almost nothing to do with one’s writing ability or intellectual merit. It’s simply something some people have and some people don’t.

    Chip Delany can misspell the word “the.” I rest my case.

  48. “Actually, if there’s one thing I’m convinced of, it’s that the ability to spell has almost nothing to do with one’s writing ability or intellectual merit. It’s simply something some people have and some people don’t.”

    Well, there’s one less excuse for my submissions that have disappeared into Tor’s slush pile. Thanks a lot.

  49. If Rawdon’s Law of Blog Retreat is valid, what does it mean that Scalzi (proudly?) quoted Duemer’s sarcastic remarks about him to begin this thread?

    Scalzi writes, “PNH is his own person, so I leave it to him to comment.” Indeed. But so is Joseph Duemer.

  50. I quoted Joseph’s comment because I thought it was pretty funny. I have a tendency to enjoy good snarky things said about me, and I thought it was pretty clever, and being 5’8″ and 150 pounds, also in opposition to how I actually am (physically, at least).

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