What Do You Make of This?

Yesterday, after I responded to “Stranger Bob”‘s comment — both in the original post and my musings the next day — I decided to send him the following e-mail in direct response to his comment. I thought long and hard before doing it, as I wondered if doing so would only start an unnecessary pissing match. But at the same time, I believed it was unlikely he would come back to aMMusing to see if I responded in any way, and I was curious to have him explain why he felt “entitled” to leave such an off-topic and insinuating comment on a blog whose author has never apologized for being left-leaning (among other things).

Thank you for your comment. The tone and assumptions in your comment remind me why I’m worried and sad about the prospect of a Conservative majority, especially if you’re representative of what’s to come. I doubt you returned to my blog after your drive-by comment, to which I responded with a comment of my own and a new blog entry. Not only do I believe you are entitled to your opinion, but I also respect that opinion on the grounds that Canadians are free to express their opinions in a democracy like ours. However, I question why you even bothered commenting at all on my blog given the unlikelihood we’ll come anywhere close to reaching common ground, especially with the tone you employed.

Stranger Bob’s one-sentence response, which I’m reproducing here in its full, unedited glory, was simply, “How about a tit-for-tat. I won,t apologize for my ‘tone and assumptions’ so that means you won’t have to apologize for yours.”

I’m serious when I ask you, regular readers of aMMusing, what do you make of this? First, I don’t think I was fishing for an apology as much as I wanted to hear him account for his sense of “entitlement” to leave the comment he did, where he did. And second, given that I’m a close reader, I admit to being sensitive to tone (i.e., being referred to as “the likes of you”) and assumptions (i.e., that I “must be someone that depends on other people’s tax money”).

That being said, and although I wasn’t fishing for an apology, I could interpret the Stranger’s short response, as I’m inclined to do, as a truce by which we agree to disagree. However, what doesn’t sit well with me is the tactic reminiscent of those deployed by American Republicans à la Karl Rove (i.e., making accusations whether there’s a grain of truth to them or not and hoping that it sticks somehow). For Stranger to suggest that we end the “discussion” by absolving me from apologizing — I’m not quite sure for what — if I agree to do the same for him strikes me as a cowardly way of not taking responsibility for the words he has written. However, if I look at this incident in a positive light, perhaps he’s learned to think twice before commenting on a blog he just encountered. But maybe that’s just one of my own assumptions; maybe he was a long-time lurker who never commented before. When I first read his comment, I even tried to give him the benefit of the doubt and wanted to believe the comment was meant to argue the opposite of what he really believed. (Although I couldn’t help but dismiss that theory fairly quickly, I tend not to assume the worse of people.) Except that if my assumptions were so far off base, I would have expected a bit more protest from Stranger. As for my tone — whether in the above e-mail or in these blog entries — I think I come across as someone who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and perhaps Stranger’s short response was simply an admission of “Touché.

Okay, I admit I’m spending way too much time analyzing this incident. And I admit that comments in blogs often end up sounding like choirs of sycophants, which can become boring. But being someone who assumes responsibility for what I write, and not knowing if Stranger came back to read aMMusing, I’m now asking myself about my own incorrect assumptions. Maybe I’ve made way too much of Stranger’s “likes of you” comment? Maybe I was out of order to suggest that his use of this phrase suggests to me that he has “a very narrow definition of what a good Canadian citizen is,” a definition in which I don’t fit? What do you think?

By the way, no, I’m not planning to respond to Stranger’s one-sentence truce.