Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Regarding Dave Moulton...

Know this right from the outset. I have the sensitivity of the average cinder block and as much subtlety as a punch in the nose.

Now, if you're thinking this is a case of one old dog honoring another's point, there's some truth in that. Those of us who write our opinions and post them in public have to be somewhat thick skinned. This was driven home for me when I posted what I thought was an innocuous piece in a local newsletter. Some of the responses were extremely rude, questioning my intelligence and even my children's parentage. People said things they wouldn't dare say in person, hiding behind a pseudonym or the ever-popular 'anonymous' post. One rule I've followed in all my posts – if you wouldn't say it face-to-face, don't say it on-line.

Honest, officer. I was just cleaning my fist when it went off and hit him right in the nose!”

I've written about rights and responsibility as they apply to cycling. Let's extend that to writing. Each of us has the right to speak our mind, and in fact, I believe we have a duty to do so in some situations. And I believe conflicting ideas should be discussed, because conflict forces us to think, and thinking is a Very Good Thing. Merely shouting slogans at each other is not a substitute for dialogue yet it seems to be the most common avenue of discourse these days. We're poorer for it.

Dave Moulton wrote a piece about 'masculinists' and took a lot of flack for posting it. I'd read it in passing and although it was a bit different from his usual posts, I didn't find anything offensive in it. Some of the comments, though, read as if western civilization could end due to Dave's ideas. Some were huffy and immediately dropped their subscriptions to his blog. I suspect their underwear is a couple of sizes too small, but that's merely speculation on my part. Regardless, the implication was almost childish. “See things my way or I'll take my marbles and go home!”

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Here on CycleDog, you'll find a simple point of view. Much of the content is opinion, and like Dave, I'm old enough to speak my mind and not worry about the consequences. I'm not here trying to get laid or butter someone up for a job change. I really don't care if someone takes offense.

Engaging in a dialogue requires we adhere to some rules, the very first of which should involve treating your opponent with ordinary civility. Small courtesies are the grease and oil of our social interactions, serving to reduce conflict and engender respect. Dave allows anonymous posts. I do not. Partly that has to do with squelching comment spam, but it also enforces a minimum level of accountability. Just as we are accountable for the contents of our posts, any of you choosing to comment should be responsible also.

Dave wrote that American men have little style sense about clothing. It's true. Americans are slobs. If you need proof, just pick a spot outside a department store, a coffee shop, or a mall and count the people who dress nicely. They're a tiny minority. Don't pick a spot outside WalMart especially if you're already depressed.

Once long ago, I worked for an Austrian ski retailer. He was appalled at the slovenly Americans who trooped in the front door and he reserved his most scathing criticism for American tourists in Europe. Naturally, he didn't breathe a word of this while he smiled and took their money.

Even so, I can't get too worked up about it even though I'm a member of the slob majority. I'm usually in work clothes even when off-duty because I won't hesitate to get down in the dirt or slide under a car. Mary says I'm particularly destructive toward trousers and shoes.

Dave wrote - “But my old tee shirt, baggy shorts, and flip-flops, are comfortable, you say. Let me ask you this; how would you feel if women, started dressing in this fashion? No make-up, or hair style, no attractive shoes and clothes. For me the world would become a dull and less beautiful place.

I'm really tempted to write something facetious about how women dress stylishly (for the most part) until after they get married. That's when they forego make-up, styled hair, and attractive shoes and clothes, especially if there are little children in the house. I know when my kids were small, we covered the essentials and struggled to get enough sleep. Mary's provocative lingerie went away a long time ago. When it's cold these days, she sleeps in one of my sweat suits. “They're warm and comfortable”, she said. These are about as sexy and attractive as, well, a sweat suit. But she stays warm and that's what counts.

I have old school habits, ones ingrained since childhood as yet another set of ordinary courtesies. I (gasp!) hold doors for women. I (oh the horror!) call young women 'honey' if I know them. I even reach for items on high shelves and offer to carry heavy stuff. Now before some of my more liberated female readers start having a hissy about my ingrained attitude reeking of male domination, let's make something perfectly clear. This isn't about you. It's about me. It's about treating people with ordinary courtesy, courtesies taught at a young age and allowing me to maintain a connection with those men and women who went before me. It's about honoring my father, my mother, and especially my wife. Opening a door or offering a hand when they get up from a chair isn't about showing my own superiority. Far from it. I was there when my children were born. Mary is tougher than I can ever hope to be, and while she's perfectly able to open a door for herself, I prefer to do it for her if only as a small way of showing my love and respect.

So, I'm an old fart with old habits that won't change easily. I don't respond well to attempts at pressure or intimidation. Let's put that down to having been a sprinter once upon a time, and sprinters, as you should know, are not noted for their anger management skills. The thin veneer of civility can be surprisingly fragile. But if I write something you find offensive, rude, arrogant, or simply wrong-headed, don't hesitate to comment about it. Just keep it civil.

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Blogger The donut guy said...

You go with your own bad self:-)

I've had people come up to me and say "I heard you called me an asshole"

My reply....."Yeah, you *are* an asshole, what's your point?"

PS-I've only ever been hit on the back of the head with a chair once.....

7:13 PM  
Blogger Fritz said...

I too was really surprised at the vehemence of some of the comments Dave received.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Dave Moulton said...

In the days of the old “Wild West” a stranger could ride into town, and if he didn’t like someone’s opinion, or the look of their face for that matter, he could pull out a side arm and shoot a man dead. He would then ride off without fear of repercussion because he was a stranger; no one knew who he was.

The Internet is the “Wild West” of today. Lawless and without regulation a person can be shot down for voicing his opinions and no one knows who the anonymous stranger is. The same cowardly attitude exists, and although not fatal like the original Wild West, these anonymous “quick on the draw gunmen” are killing free speech.

3:55 AM  
Blogger Camo said...

While Moulton started with a very weird angle that I vehemently disagree with, he does redeem himself by making an interesting point. The point is made connecting a very weird argument with one that is actually very relevant to feminism and how people perceive gender in the US, especially in the Southern states.
Part of the reason women dress so "nicely" is that it is expected of them by the same men who dress like slobs. In that scenario a woman is merely eye candy and the man proves his worth through not being eye candy - that is, being nicely dressed is conflated with being feminine. It's not fair to either party.
If men want to dress nicely, so be it. Of course there's nothing wrong with it - as long as there is no overwhelming expectation on others to follow suit. While I do like dressing nicely, I find that the expectation of what I am supposed to wear gets in the way, and it makes purchasing clothes uncomfortable.

10:18 AM  

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