Note: The following guidelines DO NOT mean you can't comment here, or should be intimidated about commenting here, or that if you comment here I and my hordes of zombie-like UCF sycophants will automatically rip you limb from limb.
We like new people - they taste just like chicken.
I'm kidding, of course, I like comments from new people. I am interested in what you have to say, even if you disagree with me. Feel free to comment on anything I've written, but please keep the following in mind. Thanks
Regular readers are, of course, familiar with the whole troll issue last Friday.
I'm not going to rehash it here, but suffice it to say that several commenters took exception to something I posted. Exception devolved immediately into classic trolling. This is isn't the first time and probably won't be the last.
Both in the comments (before I shut them down) and in the email I've received since, I've been accused of stifling free speech, being an asshole, a poor journalist, being intimidating, and ... well you get the idea.
A number of folks, at least one acquainted with the troll and an employee of the same organization, asked me why I went after the troll with such a vengeance, threatening to out him to his employers and/or the news media. A couple of folks thought that this was unfair, a suppression of free speech, and just plain mean.
I wasn't going to answer those questions - because I think the answers should be obvious if you know anything about me at all - but I keep getting email and it's starting to get on my nerves.
So, in answer to those questions and for future reference, here's how things work at Stonekettle Station:
Ten things to consider before you decide to be a troll here:
1) Me: First, in order to understand my response to trolls, you need to understand who I am. Do NOT assume that you know me, unless you've hung around Stonekettle Station for a good long time. But here are the basics: I'm a retired United States Navy Chief Warrant Officer. Retired is a relative term, I will, for the rest of my life, identify myself as a Chief Warrant Officer - it is an ingrained part of my personality. Navy Warrants are unlike any other rank in any other service. We are selected from a highly competitive group, and we are selected for two things specifically, advanced knowledge combined with experience and a specific personality type. As a group, we tend to be profane, hard boiled, out spoken, and supremely confident in our abilities to get the job, whatever it may be, done. As such we get only the worst jobs, the ones nobody else can do. We are not Officers and Gentlemen - and nobody expects us to be. To help non-Navy folks understand what I mean, allow me to illustrate. When I applied for Warrant I was interviewed by three Navy officers, one Warrant, one Limited Duty Officer, and a senior Naval Academy Graduate - a full Commander. My interview consisted of one question, asked by the Commander: "Let's say we make you an officer, when you join the wardroom you'll be surrounded by real Officers, Academy Graduates (at this point he took pains to tap his Academy ring on the table top so I would notice), and that means three things: one, they are better educated than you. Two, they are smarter than you. And three, they are a lot younger than you. How are you going to handle that?" I didn't have to think about my answer, I said immediately, "I'll buy younger, but not the rest of your points. I believe each member of the wardroom has something to contribute, and if I need to know how to chain a woman to a urinal, tear up a Vegas hotel, or cheat on my engineering exam those officers will be the first ones I ask - other than that they better stay the fuck out of my way." The Commander turned bright red, the LDO remained carefully straight faced, and the Warrant smiled - and the interview was over (no, the Commander wasn't being an ass, the Warrant put him up to it. And it was really the Warrant's decision).
And that is how you become a Warrant, and it should tell you something about what kind of person I am. If you find that story only confirmation of your assumption that I'm an asshole, well you may be right, but you're missing the bigger picture. Do some research into why people like me are necessary to the military, start here. My job was to get the mission done, by hook or crook, come hell or high water. You fight until there's nothing left but ashes, and then you piss in the ashes. Warrants exist solely for that reason. We lead from the front, by example, and we have a well earned reputation for bluntness, duty, honor, courage, and commitment to our people and the mission. I've been around the world, fought in two wars, and earned the respect of fighting men on six continents. So when you troll my site and attempt a personal attack on me or mine, well, that's what you're up against.
2) Journalism: Stonekettle Station is a blog, not a news outlet. I am not a journalist. I post things that I find amusing or interesting. I post things I feel like talking about. Sometimes it's pictures of woodwork or Alaska. Sometimes it's politics. Sometimes it's the military. Sometimes it's a soup recipe. And sometimes it's just videos of Dire Straits. I strive for accuracy, but again I'm primarily expressing my opinion of things I see in the world - if you want news reporting, go to a news site.
3) Disclaimer: There is a disclaimer on the upper right hand side of the main webpage that says very clearly that this site may contain profanity, ranting, and strong opinions - my opinions. If those things offend you, if opinionated people offend you, if profanity offends you - then go elsewhere. Don't comment, just go. The Internet is a big place, and surely if you look long enough you'll find a site more to your liking, someplace with pictures of born again Christian bunnies who fart sunshine and rainbows and fly when they think happy thoughts of Jesus.
4) Terminology: If you are unfamiliar with the terminology of the Internet, blogs, or this blog in particular - either educate yourself or go find something else to do. Start with the classic definition of a troll, if you act like a troll then you are a troll - and I will not put up with your nonsense. If you are offended by being dumped under the bridge with the other trolls, then don't act like one. Here at Stonekettle Station I am the sole arbiter of who is and who is not acting like a troll.
5) Free Speech: I believe strongly in free speech. I spent most of my life defending the Constitution and the rights that it guarantees to Americans. HOWEVER, the 1st Amendment does not give you the right to act like an asshole on my site. I do not have to tolerate illiterate, poorly expressed ad hominem attacks. If you act like a troll, I will shut you down - refer to paragraph 1) above. Now, because there seems to be some confusion on this point, let me make myself clear. a) There is a big difference between disagreeing with my opinion, or the opinion of other commenters, and acting like an asshole. When you call my readers morons, you're not addressing the post or another comment, you're engaging in an ad hominem attack. And that is going to earn you a punch in the nose. b) Deleting or moderating your comments on my site does not, in any way, infringe on your freedom of speech. I am under no obligation whatsoever, expressed or implied, to allow you to comment on my site. When you're here, you're a guest - behave yourself or I'll have the bouncers show you the door. This is no different than not allowing you onto my private property so you can call me an asshole. Before you lecture me on the Constitution, try reading it first. c) I don't have to have comments enabled at all, I chose to allow comments because I often enjoy the things people have to say here, however just because I allow comments does not give you the right to say whatever asshat thing you like. d) If you really feel the need to call me an asshole or engage in illiterate blathering, start your own blog.
I believe www.jimwrightisanasshole.com is available. Correction, jimwrightisanasshole.com has been taken, you'll have to come up with something else. e) I do not think that just because you disagree with me that you are automatically a troll. If you disagree with something I wrote, then make your case. However, if your entire rebuttal consists of "You're an asshole" or some approximation of the same, then you're a troll and you're going to get punched in the nose. A number of folks, both in email and on other blogs, have accused me of not tolerating disagreement with my opinion. Wrong, demonstrably wrong. Frequent commenter John the Scientist can almost always be counted on to disagree with my views on politics and religion - and yet his comments are polite, well thought out and indicative of a keen mind, professional, and often humorous. We often agree to disagree, or upon occasion he has even changed my outlook on things. I respect his opinion very much, even if I disagree with it. Hell, I once wrote an opinion piece in favor of genetically modified food and every single regular commenter told me why I was wrong, insane, or misguided. They easily convinced me that I was wrong. Not one of them acted like an asshole. They simply said, "You're wrong, here's why." I respect their opinions and knowledge. I was talking out my ass to some extent, and I got corrected by people who knew better. If you want the same respect, then act the same way.
6) You and your employer: I am under no obligation, expressed or implied, to protect you from your employer if you engage in asshatery on company time. If you don't like how I handle that situation, then don't give me power over you, i.e. don't act in a manner that discredits your employer or is contrary to your company's policy regarding Internet access, public relations, and etcetera. Most especially don't do so and then act like an asshole on my site - because I will out your ass just on general principles, see paragraph 1) above.
7) Credibility: If you want to be taken seriously, then take a minute to be professional and to think about what you're saying. If you drop a cryptic one line bit of snark into my comments section - you're not being clever or quizzical, you're just pissing me off. And everybody makes a few typos in the comments section, me probably more than most - but if you consistently don't know the difference between "There," "They're," and "Their," and you are unable to structure a paragraph at least as well as my 12-year old then I'm going to find it hard to take you seriously - especially if you're harping on how uneducated I must be. Additionally, if you use ellipsis in place of a period at the end of every dammed sentence I'll delete your comment out of hand. One final note on this subject: A lot. Two words.
8) Anonymity: I don't like anonymous comments. So why do I have anonymous commenting enabled? Because I want to make it easy for people surfing through without google, blogger, or open ID's to comment if they so desire. However, anonymity seems to give some folks a sense of false courage, and they seem to think they can hide behind it to say any dammed stupid and inflammatory thing they like. And there are far too many of these people on the net these days, and it pisses me off. I am a whole lot more likely to tag you as a troll if you hide behind anonymity. Especially if you're using anonymous posting to hide the fact that you are doing something unethical, like say acting like an ass on company time, see paragraph 6) above. I have the ability to find out who you are, and I will. If you've just got to tell me what an asshole I am, at least have the courage to own what you say.
9) Intimidation: Three people wrote to me and said something along the lines of "I wanted to comment on the whole DSL thing, but I was afraid that you would yell at me. You are too intimidating, you should be less intimidating." I've heard this crap my whole life. Yes, I am loudly intolerant of fools, idiots, and the mentally lazy. Yes, I am confident in my opinions, my abilities, my knowledge, and my experience, those things kept my men and I alive on the battlefield. Yes, I tend to express my opinions in black and white terms. Yes, I have little patience for jackasses and people who are deliberately obtuse or offensive, and people who just argue to hear themselves talk. I am the archetype of the classic Type-A personality - refer to paragraph 1) above. I am not going to change, I don't want to, and I don't have to. If you are intimidated by me, then you have three choices: a) go away, b) keep quiet and bitch timidly about me behind my back, or c) grow a pair of big hairy balls. Good grief, if you're intimidated by some words on a screen written by a guy in Alaska that you don't even know - well, maybe you should take a couple of those self-esteem classes. Or try joining the Navy, it worked for me.
10) Regulars: If you're a drive-by commenter, do a little reading around here first before you start typing, that'll save you the embarrassment of saying something stupid - say like calling me a Bush Republican. Little chaps my ass more than to have somebody accuse me of not doing my research or not knowing what I'm talking about, when it's patently obvious from the comment that it's a case of the pot calling the Stonekettle black. If you're a drive-by commenter and you disagree with me, I may or may not give you the time of day depending on how I'm feeling at that very moment. Regulars get a pass. I know them. Many of them are my friends or acquaintances in one form or another. Don't assume that just because I enjoy snarky comments from them that you get the same treatment. If you want the same respect, stick around, learn the lay of the land, and establish yourself as a credible, reasonable, and intelligent commenter. I'm not saying that you can't comment, or that your comment will get slammed, only that you shouldn't assume familiarity when none exists.
Here's the bottom line: Don't be a dick. There are way too many assholes out there, and frankly I'm just plain sick and tired of it. Every single comment thread under every major news article is full of stupid, poorly thought out and poorly written, illiterate nonsense. Major blog sites are infested with jerks and little surely dipshits who seem bent on making the Internet their personal battleground. Most of these people are obnoxious little blowhards in real life, or mousy housewives who get their worldview from Oprah and those clever little sayings on Starbucks cups, or pimply faced IT dweebs who are still pissed about getting picked on in high school, or depressed insurance salesmen in dead end jobs angry that their football 'career' ended at high school graduation. And the anonymity of the Internet gives them the fake courage to be the jackasses they don't have the balls to be in real life. I will not put up with that garbage here.
If you try it on my site, I will either lock you out, or I will hunt you down and ruin your day - just exactly as the last troll found out. So, again, don't be a dick.
Don't say I didn't warn you.