How the Game Should Be Played

Play fair. Don’t hit people. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Robert Fulghum

The game may be dodge ball. The game may be Mystery Date. The game may be life (not the game of Life but life as we know it, like living everyday). The game may be blogging; in this case, it is blogging.

When I started this blog, I didn’t get a rule sheet from WordPress on how to do it. WP offers tips and tricks and advice on blogging but I haven’t read those because I don’t like to read true things. I assume I’m doing okay until someone informs me that I’m not.

I have only had one confrontation on WordPress, one serious, nasty confrontation. And happily that blog has been removed from my and most everyone I associate with blogrolls. Sure, I have had disagreements. I have voiced an opposing viewpoint but that is public discourse and I do my best to adhere to the rules of civil public discourse. I am happy to agree to disagree.

Over the Christmas season, I made the decision to stop reading my friend Le Clown’s blog. This was difficult for me because we are so totally friends, I have like totally talked to him on the phone before. So bite that, all you wannabe amies du Clown.Β  Eric is a friend. We come from very different ends of the political spectrum. Agree to disagree. He’s Canadian. I’m deceased descended from a Canadian. He is a parent and I am a parent. We are both laugh out loud, wet your pants, gaggingly hilarious. But still I had to stop visiting his blog. I actually opted to not even get alerts from his blog because it bummed me out that I wasn’t going to read it.


Why did this happen?

Eric, who was raised in a Catholic household but is no longer a practicing Catholic, decided to make a bold statement on his blog about the commercialization of Christmas and the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. Le Clown is known for pushing envelopes all over the place, as a matter of fact (not really), I just found one under my desk. I typically, grin and shake my head, “ahhh Le Clown, you rascal.” But not this time. My friend’s Christmas statement included a mast head of the crucifixion but in Eric’s version, Jesus, and the two other criminals nailed to the crosses, wore photo-shopped Santa Hats.

Let’s set aside the fact that the crucifixion is for Easter not Christmas and just look at the problem I was having. I couldn’t look at those images. I felt guilty (I know, I’m Catholic) just seeing them. I felt that if I were reading that blog, that I was tacitly okaying blasphemy. I’m not the best Catholic in the world at all but I do have a strong and devout faith. This image was nauseating and so ugly to me, I couldn’t overlook it. I couldn’t give it a pass. I abhor plenty of the Catholic Church’s actions and stances but I have faith in the birth, life and death of Jesus, the Son of God. I am comforted by the ritual of the Mass…until the Church changed the words a year ago, thanks for that Benedict.

I made the decision to stop visiting my friend’s blog. He noticed I was gone and understood why. I didn’t post a comment lecturing him on his choice of mast head. I knew Eric was not trying to hurt or upset me, even though he had. The masthead made me sick so I decided not to look at it. I vehemently disagreed with Le Clown’s statement but I will always defend his right to make it.

I get so tired of people bitching about banning this or that TV show, website, video game, etc. Censorship is not the answer. Vote with your feet, your wallet, your mouse….don’t watch it. Don’t buy it. Don’t visit your friend’s blog. That’s all.

BUT here comes the good part. Here is the reason that my friend Eric is a force on WordPress and I know is going places with his career and his writing and all of his Magnificent (I don’t know how to make that TM thingy Eric so shut it) projects.

He heard and understood what many of his readers were telling him. He took down the masthead and….wait for it…. he apologized for hurting and upsetting his friends and readers. Here is his post. Read it. This lesson applies to blogs and non-blogs, to situations and relationships on and off line. “Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.” That sounds easy but we all know that apologizing is hard. Swallowing your pride and admitting you went too far whether it is on line with the blogging community or with your kids or your best friend or the check out girl at the grocery store; it’s not easy but it is the right thing to do and you will win the respect of others. More importantly, you will know that you did the right thing.

“Sorry” is a powerful word and should not be overused lest it lose its import. The Catholic Church has a rule about making a “Good” confession. Sure, you can go confess whatever the hell you want and you will get penance and, as many think, Ta DAH… you’re all done. You’re all clear. Wait a minute though, if you are just saying you’re sorry and you don’t mean it and you know you’re going to go right out and do it again, that confession means nothing. The penance means nothing. There is no reconciliation.

Any confession, any apology must be sincere or it is meaningless.

Merci, mon ami, Le Clown. You are an example of what it means to be a good human.

50 thoughts on “How the Game Should Be Played

  1. Maggie, you’ve said it beautifully and I was feeling like you, I must admit. Couldn’t look at it either but his post today was uplifting and I left my two cents (and my annoying way of droning on and on and….) anyway, I can’t say anymore than you’ve said because you’ve said it all. And perfectly.

  2. Le Clown

    Thank you for your post, and thank you for being able to talk to me when it happened. When I first made the banner, I thought the message was powerful: tackling the consumerism of Christmas through the imagery of the Crucifixion (as you’ve pointed out is the iconic image of Easter, for starters), Jesus and Santa Claus. I was/am quite proud of the message I was/am trying to convey. Where I think I “failed” is in the medium. The banner in itself as a blog header lost its purpose, it should have been backed up by content, as I usually do with my other satirical pieces. Furthermore, but using the image as a banner, I imposed it on all incoming traffic, may it be offensive to some or not. The only choice I gave my readers is to visit or not my site. In a post, readers could have had the option to read or skip the post.

    I also don’t think the imagery would have been easier to accept for those whose Faith is way of life. It still is a very strong provocative piece, and by that imagery I stand. As I explained on my post, I do not have qualms with Jesus the man, or the son of God for those who believe, my issues are with the Catholic Church, at least when it comes to XMAS and consumerism, among others, and what SOME members of the church have done with Jesus, the man who preached love and Faith. My way of speaking out is often by provocation, as it generates conversation, as it did today, but never with shock-value on its own, per se, as my banner suggested as a header.

    Furthermore, Soul Walker’s personal message was a loving one, written respectfully, as was yours when we’ve exchanged on the banner. What made me apologize today was not that I offended, at least not entirely, but mostly, that I have hurt a friend because of my clumsiness, and that was more important than what my stand-alone banner could have conveyed as a message.

    Thank you so very much for this post, my friend. It truly touches me, and the respect you’ve shown me is humbling.
    PS: I haven’t proof-read my comment, therefore I will live with the consequences of my typos. [no emoticon inserted]

    1. As a friend of mine would say: Eric, you are good people. And you are a leader here as I am sure you are in other areas of your life, you have set a good example for how the game should be played.

  3. Addie

    It made mine happy too, and, I appreciated his openness. He’s a heck of a guy, is Le Clown (and Eric is even nicer). This was beautifully written, Maggie.

  4. Pingback: If It Bends, It’s Funny! If It Breaks, It’s Not Funny. | A Clown On Fire

      1. For exactly the same reasons Maggie, Soul Walker and Sarah’s grandmother cited. Even knowing your intention didn’t help me get past the feeling of the whole thing. It was ugly. It made me cringe, it made me nauseous and it made me sad. Jesus Christ is my Saviour. I don’t take the issue of anyone’s religion lightly. I tip toe around what other people hold dear and sacred. That’s just me. I understand that you were making a statement. I get it. I’m just glad you took it down. πŸ™‚ Thanks, my friend.

        1. Le Clown

          I understand. And again, not Jesus the man, or Savior, that I attacked, and I’ll use Speaker7’s words, it’s the”complete corruption of the idea of Jesus to sell bass fish heads that sing”. God bless Speaker7. Take care, friend.

          1. Addie

            If it means getting to play The Dating Game, I’ll go with or without as the rules advise. Heck, I’ll even go sans Spanx if I have to…

  5. What a truly beautiful post. While I am not Catholic, I love seeing other religious folks practice what they preach. You love him, accept him, and simply remove yourself from something if you are not comfortable with it. If only there were more people like you in the world. It also shows what a unique and wonderful friendship you and le clown have, that you can write this and be so open and upfront. Kudos to you, major kudos. Thanks for reminding me that decent humans DO exist πŸ™‚

    1. Le Clown

      Wasn’t it a compassionate post? It made me feel respected. Even though Maggie and I see things differently, there is respect and understanding, and I am blessed to be able to call her a personal friend.

      1. Yes!! So very compassionate. I also commend you for speaking your mind, but acknowledging it when people’s feelings were hurt. You sound like a quality person yourself! I’ve always been confused by the people who seek out blogs, read the posts, and comment about how angry they are at the thoughts expressed. Errrr, nobody is making you read the posts. Just move along. As long as the confrontation/debate is respectful, I guess that’s fine. But…that rarely happens. Anyway, all this rambling to say I always appreciate when people write about what drives them, even if it pisses people off. It’s way better than pretending to be someone you’re not.

        Again, I really enjoy seeing interactions like this, between you two. So often message boards/facebook posts/news article comments are full of people being inconsiderate, judgmental, and hypocritical. Way to be mature leaders for the rest of us! πŸ™‚

      2. Just don’t call me late for dinner!

        Thank you Courtney for your kind words and support. The quote I used at the beginning of the post is from the book “Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten”. Life doesn’t have to be as difficult as we make it.

  6. I love this post – because you have your beliefs and respect the beliefs of someone else. You don’t advocate for others not be exposed to something you don’t like; you just chose to not participate.

    I had told Eric that I loved his card, but could not put it on my FB page because I knew it would upset some very devout Catholic people in my family – and some of my friends – and even though I wasn’t bothered by the images – I knew it would cause some kerfuffle.

    Le Clown’s handling of the whole situation was done so well and sincerely – it was beautiful and heart wrenching to realize just what a softie Le Clown really is (we know Eric, however, is a complete marshmallow thru and thru) … I’ve noticed that there’s an inverse proportion – the crunchier on the outside, the softer on the inside! His persona pushes the enveloUpe – and he looks at how it works out; assess what happened, learns and adjusts. It’s what makes us evolve as humans – seeing the bigger picture and adapting according to one’s heart. I don’t know – this sounds jumbled – but I hope what I think I’m meaning is coming across. Kudos all around ~

    1. I think this has been the best of all possible outcomes. Life is not about erasing disagreement and differences but addressing them and embracing them while remaining true to ourselves and not hurting others.

      I think we have all played well together.

      thank you for your nice comment!

  7. Caroline Sherman

    Sheesh, Maggie. You might be – dare I say it, my new guru. Or at least my insight insighter – seriously, I appreciate your brain. C

  8. This was an absolutely rivetting post. Your words and courage and honesty and approach were beautiful Maggie. And then the comments were so honest and the spirit behind them so simply good. The respect for others was so touching.
    All that is best in human nature, and in Bloggerworld was here to see. Wow, thank you all.

  9. A Dog With Fleas

    What a truly respectful and grown-up approach to how two people who might disagree work it out. It truly touches me that you are so heartfelt and honest about your feelings for something that means so much to you.

    And I know LeClown as well and am going to read his post next as I catch up today, but I know for a certainty that he handled it just the same way.

    It is so nice to see two friends, who may disagree on something, but handle it with such tact and respect for the other. Kudos to the both of you!!

  10. I love you guys both so much…I feel like my parents are fighting. (I know you are not fighting) I LOVED that banner…but that’s my shiz. In fact…when I wanted to explain Le Clown and my WP peeps to a real life peep; in just one image…I showed him THAT banner. We laughed our asses off. I got it. And I get this post too. You guys ARE blog parents. I learn so much from each of you. Now I’m wondering if I did something to Mags…as I haven’t seen her on my blog for a while…but I’ve been gone for a while…but I honestly am back tracking in my brain now. Anyways…Love you guys…and I know your divorce is not my fault. : P Thanks for both of you for spilling your real guts on here!!

  11. unfetteredbs

    Le Clown’s banner disturbed me a great deal. I applaud Soul Walker and you, Maggie for conveying that to Eric. I just chose not to go to the blog anymore.

    1. Le Clown

      And I applaud you for doing what feels right to you, and respect your choice. Success in your blogging ventures, Audra.
      Le Clown

  12. First of all I loved this. I loved that you could agree to disagree in a way that was… mature. So applause to you for that and for writing a spectacular post. Second, I think you are absolutely right in the matter that everyone should have the ability to voice their opinion, through whatever mediums they choose (except the whole setting things on fire, that is not okay… not. ok.) even if it doesn’t click/jive with how others “feel.” I get tired of reading the ‘lashing out’s’ of people, I get enough drama on Facebook I hope to find a platform of somewhat-sophisticated debate on WordPress.

    I’m facing my irrational fear of clowns and checking out Le Clown’s blog.

  13. I didn’t see the post you speak of – I’m not really familiar with le Clown, which I’m about to remedy as you clearly think he is worth a visit – but I commend your action and your courage to stand by your views and speak your mind.
    It’s wonderful that you both have a place in the world from which to air your views. There are too many people who would simply ignore or, as you say, complain, whilst doing nothing.

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