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