GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2005-07 > 1122422076
From: "Peter Stewart" <>
Subject: Re: Just and unjust insults
Date: 26 Jul 2005 16:54:36 -0700
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Gordon Banks wrote:
> I don't want to direct this at Tim, whom I like a lot, but mention
> this as something for all parties who have been squabbling here
> to consider: Wouldn't we be better off if we didn't insult at all?
> Is it ever just to insult someone, even if they insulted you first?
Of course it is - on your own view of justification you do this
yourself below. You also have a history and literature that are full of
memorable insults, some gross and some grand. Look into any dictionary
of quotations to seee how effective these can be.
In this case several people have been chastened into apologies, that
would never have been necessary without insults in the first place but
would never have been achieved without more of the same. If all of us
applied saccharine to our tongues and swallowed them, would SGM readers
be any better informed? Any more entertained? No, they would just be
not as much challenged & inconvenienced, on the whole getting less for
> Is it something mature adults should be proud of doing? Amazingly,
> most of the insulting is being done by people old enough to be
So here we have it: you can reflect rhetorically & insultingly on the
maturity of others with impunity, because you are complaining that they
insult each other and it goes without saying you are better than
It never ceases to amaze me that when a thread full of vituperation
about hypocrisy and stupidity is in its last throes, someone will bob
up to advertise that he or she has a share of these too, and needs to
put it on the record.
Hal S. has finally twigged that he doesn't have to read every message,
and since he very much dislikes off-topic posts he makes one of his own
to tell us this. Gordon wants us all to know that he is above juvenile
insults, so he settles for the most facile one of all.
> Criticism of someone's scholarly work should not be seen as an
> insult, although it can be rendered in a manner that is insulting
> (and common has been here).
Now you are implying that everyone should either hold everyone else in
respect, or pretend that they do. I am not a dissembler, and I don't
wish any opponent of my views to be so.
> Responding to criticism can be done without flinging insults at
> the critic, even if the critic has been insulting. It is the
> tit-for-tat philosophy that just keeps things unpleasantly going.
Again the assumption that there must be moral and/or intellectual
equivalence in the to-and-fro, which you haven't substantiated. Just
because you tune into some nasty exchanges & the tone upsets your own
equilibrium, this doesn't meant that both sides are identically at
> I realize that there are those here that probably find the one-upsmanship
> insults very entertaining, but I'll bet if we took a poll most would find it
Does it not occur to you that the participants might also find it
obnoxious? Only perhaps a little more so to be told by someone who
doesn't even know you that you have, for instance, "criminally
defrauded" your mother, that you are posting dishonestly under an
alias, or that you are a "charlatan and a fraud" for looking up the
standard dictionary for possible definitions of a word?
> I apologize in advance if anyone feels offended by this posting,
> it wasn't intended that way.
Not much thought seems to have gone into it at all.
If you, Todd Farmerie and others wish to project bland, bourgeois
values onto the newsgroup's discussions, on the basis of facile and
sanctimonious judgements, by all means continue to do so - though you
might be better off forming a moderated forum for yourselves elsewhere.
Even Hines and Brandon are capable of performing a real service for
SGM, by attempting to prick bubbles of pomposity and absurdity where
they perceive these. I don't often agree with their opinions, though
occasionally both of them make points that I was thinking too or that
strike me as right. When I am not interested in whatever they are
pursuing, I switch off and don't read their posts. This is not at all
difficult to manage.
Richardson doesn't have much sense of humour, but he can & does plod
his way to some useful results by going over material that has been
neglected by others. When he stumbles into the vastness of unknown
territory, when he makes some forced or unforced error and refuses to
accept any correction, the problems start again & soon escalate.
Sometimes even he is doing his best to maintain a position that he
genuinely believes in. The extent of his work and the persistence he
shows in sticking to it have earned him some indulgence from this group
for the problems that he causes or exacerbates. Only not for
|Re: Just and unjust insults by "Peter Stewart" <>|