Over the last couple of days, two postings of mine took a little criticism. That’s nothing new, but these criticisms came across as fairly reasonable. I have no intention of apologizing for them, but I feel like I should explain why I made the choices I did.
First, on Friday I did a bit of live-blogging of the Hillary Clinton campaign office hostage situation. Some thought m attitude was a bit too flippant and casual for something that could have been a real tragedy, and called me on it.
I thought about it carefully, and decided to go with that tone. My reasoning was this: I was 99% certain that it would end peacefully. I know my “peeps” here in New Hampshire, and nearly all the time something like this plays out, it’s a hoax. If it’s a real bomb, they tend to detonate it quickly. And they tend to not let hostages go so fast.
Also, there had been sufficient reports that the guy was a drunken local who was pretty well-known to the local cops. It all added up, in my head, as “loser with mental issues looking for attention and to be taken seriously.” Well, he’d assured the first part, but I could at least fight back against the second by treating the whole thing as a bit of a joke.
Had I been wrong, I would have apologized profusely and offered Kevin my resignation. But I was that confident about how it would play out, and was about seven kinds of relieved when I was proven correct.
Next up, I got a bit personal in my piece on John Edwards’ tyrannical health care plan. I usually don’t use such derogatory nicknames on major political figures. (Well, apart from “Ted Kennedy (D-Chivas)” or “William Jefferson
Clinton,” but they’re special cases.) My point was that I considered Edwards’ plan a grotesque intrusion into the private lives of every single American, and I took tremendous offense at that. My use of one of the more common insulting terms leveled at him was to indicate just how angry I was.
One of the best lessons I ever learned was to learn the rules very clearly. This will not only give you some great tips on how to stay out of trouble, but give you great guidance when you do choose to break them. It also draws tremendous attention to you when you do break the rules. It helps mark the difference between, say, e. e. cummings and our own nogo postal; between people who portray idiots (like Bill Fagerbakke and Richard Moll, to name two) and genuine gibbering, illiterate dolts like spurwing plover.
One example is the use of profanity. I don’t use it that much. In fact, I make a conscious effort to keep my language “PG” at worst — and a pretty mild “PG” at that. That means that when I do break my rules and use the stronger cusswords, it leaps out at regular readers and guarantees that my intention — adding extra emphasis to the point I’m making — will come through loud and clear.
So yeah, in both cases, I took a risk. But they were calculated ones. And, I think, they paid off.
I’ve been blogging for almost four years now, and I passed my 3,000th piece some time ago. Taking these kinds of risks every now and then keep me from getting bored and complacent.
And when they pay off, that makes it that much more fun to continue.