This might not be the most cogent post I've ever written, but whatever. For the sake of my good name I think I need to say something.
You see, it all started when I had the gall, the nerve, to write a pretty straightforward post with a pretty straightforward message. Here's the post I'm talking about. Most people with decent reading comprehension skills could probably figure out what I was trying to say, but just in case, here are two bullet points that sum it up.
- Big box stores are a fact of life that I have grudgingly come to accept as, on the whole, pretty good, and;
- There are ideas and examples of better ways of dealing with them that mitigate some of their bad stuff and that we as a community could consider implementing
Not only did the post raise the ire of at least one anti-Big Box person, but my dear old friend Tom Berkhouse took it as a proof of something nefarious. Because I rarely read closely what Berkhouse has to say (I gotta look out for what's best for my psyche, after all), I'm not sure entirely what he was trying to prove. However, I believe he used my conclusion that Big Boxes aren't all bad to prove yet again that I am a hypocrite of the highest order.
A few years ago when I was trying to save Merriweather from an owner that apparently never intended to close it down (right, Tom?), I opposed potential Big Box development in Town Center. Which clearly means that, at the time, I hated all Big Boxes, regardless of location, while the post from the other day means that, today, I love them, regardless of location. Silly me, I thought I could have it both ways -- that is, Big Boxes in appropriate areas (car-friendly Snowden/Dobbin) and no Big Boxes in inappropriate areas (people-friendly downtown Columbia).
There is only love and hate in this world, after all. Take your wishy-washy BS somewhere else, chief.
Sorry. Lesson learned.
If only it would have ended with the incessant need of Mr. Berkhouse to make it All About Town Center (and by extenison the evilness of me and Ken Ulman), but it didn't. Some crafty anonymous commenter decided to call Mr. Berkhouse by another name in an attempt to "out" him, or expose his true identity. By failing to respond in due course to this bit of pettiness, I tacitly endorsed such actions and, again, demonstrated absolute proof of my hypocrisy, at least according to David Keelan.
Mr. Keelan took it upon himself to admonish me for failing to admonish someone whose identity I still have yet to ascertain and who may or may not have ascertained the identity of Mr. Berkhouse. Normally, this would just be a failure to enforce the Choose Civility edict in effect for The Howard County Blogs, but since I had the nerve to question Mr. Keelan's decision to entrap a previous anonymous commenter over a year ago, I just demonstrated a "double standard."
Mr. Keelan drags up this comment of mine from Back in the Day:
I do want to say that I strongly disagree with David Keelan’s decision to expose the true identity of a commenter he doesn’t like, and one with whom I disagree (and am frustrated by) regularly. Regardless of how you feel about her, David’s decision sets an ugly precedent. Commenter’s [sic] can be held to different standards depending on their views and the threat of tracing identities through IP address (which are available for all to see by looking at the Site Meter reports — see bottom of the page) looms over all. Such things help stifle diverse debate and might prevent many worthy commenter’s [sic] from participating.(Note: The [sic]s are mine, added to what Keelan posted, as I used proper grammar in my original comment. See here.)
My thoughts on involuntary outing remain the same. I still think it's wrong and wish the anonymous commeter didn't do it. But I have no idea what I was supposed to do in this case. Immediately delete the comment? Right, then I'd get in trouble for patrolling my blog on government time. Oh, and I'd probably be in trouble for failing to allow free speech, as has happened in the past when I deleted totally unsubstantiated rumors (coincidentally, written by Mr. Berkhouse). I also caused quite a fervor when I tried to get everyone to use a pseudonym because I was limiting speech.
Damned either way, I suppose.
It's also pretty funny that this was not the first time somebody tried to guess the real identity Tom Berkhouse. Indeed, the first such instance was on Mr. Keelan's blog and his response to the commenter was just as lame, if not more so, than my non-response:
Thanks for posting. Your inaugural post is telling. I am sure we can rely on you for more interesting and insightful commentary. Keep up the fine work anonymous Slim.Look, I don't really care if Mr. Keelan wants to call me out on his blog; I just wish he would be more direct about it. If he thinks my failure to act was shady, come out and say it. Instead, we get this:
The people trying to out Berkhouse are treating Tom as if he did something terrible like threatened a county employee for trying to shut off his water for non-payment or something when in fact all Tom does is forcefully and at times very forcefully expresses a strong difference of opinion with Ian. At times Tom will criticise [sic] Ian for what Tom perceives to be a twisting of the facts in order to reach a desired conclusion. Tom is often (not always) rather enjoyable to read and makes good points but often (if not always) fails to elicit a reaction from Ian. So in fairness to Ian perhaps Ian is just simply ignoring all commenter’s [sic]. Perhaps Ian is too busy with his new job which is perfectly understandable. I have a full time job too, a family, and I just started an MBA program (which is going great so far) so I understand finding time to stay up on the local scene and one’s blog isn’t easy.Yes, I'm busy. But, frankly, I don't have the time or the inclination to get involved in these silly bloggy squabbles (says the guy writing over 1000 words about one -- I know), rehashing the same arguments, fighting the same fight. If anonymous and semi-anonymous commenters can't discuss things without feeling offended or offending others, perhaps they should spend more time with puppies or flowers. I'm nobody's mother.
It's also kind of sad that Mr. Keelan finds the need to again apologize for completely inappropriate behavior from Mr. Berkhouse (lies, character attacks, etc.). I know a lot of people like to disagree with me about a lot of stuff and some of my more vocal critics likely revel in the treatment I receive from the resident jerk. But in a community like ours, the fact that Mr. Berkhouse still has a group of people that accept and condone his vile words is pretty lame. Disagree all you want, that's fine. But is it too much to ask that you do it with some class?
Finally, there's a lot of stuff going on locally right now that hasn't been talked about at all, yet time gets spent on this? Please, discuss and argue about the big stuff and leave the drama to the high schoolers. Continuing to worry about which anonymous person said what about some other anonymous only dooms our little blogging enterprise to irrelevance.
Speaking of irrelevance, the icing on the cake of this whole thing is that -- as I told someone recently -- my blog is about two steps away from reading like a little girl's diary. Over my "two weeks" of silence I've only had two ideas for posts -- one about the rather large amount of acorns falling on my house and the other about my awesome dog. I'm being totally serious. There's a ton of acorns coming off our big oak and my dog is freaking awesome (for instance, he recently started "talking" in his sleep, which is probably the cutest thing I've ever seen).
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to write either post and my silence on the subjects is probably proof of my true disdain for oak trees and huskies.