Saturday, May 14, 2005

Sometimes it's hard to gauge --

What effect you might be having on the world.

Maybe someone besides us has been following a discussion in the comments with Thomas, who protested that I wasn't fair to Catholics for Faithful Citizenship when I excoriated the group about some of the language in its press releases.

I said that the group was behaving hypocritically, and he said I was a hack, and I asked if he was affiliated with CFFC, and he said no.

But it was hard to understand why he took everything so personally, why he was so concerned about what I said on this little blog, in one post, rapidly lost in the ongoing flow of words in the blogosphere, if he didn't have any stake in the group I had criticized.

He came back yesterday asking what I thought of the group's most recent press release: "Senator Voinovich -- A Profile in Courage."

I didn't agree with the content and told him so, but -- CFFC didn't call anybody any names, didn't say anyone had sold his soul or was stifling debate, and so although I disagreed with the point of the press release, I said it was fine. I said, "Good on them."

Thomas came back with an outrage that smacks of hurt feelings: "Well?!?!?!?! Come on! Give them some kudos! You slammed them before and now? ha!"

I gave them one kudo, which was all I had lying around.

But -- Thomas came from a stat counter for the CFFC website, a password-protected stat counter. So he is affiliated with the organization in some way, but for some reason he declined to own up to it when I asked him.

And now I wonder -- did he ask my approval on that press release because it mattered to him, after all was said and done, what I thought of it? Did my criticism of the headlines on the press releases have some effect, despite his belief that I am a hack for the right? If I had known it made a difference -- and I'm not presuming that it did, mind you -- I'd have certainly dug out and dusted off at least another kudo.

The point of this rambling -- and there is a point, though it squiggles around like mercury -- is that it makes such a difference in an argument if one thinks the other despises him, if one doesn't understand the other's investment in the outcome.

So to Thomas, if he ever wanders back to this space, I apologize for not being more conscious of his personhood. I'm not sure what I would do differently. I still believe the arguments I put forward, right-wing hackery or no, but I should have remembered that anyone may be sensitive to criticism and open to change.

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