Thursday, February 13, 2003

I don’t think I’ve weighed in on the Iraq War debate yet on this journal, mainly because that will inevitably turn into a diatribe, and I doubt that my views will convince anybody of anything. There’s far too much real data out there for my opinion to convince anybody whether we should or should not go to war with Iraq. I ran across a quote the other day, in fact, along the lines of, “Never argue with someone who’s convinced. You won’t sway them.” You can present facts, but getting into an impassioned argument won’t convince your opponent that they’re wrong and you’re right.

But I read a lot of strong anti-war blog entries today, and I was slapped in the face by a statement Wil Wheaton wrote on his journal: “We are marching directly into a war, though there is massive public resistance to it.”

I’m not going to talk about the war. But I am going to talk about how we people about things like the war on Iraq.

Let’s examine Wil’s claim. Most Americans support the war, as of February 9th (so say the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Wall Street Journal). Is that support cautious? Yes, as it should be. But the Bush administration is not exactly alone in its opinion on this.

I see this behavior on blogs a lot: Those who are against the war assumes that the rest of the country feels the same way. It’s false. And it damages peoples’ reputations.

Now there are lots of facets to the war issue, of course, but I’m not going to delve into them here. Because what’s the point? You want to present your opinion. You have every right to do so. But remember that doing so — especially regarding a massively complicated and debated issue like this — is masturbatory. Seriously. What are you contributing to the discussion?

The internet is a public forum. By posting to a public forum about a key issue, even in a personal blog, you are contributing to a discussion. If your post is completely personal, why are you posting it publicly? To quote my pastor’s encouragement to get the congregation to wear name tags, “You’re not as famous as you think.”

I fear that bloggers forget the impact that this has on their reputation. I fear people feel that they can post whatever they want, and because they have the right to do so, they are shielded from any negative effects of their writing. They can just say, “But I have the right to say that.”

Sure, you have that right. But your right to free speech does not preclude my right to form my opinion of you based on your speech.

Reducing this to a platitude feels phony to me, so I won’t. I’ll end here. Do you agree?

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