A Gentle Reminder



Every so often I get to write a post like this.  I dislike doing them, but it's necessary every now and again.

Things have been getting a little snarky and personal over the last couple of weeks.  Ad hominem attacks have been masquerading as sweeping generalizations in people's posts and comments.  If we don't call a halt to it early they'll spread faster than a Chris Paul trade rumor.  So consider this your reminder.

It's OK for people to feel, think, analyze, and prioritize differently than you do.  You can debate their assertions in a fair manner until the cows come home.  You cannot accuse them of being ignorant, naive, or not watching basketball.  You cannot get all up in arms every time somebody says something you don't like about a player, even if that's your favorite player.  You cannot shout down trade talk.  In fact you cannot shout down anything here.  Play fair or don't play at all.

Not only do we refrain from the above with regards to specific targets on this site, refraining from attacking the general masses is also part of the deal.  This is what I mean by ad hominem attacks masquerading as generalizations.  Saying, "Everybody here feels this way" or "Everybody who feels this way is a [insert disparaging remark here]" are area-of-effect attacks and are just as insulting, damaging, and derailing as person-specific attacks.  That they're overstated and incorrect doesn't help matters.  Most of the people reading and commenting here are smart, thoughtful, reasoned, and both capable of and interested in good conversation.  They deserve better than getting a flamethrower aimed at them because somebody is frustrated with something they read in the 5th, 15th, and 42nd Fanpost down the list.

Jerryd Bayless might or might not ever develop into a serviceable point guard.  Travis Outlaw may or may not fit into the Blazers' long-term plans.  Steve Blake or Andre Miller might start.  Martell Webster might or might not come back as good as new from this foot injury and his "new" might or might not be up to snuff.  Joel Przybilla could be traded or kept.  Pendergraph and Cunningham might contribute but might not.  Greg Oden could develop quickly, slowly, or not at all.  We can talk about these and a million other issues whenever you please.  You cannot give your answer and then expect everyone else to hush.

Do your best to have patience with each other, interpret what others are saying in the best light possible (instead of the worst), and to make this place welcoming and open to anyone who wants to talk about the team.  If you find something to be way over the line as far as personal attacks against another person or even a member of the team, flag it and let the mods look at it.  If you find yourself rolling your eyes at a topic or conversation, simply move on to another one.  Lord knows there's no shortage. 

All of that was the reminder.  Here's a free piece of wisdom for you to take along, which (as with all free wisdom) you are free to disregard.  But that doesn't make it any less true. 

When something is so obvious as to be self-evident people seldom get worked up when it's contradicted.  We all know the sky is blue.  If some guy came along and said that the sky is plaid you'd see one of two responses.  Either people would go, "Fascinating...tell me more about this world you live in" or they'd simply write him off as a nut and pass without comment.    Neither response brings out frustration, attacks, or shouting.  The subjects that usually bring out those responses are the ones we're trying very hard to see a certain way but we're secretly scared that way isn't as true as we're trying to make it.  That's when we can't stand to hear anyone disagree with us.  And just because that's seemingly the standard in entertainment-based public discourse nowadays doesn't make it right or productive.  If you're feeling ultra-frustrated about something, stop for a second and ask if you're frustrated because you genuinely think what the other person said is intolerably wrong or because you fear there's a chance they could be right.  If it's the former you'll probably be able to debate fairly or just pass on it altogether.  If it's the latter you're going to want to shout.  And it usually shows when you do.

The funny thing about all of this is, now more than ever everybody can just relax.  Whether the Blazers keep or trade Travis, move Jerryd to point guard or off guard, or start Przybilla or Oden they're going to be a good team.  This is going to be a good year...the best Portland has had for a decade.  It's time to let the fear and infighting that blossomed in the Jailblazers era go.  And it never needs to come back.  Spend 80% of your energy enjoying this team and 20% debating these issues.  That'll help us all keep the debates in perspective while simultaneously allowing us to have them.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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