We are trying to retain the comments section, and have increased policing efforts, although comments still remain largely unmoderated. The usual caveats still apply: no one can assume that we endorse any particular comment because it remains on the page.
Nevertheless, we are doing what we can to make this a cleaner, better-lighted place for rational discussion. This requires the elimination of trolls intent on distracting the unwary. This further requires that free-and-easy-riders be asked to dismount from their hobbyhorses and tether them firmly to the bollard outside the saloon’s swinging doors. And finally, this requires that posters be urged to heed the rules of verbal decorum.
Two examples of the problem were discussed recently in the comments section by Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald, and we thought it useful to post them as a separate article here so as to drive the point home more firmly:
1. “the strong comments of this Bish…” (in reference to the Melkite Archbishop)
Once upon a time, and a very good time it was, nicens little boys not only did not refer to a Bishop as “this Bish,” but if in doubt when writing or addressing a letter to a high-ranking cleric of a particular church, they would ask their mothers on what page of Emily Post’s Book of Etiquette could be found the precisely proper mode of salutation to be employed, for all kinds of excellencies and highnesses. And their mothers would tell them, and they would look, and they would learn. Never would it have occurred to those nicens little boys to refer to a Bishop, whether Melkite or Nestorian or Roman Catholic, as a “Bish.”
Would Evelyn Waugh, or a dashing Englishwoman trying to track down the exact place in Ethiopia from which Pushkin’s great-grandfather might have come, after having been granted an audience with the Abuna of the Ethiopian Coptic Church (not to be confused with the Coptic Church of Egypt), in a letter intended for a friend still at home, back in Blighty, on Primrose Hill, in Hampstead, in old Londinium, have scribbled such a phrase as “I met with the Bish today”? Of course not.
2. “did Vice Pres Cheney put the shit in there himself”¦” (in a posting here)
Some may remember George Carlin’s “Seven Little Words You Can Never Say on Television” routine, and the banning of that routine by the FCC, and the resulting case which went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Court affirmed a lower court’s upholding the constitutionality of the FCC’s banning words that it considered “patently offensive.”
It would be good, since such “patently offensive words” seldom convince, and always lower the tone, if attempts were made to suppress the urge to use them at this website.
If you wish, you can smuggle all kinds of things in through a poker-faced pun, so as not to outwardly disturb public morals.
An example from a comment posted in October 2005, commenting on some magazine’s listing of the “20 Most Important Intellectuals”:
“No Tariq Ramadan? No Cornel West? No Jeffery Sachs? This list is not nearly as completely 100% awful as it should be; the presence of Umberto Eco at #2 throws one off.
But nothing takes the cake like having Thomas Friedman, the man who uses his fingers to “make” “quotation” “mark” “signs” “around”
“words” when he talks, on any list of “intellectuals.”
The world is flat, famously says eager never-doubting-for-a-minute Thomas Friedman. Platitudes, plongitudes.
Le monde est bien plat. Quant Ã l’autre, sornettes. Put that in your pipe (ceci n’est pas une pipe, as the dissatisfied customer complained loudly to the management of the maison close on rue Chabanais), you compilers of such idiotic lists — and smoke it.”
One of those Seven Little Words hovers hidden amid the smoke (but not the mirrors, which remain demurely inside the maison close) of the last sentence. Those who came across that posting, would thus not have been offended by that hard to discern, smoke-wreathed wraith. A matter of phrasing. A matter of tact.
The failure to observe the rules of verbal decorum could drive away visitors. In the past such a problem would not have arisen. The line between the seemly and the unseemly, le cru et le cuit, would have been clearly demarcated. But unseemly language can now be encountered at every stratum of society. It can be heard in the speech of the grasping stock market racketeer in his home office, next to his home gym, in New Canaan, Connecticut. It can be heard in the lecture of the tie-less, suit-less, sock-less professor on Morningside Heights who, wishing to demonstrate to his students just how with-it he can be, delivers himself of phrases that fail to impress, his crude quotes left to haunt him when they appear, unexpunged and unexpungeable, in the next edition of the Student Guide to Professors.
Unseemliness can even be detected on the lips of the non-native speaker of English. Just imagine a well-bred and fetching French agronomist, winsome and wayward, deeply involved in an irrumation project in Mentula, Mississippi, who has learned from the locals to reproduce an expression the meaning of which she, in her innocence, does not fully grasp. Under the circumstances, one would naturally forgive her lapses of langue and parole.
In order to keep the site presentable and accounted for, one has to be a little less forgiving here.
As the raspy-voiced referee with the cigar stub jammed in the side of his mouth always says in the old movies, just before the opening bell sounds to signal the first round of the bout in Madison Square Garden: Got that, boys? Just make sure you keep things clean. No hitting below the belt. Now get out there and fight.