[Note: Feel free to skip reading if you’re tired of reading about warring blogs]
I’ve received a few death threats since I began blogging. Only a couple, and both were on posts when I suggested that the state of Montana should perhaps not allow every person who wants to to carry a gun into every place he wants to. On one of the posts, some “gun enthusiast” mentioned that he was glad that my father had died when I was young so that he could avoid seeing the person I’d grown up to become.
That second one stung a little bit, but in general, one takes Internet threats and throws them aside. They’re generally throwaway one-liners from cowards who are unlikely to come back.
But some fights on the Internet don’t go away so quickly. For five years, as some of you know, the writers at another Montana blog (I don’t mention it not to be rude, but to be polite) and I have fought over issue after issue. Essentially it comes down to two arguments: disagreement about the nature of politics and rehashing personal fights that have gone on for half a decade. Those of you who have read these comments and posts have probably grown quite tired of them, and the truth is that I have, too. Both sides have been guilty of attacking the other, and uncovering the root of the hostility at this point would be as futile as uncovering the origin of an Appalachian feud.
Yet another brush fire broke out again this week. Regrettable things were said on both sides once more. And I’m sorry for some of them. I don’t entirely understand why some of what I’ve said was so upsetting, but I’m sure they don’t understand why I am so upset either. Privately, I have apologized for some of what I imagine are the comments that most upset the other two writers, and I’ll leave that there for the sake of privacy. If they’d like me to post it here, I will.
I’ve tried, since last night, to negotiate a ceasefire. My argument is pretty simple: it’s clear we cannot persuade each other, and it’s also clear that the history of bad blood between the two sites is so strong that we’re just not capable of seeing each other’s postings as anything other than hostile acts. There are times when relationships become too toxic to continue, even with the best intentions, and silence is most appropriate.
So one more time, publicly, I ask: can we please put this to rest? Can we agree not to write posts about each other’s sites so that both sites can be better places for the people interested in reading what’s written there? I’m willing to do that. If the writers at the other site are not, then I have to give some thought to shutting this blog down because, rightly or wrongly, I worry that the conflict will spill over into my real life. I am a teacher foremost. This is a hobby, a weird one, yes, but a hobby. I can’t afford to jeopardize my career or personal relationships over this.
And I can’t afford the toll on myself. I have spent the last twenty four hours feeling so furious that I don’t know what to do with myself. For a middle-aged fat man, that’s probably not an ideal way to spend the day. For a human being, it’s not the right way to spend the day.
This is all I ask:
- for a time, can we please stop writing posts about each other?
- can we either agree to not comment at each other’s sites or to try a hell of a lot better to comment on the issues of the posts?
- can we, for the love of God, please stop fighting about who is banned at whose site?
- can you accept my sincere, general apology for any harm my comments have done and believe my willingness to apologize for specific offenses you’d like to enumerate, here or privately?
- Additionally, I will take down any comments or posts here you’d like me to. You can ask privately or publicly.
If not, there’s nothing I can do. I don’t know that I’ll quit writing here, but I have to think about it.
I don’t want to stop writing here. Outside of legislative sessions, I’m don’t know that this site has ever been more popular. Our readership, through the blog itself and on Facebook, is booming, and I’ve come to meet a number of interesting people online as a result. I’m nervous, and energized about Montana politics in 2016, and want to do my little part here. Foolish as it is, I care about Montana politics and the future of our state.
WordPress says that I have written 2,568 posts since I started this blog in 2005. If you assume an average of 400 words per post, that comes out to 1,027,200 words, about 95% of them about Montana politics. I’ve been wrong a lot, right on occasion, kind periodically, and a snarky jerk more often than a person should. But if trying to get to a second million means more of this conflict, then this might be the end of the line, and I think I am okay with that.