Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Twitter Intelligence Test

Some months back an induhvidual took exception to what I had tweeted. I responded in a thoughtful, compassionate and humane fashion to the effect that she had missed the point.

She did not pay attention to anything I said and proceeded to reiterate her complaint. At that point I realized that further communications with that person would only serve to annoy me.

Perhaps I was being trolled, but the person seemed too stupid for such subtlety.

This morning a 3rd possibility presented itself in the form of Andy Dufresne's words to the warden of Shawshank Prison, "Why are you being obtuse?" In the scene, the warden does not know what obtuse means and he sees Andy's question according to his guilty conscience as an accusation: that he is deliberately missing the point to hold down the truth in unrighteousness.

The induhvidual might be merely playing to the crowd, construing my words into something I did not say. Again, the induvidual seemed too stupid for such a rhetorical device.

Some rhetoric is not suited to the irony-deficient. I remember a professor at MSU who made a sarcastic statement full of irony that unwittingly raised the ire of a minority community on campus. The prof in question was a good liberal who said something that was construed to be supportive of Nazism, the KKK, or somesuch.

There are people who cannot hear the difference between the word "fard" and the word "fart" and this has been the source of one of Rush Limbaugh's jokes at their expense. Likewise, the word "niggardly" means stingy, but it sounds like another word that is never uttered by civilized people. And this was used as a club to beat some politician out east a few years ago.

Activists in my home town have complained that it is racist to use the term "colored." I did not hear know how the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) took the news.

Why are you being obtuse?

What has me on this rather unfortunate rant is an unfair characterization more recently of my use of the word "savages."

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas (he of emanations of the penumbra fame) maintained that all text is subject to construction. The trouble with this is that one can construe another's words in a malicious fashion to damage that person's reputation. It is dishonest. But it was done in a good cause, that's OK. Right?

Thus the term "savages" means exactly what I want it to mean, nothing more and nothing less. Unless you want to score points at my expense whereupon it means exactly what you want it to mean, nothing more and nothing less.

Let us provide some context.

I wrote a story wherein two time travelers are hunting a third time traveler in Victorian London. At some point they interview a disreputable man who has seen their quarry. (Shown here at the left.)

The two time travelers come from different eras and different cultures. Nell hails from Ann Arbor and her rhetoric is chock full of the political correctness such as I have been describing in this note. The other time traveler is wont to tweak her at this point.

The man looked at Nell with wide eyes. “What do you know of the devil?” he asked.
“Sir, my friend was raised by savages in the Americas who do not believe evil exists...”

The second speaker--the guy in the hat at the right--is referring the politically-correct academics of Ann Arbor as "savages." Anyone with any knowledge of the character would never get any idea that she was raised by indigenous peoples of North America or natives of anywhere else. The Nell character is both an academic and the daughter of two university professors. These are the "savages" that raised her. This makes her particularly unlikely to believe in the existence of the devil--which is the point I am making.

I tried to explain this and the induhvidual who was damning me seemed unable or unwilling to see the point. I wasn't speaking to a human, but to a troll, an activist, or an ignoramus.

Nevertheless, the person on twitter deserved the benefit of the doubt. So I concluded he was an ignoramus, and blocked him. You can't follow me on twitter if you are incapable of following me.

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