OT: Why I hate political threads

Before anyone jumps me for my hypocrisy for posting in two threads currently running on the wreck, let me say that I regret my participation in those threads, but solely because I don't believe these threads belong here, whether they are labeled "Off Topic" or not. Justifying a post simply by labeling it "Off Topic" is akin to qualifying a racial or other odious slur by following it up with "just kidding." It's still odious and it's wrong.
Here's why I hate the political threads. I have spent a number of years on the wreck. I participate both here and on other woodworking fora on the internet on a regular basis. I have personally met dozens of fellow woodworkers from all over the country; a feat unthinkable before the 'net. Virtually all of the people that I've met have been people that I would be comfortable with in my house. I would enjoy conversing with them about woodworking and other topics of mutual interest.
When two (or more) people sit face to face it is almost unheard of for one of them to lean forward and say something anathema to the other's point of view; political, religious, or otherwise. I can't imagine someone doing that. It would be rude. It would be the height of inappropriate behavior. It would violate all rules of society.
Of all of the people I've met as described, I can honestly say I don't know the political inclinations of any of them. I didn't ask; they didn't tell. I don't want to know. And apparently they felt the same, because at the end of the day, they had not asked, either. That's not to say I don't have some inklings or suspicions, but I've not wanted to follow up to confirm.
The reason for that is I've seen too much lying, muckraking, prevarication, misinformation, mudslinging, unbelievable distortion of facts, all to political ends, for me to respect anyone that I believe is embracing those techniques and using them to further their particular ends. And I don't want to not respect the people I've become friends with. It hurts me to see someone whom I appreciate for their knowledge and experience in a particular area of woodworking (the reason I'm here) line up on the other side of what I believe.
In fact, I haven't been able to help but develop a list of wreckers who I wouldn't share a broken tool with, much less pleasant discourse; all because they couldn't contain their opinions on subjects that shouldn't be aired in a common interest forum for which those subjects would be off-topic.
Unfortunately, the anonymity behind which all who choose to can hide on the internet removes the constraints with which society holds a person with regard to his behavior.
Moreover, typing vitriol is virtually risk free as opposed to spewing it in person at the risk of a bloody nose. It's no surprise to me that we see so much of it on the internet. I'm not saying there's no place for it on the 'net; I know of at least a couple of "flame" newsgroups and several political ones where that is the appropriate medium.
I just think that the wreck is not one of them, and I don't want to find out about my friends' feet of clay. And that works across the spectrum; I'm sure there must be someone out there who is embarrassed about the way they've learned I feel.
Anyway, I expressed regret about joining the mob and its mentality and I meant it. And here is my pledge. No more will I engage in political (or other divisive) threads. It is not good for me, it is not good for my friends, it is not good for the wreck. The opinions expressed aren't going to change anyone's mind; it's naive for anyone to think so. That probably includes this one.
- - LRod
Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
Shamelessly whoring my website since 1999
http://www.woodbutcher.net
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I'm with ya! Dave

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<snip off for brevity>
I too regretted postings in the same O.T. My sincere apology to all netters here. Let me continue to lurk and post occasionally as I have done in the past.
Bye
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Then just do it for God's sake. Making announcements to gather sympathy just increases the noise around here.
I hate whining from regulars for the following reason. Political battles and other OT content in threads is so easy to spot and ignore if one is so inclined. However, the all too frequent whining posts are slipped in everywhere often without a way to tell it is just another complaint about something that won't change. It's even worse coming from a regular because I am more inclined to download a post from a regular. Much more of my time is wasted by regulars who are complaining about something than by the OT crap.
And yes, in the spirit of sheer hypocrisy, I am whining. Frank
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Amen, brother, sort of. I haven't been wading through the political threads since the first day. I admit, I did waste a little time there the first day. I do think it's inappropriate to fill a box called rec.woodworking with all this extraneous stuff. Must be a place where it's expected, where it belongs. Let's get back to the sawdust.
bob g.
LRod wrote:

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Hello All Fellow Woodworkers, Here, here! I second the motion! I'm fairly new to the rec.woodworking group and do appreciate the good, the bad and the indifferent here on the myriad nuances of woodworking et al. If I wanted to discuss politics, fishing, tantric sex or other social issues I'd be digging around in another group for that particular pertinent information. I have always found most of the internet groups, whatever their topic, to be anything but. Ads, trolls, red herrings, scams & blathering idiots rampant. Sifting through the detritus is a waste of mine and most people's time. I respect the integrity I have seen in this woodworking group for staying, for the most part, relevant, and true to the purpose of a group forum. I feel a sense of pride, in that, most of the contributors here feel the same way. Now, I know I am going off topic myself, in response to this thread, but I do applaud the thought behind it. Thank you! Michael
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Oh damn! I have a problem with political threads. Whenever somebody makes some statement that registers in mega-morons on the stupid scale, I feel I must jump in and set things straight. But then I realize that trying to change the mindset of an idealogue who worships at the porcelain throne of some politician is a waste of time. Once in a while I will add some point of fact that is obviously missing, but I try to do so without adding to the flow of bile. I shouldn't even do that I suppose, but it does feel good until some doofus disputes the facts. My blood pressure rises and then I realize that trying to change ... yada yada.
It is however, a free unrefereed forum and I would not suggest changing it. Peace.     mahalo,     jo4hn
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basically I agree, I also will take the pledge ..
By the way did you say you were running for mayor of .....oh well . :] mjh
-- http://members.tripod.com/mikehide2

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* Topicality is always topical *
LRod wrote:

In theory, of course, you're absolutely right. In practice, one of the important aspects of "the wreck" is that it's evolved into a community of persons who share some level of mutual respect - based primarily on woodworking skills/experience; but also on a lot of other factors. We're not really complete strangers to one another.
Off-topic discussions are nearly inevitable between people who share common interests and respect one another. Hidden in these conditions is the reason that wreck regulars don't take the off-topic discussions off to alt.talk.politics (or wherever).
Labeling a topic "Off Topic" isn't a justification at all. I tend to think of it as a courtesy that facilitates filtering out messages that aren't topical to woodworking - while providing an expanded communication channel between community members.

I think you're really talking about two different things here - at least I hope you are. I think we could all agree that lying, mudslinging, etc. are unacceptable behaviors.
On the other hand, none of us (to the best of my knowledge) is necessarily in possession of all of the truth on any subject. Moreover, it's entirely possible - and reasonable - for two people in posession of the same facts to /interpret/ those facts differently as a consequence of their differing experiences.

Ok. My criteria for tool-sharing is a bit different; but I don't have any difficulty accepting yours.

The anonymity doesn't remove the community's norms; it simply allows those who disregard them to be somewhat faceless. As with most usenet groups, posters who conceal their identity are afforded much less credibility/respect than others.

It'll probably continue as long as there are sufficiently angry, twisted, or broken people. Not much you or I or the wreck can do about it, except quietly not participate when we recognize that this is the case.

Do you think they should be? A diversity of viewpoints, to me at least, is wonderful and to be treasured. I can value you as a person and source of woodworking expertise regardless of your politics, religion, favorite editor, or choice of computer/OS.
The bad news: We all have feet of clay. The good news: We do the best we can in spite of it.

It's your choice, of course. My own take is that it's almost impossible to arrive at consensus without a certain amount of wrangling - and the more people care and the more varied their experiences, the more heat the discussion generates. I don't much worry about the heat as long as there's at least some light. Politics isn't inherently toxic - but neither is it inherently sanitary.
Case in point: I'm finding that good wood is becoming more and more difficult to find. Why is that? Is there anything that can be done to remedy the situation? If there is, what action can I (and/or other woodworkers) take?
I've already asked myself these questions; and (with considerable regret) come to the conclusion that any long-term solution /will/ involve politics and politicians. If your conclusion is different, then I'm interested in learning about it. Actually, I'm interested in /any/ solution.
I apologize to you if any of my posts have given offense. I can assure you that it was not intentional. I can assure you also that I don't use a pseudonym and that you can DAGS (web and groups) on my name (use quotes) to retrieve enough material to thoroughly bore yourself.
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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Morris Dovey responds:

I agree.

Yes.
As they should be.

As someone said a few weeks ago, he was "disappointed in me for my response" to whatever the question was. I was never sure about why that should matter to me: it was his disappointment, not mine, and he isn't a parent or a boss or a spouse or a child of mine, so his reaction is very close to irrelevant to me. One of my clay feet.

Or sane.

I have an article coming out soon in Smart Homeowner that covers PART of that problem and another coming out later that covers a bit more. It ain't simple.

OK. I agree with all but the first part. There are times that I have absolutely meant to offend someone. Those are infrequent, but do happen. There are other times when my political or emotional standpoint offends someone, but, as above, that's rooted in their personal belief system, not mine, and is their problem, not mine.
It really doesn't cost much to NOT read an OT subject if such things bother a person. And political arguments don't have to get mean---Mike Hide and I have been prodding each other for a bit, and, AFAIK, there's no mean intent on either side. I think he's wrong. He thinks I'm wrong. Life's like that.
Charlie Self "A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers." H. L. Mencken
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Snip of good stuff on OT threads

I find that the OT discussions in rec.woodworking are usually enjoyable, even when (and sometimes because) people get worked up. In general the political discussions and other OT threads on this group are simi-polite and show a degree of intelligence on both sides (even those damned liberals). I have seldom felt the need to block whole threads or even individuals, let alone the whole "OT" prefix. I recently started reading rec.boats for some specific info needs and found that they are completely out-of-control with at least 80% of post on nasty name calling political threads and you could hardly find the boating info. However a quick setup of a couple filters (all OT post, post with Bush, Kerry, Chaney, etc and a couple of the nastiest people who purposefully worded their posts to get around the above filters) made the group quite readable again. If anyone finds the OT stuff here objectionable, a quick filter will wipe almost all of it out. I should note that I am not using some hi-tech, complex filtering software. I am on Compuserve and I just use the rather limited filtering capability built into it.
Dave Hall
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"Morris Dovey" wrote in message

And what guarantee do we have that "Morris Dovey" is not anonymity in disguise? :)
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Swingman wrote:

Absolutely none - but I'd be really absolutely thunderstruck to discover that I was actually someone else in disguise. [-8
--
Morris Dovey
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"Morris Dovey" wrote in message

LOL ... hell, even my spell checker thinks your last name is suspicious. ;>)
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