Guilty as charged

posted Feb 25, 2003

What bothers me more is that Jeremy Bowers, who is usually so insistent that we should be clear and precise when we speak, is now using such obfuscating and emotionally-loaded language.... "Wage Life" is, to my mind, a content-free phrase which can only confuse the issue. - words (is that the right name?)

OK, guilty as charged. I was going to post this as a comment on that site but I suppose it could use more general dissemination.

The biggest personal problem I've faced in my writing is the tendency towards extreme verbosity. It comes from an attempt to preempt every possible misinterpretation or misunderstanding, due to both reader and writer. Hang around any Internet community for three or four years and you get a pretty good sense of what people are going to read into a given message.

Unfortunately, as you might imagine, that easily leads to messages of extreme length. One of the reasons I still post on Slashdot is to keep experimenting with keeping messages just the right length in a usually actively hostile environment. I guess in a way this is a form of progress as a writer; for the first time I can remember in a long time, I cut something out of an intended post that turned out to be vital! Lesson: The rest of the cuts, and there have been many, have been good. ;-)

I fully believe you can "Wage Life" by disagreeing with the war. I think principled disagreement can arise from an honest belief that it will do more harm then good. Truthfully, while I believe in war in the abstract I do worry about bungling by the Administration, which could ruin all the goodness, but some risks you have to take; even if I personally was in charge of the war (to the extent that is possible, I know I lack the experience in these matters but let's pretend), I doubt it would go exactly as I would like.

What bothers me is not people who think peace (note the lower case) is the best option right now, but the self-righteous folks who demand Peace without ever once acknowledging that frankly, Saddam's peace is pretty horrible for Iraqis. It can't be cast in black-and-white, with the heroic Peace protesters on one side against the evil War hawks. There are costs and benefits, and many Iraqis are on record as supporting the idea.

Inverting the question, I also defend my beliefs on the ground that while I am for this particular war (lowercase), I am not in favor of War (eternal war on any and every ground). I doubt very many truly are, but the accusations do tend to fly, do they not?

Now, you do have to admit, while this is a lot clearer and more rational, even if you disagree, even if you are in the group I'm ragging on, that my previous message has much more punch, no?

Either way, thanks for calling me on it; I appreciate it.

(Going to have to mark this one on my calendar somewhere. Oh, you should have seen some of those earlier postings. I was the master of verbiage, I tell you. I could turn a simple "I disagree because you're wrong about the speed of light in your calculations" into a three-page response. The sad thing is how well it works in school; so few people, even those supposedly trained for it, can detect when they're being snowed under with words.)


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