Rule of Thumb

I notice that at Professor Loomis’s group blog there has been a movement of sorts to defend his right to free speech against those awful conservative wingnuts who have taken note of some of his more offensive statements. Evidently saying bad things about the good professor is tantamount to an insidious campaign of hate and intimidation.

The worst mistake to make with regards to Erik’s battle with accumulated wingnuttery is this: If I’m careful, it won’t happen to me. Erik employed an emotional-but-common metaphor to describe his feelings about a major public figure in the wake of a tragedy; the response has amounted to a Two Minutes Hate. The first purpose of this Hate is to intimidate Erik and people like Erik into never again speaking forthrightly about American politics. The second purpose is to distract from the fact that twenty children were massacred with weapons that no civilian should be allowed to possess.

Let’s be clear: If you are a progressive interested in writing about politics, this will happen to you. The only question is how you deal with it.

No. The intent is to discourage people from fantasizing on the Internet about assassinating public figures. Anyway Loomis reactivated and then deleted his Twitter account. Again, we may be thankful that Twitchy has preserved his words. A quick overview of the tweets he made before deleting his account again indicates that this is not just a matter of one or two badly worded posts but that this is a man with some anger management issues. I apologize for the language.

Dear The Avery in Providence. Fucking forgive me for working on my book while drinking a beer in your empty bar. Laptops banned!!!!!

Quick! Grab screencaps before the mad professor deletes them again:

I was just ordered by ownership to close my laptop in an almost totally empty bar. If you ever wanted to see me in full anger, see me now.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 14, 2012

Nothing makes me more angry than being ordered what to do. Usuallly good at checking emotions, am now in towering rage at laptop-banning bar—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 14, 2012

@drfarls You have no idea how much I wanted to break my glass over that guy’s head.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 14, 2012

Erik Loomis, as most Twitchy readers know, is the hypocritical University of Rhode Island professor who retweeted a tweet advocating murder of certain gun rights proponents.

His bio used to note his position as assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island. Not anymore.

Anyway, after deleting his Twitter account on Tuesday, Mr. Angry is back today. We can look forward to many more tweets like these:

I love teaching books on the history of sexuality. I talked about dildos in a completely appropriate way in class today.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 20, 2012

This I Believe: Corporations are run by greedy, rapacious assholes who deserve long prison sentences.…
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) November 16, 2012

Dear subtitle people, white subtitles on a white background means I CAN’T FUCKING READ THE SUBTITLES. Seriously, have you heard of yellow?—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) October 23, 2012

@speechboy71 I would personally like to punch Matt Stafford for single handedly destroying my fantasy team this year.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) October 23, 2012

Dear right-wing morons, saying you “want someone’s head on a stick” is a metaphor. I know metaphor is hard for you to understand.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

Dear rightwingers, to be clear, I don’t want to see Wayne LaPierre dead. I want to see him in prison for the rest of his life. #nraterrorism
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

I am bringing all this up because I thought it might be a good way to introduce my rule of thumb regarding blogging, tweeting, writing, or saying anything that is likely to become public. If Professor Loomis and his colleagues happen to be reading this, I hope they will pay attention.

My rule of thumb is this; before hitting the return or send button, take a quick look at what you have written and consider how a complete stranger might take it. If what you have written comes across as angry, hateful, or deranged, you might want to rewrite or delete it. If there is anything in what you have written that could even remotely be construed as a threat of violence, then you should definitely rewrite or delete it. You may feel that this would cramp your style or restrict your free speech rights but I would say that the right of free speech comes with the responsibility to use that right conscientiously. In other words, if you don’t want people to jump all other you, you might try to express yourself with some degree of civility and respect. I think you might find it easier to persuade people to come around to your point of view if you didn’t start off by calling anyone who disagrees with you a moron.

Something similar could be said regarding foul language. If you have a problem expressing yourself without using the f-word, imagine your mother standing in front of your computer. You wouldn’t talk like that in front of her, would you? If you have a limited vocabulary, as so many seem to these days, invest in a thesaurus. You might also try reading the classics. Those writers like Shakespeare and Dickens, etc. really knew how to express themselves. Learn from them.

I think that if we all try to be calmer and more rational and not just write whatever happens to be on the top of our heads at any given moment, we would all be a lot better off and , who knows, we might just be able to find things we agree on.

Oh,and Professor Loomis, if by chance you do happen to be reading this, please get counseling. You’ll find it does a world of good in dealing with your issues.

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