I'm a mean guy.
I admit it. I can be pretty nasty when I go into argument and retaliation mode. And, what the previous blog says about some internet chatters is also true of people who trust email too much for conversations, particularly about issues that divide people, which is actually what this blog is devoted to as a relief valve. It exists so that I can be nice to my friends who don't always know what I really think, and may not want to know, because the offense to their feelings -- their sacred cows -- can be pretty serious and invite strife.
Now, I have a best friend, or maybe I had a best friend, who is a musician and the founder of a Black Sabbath tribute band which I don't need to name here. About two years ago I performed once with this band as the new vocalist, since the former vocalist was on the lam from the law. I was in the process of trying to establish my own Sabbath tribute, but after that I picked up my friend's band and tried to rebuild, as old members left and we turned over faces looking for talented interested people. So now, two years have gone by struggling to get something going with this band, and with him struggling with besetting illness, and me with unemployment, and in the meantime I guess both of us drifted back into other interests that we indulge on the Internet, which happen to include politics .... on opposite sides. This eventually led to strife.
I went after one of his sacred cows. Basically, patriotism, the sacrifice of soldiers for our freedom, and the security of this country are a few of his sacred cows, and I hope I'm being fair to him about the way I'm describing it. I might be failing miserably at that, but suffice it to say he's a pretty doctrinaire right wing guy when it comes to political matters and doesn't seem to believe that there might be reason for folks to distrust the Bush administration about the war (he's a veteran, but so are at least four of my closest male relatives and none of them is nearly as right wing about this.) He supported an effort to push the City Council of New York to ban a September 11 march by a Muslim-American group, and though I didn't call him to task directly on that because he is a friend, I did make it easy for him to find that I was going to work on opposing any ban of any march, because I consider that a direct attack on American freedom. Maybe I made it too easy.
Anyway, something finally did set him off directly, and it happened to be some material which later went into my first blog down at the bottom of this screen if you scroll down. Basically the video of the Code Pink protesters getting arrested did it for him, on an email that I sent BCC'd to about 200 different people on two different emails, plus bulletining on two other accounts on Myspace. (The same accounts or emails that referred you to this blog if you are reading it, most likely.) Anyway, the email he sent back about it just seem to explode off the screen as he cussed me out, impugned my patriotism, my integrity, and my character -- just really trying to reduce me to as small a size as he could manage. It was quite a shock, though perhaps I should not have been that surprised, it was not like there weren't subtle warning signs. Well, I read that with the furious, vitriolic tone that it had, along with what I frankly considered a self righteous appeal to his own service in the military, and I got pretty mad myself. Of all the things he said in the email it might well have been what I considered that self righteous prideful tone that sparked my own rage. But, instead of answering that directly, I reposted his letter, taking his name off of it, back to him AND to about 100 other people, sort of saying "This is the reaction I got from my best friend. Since this is how he treated me over this, I'm dropping him from my email list." His next reply was just as caustic as the first, plus it added a nice layer of guilt about his medical condition.
So, I waited a little, checked the Myspace accounts because I was still angry at this point, and found he had dropped me as a friend from those accounts, and even from a business-related account that I was starting for someone else. Thought that was a bad sign, I figured what I did succeeded very well in hurting his feelings. (Told you I was mean. And in the same week that I punched some guy in a bar for trying a palm strike on my face....) And it was about this time that it dawned on me that my friend had gone over the wall from me. So, it was maybe time to try a more conciliatory approach.... which was probably not conciliatory enough because I was still smarting from the hurtful things he had written to me. The gist of it was a proposal that we never talk about politics again, because it's bad for my mind and bad for his health. I've yet to get an answer from him about it, and I think it may be a while before that happens, if that happens. For right now, I'm leaving it alone, because there is nothing that I can say to take back his eye-opening to what I really believe about the state of civil rights in this nation.
Now, the path that led me to this blog really started with learning about a prior FCC investigation of the church that I joined in 1983, which investigation had broken the First and Fourth Amendments by breaking into the church buildings without a warrant, stealing tens of thousands of hours of videotapes, and demanding that my pastor turn over all the names and addresses of the donating members of the church. So I had pretty close at hand information of an attack on our religious freedom and privacy. Ever since then I've been seeing this kind of stuff building gradually into an avalanche for a long, long time. But, I wish that the dialogue between me and my friend had not descended to the level that it did, and my public retaliation for his private flaming, by removing him from one email list and exposing his direct remarks to an audience, did absolutely nothing to advance anything. I know I should have been a better man. But, I also know I'm not, and I don't think a whole lot of people are...