Bullying And The Internet

So the ‘Net is -rightly – fluttering with anger on reading Kathy Sierra’s post about some – outrageously inappropriate, to put it mildly – posts about her on some sites run by other members of the Internet intelligentsia. Posts which ranged from junior-high-school sexual imagery to what sure read like death threats.

Go check out Technorati on it, and go and browse through her post, the comments, and posts about it.

Most people are very reasonably outraged. The perpetrators are so far silent.

Business as usual, many people say. So what? Well, so a lot, I think. I think that we have, as a culture, forgotten what manners are for, We forget the delicate dance of power and self-control that enables people to live together in a society. This manifests itself in a number of depressing ways; Jane Hamsher and blackface as valid political commentary; Freepers and LGF commenters who think that a few well-deployed nukes would be a good substitute for a foreign policy. And on a smaller and more personal level, a bunch of upper-middle class computer wonks who can’t disagree about Internet strategy without slipping the bounds of civility and acting like asses.

Personally, I blame it all on nonviolence, but that’s a matter for another post.

Luke Ford, Cathy Seipp’s would-be Boswell, is supportive of the rights to free expression of a middle-aged man who harassed Cathy’s daughter, and posted and obscene (in the moral, not necessarily sexual sense) commentary purporting to be Cathy’s final missive…while Cathy was dying. Eliot Stein should be free to comment, and write, and we shouldn’t infringe on his freedom to be as hurtful and outrageous as he chooses to be.

I’ve been thinking about how to respond, and two things come to mind.

A few weeks ago, I did something in Las Vegas I’ve been kinda ashamed of. Seriously. And no, it didn’t involve three lithe (female!) Cirque dancers…

We are at dinner at the Bellagio, and having a kind of serious business discussion. If you’ve met me, you know that even when I’m not projecting (and oh, yes, I can) my voice carries pretty darn well. And people have at times come to me and asked me to moderate it, which I’m happy to try and do.

In this case, a somewhat tipsy man was at the table behind me, and took increasing exception to my talking. Which he eventually expressed – not politely – but forcefully and profanely – expecting I’m sure that his bullying tone and threatening affect would shut me up.

I told him to fuck off, and meant it. I was surprised and somewhat alarmed at how angry I was, and how willing I was to match his escalation, rather than do the things I knew would de-escalate. He raised an empty champagne bottle over his head and gestured threateningly with it (the counter to a champagne bottle threat, in case you’re wondering, is slightly different from a wine bottle threat, unless the bottle is from a particularly good vintage…a rising x-block trapping the wrist, at which point there are all kinds of things you can do) and we had a standoff until a whole lot of restaurant staff showed up. They were moved away, we got free desserts, and my friends were more than a little concerned about my flash of temper – as was I.

Then I read Blackfive’s little story about someone who handled a situation much better than I did, and think about the fact that civil society depends in large part on our willingness to enforce civility. Yes, I know that civility and conformity are close neighbors. But I have no worries about being able to tell the difference.

People who behave badly should expect that there will be consequences to their behavior, and that being a bullying asshole doesn’t mean that you’ll get your way, and that bad behavior online or in person – has consequences.

I value civility here a lot, and appreciate the fact that we manage to disagree heatedly and yet with some measure of mutual respect. Thank you all for that.

As for Eliot Stein, and the people who slimed themselves by posting abusive things about Kathy Sierra? Fuck ‘em.

30 thoughts on “Bullying And The Internet”

  1. I’m a proud LGFer.

    One must differentiate between foreign policy and war policy.

    To do that we must decide: are we at war? If we decide not to be at war will the other guys make peace? BTW I’m responsible for quite a few nuke Mecca posts on LGF. I look at the Jewish model (which may not be aplicable). Destruction of the second temple civilized the Jews. They had to learn how to keep their culture and live with others. Others who often were not very nice. Yet they prospered and maintained their culture. Couple of nukes civilized the Japanese. There is some merit in the argument.

    I recently had a confrontation with a fellow so angry he couldn’t talk but scream with spittle. I stood my ground (chest to chest – he had a couple of inches on me and I’m no shorty) and told him to strike the first blow. He thought about it and backed down. I did have to wash my face. You can be confrontational without starting a fight. Let the other guy strike the first blow (be ready for it). I think the first rule should be: unless you are acting in the interest of another, never strike the first blow (there may be exceptions).

    Side note: I have one of those voices too. I have been getting complaints since I was 12 or 13. LOL

  2. A couple of days ago Glenn Reynolds linked to “this post by Dean Barnett”:http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/g/b01aa17d-ea7f-4dbd-833b-2cc11578829c
    who claimed “I’ve reached some conclusions about comment boards and the effect they’re having on our politics at large.” This was occasioned by the flood of hatred against cancer victim Tony Snow on some lefthead blogs, especially Huffington Post. (Deleting vile comments from HuffPo is apparently a round the clock job these days.)

    Dean Barnett’s post is pretty sparse and doesn’t really live up to the advertising. There’s a couple of things we already knew:

    WHY ARE SO MANY BLOG COMMENTS SO INCREDIBLY VILE? I think it’s because commenting on blogs allows a freedom that virtually no other form of communication offers. It’s a way of sending a primal scream out to the universe that goes completely unanswered.

    WHAT KIND OF PERSON MAKES COMMENTS ANONYMOUSLY that he wouldn’t dare directly utter to another human being? A coward. And that’s what makes so many comment boards so utterly distasteful. They’re full of people indulging their darkest fantasies and most horrific thoughts in a public setting. Thankfully, the constraints of polite society make these people behave under normal circumstances.

    He goes on to lament that some politicians (who are named Edwards) find it necessary to reach out to such people.

    I think Dean’s views are a little pre-internet. The internet and the blogosphere are part of “polite society” now, and many of the vile things you read there are not primal screams, they are what people really believe. They are not people being naughty, but people behaving the way they really behave. And unlike the obscene caller and crank letter writer of the past, they can plug into an instant amen chorus of like-minded people on the internet.

  3. I’ve participated in some internet forums. Those that had a few “elders” who were both highly respected and held the threat of career pressure, tended to be a great deal more civil. This is especially true if the elders some some kind of outside clout, so that their opinions actually matter in terms of careers, etc.. The problem is that our elders aren’t really very comfortable playing this moderating role, as a rule. They’d generally stay away, especially from the wild and whooly internet.

    At the moment those constraints on behavior that involve respect and fear of consequences from “the wrong impression” haven’t developed, and they may never develop fully given the anonymous nature of the medium. But even if people use pseudonyms, they can theoretically be held to some account because absent a “reputation pool” of some sort one simply has no credibility. This was a problem faced by politicians during the early days of modern democracy in the 18th Century. Absent a way to hold a candidate to a promise voters had no reason vote on the basis of political promises. And since this is about the only coin politicians have to offer they faced a dilemma. They solved the problem by inventing political parties. John Ferejohn and Kathleen Hall Jamison have dealt with how effective these reputation pools can be in modern politics… but nothing’s perfect, this side of the grave.

  4. It’s very much a problem, and I don’t know the solution. Or, I should say, solutions, becuase I think the problem is big enough to warrant many different techniques for many different outcomes– there is no magic bullet.

    I’ve been online since the 80’s, and as Demosophist says, polite boards tended to be those who had “elders” which, by hook or crook, set and maintained the tone of the discussion. This was, to a degree, good… and to a degree, bad. It was good in that flame wars tended to be relatively few, and they tended to go through certain recognizeable channels, almost as though there weer consciously designed firebreaks. There weren’t, really, it just happened that way.

    But it was bad in that those forums, I now recognize, were the precursor to the echo chamber effect we’re seeing in blogs now. Meaning, as long as the elders were more or less on the same page in terms of both etiquette and general opinion, all was well– and in one case, that golden age lasted for many, many years. But, even though the forum was not at all related to politics, it cracked under the repeated stress of the 2000 election, the Iraq War, and the 2004 election. Then all of a sudden the Elders realized, oh shit, they’ve got serious disagreements among themselves and they’d been self-sheltering all those years….

    It ended badly. Friendships remained intact– mostly– but the forum itself is a wasteland. And it’s not coming back. The solution has been to move to blogs, but the downside to that is that blogs have a definite “ownership” and thus the discussions aren’t as pointed, even politely pointed. It’s a different thing to call bullshit on your friend in his own living room (effectively) than in a forum no one owns.

    I must say, though, that I admire this forum precisely because it is generally so civil.

  5. Ive been a member of several online debate style forums for almost 10 years. About 2 years ago I just stopped visiting and posting, primarily because the level of discourse had been reduced to nearly every post being an ad-hom. Familiarity with certain posters brought the ability to write exactly what they would write on a given topic. Moderators tended to side with one group over another and would ban users with opposing viewpoints to their own (usually because they were made to look foolish), and this brought one of the better forums into a DU/FR style echo chamber. It’s rare to find a forum these days with a good balance, and I haven’t been able to find one since.

    One thing I do like about the commenter’s here is that they tend to be civil (for the most part) and there is a pretty good mix of left/right/center here.

    That said, I loathe the term “blogshpere”, and I tend to get a big chuckle at the self importance that so many bloggers on themselves. Blogging has become inc3stuous and cliquish to the point that now we have blogs about blogs and other bloggers, and sadly, people seem just as obsessed about other bloggers as they are about Hollywood celebrities.

  6. Glen—I’m not gonna defend hate-filled comments, but don’t you think it’s just a teensy weensy bit possible that neocon nutjobs might post crap like that on Left blogs just so the media might think that all comments on lefty (or righty, or any damn) blogs reflects the work of people of similar political leanings?

    This is such a simple and obvious point that it is amazing that it needs to be made at all, given the anonymity that the net provides and the below the belt “anything goes” approach to politics.

    It’s political spam.

  7. I think they’re are two reasons that blogs can get nasty:

    1) The world we live in can be a nasty place. I think our culture has gotten so big that we sometimes lose a sense of belonging and it’s now us against them. It’s like the mokeybox experiment: You put 10 monkeys in an appropriate sized cage with appropriate resources, and they form a pack (term?), you put 1,000 monkeys with an appropriate amount of space and food and they go wild. Monkeys hoard food, fight over territory etc.

    I realize we’re not monkeys, but we have a lot of similar behviors. In addition, our minds weren’t really designed for modern life. We were meant to life in small tribes, with smaller amounts of social pressure. Now we have family, money, consumer pressures, debt, politics, the environment… all those contrasting pressures grating down on us all the time. It’s a suprise all of us don’t explode more often.

    2) All of these things are only increased by the facelessness of the internet (of both the bloger and responder). When you have an argument with somebody you don’t like or don’t agree with (in person), they at least have a face and personality and it’s preety obvious that they’re are negative side effects of using the language above. It’s much easier to hate a random name on the internet, or to see someone as a ‘them’. AFterall, you don’t know anything about them except their politics, they’re not really human to you. I think that also partly bleeds into the generally partisan nature of blogs.

    M.Simon: They’re are occassionas were great results have come from choosing peace over war. Gandhi and the Brits is a great example. The US establishing relationsihps with Russia & China is a great example (ie more complicated, but still a relationship created during relatively peaceful periods). Of course, peace vs war needs to be heavily weighed, but alot can be said for peaceful influence.

    I agree, the “Peacenik” groups have the potential of being violent (as does any fringe group), because they are generally insulated from diverse opinions. This sometimes leads them down a path where violence is justified to create a greater ‘peace’. You more or less see this pattern in lots of groups… radical pro-lifers, homophobic groups, animal rights activists… it’s a fairly predictable occurance on the right and left.

    AL: I would be curious to read your post on nonviolence v. manners.

  8. I would be curious to read your post on nonviolence v. manners.

    I can’t speak for AL, but I suspect that dueling had a way of checking the more robust forms of dialogue in the times and places where it was legal.

    The occasional good fistfight might do the same in a non-lethal manner.

  9. Rob: Doesn’t more ‘muscularly-enhanced’ individuals the ability to more rude & crude? Doesn’t this describe the nature of ruffians in old-west movies (ie before John Wayne arrives)?

  10. Doesn’t more ‘muscularly-enhanced’ individuals the ability to more rude & crude?

    Not if you’re dueling with pistols (although certainly it matters in a fistfight).

    And I’m not thinking of a wild frontier, where all sorts of rules are modified or broken and where “nonviolence” has no application in any event, but of a highly developed and civilized society, like the 18th Century Royal Navy or Old South. Politeness was part and parcel of avoiding getting shot.

    A mentality that eschews violence “at most costs” leaves us with few options in dealing with boors.

    I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, mind you.

  11. A.L.: “I think that we have, as a culture, forgotten what manners are for . . .”

    I think that’s way too mild of a term for what I saw in the Kathy Sierra-related links. Manners is what I’m trying to teach my small children. Respect for others. Recognition of other points of view.

    These adolescents, intoxicated by the hurt they can spread for yucks with new technology are engaged in some degenerate power fantasy. They must feel so excited by the pain they caused Ms. Sierra.

  12. Wei(#7),

    I would say that it’s possible that some vile comments are plants to discredit the opposition, but I think that the phenomenon is very limited in scale.

    There’s enough nutcases on all sides to overcome the need for infiltration operations.

    Anyway, without some hard evidence to support your statement, this discussion is largely hypothetical.

  13. I am not sure if this will resonate but, here goes…..

    Two points:

    #1: An armed society is a polite society.

    #2: I believe it is due to the lack of clear moral values being taught in our culture.

    For the first point, if you are not sure if you are going to offend someone, you tend to be a bit more tender in your comments, public and private.

    For the second, my experiences this weekend brought it all home. I am old enough to remember the manners I was taught with the threat of a stout backhand to the mouth should my mouth get away from me. I am young enough (or deluded enough) to still enjoy rock & rock of the live type. I have a band which displays a good-timey virtuosity that I appreciate listening to whenever I can be near one of their shows. They have a broad following across age groups. And that following has a bit of a bad reputation. They are rowdy, pushy and inconsiderate. The youngest of them:

    -cannot hold their liquor and get too smashed to remember the ‘good time’ they are supposedly having. This comes with the bad manners of the drunk.
    -seem to believe they are entitled to behave in any way they wish because they are “Havin’ A Good Time”. They dance raucously without consideration for those around them.
    -do drugs and behave badly doing so. Makes me believe that the Ecstasy I saw being consumed makes people drain bamaged.
    -the youngest have NO manners at all in pursuit of the ‘good times’. They tried to get into areas of the venue to which they had no right and when rebuffed by Event Staffers (nice, even tempered folks all) behaved in an utterly craven manner, cursing those who rebuffed them and using threatening behavior.

    I believe the youngest are seriously spoiled brats whose mama’s never told them NO! They believe they are entitled to whatever they wish whenever they wish it just because they are.

    I have seen this trend for a long time in my own child and that childs friends. Does it come because I have not done my best to instill those values of Western Civlization? I do not believe so. I have tried but my spouse and I have been defeated at every turn by:

    – the lack of values being enforced in the public schools. Most public shcools are barely contained collections of wild and spoiled brats running rampant over the administration and teachers. The inmates are running the asylum. The fear on the part of the supposed adults to specious lawsuits and accusations of false cruelty is tangible.
    – the culture of gangsterism displayed by – sports stars, rap stars, movie stars, the popular press and others.
    – the removal of G-d from the public life of this country by those who espouse the above as the pinnacle of this culture.
    – the total lack of moral fiber in the most popular entertainers of our society. These individuals fit the description of Cult of Personality.
    – the lack of restraint shown by the television that has grown more and more wild, gruesome and unrestrained by common sense each year. It has gotten so bad that I cannot watch even those shows that just a year or two ago I thought were decent entertainment.

    Now, I am not the best one to talk here, I get a bit out of line at times. I promise to try and do better. I post anonymously because by not doing so I expose myself to the most intolerent of the society who will punish us by removing our means of earning a living just because we dare to have opinions and speak those opinions. And that goes back to the lack of civility.

    Okay, I’m done now.

    The Hobo

  14. Wei:

    don’t you think it’s just a teensy weensy bit possible that neocon nutjobs might post crap like that on Left blogs just so the media might think that all comments on lefty (or righty, or any damn) blogs reflects the work of people of similar political leanings? … This is such a simple and obvious point that it is amazing that it needs to be made at all …

    What is too obvious to mention is that every time something like this happens, the general reaction is to blame someone else. It must be wingnut trolls, or as the ancient Hippies used to say, “This has all the earmarks of a classic COINTELPRO operation.”

    The first step is admitting that you have a problem.

  15. BTW –

    It isn’t just the commenters at Huffington Post. Today one of their authors, Charles Karel Bouley, posted this:

    I hear about Tony Snow and say to myself, well, stand up every day, lie to the American people at the behest of your dictator-esque boss and well, how could a cancer NOT grow in you. Work for Fox News, spinning the truth in to a billion knots and how can your gut not rot? I know, it’s terrible. I admit it. I don’t wish anyone harm, even Tony Snow. And I do hope he recovers or at least does what he feels is best and surrounds himself with friends and family for his journey. But in the back of my head there’s Justin Timberlake’s “What goes around, goes around, comes around, comes all the way back around, ya..”

    You can read the whole twisted thing at NRO corner, “here.”:http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZWYzNTg2YWQ2YWUxZjc5MzQ3ZDE4NDBiYTg5ODVmYjQ=

    But you can’t read it at Huffington Post anymore, because “somebody did a fast edit on Bouley to take that malignant tumor out.”:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-karel-bouley/theres-all-types-of-canc_b_44369.html

    Perhaps it was Bouley himself, who realized that he had been taken over by Karl Rove’s orbital mind-control platform and forced to write things that were petty, repugnant, idiotic, and utterly typical of his kind.

  16. Wei –

    I’ll let HuffPo hammer in the point I made in #15, because there is “a new post there by RJ Eskow”:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rj-eskow/can-americans-reconcile-_b_44402.html who offers best wishes to Tony Snow.

    You have only to scroll down to the third comment to get this (you have to look fast, because it’s sure to be deleted):

    I don’t wish snowjob a slow prolonged death like that forced upon numerous innocent detainees which he steadfastly simultaneously denies and defends. He’s a reasonably intelligent man but he eagerly put himself in the position of speaking on behalf of the worlds’ most lawless regime, making him complicit in their crimes and lies.

    He’s mortal, so like the rest of us he has to go someday. I hope he lives, in relatively good health, long enough to get what he deserves.

    And the very next comment says:

    I assume the “Tony Snow Has Cancer” thread was shut down because too many others did not wish him well. And I also assume that some of those venomous posts were written by “his side” to make “our side” look bad. Sad, isn’t it?

    Uh huh.

  17. Look,

    I’m not naive enough to beleive that all of this ‘threatening’ talk is a ploy, but I’m surprised that so many people are quick to say “oh, it’s a liberal problem” or “oh, it’s a youth problem (they’re so spoiled)!”.

    This is a national problem. We live in a world of immediate gratification, a nation that overworks itself to buy into a consumer stuff-driven society. Our personal communications are dying, so is our general civility, which is somewhat human (though ugly) response to a culture where people feel disconnected and the need to fight for themselves first(this is related to what I wrote above, and naturally exagerated in our youth who have seen nothing else). The “me first” cycle is only going to get worse.

    Robohobo: How do you want the schools to fix things? What values do you want schools to teach? Of note: Bush’s “no child left behind test” doesn’t test values. Although most extracurricular subjects were already being removed by previous testing requirements, many schools have now removed any program that isn’t directly related to reading, writing and arithmatic. I used to vollunteer in a program that taught children how to resolve angry fights and disputes, however several schools ended the programs to increase their funding after ‘no child’.

    I would like to believe that religion is the one-fit answer. But that hasn’t stopped vague threats (or bombs) against abortion clinics, heavy metal bands, homosexual groups, 60’s civil rights groups etc from christian populations. Although most christians are peaceful (like most americans), it’s always the fringe that causes the serious problems.

  18. _Personally, I blame it all on nonviolence, but that’s a matter for another post._

    That’s the post I want to read.

  19. alchemist –

    I flatly agree with you; it’s a national problem. I’m always amused when one side or the other suggests that “oh, it’s them oiver there, not us, no way.”

    It was more a part (still is – see Michael Savage) of right-wing discourse for a while, and now it’s a part of left-wing discourse.

    It’s one reason why more and more people are retreating from politics.

    And it’s one more reason why good people of both political views need to stand up to the bullies and say “You’re done.”

    A.L.

  20. > Doesn’t this describe the nature of ruffians in old-west movies (ie before John Wayne arrives)?

    The actual “wild west” was different in an interesting way.

    Thugs were fair game for other thugs. However, folks who didn’t want to be thugs were off-limits to thugs. Crossing that line was harshly dealt with.

  21. Not to be cynical, but Michelle Malkin has been getting worse for longer and the reaction to that is very different.

    Is it the hair color, the skin color, the views expressed, or what?

  22. I hate to give Wei more seemingly undeserved attention, but that sort of childish blame-shifting is an important part of the problem. It’s denialism at best.

  23. Andy, lots of people have (Michelle being one of the worst cases). The Edwards bloggers got a healthy dose of sex-and-violence abuse as well.

    That’s unacceptable, but has been accepted as a ‘fact of life’ by those of us in the political space. I’m not accepting it any more, and encourage others not to either.

    A.L.

  24. Oops – I forgot to mention how the thug/not-thug separation worked out in the WW.

    Non-thugs were basically safe. Thugs, not so much.

  25. I value civility here a lot, and appreciate the fact that we manage to disagree heatedly and yet with some measure of mutual respect. Thank you all for that.

    First off, I’ll add my thanks to AL’s. Blogs like this, where controversial issues can be discussed with a relatively good light-to-heat ratio, are a joy to visit. It’s what I miss most about the now-moribund Left2Right.

    That said, it seems to me (and my apologies if I’m misunderstanding) your point is that standards of civilized behavior have declined in general and especially so in the internet/blogosphere, where relative anonymity has removed much of the remaining inhibition. Since I both agree with this premise and am a results-oriented kind of gal, it brings me to the question:

    What should be done about it?

    We can all determine our own standards of behavior and strongly influence those of our children. But how much can or should we have over those of other adults? The standards of behavior for a given group (which can be as small as a family or as large as a society) are whatever the group decides, explicitly, tacitly, or both. Groups which fail to discipline and/or exclude those who fail to meet their standards will see those standards decline. On the other hand, groups which establish standards that are too extreme or arcane will fail to thrive. At one end of the spectrum lies the lowest common denominator, at the other falls ghettoization. Somewhere in the middle is the golden mean.

    The blogosphere, lacking as it does any commonly-agreed-upon standards of behavior, is not really a group. And it’s far too diffuse, IMHO, to invoke — let alone impose — standards on the scale necessary for them to have any meaning. The only practical thing to do is create a group whose members agree upon the desired standards, then hope that enough people agree with those standards to make the group grow large enough to be a dominant force. Though, even if it doesn’t, there’s at least the prospect of carving out a zone of civility for people fed up with the lack of it to take refuge in.

    Clearly, physical assault and threats of such are not acceptable, but they’re also against the law. Likewise destructive cyber attacks and thefts. But what about simple assholery (for want of a better word coming to me at the moment)? Stuff like calling people dirty names, telling them to f**k off, trolling, making hateful remarks, or otherwise acting like an immature jerk just begging to be put over somebody’s knee?

  26. alchemist – no, i was not blaming it on the youth. they are the symptom. i blame it on us, the adults who have failed to instill the values that made the US great. somehow, us old hippies missed the boat here. and the old hippies begat the yuppies and all the other ……ies

    and religion is not the be-all answer either and i never say so. but the values of belief are strong and valid for some of the issues we have.

    just trying to relate is all.

    moving along, now.

  27. What are the values that made america great? I think we might have a disagreement on that one. I would say ingenuity, liberty and upholding a duty to your community.

    Ingenuity has basically been sold to Asia for cash up front, and primarily replaced with fancy comercials. I would argue that we actually have more liberty now than ever before. Individuals are now free to work where they want, speak up for what they beleive in, grow relationships with another consenting adult without fear of legal action, and kids are more protected by labor and abuse laws.

    The duty to your community thing has really taken a severe hit. First by vietnam and watergate, and then by the growing 80’s mantra of consuming everything.

    I’m not really sure what we can do to turn it around. Ironically, I feel the best thing for americans would kill our economy: Learn to choose life over ‘things’. Save enough money to work a little less and relax a little more, burn your credit card, read more books (from the library), get some exercise. Spend your saturdays vollunteering. Get involved in local problems and groups like “Big Brothers/Sisters” and afterschool programs… and for gawd sakes stop trying to spend all of your time telling everyone else the ‘right answer’.

    PS: I note the irony in the last line.

  28. Notes from the age of dueling:
    Riots at UNC-CH where the students ran amok and beat each other and faculty. (1814) Yup, youth were respectable.
    Now all they do is flip cars and have bonfires in relation to sports victories.
    Preston Brooks beating Charles Sumner about the head with a cane on the floor of the Senate. The beating pruportedly took place because the dueling ‘system’ did not cover the circumstances that preceeded the event. (1856) Yup, people back then sure knew how to be polite to one another. I submit, whatever is going on in Congress these days, its a long way from the nastieness of the slavery debates.

  29. Finally, note that a constant onslaught of Trackback spams from auto-generated domain from use in comments or trackbacks. If you host on blogspot, consider moving; otherwise, the complaints need to be directed at Google not us.

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