Sunday, January 28, 2007

Responding to Comments: Tony Norman

I had intended to post a new comment within my previous post, in which I discussed my reaction to Post-Gazette Associate Editor Tony Norman’s most recent column. I wanted to respond to the comments that some people (along with Matt H) had left there. But my response to these comments got to be so long that I thought that it had really become a post in and of itself. So I am posting my response here, where it might enjoy a slightly wider readership.

Anonymous (can’t you folks at least give yourself a screen name of some kind so that it’s easier to respond to your comments?) wrote:

I think you may have missed the point of Norman's column. It's here in the last paragraph:

Not only did Washington offend homosexuals by slurring T.R. Knight, he embarrassed straight, black folks like myself who aren't eager to deal with the stereotype that all black men are homophobes.
I’ll get to Mr. Norman’s overall point in a second. But the thing here is that Mr. Norman couldn’t have made any point at all if he felt that Isaiah Washington hadn’t done anything wrong. Throughout the entire column, Mr. Washington’s behavior – rightly, in my view – is condemned. The parallels between Mr. Washington’s behavior and that of Luke Ravenstahl are obvious, and thus anyone who expresses such outrage at one offender’s actions should be equally offended by those of the other. The logical disconnect here is striking.

Now, onto Mr. Norman’s concluding point. Yes, he did have one. He seems to feel that Isaiah Washington is somehow acting as a nationwide representative of black men everywhere. To go even further, he suggests that the rest of America fully recognizes and accepts that Isaiah Washington is the President Pro Tempore of The United States of American Black Men. And to take it even one more ridiculously illogical step, there is this suggestion of a universal understanding that the actions of any such representative are always completely in touch with and indicative of the beliefs of those people whom he represents.

Right, and all Americans are loving the Iraq War, just because our elected president thinks it’s a damn fine idea.

To note how ludicrous Mr. Norman’s point really is, consider what happens when we recast his words to reflect Master Ravenstahl’s behavior:

Not only did Ravenstahl offend police officers by slurring Mark A. Hoehn, he embarrassed all other Pittsburghers like myself who aren't eager to deal with the stereotype that all Pittsburghers are drunken, foul-mouthed hoons who attack police officers at football games.

Mr. Norman’s conclusion, when presented this way, sounds pretty ridiculous. But oddly enough, as stupid as it sounds, it may be far more accurate than the conclusion that Mr. Norman actually wrote in his column. After all, Luke Ravenstahl is our city’s (interim) mayor. Most of the country would have no idea whatsoever that he was not elected to that post in a city-wide vote. Most Americans really would assume that he truly is our duly-elected representative, and that his actions really do reflect the prevailing sentiment of the majority of Pittsburghers.

All in all, I think I did Mr. Norman a real favor by not examining his illogical conclusion in the original post.

The same anonymous commenter also noted:

And with all due respect (and I mean that) he's only a member of the editorial board - he's not the board itself. It's even there on the page you linked to. … So it's entirely possible that he agrees with your points completely (he may also disagree - I don't know). So I'm not sure the charge of "double standard" can apply here.

As the Burgher, who writes for The Burgh Report, has already pointed out, the editorials at the Post-Gazette are intended to reflect consensus. If you read through the full text of the Post-Gazette’s explanation of where the editorials come from, they don’t publish one if they cannot reach a broad consensus on what position the editorial should take. It’s a pretty safe bet that the Ravenstahl editorial reflects Mr. Norman’s position, along with that of the rest of the editorial board.

A commenter calling himself “The Comet”, whom I can only assume to be Bram Reichbaum, author of The Pittsburgh Comet, wrote:

Clean out that insufferable, interminable bit about how you won't condescend to own a television machine, and submit to Mr. Norman…”

Thanks for commenting, Bram. I have long hesitated about mentioning my lack of a television set to the readers of this blog. Only a small number of our friends and family members know that my family goes without having one, mostly because we tend to encounter a fairly negative reaction when we reveal this fact about ourselves.

Just so that I can be clear about things, it is not condescension which leads us to live a TV-free existence. We aren’t Amish. We aren’t trying to save our children from the dangers of broadcast television. It just sort of happened.

When we moved into our current home several years ago, there simply was no obvious place to put the television. In most modern homes, there is a location where the cable and electrical connections coexist nicely along and expanse of otherwise blank wall space. But our home is several decades old, and no such location could be found. With a bunch of unpacking and other work to get done, we left the TV in the box, vowing that we would eventually decide where to put it. Before we knew it, months had gone by and the television was still sitting there in its box.

At that point, we realized that we had kind of built our lives around things other than television, and we just happened to like the way our evenings went without it. I don’t think that I’m better than anyone else because I don’t have a television. I don’t see myself as more intellectual because of our decision. Life just sort of happened that way, and I happen to be content with things the way they are.

I realize that you probably didn’t mean any offense, Bram. And I didn’t take any offense at all to your comments. But I thought I better explain myself before people think that I travel around town in a horse and buggy or something.

Finally, I must address Matt H’s comments., who wrote:

I think anyone who just read this blog post feels one of these: 1. Like they just wasted time reading absolute garbage. OR 2. They now feel a lot dumber after reading absolute garbage.

Matt, I respect your disagreements with me. But I can’t respect the fact that you don’t engage in any sort of debate on the substance of my post. I can’t respect that you have nothing to offer other than call my work “garbage”. I can’t respect your need to resort to personal attacks. I always strive to maintain a respectful demeanor in responding to you, and I would ask that you extend the same courtesy to myself and the other commenters. It’s getting to the stage where I am beginning to suspect that you are incapable of basic politeness, and that you are so self-involved that you simply can’t accept that there is anyone in the world who disagrees with you.

I hope that my suspicions are wrong, Matt. I hope that you can tolerate dissent, and even attempt to demonstrate any points at which the arguments presented in my posts fall apart. But if infantile name calling is all you’ve got, then you would do yourself a real favor by keeping your comments to yourself. It’s better to remain silent and be thought an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hear Hear Here! Hear.

Matt H said...

It wasn't name calling, it was expressing how I felt about your blog post. Straight and to the point. I refuse to beat around the bush. I'm sure I could have spent 15 minutes or so writing out some long comment that would have said the same thing but why should I?

You mention a little something about having tolerance for dissent. Isn't what I write to you dissent? Maybe you need to follow your own advice Admiral.

smittyfromtheflats said...

Admiral
some insight into Matt & Tony....

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06248/719097-153.stm

here's the relevant portion of the article.

I've worked on Mayor O'Connor's various campaigns since I was 16," said Matt Hogue, a housing authority employee from Elliott who cheekily referred to his West End neighborhood as "a forgotten little town thanks to Mayor Murphy."

Mr. Hogue escorted me down the flag-draped hall of the City-County Building to the mayor's casket. At 22, he is only a few years younger than Mr. Ravenstahl. Like the new mayor, he displays a lot of poise for someone who, by all rights, could've left town for Seattle or Asheville, N.C., a long time ago.

Mr. Hogue said he and several city staffers sat vigil with Mr. O'Connor's casket all night because they "didn't want him to be alone."

It was a touching gesture from a young man who claimed to be genuinely inspired by the late mayor. It's not something you see every day in this town. It's as good a legacy as any.

Dean said...

Housing Authority employee? Now I understand why Matt Hogue (formerly Matt H) defends every thing Team O'Connor-Ravenstahl does. I wonder if he got that job before Bobby O. got into office. Ha, that's funny. Isn't that where 1 or 2 of Marlene Cassidy's kids were given jobs? And is Matt Hogue leaving comments on all these blogs at work while we taxpayers pay his salary?

Anonymous said...

Where is that ethics commission? And how many more months does Steve Zappala need to complete the Twanda Calisle investigation?

Matt H said...

That is not me. Nice try though. Nice to see some people are so obsessed in trying to find out who some of us are.

Bram Reichbaum said...

As to my comment, I hope you know I was just teasin'. Then again, I just found out via Wikinews that we accurately perceive the tone of email only 57% of the time.

As matter of style, I wish I could comment as "The Comet" and have it hyperlinked to my site, as occurs on TPJs and I believe the the Burgh Report. However, in the Republic, it won't hyperlink unless I use my Full Blogger Display Name, though its disconcerting to see my full formal name attributed to every piddling comment. So I'm not sure what to do, but I guess there are worse problems.

Richmond K. Turner said...

Look, folks, I might have some complaints with how Matt comments about my posts from time to time. But this isn't a witch hunt. I'm not remotely interested in who he really is in real ife. I'm not out to track him down.

After all, I have a little secret of my own here. I hate to admit it to all of you, but I'm not really a full four-star admiral. And the real Richmond K. Turner has been dead for quite some time. So let Matt H, whoever he may be, stay hidden in the internet's anonymity if he so chooses. I have no problem with that whatsoever, and -- since most of the commenters here post under "anonymous" -- neither should most of you.

Matt, as far as your comment to this post goes, you are doing a bit better, mate. I don't mind you saying that my posts are garbage, provided that you at least give me some specific points which make you think that.

How am I supposed to respond to a comment that just says, "Hey Admiral, you suck!"? What am I supposed to say, "No I don't!"? Then you can reply "Do too!", and I can parry that insightful rejoinder with an equally witty "Do not!". ... "Do too!"... "Nuh-uh!"... "Yeah huh!"... etc.

We're never going to get anywhere that way. Seriously, you seem to be behind Luke Ravenstahl, but I don't ever recall you telling the rest of us why you feel that way. You tell us that we're all wrong, but never give us any reason to understand why you might be right.

But thanks for responding to this post, Matt. It's nice to see you write something out that at least offers some insight into what you are trying to say.

And Bram, I saw the smiley in your comment. I knew you meant no harm. But honestly, most people look at me like I'm an axe murderer when I tell them that my kids have never seen Elmo on Sesame Street. So I thought I would at least use your comments as a springboard to address these rather common reactions to my TV-free lifestyle.

smittyfromtheflats said...

sure its you Matt...you leave evidence all over the internet....

try this...

http://theburghblog.com/2006/08/25/yarone-cut-it-out/


or this

http://www.myspace.com/pghrebel

Matt H said...

Wrong as usual Smitty.

Dean said...

Matt learned well from his heroes: when there is indisputable proof, just deny it.

pgh131 said...

The following myspace page was set to private just after smittyfromtheflats posted it.

http://www.myspace.com/pghrebel

I guess Matt H will be posting under "anonymous" much more now.

smittyfromtheflats said...

thanks PGH13...kids ya gotta luv 'em...Matt from now on your "hands off"...i respect the fact that at 16 you became a political soldier,got yourself a job via Bob o,and continue to be loyal...congrats

Dean said...

In case you missed his myspace page before it went private, click here and here.

smittyfromtheflats said...

blogs are informative and they're also fun!!

Anonymous said...

Damn, I wish had a job paying between 30K and 45K at 22 with just some community college under my belt. That would make me want to kiss serious butt too!!

Richmond K. Turner said...

Well, I can see that this whole discussion has spun hopelessly out of my control. Matt, I can only say that "outing" you was never my intent. I apologize for the fact that it happened in this space.

Bram Reichbaum said...

And for my part, smitty is my new hero. Although I now fear him almost as much as I fear Denny the Menny.

Anonymous said...

Bram: You should be more fearful of Matt given his myspace promise to "haunt your dreams"...

maverick said...

yeeha! finally we may not have to read matt h's posts anymore! thank you myspace!

maverick said...

and thank u smitty

Smitty for Governor said...

Smitty, how can we ever repay you?

Matt H said...

I'm here.

Anonymous said...

Hear Hear Here! Hear.

BJ said...

Do Bram and Richmond Turner know each other in the non-blog world? How did Bram know that Richmond don't have a tv?

Richmond K. Turner said...

No BJ, I don't really know Bram. He just knows all these things about be because he's stalking me, looking into the windows of my home at night. I've called the cops several times, but they have never managed to catch him in the act. But I'm sure he's out there, watching me. I'm just hoping that he's mostly harmless.

Either that, or he just knows these things about my television habits because he read about them in an earlier post.

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