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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Me and my big mouth!

When I opened this little coffee shop called treppenwitz I didn't think it would be necessary to get all bossy with a bunch of rules and regulations.  Heck, I couldn't imagine that anyone besides my immediate family and a small handful of old friends would have any interest in reading what I had to say... so I just hung out my sign and started writing.

During the past year I have been fortunate to cultivate an extremely diverse group of regular readers, all the while continuing to write about stuff that interests me.  More than that, I have been blessed with the respectful advice, opinions and wisdom of countless people... many of whom don't necessarily share my religious, political or social views.

Treppenwitz has regularly been host to two of the three classic taboo subjects; religion and politics (I won't mention the third for fear of another googleanche), yet I can't remember ever reading a confrontational or disrespectful comment.  Not one!  I've never had to ban anyone (except for comment spammers), and I can honestly say that I have learned a great deal about the world (and my place in it) from those whose opinions were the furthest from my own.  All this can be explained in one word:

Respect.

Unlike most of the blogosphere, treppenwitz has been a refuge where doctors, strippers, housewives, teachers, students, salespeople, computer geeks, lesbians, Hasidim, artists, bankers, professors, and countless others, have gathered to respectfully exchange ideas with people that they would likely never meet in the 'real world'.  Because we all have our sensitivities and vulnerabilities, the give-and-take has been done delicately... much like I imagine a porcupine might make love (OK, that was my oblique way of mentioning that third taboo!).

The result has been that I have been able to air out ideas and observations that require a broader perspective than I can give them.... and you have been generous enough to share your collective life experience, intellect and worldview.  I hope that you feel that you have gained from the relationship... because I know that I have.

However, a couple of days ago I made a mistake.  While ranting about a very specific issue (car seats) within a broader topic (personal responsibility), I made the mistake of painting too detailed a picture of the person and community within which I had witnessed the incident.  In my mind I was providing important backstory and set descriptions so you the reader could get a better idea of the event as it actually happened. 

You should know by now that I can't just mention a pencil.  It has to be a bright yellow #2 Ticonderoga... sharpened unevenly... with only a sliver of the eraser showing above the dented lip of the silver retaining band... and with a few deep bite marks where some anonymous user has worried at it during a moment of stress.

In this case, describing a thoughtless woman among a group of religious settlers was too much information for one of my readers.  Mentioning religious settlers must be like waving a red flag in front of somebody with an agenda, because instead of commenting on the gist of the story (child safety/personal responsibility), this reader decided to hijack the discussion in order to air out his own agenda.

That too was my own fault.  When he said something to the effect of  "Good story David I wrote something about it on my blog", I made the mistake of following the link to his site.  His entry was not about child safety or personal responsibility, but rather a tirade about how settlers were the single biggest danger to the State of Israel.  He did end it by saying that he wasn't talking about Efrat (we must be the 'good settlers').

I compounded my mistake when I responded to his tirade in my comments section by pointing out where I respectfully disagreed with him.  I really should have known better.  He replied with his true colors flying and suddenly 'all settlers' were wrong (no mention of the good Efrat residents this time).

Well, I'm human.  I waited 24 hours before responding, but my response was far from the respectful tone I have come to expect from others.  In fact, I played the dreaded 'if you aren't living here shut your cake hole' card... something I try not to do very often.

Anyway, I'm calmer now.  I haven't changed my mind about this particular cretin and his heavy-handed way of imposing his views on others.  But I am just embarrassed enough about my own behavior that I won't edit or remove my own comments either.  They are there for everyone to see what I have always sought to avoid here at treppenwitz. 

So in conclusion, I'm still not ready to impose any hard and fast rules of conduct... but going forward I would like to set the bar just a little higher for myself. 

Photo Friday should be up by early afternoon Israel time (that announcement was so Doctor Bean can go to sleep at a decent hour tonight).  :-)

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Posted by David Bogner on January 27, 2005 | Permalink

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Hmmmmm...... Can a notary time-stamp and date the title of this little ditty?! If not any, one willing to testify that HE said this should I require witnesses? Could come in handy some time in the future, me thinks.... =:-P

Posted by: zahava | Jan 27, 2005 8:02:38 PM

Your first troll. I feel like a mother watching her child graduate from high school. *sniffle*

And you didn't even swear! ;o)

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 27, 2005 8:36:17 PM

Doc Bean and I are both in the fair city of Los Angeles, so allow me to step in say thank you as well regarding photo Friday.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 27, 2005 8:36:56 PM

[sobbing uncontrolably]
David, I looooove you, maaan!

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 27, 2005 9:16:04 PM

Good for you, David. You remind me of all the good things that the internet can do. Keep your head up.

Just remember, if you're going to make an omlet, you gotta crack some eggs.

Good Gravy, did I just type that??

Posted by: psychotoddler | Jan 27, 2005 9:20:16 PM

Found your blog and spent a few days reading the archives. Love your writing!

Posted by: Essie | Jan 27, 2005 10:46:40 PM

"So in conclusion, I'm still not ready to impose any hard and fast rules of conduct..."

Things have shown me that no matter what one does, rules or no rules, there are always mannerless retards lurking just around the next corner, eager to spoil the whole fun. Is it really our job to teach adult people good manners, I ask. I like to think that for some people some things are like a huge appetizing magnet: Freak Magnet.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jan 28, 2005 12:06:16 AM

Zahava... yes you can quote this one back to me some time (like you wouldn't anyway!). :-)

Tanya... Maybe not quite a troll, but not Mr. Sensitive either. Look, you've been blogging now for what... 6 years now? WHen treppenwitz has been around that long I will thank my lucky stars if this is as bad as it gets.

Jack... Between you, Doctor Bean, Carol, Chuck, Beth and El Steve, my SoCal relevance rating is way up! :-)

Doctor Bean... Hold it together there big guy... only 13 or 14 more hours... you can do it!

Psychotoddler... Omelet + gravy = Egg Fu Yong... my regular order at Bernstein's (May its memory be a blessing)

Essie... You just made my week! I noticed that somebody had spent a bit of time reading through my archives. This happens from time-to-time, but I rarely find out who liked my writing enough to spend a big chunk of time reading it. This 'public library' syndrome can be frustrating for us bloggers/journalers, so your hello and compliment really meant the world to me. Thanks for stopping by.

Mademoiselle a. ... Take note... people like Essie do exist! Kinda makes it all worth while.

Posted by: David | Jan 28, 2005 12:16:20 AM

Jack... Between you, Doctor Bean, Carol, Chuck, Beth Jim and El Steve, my SoCal relevance rating is way up! :-)

Southern California is one 7 paradises on Earth. Actually I find the climate in Jerusalem to very similar to that of Los Angeles. It is part of why Jerusalem feels so comfortable to me.

Not that it matters, but thought that I'd share it.

On a related topic I make a point of not irritating anyone who wears a gun while making chopped liver. Guns, knives and onions are a deadly combination. Heeeheee. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jan 28, 2005 12:20:26 AM

Just reminding you that there are many of us that are reasonable, intelligent individuals, and we enjoy your thoughtful site.

Posted by: Isaac B2 | Jan 28, 2005 2:29:00 AM

And I enjoy it, too!

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 28, 2005 3:22:21 AM

lesbians read this?!!!!! huh!

Posted by: val | Jan 28, 2005 4:56:37 AM

Hey, it is getting late here. Where is our Photo Friday? I am suffering from withdrawal. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jan 28, 2005 7:31:03 AM

Jack: Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of acting like another guy.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jan 28, 2005 7:41:25 AM

Jack: Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of acting like another guy.

And schizophrenia is acting like many other guys. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jan 28, 2005 9:09:45 AM

and I agree with everything everyone said (except that one guy), but I want to know when you are going to mention the blog awards on http://www.israellycool.com/ ?
I didn't find the site until the nominations were over, so you weren't nominated in a couple of catagories you should have been, and now I am running over there to vote for you every morning and so would many more of your readers if only they also knew about the voting!
I love your writing! Shabbat Shalom, Carol

Posted by: Carol Feldman | Jan 28, 2005 9:38:59 AM

Jack... Winters in Jerusalem are a lot colder than LA, but otherwise I see your point. I happen to love California, but I sometimes have trouble understanding the culture. It's not a good or bad thing... just a cultural disconnect since I spent most of my formative years in New England.

Isaac B2... Of course I know that, which is why I enjoy my almost-daily 'conversations' with so many of you. By the way, every time I visit your site I get an uncontrollable case of the giggles because of the name you piced for it (Toner Mishap). I'm sure if I dig through the archives I would find the story behind the name, but would you care to share here?

Doctor Bean... I would have never guessed ;-)

Val... Yes, shocking, no? Don't worry, I'm pretty sure it isn't catchy or anything. :-)

Jack... Is this an LA thing I should know about? :-)

Doctor Bean... Why don't you and Jack go out and have a beer or something while I crop the pictures and stuff... go on, shooo!

Jack... I completely agree... and so do I.

Carol... [sigh]... I have been sort of avoiding the topic. Am I flattered that I was nominated? Of course. But I have always been a little uncomfortable with the sort of self promotion ("vote for me! vote for me!") that surrounds these kinds of awards.

To my way of thinking the reason for the awards is not so much to win, but rather to expose people to blogs they might never have found in their regular surfing routine. I know I have stumbled acress a few new ones and have picked up a few new readers as well. So from that perspective, as they say in the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes: 'I may have already won!'

:-)

Thank you for voting for me (I think you and Zahava are single (double?) handedly keeping me from turning in a bad showing). Personally I have been voting for other worthy blogs (no I won't say which).

Posted by: David | Jan 28, 2005 10:56:52 AM

What?! Is it Friday yet??? I seriously thought that was a notice for 2 days in advance. Thought something must have happened to Doc Bean. Awwww man! A whole week wasted!

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jan 28, 2005 12:16:50 PM

mademoiselle a. ... You need to get out of your pajamas and get out of the house at least once a day! :-)

Posted by: David | Jan 28, 2005 1:09:01 PM

No way? Who are the other lesbians?

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Jan 28, 2005 2:23:18 PM

You mean besides yourself? Sorry, we have a strict 'don't ask/don't tell' policy here at treppenwitz. :-)

Posted by: David | Jan 28, 2005 2:34:37 PM

I had noticed talk about a lesbian couple in the the comments before, but a stripper? ;o)

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 28, 2005 2:56:12 PM

Yes, Tanya... actually a former stripper, but let's not split hairs.

Posted by: David | Jan 28, 2005 3:16:50 PM

Did I sound appropriately aghast?

Posted by: Tanya | Jan 28, 2005 4:40:02 PM

Tanya... Yes, nicely done. :-)

I guess that the old 'wanting to know how the other half lives' cuts both ways.

Posted by: David | Jan 28, 2005 4:43:49 PM

Dave, for what it's worth, I don't think you did anything wrong. Vigrous exchanges are part of what makes blogging fun.

You needn't worry that I was provoked because you chose to paint "too detailed a picture of the person and community within which I had witnessed the incident"

I would have seen the metaphor even if she'd been a Pakistani in East LA.

I said some other (courteous) things in the email, I have just sent you. Of the points I raised, and the apologies I made there's one I'd like to address to your readers:

I had no intention of "highjacking" your post. I didn't want to "impose my view" on others. I don't have any agenda.

Your entry simply made me think of something, so I blogged about it. If we were in a conversation, the same thing would have happened. I'd have responded to an idea your words raised in my mind. That's what blogging is - to me at least. I'm sorry if this view was not shared, and if offense was therefore given to you or your readers.

When I refer to "settlers" I meant what I said on my own blog. In the second post, I took a short cut and wrote "settlers," instead of "settlers who establish outposts in definace of the wishes of Israel's goverment and the wishes of the majority of Israel's people" I wasn't revealing my "true colors." I was being brief. That's all.

Finally, I apologize for missing the hint. When you offered to take me for a drive, I thought you were being friendly. I didn't realize you were politely ending the conversation.

Hope you'll reconsider your view of me, and my blog. I'm not so bad.

Posted by: DovBear | Jan 28, 2005 7:34:29 PM

David,

I am amazed, frankly, at how little actual "flame wars" have happened within the comment sections of your blog. You certainly don't avoid controversial subjects, either. It does speak highly of you and your readers.

I have not been so lucky. Heheh. I've had vicious flame wars that have resulted in nothing valuable whatsoever. I'm not quite sure the difference, except that I'm probably much less careful in how I frame my words sometimes.

Lessons learned ... lessons learned ...

Posted by: Jim | Jan 28, 2005 11:29:18 PM

Dov Bear... "I would have seen the metaphor even if she'd been a Pakistani in East LA" ... Exact;y my point. You need to realize that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. I don't know you (or very much about you, for that matter), but I seem to see your name around the blogosphere quite a bit. The context within which your name is mentioned is usually your involvement in some sort of controversy or flame war. This suggests to me that either you deliberately seek out negative attention, or perhaps you often see metaphors where none were intended. Either way, it is not a reputation that a wise person would cultivate.

That said, I do appreciate that you came by to offer an apology / explanation. It removes some of the preconceptions I held about you... but not all.

"I'd have responded to an idea your words raised in my mind" This is the root of the disconnect. In the course of daily life we all think things that civility demands we keep to ourselves. There are obviously forums and contexts within which 'taboo' ideas can be taken out and discussed, but these are few and far between. Yes, treppenwitz is supposed to be a place where nearly anything can be discussed... but the key is that they must be discussed with sensitivity and respect. You wrote an inflammatory bit on your blog and linked to me. This would indicate to your readers that I had somehow taken the other side of that particular debate. I don't need that kind of traffic. Second, if someone discusses French cooking on their blog and you chime in with a political tirade about the French, that indicates to me that either you weren't paying very close attention or you were simply looking for an excuse to unload all your baggage about the French. Either way, it brings us back to the 'sometimes a cigar is just a cigar' rule.

If you feel that I have made any unfair accusations here I would be happy to speak to you off line to clear the air and come to a meeting of the minds. But if you accept and acknowledge what I've said here, then I admit I have indeed misjudged you.

Jim...I haven't noticed too many flame wars at your place (unless you count Todd's on-again/off-again relationship). Maybe I need to go back and look more closely. :-)

Posted by: David | Jan 30, 2005 9:01:04 AM

I happen to love California, but I sometimes have trouble understanding the culture. It's not a good or bad thing... just a cultural disconnect since I spent most of my formative years in New England.

Just noticed this so I thought that I'd respond. The cultural disconnect is that we have culture and a history of teams that actually win the championship.

But now that the Sox have actually won again perhaps that disconnect will be minimized. ;)

Posted by: Jack | Jan 31, 2005 9:23:50 AM

After your response to Essie's comment above, I just wanted to pop in here to say I'm still reading and still enjoying. I left a comment over six months ago in blog-time and a little over a month ago in real-time...so I'm making good progress! :-)

Posted by: Alisha | Dec 4, 2006 6:13:23 AM

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