I chose to delete a comment left on the blog this morning.
I’ve been blogging for close to two years, and I feel very fortunate to have found it necessary to delete fewer than a dozen comments left by readers (as opposed to mere spammers).
It’s almost always for the same reason: The commentator verbally abuses someone — either another commentator, a class of people, or myself. As I see it, when someone intentionally insults folks, they give up the privilege of posting on my blog.
One thing I’ve known about abusive people for some time is they always think themselves justified. It seems no one is more self-righteous than an abuser. That’s true off line and on. So it probably won’t surprise you to learn most of the people whose comments I’ve deleted have written back claiming I violated their right to free speech.
Surely they think the only reason I blog is to provide them with a pulpit for calling everyone ‘garbage’.
So, this morning I’m waiting to see if the commentator who went by the username “Fedup” will write back to me about her self-claimed free speech rights.
A tragedy here is that Fedup is someone who was abused as a child. I think it’s safe to say very few of us lack sympathy for abused children. But Fedup has — regrettably — turned her experience of being abused into an excuse for becoming a worse person than she could be.
She reminds me of someone I knew a few years ago whose wife and best friend abused him. Let’s call him “Charlie” to protect his identity. What happened to him has happened to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide — he discovered his wife and his best friend were having an affair.
Charlie then made a mistake. His mistake was to allow himself to become bitter and cynical towards all women. That is, for all practical purposes, he decided he was going to make every woman he came across pay for his wife’s abuse of him. “I got no respect left for cunts”, Charlie would tell me now and then — and each time he said it, he’d all but clench his teeth. Then he would tell me, for the hundredth time, how his wife and his best friend betrayed him — as if that justified his becoming a jerk.
I once tried to reason him out of it. “My first wife cheated on me”, I began, “and I still like and respect most women I meet. Besides, they had nothing to do with it. So why be so cynical?”
“I don’t mean to insult you, Paul, but you’re just being naive and stupid about women. You didn’t learn anything from your wife cheating on you. Maybe you didn’t love her like I loved my wife. And I’m not cynical; I’m a realist.”
We went on for awhile, but no mere words could make a dent in his invulnerable self-righteousness.
You might think Charlie would have nothing to do with women given his attitude. But he was always bouncing from one woman to the next back when I knew him.
Fedup reminds me of Charlie in many ways. I won’t quote what she wrote this morning because I don’t want to give her a pulpit, but like Charlie, she’s apparently determined to pass on the abuse of her by abusing others. And, also, like Charlie, she’s not a good listener. She didn’t bother to understand the comments of the people she was abusing. Instead, she twisted their comments to make demons of them. In effect, that means whatever creep abused her has won. He’s succeeded in making her a worse person than she could be.
I have more sympathy for Fedup being abused as a child than she can probably imagine. But it’s precisely because I have seen what abuse can do to people that I will not permit even “mere” verbal abuse on my blog.
A sadness of the world is that it is full of abuse. A challenge of the world is to do something about it. It is up to each of us to say, “It stops here, with me.” A person who feels their abuse justifies abusing others is not part of that solution — just part of the problem.