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Posted By: Chuck Lee on: 06/23/2002 06:59:08 CDT
Subject: Time Out - What's THIS About?

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I've participated in other forums and mailing lists a few times before. I've seen many "flame wars" as I'm sure others on this list have seen. Certainly, it's easy to misinterpret what's "said" online. Even with the extensive use of emoticons. The use of the wrong article, or pronoun, or a pronoun in place of a specific term, or even the accidental absence of a positive or negative qualifier in a sentence can steer you completely wrong; but if you were face to face chatting, even though what's said might be specifically WRONG, you KNOW what was really being said.

That being said, it's always amazing to me how readily folks get their knickers in a twist (panties in a bunch, etc.) and decide to throw down on someone else over something they PERCEIVE as an affront to their character, honesty, integrity, veracity, or just a plain old insult - left-handed, back-door, or direct.

I don't have a dog in this fight. I've admired the work on the SCARD site and on the OVCWA site. When I posted an inquiry to this forum regarding the Picket Signal Lantern, as it's labeled on Mr. Bock's site, I couldn't foresee the consequences of the question of whether someone was presently reproducing that type of Lantern. Mr. Mathers responded to the question; and I understood his reply then when it was first posted as he has subsequently explained it to Mr. Bock.

Looking at the tone of the responses Mr. Bock has given to Mr. Mathers, I'm puzzled (as usual, concerning anything having to do with the Signal Corps...lol). The hostility evinced, and some of the comments, indicate that there are issues Mr. Bock seems to have that stretch back a decade. I've not seen on this forum the sort of behavior that Mr. Bock asserts is Mr. Mather's tendency or modus operandi - but even if those accusations were perfectly valid apart from this forum, they have not shown themselves to be true ON THE FORUM.

I'm not the webmaster, host, or list owner, but I've seen list owners, hosts, and webmasters suspend the participation of folks when the accusations and cheap shots and, in some cases - not suggesting this has happened here YET - threats start flying, then the offenders are usually given a "time out", or are suspended from the forum / mailing list, etc. The reasons are usually pretty obvious to all: it's because that sort of behavior is not only inappropriate, but it's NOT why the forum / mailing list exist. Some forums have actually been suspended - the entire FORUM, that is - when snotty comments and hurtful statements and flame wars have gotten out of control, as many who have been on a certain Civil War reenactors forum know.

Ill-mannered behavior detracts from the purpose of the forum. This forum obviously allows for researched fact, being an outgrowth of SCA, and for researched fact mixed with practical application / somewhat compromised use for those who assay to play "Army" Civil War-style, being an outgrowth of SCARD. The sorts of comments that demean others or throw stones at others are grossly inappropriate here. Anyone who has an axe to grind of a personal nature needs to either keep it to himself or herself, or take up the matter in private e-mails off the forum or list.

There are legitimate challenges, naturally. Challenges which ask folks to give evidence of their assertions that are supposed to be rooted in historical, documentable, provable facts are not personal attacks, but rather give us whose asserted INFORMATION is the subject of the challenge a chance to prove our case. For my money, that doesn't demean, but rather gives me the chance to vindicate my assertions, prove my case, and improve my veracity with others. That's how I saw Mr. Mathers' question on Mr. Bock's assertion that the word "sine", the example chosen by Mr. Mathers from the broad statement of Mr. Bock's that some of the terms in question from Mr. Wagner's post were older than Mr. Mathers was allowing.

And I, ignorant as I am of all these things, still have no idea of the age of the term "sine" within Signal Corps historical use. The value of responding to such a challenge (or the encouragement to be more forthcoming with facts rather than claims) is to dispel ignorance. I'm just as dumb on the age and Signal Corps use of the word "sine" as when I first read it in Mr. Wagner's post.

Public laundering of the sorts of accusations we've seen here does none of us any good. We're not in a position to know if they're true or not - and frankly, don't really care, other than having the perverse interest of slowing to take in the details of a car wreck on the highway. We can't fix what's been broken, and we're not parties to the alleged infractions, so we can't do anything except take up SOMEONE ELSE'S offense without first-hand knowledge - which does no one any good. It's simply none of our business.

Reading back over the many posts to this group, I've seen Mr. Mathers rather consistently give credit where credit was due, even in several places where there was no reason apparent to me to do so. If it's his propensity to bask in the light of others' accomplishments as his own, that OBVIOUSLY has not taken place here. I've re-read Mr. Wagner's posts repeatedly because he has challenged me to think deeper and go further in my own processes than I would have on my own, and I find that he is praised for his contributions, even when he differs with others' points of view, interpretations, or even on matters of historical fact - and Mr. Mathers has disagreed with him, as Mr. Wagner has disagreed with Mr. Mathers, in a most gentlemanly fashion.

We could all take a page from their book.

As for reciprocal links, it's unfortunate that the OVCWA doesn't feel in all conscience that it can link with the SCARD site. Quite puzzling, given their regular, much welcomed and highly valued appearance here. The OVCWA seems to be comfortable enough directing folks to their site from SCARD as has been seen in a number of posts generated apropos of nothing but redirection, but I've seen nothing materially significant on the OVCWA site that conflicts with SCARD's data, beyond some terminology.

I recently told someone that, as regards absolute authenticity versus the "farby" extremes in playing "Army" (Civil War-style), I could well be that hobby's Henry Clay - "the Great Compromiser". In this post, though, I sound more like that hobby's Rodney King - "Can't we all just get along?"

But really - can't we?

As I said, I don't have a dog in this fight, and I'd prefer not to have to pick one. Let me say to all concerned, whether as participants or observers, though, that the most convincing arguments you will make have to do with documentable, provable historical fact. Character assassination has no place on this forum, or any other forum of which I'm aware.

My father usd to tell me that I was expected to treat gentlemen as gentlemen and ladies as ladies, and not because of proven merit in either the gentlemen or the ladies. "In fact, sometimes," he said, "We do so in spite of proven demerit." "Why?" I asked. "Because WE are gentlemen, son," he would tell me.

Let's be gentlemen.

And I'll try not to ask any more highly provocative questions about Lanterns...lol.

Chuck Lee

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