Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Revisionism, heat, light and abuse

I asked here if blogging makes revisionism easier. I'm now wondering if it makes us ruder, or more polite?

A few weeks ago, two Hitchenses appear to be talking to each other again. Briefly.

They are both keen on arguing. They were on the radio and one of them (can't remember which) complained about the view that conflict 'generates more heat than light' by saying that "heat is the only source of light in my experience." (You can shut a whole table up for at least 30 seconds if you introduce that one next time you are in the pub).

"Phosphorescence?" "NO!"

Elsewhere, Christopher H explains why he needs to call his opponents creeps, and I've had cause to wonder whether the blanket term 'tosser' for non-voters is entirely fair. Elsewhere, the comments box at Harry's generate a lot of heat. Norm ruminates on the way people flame these sites and reflects that people sometimes address each other on a blog in a way they wouldn't in an academic seminar, letter to a paper or magazine article.

My experience has been the reverse. In person, I'm a bit of a liability. People don't bother asking me along if they want a civilised discussion. By contrast, this blog is a model of moderation. I've not thrown the term 'appeaser' around anything like as often as I did when people I knew opposed NATO action in Kosovo and I didn't manage a blog.

Composing posts has the same effect as counting to ten. I know that what I say here may be used in evidence against me in years to come. This is not true of what I say in The Compton Arms.

Either way, a lot of people I agree with adopt a less emolient tone the more revisionist they are being.

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