Zak over at Playing D&D with Porn Stars has written two fine posts about the elements of narrative in D&D, which everyone must be aware of already since he's a popular fellow.
I wanted to make some points on the second post, the one with the extensive musician metaphor, about how both musicians and actors are really dispensible and that the true masters of the creative industries of film and music are not the talent at all, but are in fact the producers, those people with money ... but after reading through the comments, I gave up any notion of commenting myself. By the time I would have added my bit, the conversation had spiraled into the usual, meaningless internet pattern ... spouting agendas, not dialogue.
I have nothing against anyone on the internet having an agenda. I think if you have a blog you have to have one. Agendas are wonderful things, they inspire argument and debate, they provide food for thought and inspiration, they offer the possibility of change. Agendas, when intended to be harmful to people or thought, can be bad things, but then again any agenda can be brought down by an intelligent presentation of the facts ... eventually.
And that is what I crave for this blog. People who can argue for or against my position from a position of intelligence and knowledge. If I post an argument, I expect the comments added below that argument to be relevant to that argument.
Let me be clear. When I say "I expect," I mean that I have no intention of tolerating any alternative. And although I don't believe that I'll be understood by most of the community when I say this, I encourage others to take the same stand.
It may seem that I'm not talking about D&D specifically with this post, but I assure you that I am. With respect to the gentle reader, D&D and the culture surrounding it possess a juvenile reputation which I must say frankly is deserved. When a rational metaphor about macaroni and cheese is answered with the response, "Man, fuck macaroni," we have to know that infants are clearly in charge of the daycare.
I don't expect bloggers to raise the intellectual capacity of their readers: there are obviously some prize morons out there, and vast numbers of them seem to like D&D, or reading about it, so the task of re-educating the masses is beyond our means. But I would like to encourage bloggers like Zak, who take the time to write an intelligent post for the purpose of persuading readers, to delete childish comments from their blogs. Why? For the good of the community.
The default for most bloggers is to argue that every comment has merit, that every commenter has something to say, and that every kind of censorship is a loss for the community. This, because it is believed that more is better, that the more people speaking and voicing their opinions the better the dialogue, and that it is better to coddle and pamper the infantile than to abandon them in a dumpster. Only with patience and nurturing can we hope to change people's minds about things they don't really understand ... and it is our responsibility as the knowing, able players of the game to present the game kindly, thoughtfully, and without prejudices.
It sounds very noble. As such, the very idea of deleting anyone's comment from a blog seems like a very ignoble proposition, the sort of thing only an asshole would do; certainly, a bigger asshole than someone making purposeless comments about macaroni. We aspire to democracy, after all, and anything that hints the least little bit against democracy is immediately vilified to the extreme.
Except ... it isn't.
I would presume that we all have jobs, or that we'd wish to have them. Many of us work in the sort of professions that bring us satisfaction from the work we do, because we are creating something important, or providing a service that others depend upon ... and doing a good job is important to our self image.
In the setting of our jobs, we take it for granted that there will be a curtailing of inappropriate speech. One does not barf out random comments at the boss or prior to the performance simply because the comment has come to mind. We are aware that such behavior has consequences. Our co-workers and employers will believe that our clever little infantasies are irresponsible and undesirable. They will, in fact, be insulted by our lack of respect. And in the face of continued lack of respect, they will cease inviting us back to our jobs.
This fiscal restraint on your freedom to act like an asshole in the workplace is never seen as the destruction of democracy, because it is recognized that for workers to work comfortably together it is necessary that respect trumps personal will. The freedom of your fist ends where my nose begins.
I am sometimes taken to task on this blog for railing violently at some individual's answer to something I've said. My reasons for doing so are entirely premeditated: I wish to dissuade, through practice, the posting of stupid, insipid or otherwise useless comments on this blog. I wish to drive away people who lack the strength of their convictions, who might otherwise be encouraged to continue posting naive comments here were I to be polite or considerate. My practice in this regard is, without question, very rude and disrespectful. I very much hope that it will be received as such.
Now, I don't expect other blog owners, such as Zak, to follow my lead. But it is obviously possible to have this position and still enjoy a sort of popularity. Those who come to this blog come knowing that the discourse here will encourage ideas, and not bury them in a miasma of irrelevant nonsense. The gentle readers here may hate me, they may hate what I say, but they can at least hear it without needing to put up with a lot of banal noise.
If you cannot stand up to the crap posted on your blog, I encourage you as the blog owner to recognize that comments posted which dismiss you, or your ideas, out of hand are disrespectful. Delete them. Comments which miss the point entirely, or which demonstrate that the commenter has not bothered to find his or her answers in your post, are disrespectful. Questions that come out of the blue, which seem blatantly stupid, and which could have been sent to your clearly posted email, are disrespectful. Hijacking your blog to make a personal point about their world or their way of doing things, points that should be made on their blogs and not yours, is disrespectful.
Stop letting the children disrespect you. Insist that the discourse in the comments be equal to the effort you've made to post something of value. You deserve it. Your blog deserves it. The good of the game and the community at large deserves it.
Let's stop inviting the infants to the adult table. Let's give the infants a reason to improve themselves, to recognize that if they can't be of value, they won't be invited to sit. Let's create a community worth having.