Member Rara Avis
It might surprise you, Tim, to discover I agree with your overall point (while disagreeing with a fair number of tangential points), and have said much the same thing on more than one occasion. If we want people to feel safe to express an opinion, we can't afford to condemn anyone for expressing an opinion. If we want to receive respect, we have to be willing to first give it.
I would sincerely like to believe that if someone jumps into my pool without looking they will find themselves swimming with dolphins, not sharks.
However, in defense of the indefensible, human nature isn't so easily manipulated. Ever have someone stand before your bench after taking a swing at a policeman? Chances are he wasn't standing very well, because we all know that when violence erupts there is no such thing as "a" policeman. Circling the wagons is a pretty common response to perceived threats.
I honestly appreciate your reminder, Tim, that everyone in the pool should act a bit more like dolphins and little less like sharks. I hope people will take it to heart and remember your admonishments in the future. And that's neither condescension nor arrogance, though I suspect you may think otherwise. Still, when someone comes along and starts poking the dolphins with a stick, I'm not going to be too surprised when the dolphins poke back. And if the individual keeps right on poking? My only recourse is to get them the hell out of the pool as quickly as I can.
Goldenrose has poked his last dolphin in this pool.
Strangely, I don't seem to have the patience I did five years ago. Or maybe it's not so strange? ARH alluded to "why people are leaving PiP" and "I wonder why everyone is at a loss as to the reason why?" The implication is that I don't know why and, more, that I don't want anyone to leave. They're leaving because their goals don't mesh with our goals, and life would be a whole lot simpler if everyone would just leave when they found themselves at irreconcilable odds with our philosophies. This place isn't a monolith being built, and I have no desire to change people who don't want to be changed. I just want a place where like-minded people can enjoy poetry. Of all the disgruntled people recently departed, there is exactly one name I regret losing. While the rest will remain respected friends, they are friends who NEVER belonged in this setting. Why should I want a friend to stay where they are unhappy? Why should I want a friend to stay and make everyone else equally unhappy? In leaving, I believe they made the right choice. For them, and for us. I honestly wish a few others would show the same wisdom.
I'm certainly not sorry to see Goldenrose leave, intentionally or otherwise. I am sorry, however, that his vitriol escalated a simple misunderstanding into something unnecessarily hurtful. I find it ironic that he kept telling others to "butt out" when his own involvement was much less than peripheral to the original complaint. He wanted to be a knight in shining armor, fighting someone else's battle for them, and I find no fault in that, only irony. Sadly, he was an inadequate and unchivalrous knight, doing far more to hurt ARH's cause than to help it.
It's a pity, too, because I think ARH's complaint was a valid one.
I long ago asked our critiquers to NOT question someone's decision to turn off their critique flag. I think it is simply impolite to raise those questions, especially in public, and could almost be viewed as harassment. It's a bit like asking someone in the office on a date and then grilling them when they say no. Trouble is, I didn't envision the possibility of conflicting messages being sent, and that lack of vision is entirely my own fault. What do you do when you ask someone on a date and they say Yes while they continue to vigorously shake their head No?
In retrospect, I think it's fairly clear that ARH didn't understand what a critique is, at least within the context of our forums. There's certainly no fault to be found in that. But I also don't think there's any fault to be found in Severn asking for clarification. I mean, what would YOU do if someone said Yes while shaking their head No? The only alternative to asking is assuming. I do, however, suspect Kamla should probably have stopped with the first question and waited for an answer. "What if a person doesn't actually have anything 'nice' to say?" carries implications I'm pretty sure were never meant to be taken literally. But then, I'm pretty sure of that only because I know Kamla, and I suspect she, too, can see where rhetorical questions can be easily misconstrued when the speaker isn't known well enough. I think she's clearly said, a few times now, that her intent was never to hurt.
By the by, while I'm perfectly willing to hear other opinions, I personally think Severn's final question in that thread was valid even when the critique flag is NOT checked. "What does it mean?" is a good question to ask at any time. Of course, there's also nothing wrong with the author refusing to answer. Questions don't impose obligations, but that shouldn't mean the questions can't still be asked. Others may disagree?
In ARH's original thread, she expressed concern about new Members perhaps misunderstanding the critique flag as she had misunderstood it. That's a valid concern, as yet unaddressed. There's a short paragraph in your Profiles, directly above the two critique prompts, that could perhaps be better worded so misunderstandings don't occur. I welcome suggestions. I would also welcome suggestions on how we can encourage people to actually read it.
What I'm not prepared to do, however, is removed choices for everyone because some might not understand the choices being offered. Even if that would prevent all misunderstandings, which we all know it wouldn't, it would still be the wrong answer. I would like to think that when misunderstandings inevitably occur, they can be resolved without rancor. And maybe with Goldenrose now excised, that hope can become a reality?