Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head

This fundamental rule of life from the great philosopher and cat lover, Bernard Kliban, has long guided my blawging.




A recurring issue as new people make their way here is that posts touch upon an issue that, for whatever reason, interests them, but fails to go far enough.  This is direct contrast with other readers who are quite certain that whatever I write goes too far, but that’s a discussion for another day.

For the most part, I try to take a very small, very discrete slice of an issue or topic and provide some degree of commentary that illuminates something about it.  It’s just how my mind works, focusing on the aspect of a subject that either interests me or seems worthy of further development. 

Invariably, the tiny slice is part of a larger topic, which then has various emanations and penumbras that lead to other people, subjects, topics and issues.  It’s possible that they are similarly, or perhaps more, interesting, to a reader. After all, there is no particular reason why your interests should be limited to mine, or share my focus. 

If I was a scholar, I might describe this as intellectual modesty, the effort to limit my discussion to an aspect that can be adequately discussed in sufficient depth to be relatively meaningful rather than to be more comprehensive and superficial.  There is only so much one can cover in a blawg post, and likely only so much one cares to read.  I get a lot of complaints that I write too much and too often, among other things.

The part that seems to require occasional reiteration for the benefit of new readers is that this blawg doesn’t promote a consistent agenda.  The other day,  Michelle Malkin called me a “left-leaning blogger.”  If you see the world through political eyes, I guess she’s right. Then again, everyone short of Rush Limbaugh likely appears left=leaning to her.  Others, like Max Kennerly, think SJ is a cesspool of reactionary thought.  I’ve been called lots of names for my failure to toe any party lines.

The problem arises when readers expect that I will spew anger and hatred at their enemies because we share the same concerns.  This is most prevalent when it comes to police and prosecutors, who many readers have concluded are the root of all evil.  Some hate judges, who are the root of all evil. Others hate Gloria Allred for being an unmitigated media slut.  You likely have someone you believe is the “real problem” or the “worst person.”

When I write about someone or something that interests you, you cheer.  When I criticize something you think demands criticism, you cheer.  And when I say something kind about someone you hate or an issue that makes you furious, you turn on a dime and call me a traitor to your cause.  The cheers become jeers. You direct your invective at me. How could I betray you this way?

Of course, when my post is on some issue that you find orthogonal, or worse, completely off any topic of interest to you, you are disgusted with me. How could I waste your time on such nonsense. Law students?  Marketers? Social media gurus? Who cares? What about the evil cops beating and maiming someone. Feed me what I want to read.  Fuel my anger.  You owe me, Greenfield.

When my tiny slice of an issue doesn’t reach some miscreant who you think it could have, or should have, reached, you try to take the point down a road of your own choosing.  In the old days of the blawgosphere, we called this hijacking, where someone would try to move the discussion away from where the writer stood and down some dark path where the reader wanted it to go.  In comment threads to newspapers, this was a very common occurrence, and usually ended up proving Godwin’s Law.

It’s my choice that this never happen here. It will cost me readers who think my limited, perhaps even myopic or misguided, approach to discussion is absolutely wrong, but gaining eyeballs was never a purpose of this blawg.  Indeed, if there is anything I’ve learned, it’s far easier to make enemies than friends on the internet, and I’m fairly well despised by legal marketers of all stripes, marketing lawyers who hope to lie about themselves to make money without recourse and lawprofs who think me vulgar and mean.  And yet, I haven’t
chosen to recreate myself to become more appealing and beloved.

I realize that your mileage may vary. I have no silly expectation that everyone will either agree with me or appreciate me. Experience has made clear that you can’t please everyone, and it’s foolish and counterproductive to try.

So I’m sticking with Kliban’s advice.  If you disagree (as many of you have made clear you do), feel free to start your own blog and write to your heart’s content. It’s a big internet.  This place is only my little slice.

9 comments on “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head

  1. Bruce Godfrey

    Malkin’s comment was odd, so much so that it wasn’t fully clear that you were her intended target. SJ has an overall rather libertarian tone and vibe, or so this reader perceives.

  2. SHG

    Had it not been for the link, I wouldn’t have believed it to refer to me.  That said, I no more think of myself as libertarian than liberal, and I certainly show some fiscal conservatism. That could explain why so many people call me a mutt. Or maybe not.

  3. John Neff

    If I agreed with everything you wrote there would be no point in reading your blog (not that you care).

  4. John Beaty

    Why would it not be worthwhile to simply read and think about it, whether or not you agree? You can’t know whether you agree until you read it, and unless by agree you mean “say exactly what I would have said, exactly the way I would have said it”, there is always room to learn. I try to learn from everything I read, agreeing or not, but I find that the act of agreeing/disagreeing gets in my way.

  5. Onlooker

    Just keep doin’ what you’re doin’.

    I like the fact that I’m never quite sure where you’re going to go with your posts. And on the rare occasion that I’m not interested, I don’t read (or stop part way). Gasp! What a concept.

  6. SHG

    I think John was talking more about the surprise factor. I’m kinda the M. Night Shyamalan of blawgers, never knowing what evil lurks around the next corner.

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