This is a really good question, expressed in a detailed and reasonable way, and I’m super glad…
Joan Westenberg 🌈

You, Mr. Westenberg, are a Force for Détente.

Or, how I stopped worrying about Red-lines and learned to love bomb-throwing (trite, yes, but I’m way too tired to be clever).

Thank you sir, and I certainly appreciate your honest, well-tempered response. You could have easily taken my comment as a shot across the proverbial bow, and I’m happy you’ve decided to engage in a civilized dialogue. Too often I’ve seen post comments on Medium escalate beyond all reason. Sometimes there’s a touch of what smells of mutually-ensured annihilation lingering in the most incendiary comments. Russia drops an h-bomb and the US of A feels compelled to respond with a disproportional barrage of their own. Eventually, China, France, Israel, India, and Pakistan get all tangled-up and all you’re left with is A Canticle for Leibowitz (a great dystopian classic if anyone’s interested).

But you, Mr. Westenberg, you are a force for détente.

Regarding your response, I am particularly interested in the ethical dimension with a focus on editorial content. I am not a sociologist, journalist, or ethicist (as of right now, I’m an Uber Driver, but until very recently I worked for a local not-for-profit until I went batty). However, I do have a basic understanding of how the opinion pages used to work in traditional print media. The editor/editorial board presented the newspaper’s position, readers and those impugned by this position were free to validate, disagree, or clarify as they saw fit. However, the editor (and please correct me if I’m wrong); the editor would not respond directly to detractors and would not enter into an echo chamber of validation. This was considered crossing a Red-line, a red-line which does not exist in this digital age.

I don’t think this line-crossing began with the blogosphere, because it certainly had existed for quite some time on talk-radio and cable “news,” which are essentially presenting opinion, whether endorsed by their networks or otherwise. The O’Reillys, the Limbaughs, the Mahers, the Olbermanns (do I dare desecrate the Almighty Stewarts?) throw their bombs. Their bomb throwing is reciprocated by the traditional media (can we call them the Ancien Régime? I really want to call them the Ancien Régime? Please?), which prompts Rush, Keith, Jon and both Bills to respond in kind. And here the Red-line is crossed. The Ancien Régime is flummoxed, paralyzed, constrained as they are by their own journalistic ethics. If you’ll allow me to continue the nuclear war analogy; a new, deadly technology is introduced and the balance of power disrupted.

And now the new “medium”(enters stage left): digital, flexible, professional, para-professional, amateur (i.e., me), informed, ignorant, potpourri, etc. These kids were suckled on the talk-radio/cable-news shit. They could feel the reverberation of the Camry’s rear tweeter deep inside their mother’s womb as Rush spewed an invisible vitriol across the ionosphere. And as for our Red-line, my Red-line…

..what Red-line? For Christ’s sake, don’t you know we’re well beyond the Thunderdrome.

Everyone’s fair-game, so go ahead, vaporize at will, even your ideological allies (of course, people don’t realize they’re ideological allies because they’re too concerned with the micro-aggressions which weren’t meant to be micro-aggressive in any way, nevermind macro-aggressive; they’re what used to be filed under the heading lack of tact, which, if so accused, would be enough to make me hide in the laundry cabinet for a week or more. F#ck, did I just commit a micro-aggression?).

Now, Mr. Westenberg, you might be tempted to ask is he suggesting that I am a Red-line crosser? Well, yes, but as soon as I hit post (and until I sound the bugle for a delete-retreat brought on by sheer embarrassment), so am I. Two hours ago, I had a nice, gentle justification for your variety of line-crossing…my variety of line-crossing… but alas, I’ve lost it. Too tired. Or maybe that drunk engineering student I just dropped off thought he could smoke it and crotched it while I wasn’t looking. No, actually, its probably a Social-Media addiction overload (you’ve probably noted the gradual deterioration in lucidity).

My intention is to expand on all of this, but my angels and demons always regard my intentions as valuable bargaining chips in their interminable negotiations (I’m going to drop the insufferable humility act for a moment and admire that last sentence. As a matter of fact, I’m going to bold that sentence. Is it even my sentence? Did I steal it? Should I up-font it? No, that would be crossing one Red-line too many; that would be like crossing the friggin’ Rubicon. I refuse to write “f#cking.” I’m 37 years old and my grandmother is on Facebook. For all I know, Medium is my mid-life crisis).

Okay, I don’t know where the hell I’m going with this anymore, so I’m going to stop. Mr. Jon Westenberg, again, thank you!

Good night, and I hope all’s well in your world.



P.S., I’m really new to all this (blame Talia) but you wouldn’t mind if I copped some of your style, would you? Will you condescend to touch my green heart. But only if you liked it. I wouldn’t want a pity-press. Why green, anyhow? Envy? Environmentally friendly? Who knows what evil lurks in the (green) hearts of men?