Heh, I think some of you were almost as pissed about me apologizing for the "jump in a river" line as the "uppity" comment. For the record the line was directed at some of my fellow pundits and bloggers who've been on this "woe is Sarah Palin" kick. As much as I disagree with them, I don't actually want them to jump in a river--not even metaphorically.

Anyway, I get why people actually recoiled at the apology. When tackling the opposition, there is always the temptation to respond with as much force as possible, to marshal all your sarcasm, all your anger, all your righteousness, and hurl it at them without regard. When I write, I'm always at war with that temptation. I did a lot of that when I was young, and I quickly became a master of The Screed, if not much else. It was writing as a sort of scrawled pornography, writing as masturbation, writing to work out my own anger, and the issues of people who happen to agree with me. But when I looked up from it all, I still felt alone--my whole audience consisted of people who were like me, so effectively, I was.

You can beat the opposition with a club all day long, if you have no regard for the people on the side getting sprayed with blood. That's a kind of writing that pleases me and people who agree with me, but shows absolutely no regard to people who either don't agree, or aren't decided. I have no idea why anyone would want to write in such a fashion. It's arrogant, self-absorbed, and better suited to one's diary, or their inane, half-drunk, happy-hour ramblings.

If you see me apologize, and think that it is, as one commenter said (In Bush-like fashion, may I add) "a sign of weakness," know this--I care about what is, not "signs" of what is. My strength isn't in my righteousness, my haughtiness, and it damn sure ain't in my spelling. My strength is in--if I may be so bold--slinging verbs, in pulling from arcane places, and--mostly--in assuming that the people on the other side have their reasons also. What I hope to do is engage those arguments directly, honestly, without strawmen (the truest sign of weakness), and respectfully. If you see me apologize, it's because I didn't do that. I have no fear of admitting an error--and I don't do it to comfort the other side. I do it for me, and for those who might be swayed. There's nothing weak about that. 

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.