One final e-mail on Vick:


I wonder if it is possible that everyone is just way too far out of their depth on this one. How do any of us have a conversation about things with which so few of us have any experience? How many of us have stood in the muck of a factory farm, the nauseating smell of animal excrement filling the air? Let alone, stood at the side of a dog pit and seen two pitbulls go at it? How many of us can speak to the soul of dog fighter when most of us have never known one? 

 How then in the world can we bring all of this together to speak in any kind of thoughtful way about the reasonableness of threatening someone with bodily harm who we have never met? Or whether there is any kind of cognitive disconnect between eating factory farmed meat and hating a man who would slam a dogs head into the ground until it was dead? Maybe some things require experience, not just knowledge. 

I'll speak for myself here. Whenever you're reduced to debating the difference "some" and "many," you're likely out of your depth. At that point, you may well be narrowly right. But you've likely failed at the greater point of honest dialouge. So that's me. I'm not convinced that more information would have changed my root opinions. They are as follows:

1.) I think torturing and killing animals is heinous. Full Stop. I didn't say this initially. I should have. Surely they are reasons why people do heinous things, but this only explains. It does not excuse.

2.) I think calling someone evil, or wishing them harm, or wish them death is the sort of thing you do to close off a conversation, not open one up. Whenever we start ruminating too hard on the black heart of Nathan Bedford Forrest, I know that we've all gotten too comfortable. This my general approach to writing, and too life. I just don't have much use for individual evil.
 
With that said, good conversations don't happen in a vacuum. They need to be facilitated by moderator who has some actual authority, by which I mean not the power to delete a comment, but the power of facts. Candor compels to confess a lack of such authority.

We're all fairly cordial here, and one can get lured into a false sense of security. Things that should be left at the coffee table, gain gravitas when spoken publicly by someone who likes to brag about being a big-time senior editor. I have made this mistake before. I will probably make it again. But I really hope not. This is not anyone's safe space, and it really shouldn't be. You come here to meet a particular slice of the world, not for therapy.

Finally, I mostly hate debate that is inactionable. I kept bringing up factory-farming, and its abuses. I still think its relevant, but as a rather flagrant consumer of factory-farmed meat, the whole exercise, in my gut, smacked of debate team. 

I hate when people talk just to score points. After I came back from the Woods, I talked about making some changes. I've not done too well with those. So as to point something on it, something more than the need to be right, I'm rededicating myself post haste. Some good must come out of all of this yelling.

So that's it. After two threads, I think I should leave comments off. Better people than me really should be hosting this conversation. When in doubt, it's best to be quiet. Really, really quiet.