A few of my pals make it a point to keep me informed of the declining value of my reputation in certain, shall we say, “dangerous” neighborhoods in the local blogosphere.
The list of untruths dispensed by masked character assassins inhabiting these dark, dank and cranky streets — people whose sense of ironic detachment is somewhat warped — is long and studded with palpable malice.
Remarkably, the cheap shots and envious bile occasionally emanate from a human being with a name, not a cartoon character hiding behind an alias.
Of all the strange things that have transpired since embarking upon NA Confidential in 2004, none have remained as surreal and baffling to me as this tendency for “mad as hell” people to prefer the pusillanimousness of anonymity to the undoubted integrity that comes with putting one’s name to his or her beliefs and standing tall.
Apparently I made the mistake of assuming that people like these had a real-life daddy who taught them the proper way to exercise their cherished “freedom of speech.”
Fortunately, I had just such a parent, and he actually did teach me.
My dad and I were cut from different bolts, and there weren’t too many things about which we agreed. He was easy prey to the siren’s call of populism, especially of the knee-jerk sort we see in the present debate over immigration – and it made him twice as angry when he ultimately had to admit to being mistaken about George Wallace, Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot.
And yet, when the facts indicated that it was unavoidable, he could admit to being wrong.
Our relationship was often tense, contentious and confused – for both of us. By the time I finally was in a position to make amends, he was gone, and the opportunity had passed me by. I kick myself in the butt for it every day, and I live with it.
But make no mistake: I respected my father. I respected the way he played the hand he was dealt in life and succeeded, the way he went off to the Pacific in World War II, and the way he tried to conduct his affairs.
He said what he thought, and he was up front about it. In my father’s world, the only reasons why you would wear a mask were because you had something to hide … or because you were about to commit an armed robbery.
Either way, it disgusted him.
It’s Memorial Day, and that’s when I think about my father, his life, and his lessons.
He taught me some very valuable lessons, and these help me to maintain a sense of equilibrium during times when scofflaws, simpletons and slumlords seem to rule the streets, while others lurking through the back alleys of the local blogosphere offer no solutions to the problems facing us, but instead proudly fall back on institutionalized cowardice, doltish anti-intellectualism and the politics of the culture war.
Yes, I’m thinking of one offender in particular.
The most prominent of these charlatans is the semi-literate academic wannabe at “Freedom of Speech,” who masquerades as a university professor while cluelessly reprinting reams of disjointed numbers and non-contextual musings passed along to her by a councilman’s helpful spouse, all the while assaulting the character of known entities who are without the luxury (or the need) for masks.
The shameful play-acting alone is a fundamental breach of professional ethics for genuine college professors, but what propels the “free speech” sham into the realm of the truly ludicrous is that for all her incessant blathering about free speech, the blog’s hooded proprietor does not permit comments from readers.
Here’s a recent observation from “Erik”:
NA CONFIDENTIAL & ROGER BAYLOR LIES AGAIN! Mr. Baylor how about telling the truth for once in your life!
Here’s yet another expression of the truth, dearest Erika:
If my father were still around to observe the phenomenon of coward hiding behind a fake diploma and attacking people who are known and above board, the word he’d use to describe the situation (and the blogger) is indelicate, but appropriate.
Good call, dad. I heartily concur.