8: CYBER-CIVIL WAR
WAR IS ALL HELL; YOU CAN MAKE NOTHING ELSE
OF IT. William T. Sherman, Union general, American Civil War
So, here we were, a battered group of
OJIs crying on each others cyberspace shoulders, venting our cyberspace
spleens and planning our next strategic moves, when disaster struck. Tiger had sent each
of us a private appealyou know, person to person, not OJG to OJIto condemn a
member of our CTV community for behavior unbecoming a decent human being. It had a
familiar ring to ita damn familiar ring, like the private note I got from her about
Trille. With my shameful first response to that appeal behind me, I was not about to let
it happen again. Lord knows what private messages shed sent to Chameleon to
influence how she saw us, but I knew by this time that Tiger had no equal in her ability
to find our weaknesses and use them against us. Jamal had become the perfect focal point
of her next attack.
With all the OJGs on her side, with
Chameleon angry at Jamal and at us for siding with him, Peggy and I were especially
susceptible to persuasion on account of our particular weaknesses.
With me, it had been my desire to be seen
as fair-minded. When that was threatened, so was my judgment. With Petlady, it was abusive
language. The OJGs were smart enough not to use that kind of language on her, but
she was aware enough to see that it was being used more and more on both sides. The way
Peggy saw it, Jamals posting gave her the opportunity as well as the responsibility
to put her foot down on the whole ugly phenomenon....
Subj: Jamal and others like him
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 1997 12:38:09 -0800
From: Margaret Richardson (petlady)
Chameleon and everyone I went back to the threads
yesterday and I could not believe what I read. What happened here? What used to be an
intelligent, insightful discussion group, has turned into a mob. I cant just sit
back any longer and not say anything. I will admit I am at a loss for words. The things
that are being said are frightening.
Trooper, I know you admire Jamal, but I am going to put in
this e-mail a post that Jamal made on 2-7-97:
"To: Trille, Crowe, Algee, Hhhana: As I type this,
Alan Dershowitz is going like GANGBUSTERS on CNN with appellate issuesbut
thats not the reason for my post: I am suggesting that we can use this thread to get
our ideas posted in public without AGGRAVATION, by following a few SIMPLE RULES:
"(1) We have to give up our 2/4/97 threadthe
VERMIN have infected it.
"(2) If any of you STILL TAKE COGNIZANCE OF anyone
except the people mentioned in the title of the thread (and Openminded and myself)
YOU ARE ENCOURAGING THE VENOMOUS STINGS OF THE VERMIN. Are you all masochists?
Dont you understand that they post ONLY TO GET A RISE OUT OF US? How hard is it to
studioulsly (sic) ignore the insignificant creatures that have been spewing their venom
all these months?
"(3) IF YOU DONT UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE SPECIAL,
THAT THE UNWASHED MULTITUDE HAS TO EARN the right to be addressed by usthats
your problemnot mine. (4) Hargrove & Trooper1 You are both, of course,
MORE THAN WELCOME IN THIS PUBLIC ARENAIts hard for me to believe that the
rudeness and hatred from the other side have forced you guys to retreat into
Now, Jamal is saying that: "If you dont agree
with me, you are vermin (any of various insects, bugs or small animals regarded as
objectionable because destructive, disease carrying, etc., flies, lice, rats or weasels; a
vile loathsome person). If you dont say as I say, you are spewing venom (the poison
secreted by some snakes, spiders, insects; malignancy, spite, malice). If you listen to
anyone other than me, you are encouraging the venomous stings of the vermin (a vile,
loathsome personvile: morally base or evil, wicked, depraved, sinful, offensive to
the senses or sensibilities, repulsive, disgusting, cheap, worthless, degrading, low,
mean, most inferior). If you believe as I do, you must ignore the insignificant (having
little or no meaning, having little or no importance, trivial, small, unimposing, low in
position, character, mean)
IF YOU DONT UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE SPECIAL, (of a
kind different from others, distinctive, peculiar or uniqueword used where
pre-eminence is implied, eminent above others, exalted) THAT THE UNWASHED
(self-explanatory) MULTITUDE HAS TO EARN the right to be addressed by us
Trooper, is this what you admire? Is this the way you feel?
Is this the way Laura or Hhhana and Patricia feel? From what I have read in the e-mail
from all of you, this is not what you feel [Editors note: Of course not.
Thats not how Jamal felt either. I know, because he did what I like to think I would
have done under the circumstances if Id seen any chance of communicating privately
in a public forum, or getting the OJGs to see themselves. The only thing Jamal did
was wrap an OJI message in an OJG package. I thought he did a splendid job of putting a
mirror up to the OJGs. I also suspected that he was trying to take the heat off the
people his letter was addressed to and to bring Hargrove and me back to the boards].
Trille, a long time ago you asked me to not write to you
anymore. Outside of the post, "To All" after the verdict, and this one, I have
respected your wishes. I dont need to ask you if you agree 100% with Jamal, because
I honestly feel that you do, and I am sorry. I keep receiving mail from you and I think
its time that it stopped, because I have nothing to say in return. Trooper came to
your defense, and that is his prerogative. I have tried to respect his wishes and
refrained from saying anything to him with regard to your thoughts or e-mails. Please, no
more vituperative remarks.
I still feel OJ is not guilty and not liable. There are too
many unanswered questions. There are too many things that do not add up. I know a lot of
you believe he is guilty and liable. That is your prerogative. I am perfectly willing to
discuss (talk or write about; take up in conversation or in discourse; consider and argue
the pros and cons of) ideas and opinions with anyone. But I will not stoop to
name-calling, to considering myself superior to anyone, to thinking that my opinion is the
only one that matters, or to SHOUTING to get my point across.
Maybe with this letter I have disassociated myself from
some of you. If so, I apologize, but this has been building up for some time, and Im
afraid I let Jamal bring it out in the open. If any of you want to continue to consider
the possibilities, want to discuss the pros and cons, or just want to converse in general,
let me hear from you. As you can tell, the dictionary came in handy this morning.
Talk about low points, this was one of the
lowest for the OJIs. Our various personalities, sensibilities, experiences on the
CTV threads, and levels of expertise in e-mail technique and etiquette had collided in a
way that none of us could see at the time. What Peggy did, looked to her like a
justifiable reaction to intolerable behavior on the part of Trille. For Trille, it was a
bewildering attack she was justified in responding to the way she did. For me it was just
None of us knew each other well at the
time, but Id read enough of what Peggy and Trille wrote to see that they had
entirely different ideas of how one was supposed to communicate in cyberspace. It was like
choosing what clothes to wear to a party; tuxedoes and gowns, suits and dresses, dressy
casual, real casual or come as you are? This was a dressy casual affair. You could wear
T-shirts with wrinkles and sneakers with grass stain if you wanted, but they had to be the
right brands of T-shirts and sneakers. That is, you could say whatever you wished, however
you wished to say it, but only up to a point. Trille often went past that point, which was
one of the things I liked most about her. Trille was different. She said exactly what she
From an OJG standpoint, all of us
OJIs and OJUs were different. From where we stood, the OJGs idea of
"different" appeared to be the same as "inferior." All one had to do
was substitute the epithet "nigger" for the acronym "OJI" and it was
all familiar territory to me.
Subj: Tiger and others like her
Date: Sunday, February 09, 1997 9:26 PM
Peggy Boy, did you miss the point!
You know how much I like you, so I hope I can say this
without causing offense....What Jamal wrote and what you read are entirely different
things. You made the same mistake with Trille and me. Before you paraphrase what we say,
it would spare all of us needless pain if you took more care to READ IT in the context of
our association with PEOPLE LIKE TIGER.
Sorry about the shouting. Thats what normal human
beings sometimes do in a noisy environment where their normal speaking voice is drowned
out. Its what ordinary human beings often do when they have something out of the
ordinary to say and they want to be sure to get your attention. Shouting is what people on
the receiving end of relentless attacks against their maturity, their integrity and their
intelligence can be expected to do when they know they have not been heard.
Try not to assume that I have petty, ill-informed or
dishonorable motives for siding with Jamal as I did with Trille. Such assumptions may be
why you missed what they had to say in the first place. That may be why you missed what I
said about the same people Jamal and Trille took up the cudgel against on the CTV threads.
If you assume that I dont understand the value of civil discourse with people who
dont agree with me, youll miss the point again.
I do admire Jamal and every OJI he mentioned. I hold Dable
in high esteem. But you, Peggy, you are the prize we have all been fighting over. You are
a thoughtful and honorable person. You want to see good in all of us, to get us to see the
good in each other. What you say and dont say carries a lot of weight. When the OJG
elite can get you to pillory an OJI, they win big. They have won big three times.
Approval is the currency of our racially segregated little
cyberspace community (OJGs seem to be one race and OJIs another). Everybody
likes you and wants you to like them. That gives you a tremendous amount of
leverageand I think you know it. Thats why your public (and unfair) criticism
of Trille hurt both of us so much and made us both so angry. You used it again against me
and now youre using it against Jamal. It is as though our language and manners were
so offensive to you that there was nothing Tiger, Bear or Lion could have done to warrant
our use of it.
I urge you to take another look.
I told Tiger that she did a good thing with her letter of
condolence [Editors note: OJU Sara Reason had recently died]. I said it
because I thought it was appropriate and true. Other than that, we have nothing to say to
each other. Silence is one language people like Tiger seem to understand. If we cant
communicate as equals, the hell with it, and she and others like her have made it plain
that they will tolerate no such thing from the likes of Jamal, Trille, Hhhana, Hargrove,
Crowe, Openminded or me.
So, what do we call these people who have thought up so
many clever ways to call people like us "niggers," without ever having to use
that unpleasant epithet? Racist is not a nice word. Neither is vermin or asshole. But,
bigger than shit, they all fit. The racist, vermin, asshole lynch mob led by people like
Tiger are the ones who set themselves up as being superior to us and pounded us with it
relentlessly. Jamal is just throwing it back at them. Hes speaking the only other
language they seem to understand. Your friend, Jasper (trooper1)
Sub: Jamal and others like him
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 1997
PetladyDont you realize that Jamal IS ONLY
RESPONDING IN A SARCASTIC TONE TO THE MOB, THE TIGERS, THE LIONS, THE LOGGERS, THE
JIMMERS, THE MAMBOS, THE ONES WHO HAVE ENDLESSLY INSULTED OUR INTELLIGENCE, OUR MOTIVES
AND OUR WAY OF THINKING. IT IS OBVIOUS YOU HAVENT READ ALL THE POSTINGS AND THE
THREADS BECAUSE YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND WHY JAMAL IS SAYING WHAT HE SAID [Editors
note: I thought so, too. The way the threads were laid out, it is possible that Peggy
hadnt seen the posts we had. When I got on her thread by accident I didnt see
any. Bear was a Teddy Bear. Lion and Tiger were kittens]. DONT YOU UNDERSTAND
As far as writing to you, you are on the list and I
dont know how to take you off, so go to hell Peggy. And if you dont like my
postings and e-mails, dont read them. Trille
Subj: Tiger and others like her
Date: Sunday, February 09, 1997 9:48 PM
To: Trooper173; Petlady
My fifteen minutes of fame. Wow, am I something! I have to
go and take another look at myself. Trooper has me all figured out. Gee, thanks. Now I
know who and what I am. Sad, sad, sad.
Silence, dear Trooper, is NOT a form of communication. It
is the weapon of the rebellious child, the apathetic observer, the indifferent
participant, and most of all, it is the response of someone who cannot form into words the
ideas and opinions which could be used in intelligent, adult discourse. Silence, however,
when there is nothing to be said, is truly golden. This message is not an exercise in
silence. You deceive yourself and all the people who read this when you make accusations,
call names, draw asinine conclusions, and slander the personae of othersand insist
that you have chosen to be silent. You have taken us all to a new low. Tiger
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