Never Engage The Crazies!

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Out of courtesy, I’ll give you fair warning. This is a rant. If you are looking for a hard-core IndyCar discussion, come back Friday.

I am a guilty man. I have violated not one, but two rules of the blogging world. Our friend Pressdog has a steadfast rule that we should all follow; Never engage the crazies – it’s a no-win situation. The other violation was for a rule that may not even exist, but it is probably one of those unwritten laws of blogger ethics; Never expose the true identity of a commenter. On Monday, I did both.

If you happened to scroll through the comment section of Monday’s post, you’ll see a comment from someone named “Frank”. I should not give this person the satisfaction of having attention drawn to his post, but since it was such a wretched comment – I am taking the bait.

As you can imagine, the bulk of the comments centered on Dario Franchitti’s frightening crash on the last lap of the Grand Prix of Houston. Most expressed their concern for Franchitti and/or the injured fans in the grandstands. There was some expected second-guessing of the fence that had given way. And then there was this from Frank: “Only bad thing about the Franchitti crash was that he wasn’t killed, was hoping to hear the good news that he was dead.”

I rarely respond to comments during the day, mainly because I am working and don’t have much time to check them. I usually catch them on my phone during breaks and lunch. When I saw what Frank said, I had to respond. As I said in my first of two responses, I do not censor or delete comments – ever. And it has to be very extreme to illicit a comment from me during the day. Obviously, this one fit that criteria.

At this ripe old age, there are very few things that get me riled up anymore. But I stewed about this comment all Monday afternoon. Most know that we bloggers have access to the IP address of each person making a comment. When I got home from work, I did a search of the IP address of Frank and found the computer that was used to submit that filth had an IP address registered to the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. Still seething, I suddenly felt the need to “out” the person as best I could for making such a vile comment.

I have since heard nothing and more than likely, I never will. This coward will slither back under his rock. If that move breeched some Bloggers Code of Conduct, I don’t care.

Almost all of the comments on this site are well thought-out and civilized. Although I generally don’t take part, the discussions on certain topics are always presented in a respectful dialogue – on both sides of each issue. That’s why I have enjoyed doing this site for all these years. But when I see a comment like what I saw on Monday, it makes me just want to throw my hands up and climb out of the cesspool for good.

You read those twenty-three words that Frank typed out and you wonder how or why anyone would say something like that. It’s bad enough to even think in such a way, but to feel the need to go to a site where everyone is obviously concerned about Franchitti’s well-being and post something like that – well, it’s beyond my comprehension.

Bloggers are sometimes considered the scourge of the earth because the perception is that we sit in our mother’s basement, never reveal our true identities, create a false persona that is far from reality and try to live for our fifteen minutes of fame. That may hold true for some bloggers, but over time – I’ve met most of the IndyCar bloggers, and they are pretty much what you see from them on their respective sites.

I have a personal acquaintance from years ago that started a blog on another subject about six months after I started this site. That person follows the stereotype and perception of bloggers, in that what is written by them is so far from the truth, it’s almost comical. I may be naïve, but I tend to believe that type person is the exception and not the norm. However, it is the phony ones that gives all bloggers a bad name. Likewise, it is the rare person like Frank who gives blog readers a bad name.

The internet is a wonderful tool. It gives us instantaneous news, the ability to listen to live radio programming from other markets and a platform for groups of people to speak out on some of their most passionate subjects. But that same platform has also given an unnecessary voice to pond scum like Frank. Does Frank have the right to hate Dario Franchitti? Certainly. Does he have the legal right to reveal his evil desires to the rest of us? I suppose so, but that doesn’t mean he should go to every racing site the day after Franchitti’s terrible crash and voice his displeasure that Franchitti is still alive.

Do the Franks of the world emit this sewage just for the shock value? Am I actually giving Frank an honor to devote this much space to the phlegm he left here on Monday? Is this playing right in to his plan? I’m not sure of the answer to any of these questions.

This much I do know…I encourage comments that go totally against whatever I’ve said, so long as they are presented in a civilized manner. Longtime commenter Ron Ford from the Milwaukee area is certainly not afraid to take me to task when he disagrees with me. Just last week, he let me know how wrong I was to put a premium on whoever is announcing a race. But Ron and I have gotten to know each other over the last few years, strictly through e-mail. We’ve never met, but we both look forward to the day we can pull up a bar stool and do some bench racing. We both know that our skin is thick and we can agree to disagree without losing sleep.

Over the years, I have responded privately to some comments that were a little out of line. At times, I was able to diffuse them with some logic and reason. Other times, it became obvious very quickly that there was no changing a person’s mind. They were adamant in their stance. I had such a situation about two weeks ago. That’s when I remembered Pressdog’s advice of “Don’t engage the crazies”. I just backed away from the rant gracefully. Such is the life of a blogger.

But to have a supposed racing fan come onto this site and spew his disappointment that Dario Franchitti did not lose his life on Sunday – that’s almost too much to take. That’s where I draw the line and feel compelled to respond and engage the crazies, no matter the consequences. If I violated some code of ethics, so be it.

So, if you think I’m going to accost you publically for disagreeing with me – I won’t. Not only do I normally like the comments I get, I also learn a lot from them. And please don’t think I will reveal your true identity and location simply because I didn’t like what you said. It takes an awful lot to offend me – an awful lot. Unfortunately, Frank found where my limit was on Monday.

George Phillips

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16 Responses to “Never Engage The Crazies!”

  1. Ughhh… sometimes it’s best to ignore them George – leave them to the ridicule that others may heap on them. Folks who post that kind of stuff are simply a waste of time.

  2. I despise anyone who would leave such a comment. I do believe in karma, and “Frank” will undoubtedly suffer some untold misery at some point.

    In reality, the more I think about it, by allowing other readers to comment on his regular post, and then doing today’s article on “Frank”, plus allowing me and others to comment on today’s entry, you are giving “Frank” an additional 15 minutes of fame, which probably delights his incredibly sick heart. So, after some thought, I think I answered your poll incorrectly. It probably would have been best to just delete it, and bar that IP address, if you have that capability.

    Keep up the good work, George.

  3. I voted for two choices in your poll, the first two. I also try not to “engage the crazies”-or as I put it: Never fight a battle of wits with an unarmed person-but sometimes a person just can’t ignore what some idiot says and has to respond, even if that is what they want.

    I have been known to go seriously after people on websites/blogs because of the things they say. Sometimes it gets me in trouble, sometimes I feel bad, but I also feel it’s necessary.

    If you can ban this “Frank” person from here, that would be to me the best thing you can do. Side note: the rules and laws regarding free speech only apply to the government banning someone from saying something. As a private citizen, you have every right to ban someone from your blog if you disagree with what they have to say or how they say it.

  4. George,

    Sometimes people deserve to be brought to task for what they type. The voice the internet has given people have made them “tougher”. They don’t have to show their face. They don’t have to be responsible for the statement they make. If someone were to say what he said to my face…as much as I hate to admit it…things would escalate, and I’m not a Big Franchitti fan. I don’t like to see ANY driver in an accident. No matter how small or big. These guys drive (pun not intended) the sport we love.

    People like this person get off on riling people up. Whether it be IndyCar, Politics, etc. They revel in the responses of people who they know will disagree with those views. I really have no time for these people. Just move on and “Wish Them Well”.

    Keep on bloggin’ George.

  5. I suspect it was a kid just messing around. Doubt he really meant it other than he thought it was funny. Indy car fans probably take things like this more seriously since we have all had drivers we like and support who have been seriously injured or lost their lives in the sport.

    Your thoughts on not deleting comments is probably right. Although if you get someone who was clearly starting to spam your sight I’m not sure you would have any choice. “Frank” has not appeared to be doing that.

    In any case, as happened on the original post, a number of commentators put him in his place. At the end of the day, its probably the best way to handle (as long as they are civil about it)

  6. Read the “comments” at the end of just about any article on Yahoo or a newspaper site or something, and you’ll find the “conversation” quickly deteriorates into purposefully divisive, hateful, name-calling garbage. I’m not sure why that is, but take Dog’s advice and ignore the crazies. Or just delete them, if that’s in your power.

    Of course I’m not talking about most of us who habitually comment on your site, George–to the best of my knowledge we are very intelligent and extremely good-lookin’.

  7. The American Mutt Says:

    What the flippin hell man, I can’t stand Dario, want him to finish last every race (preferably from a blown engine), and wouldn’t be particularly upset if he retired after this year. That being said, there wasn’t a second after that race where I wasn’t hoping for anything but the best for the man, and was getting worried the longer it took to get him out of the car, and spent the rest of the day checking twitter hoping that his injuries were as minimal as could be given that wreck. I dont’ get people who didn’t do the same.

  8. A wise man once said, “Don’t wrestle with a pig, because you both get dirty and the pig enjoys it.”

    The best thing to do is ignore them, and don’t give them the attention that they so desperately crave.

  9. My rule is that America, yes, is a free country. However, my house, property or my internet sites/pages are NOT free for some to do and say something dispicable or insulting. I would have gone to the college with this and told them that someone is using that IP address in such a manner.

  10. You didn’t do wrong, George. That comment was simply an act of fly-by stupidity on the part of an idiot, but there’s a time and place for ignoring something, and a time and place for speaking out against it.

    Freedom of speech has never meant freedom from consequences, only freedom from prosecution. If someone says something offensive, there’s no shield from criticism of it. On the contrary, criticism and condemnation in response *is* practicing freedom of speech.

    If this is the same guy who’s trolled, and had comments deleted at sites like ESPN and Bleacher Report (they essentially said the same thing), then this is nothing more than some loser trying to rile people by saying utterly idiotic things. But often, the best response to that (next to silence) is dignified censure, not responding in kind. Trolls like that are often trying to drag forums into the sewer; silence often enables them as much as uncontrolled anger in return. Only dignity robs them of the spectacle they’re after.

    You did the right thing George. Measured, reasonable response. Clearly stated disapproval without lowering yourself. That’s the way to handle this.

  11. George;
    I consider you a friend I haven’t met yet. I am surprised that your response to the idiot who shall not be named herein was as measured as it was. Personally, I would have exploded the minute I saw the post and probably have forgotten all about the first amendment and just deleted the comment. Kudos to you for not responding as I would have.

  12. He may have freedom of speech but he has to deal with the consquences of that speech. Just ask Pat Dye and David Pollack.

  13. Jaryd Chambers Says:

    Very Well stated George…

  14. George, my first reaction to the original post was anger and then I thought “how pathetic.” Now to find out it was sent from a college of healing, makes me very sad. There is so much of this going on. Racer is monitoring its sites too. Too much thoughtless garbage. I look forward to tomorrow’s post on racing.

  15. Oilpressure.com is owned by George Phillips. You determine what is appropriate to say. You tend to allow any and all opinion within the bounds of decency and civility. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comment like Frank’s on your site, but you did the right thing by defending your website’s standards.

  16. Jim Myers Says:

    I believe in the importance & the necessity of free speech in our society. However, I feel we are not guaranteed anonymous free speech.
    Regardless of age, if one posts it, one should own it. I very much appreciate your responding to the post. I would like to express that I have the liberty to choose to “depersonalize” the situation. While I view the nature & the content of the post & not specifically “Frank” as the chief offensive aspect, I totally support your effort to address the matter using a separate blog entry.
    Finally, yes, I agree the Internet is wonderful, but (if we must be personal) the only tool here is “Frank.”

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