There’s a Porch Arsonist on the Loose!

by Jason Peters on December 6, 2010 · 14 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

Don’t miss the devastating critique of FPR over at PoMoClown.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Robb December 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Devastating? Not sure. I am sad that Mr Stegall has left. I did not agree with everything he said but he challenged me. On the other hand the way he communicated made me wonder if I would really find it easy to dialogue with him if he lived next to me and we were talking on his, or my, literal front porch.

This space needs to be about more than challenging one another with important ideas. It also needs to be about providing a model for how to communicate that we are truly listening to each other in this communication format. I am concerned that recent communications flowing from Mr Stegall’s posts merely mimicked the kind of personal and visceral attacks that one can find in any blog anywhere on the web. We need to see something different here.

I am NOT calling for a set of rules but a bit more reflection on how our words will be received before we hit “Post as…”

It would be great to see one of the Editors or Editors at Large reach out to Mr Stegall and invite him back onto the Porch. I did not always fully grasp his points in some cases; in many cases I did not agree with what I understood him to be saying; but more often than not his words and the variety of responses to them made me think long and hard about my own views.

avatar David December 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Since I was one who threw fast balls at Mr Stegall, I find myself puzzling. First, if Mr Stegall is really that thin skinned (forgive me but I have seen things far more toxic on my wife’s homeschooling discussion boards about Saxon math than ever occurred here on FPR). Perhaps this talk of deleted comments and such reveals something I’ve missed.

I follow the blog and comment as much as most and admit that I’m unschooled, but do not smell any “socialist succotash” cooking on the stove-top. The most socialist comment I’ve ever made in my life was admitting that it seemed that folks should vote for democrats locally and republicans nationally as it seemed fitting that local communities could and should direct for themselves the social good via executive power.

I suppose two folks can see into things very different realities if their initial position is radically different. My own family looks at things like the “Palin” show we discussed with Mr Stegall and excuses all the shortcomings precisely because they believe in the myth (and for them believing requires upholding/supporting/furthering the myth’s ends). That’s fine and probably republican, though it isn’t conservative.

My father passed recently, but we lost him years ago to mental degeneration because of his illness. But even some 5 years ago when he first faded from us, he was already struggling with the “new republicanism” that didn’t really live up to the fusion of Buckley. Buckley offered conservatives a partnership (even if he was an opportunist as some claim) with marketeers. Well, the marketeers have not played fair and they are better at the game than conservatives.

So conservatives are going to be charged with the very sin that brought us into league with marketeers to begin with “socialism”. It’s a logical maneuver at this point, I’m surprised I didn’t see it coming. But it doesn’t hold water. No conservative wants socialism and the marketeers know that. I, for one, won’t fall for the accusation.

A better direction to head would be to challenge me as an idealist who’s unreal wish-dreams cannot be realized in modern society and persuade me to come to “negotiable points”, but marketeers are marketeers not negotiators. They love their commodities and faceless abstract markets too much to accuse me of myth-mongering and lack the skill to co-operate with me as a person instead of a product.

Just my thoughts.

avatar Brandon December 6, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I agree, Robb. I wish Stegall would come back to the Porch. Part of the richness of FPR has been the level of respect shown differing viewpoints and coming to the conclusion that we all can find things to agree on despite our differences.

avatar Albert December 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm

This is a huge loss. I am saddened by Mr. Stegall’s departure and hope he reconsiders, though I admit I cannot fault his decision in light not merely of the quality of discussion here, which has taken on an air of puritanical presumption, but of the more substantive disregard for continuity with particularly and concretely American traditions of language and politics rooted in American history.

avatar Boz December 6, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Great. Now FT is making fun of other blogs for having important figures leave! Still don’t know why JBottum was kicked out.

avatar D.W. Sabin December 6, 2010 at 9:56 pm

The leaving of Farmer Stegall esq. in protest without so much as the Bloody Kansas equivalent of a
Bronx Cheer is a damned shame or even a shameful damnation. I hope he buckets a hog or two and reconsiders after a little sanguinary cooling off. There aint near enough erudite invective these days. Sadly, there’s even less Voegelinian commentary. As for Cheeks, he’s Cheeks, bless his blunt skull.

avatar richard December 7, 2010 at 1:17 am

Sadly, FPR has not been the same since Dr. Willson left. Even the Cheeky fellow always made some interesting comments when he posted here.

Maybe a part of the problem is really the nature of Internet dialogue. People routinely say things in Internet comments and forums that would get one kicked off a real front porch-at a minimum.

While I will miss seeing Mr Stegall as one of my few coreligionists here (and one of the few farmers) I will continue to hope for the best for your endeavor.

avatar Mark P December 7, 2010 at 4:44 am

Mr. Stegall, if you read this, I have enjoyed your work here. Your writing on the Kansas City courthouse murals was nothing short of brilliant. You will be missed.

The tsk-tsking about FPR’s supposedly degrading discourse are flabbergasting. Really it’s absurd. Perhaps it’s simply that I am quite young and have bounced around internet forums for over a decade now. Perhaps its that I, therefore, am comparing the conversation here to elsewhere on the Internet, whereas others are (mistakenly, I think, despite the admirable pretensions of FPR) comparing the discourse to face-to-face human interactions… Even if it’s simply that the worst comments are regularly deleted–that’s miles ahead of everyone else. On the Internet you can’t keep every angry jerk from showing up and posting, but you can delete idiocy and maintain standards.

The truth is that FPR’s conversation puts the vast, vast majority of websites to shame. You need not dip down into the depressing, sometimes horrifying comments at 4chan or Deadspin or Gawker or HuffPo or Fox News to discover that FPR has something special. Even relatively “high brow” publications like Slate, the American Spectator, National Review, and First Things are littered with a kind of stupid, mean, uncivil, uncharitable comments that you do not see here.

I have always enjoyed Mr. Stegall’s writing and his thoughts, even when I didn’t agree. If he left because he decided that the Internet as a medium is a bad place for a conversation, I laud his decision. He is right. If he left for other personal reasons, I have no place to say anything at all. But if (and I want to emphasize *if* because I am trying not to presume, despite the intimations Mr. Cheeks makes) he left because he thought FPR’s discourse in particular had degraded, or because he was disappointed that the Porch on the whole didn’t rally around rugged individualism, or because ideological purity of American free-market republicanism was not maintained… than I am deeply, deeply disappointed and quite surprised.

I choose not to assume that is why he left, though I wish we could hear something from him.

avatar Nathan P. Origer December 7, 2010 at 4:52 am

Well said, Mark!

avatar Jason Peters December 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Rumors of Counsellor Stegall’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

avatar David December 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm

..apparently for dramatic effect. What would an internet site without drama be? We have met our quotient for the year and all accounts are settled. Let us resume our paradoxically disassociated community.

avatar Anonymous December 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I find your allusion to Twain snobby and unfair to us unlit’rit types.

avatar Dan Phillips December 8, 2010 at 2:49 am

Was there an official announcement of Mr. Stegall’s leaving and his rationale for it? If so, I missed it.

avatar Mark P December 9, 2010 at 1:06 am

No, but if you look at Stegall’s latest post, he explains that his name left the masthead for professional reasons. And I gather he’ll still be occasionally contributing.

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