I Hereby Declare the Peter (Robinson) Principle

 

peter_robinsonEditor’s Note: When we say Ricochet is the home of smart and civil conversation on the web, we mean it. So please join us today and get a free month on us. See you in the comments.

Friends, this election season has seemed …. interminable. The highs, the lows, the lower lows … a lot has happened, and it’s only just beginning. I realize that a situation like this arouses passions and you’ll find no more argumentative or stubborn person on Ricochet than myself.

Lately there have been more fissures within our little community here at Ricochet than usual. And that’s fine. It’s more than fine, it’s a good thing. I happen to think that Ricochet is boring when we all agree with each other.

However, a problem comes when these fissures are accompanied by acrimony. And there’s been lots of acrimony lately. Despite all our differences, it’s important to remember that we’re all on the same team. Not the Republican team, or the conservative team, or even the center-right team. We’re all on the Ricochet team. We’re all members of the same community. (And to anyone who doesn’t know yet, yes, this is most certainly a community.)

So we’re clear: I’m not telling anyone to not express their unpopular opinions. I welcome controversial posts (it’s a lot more interesting than Hillary Outrage #4069). But it’s important that when we disagree with each other, we do so respectfully.

To wit, I’d like to offer a useful guideline.

Our beloved founder Peter Robinson is a gentle and decent person. The English language has many colorful synonyms for the human posterior, but if were you to use anything stronger than the word “hiney” in his presence, there is a non-zero probability that the man would plotz. (And I don’t mean to ridicule the man. He is a light of decency in an indecent world. Would that I were able to be so.)

My suggestion is this: When you’re arguing with someone, it helps if you pretend the person you’re arguing with is Peter Robinson. (And the bigger the disagreement, the more inflamed the passions, the more you should apply this rule.) It’s not just about not cursing someone else, it’s about assuming good faith on their part.

And it’s entirely possible Peter Robinson is reading what you say. Do you want him to read you saying something unpleasant to someone else? And it’s not just Peter, lots of impressive people read Ricochet. (Trust me, I know!) Do you want to have said certain things in front of them?

And know that, if you seek to persuade, your target audience isn’t just the person you’re disagreeing with, it’s everyone else who is reading what you say. Before commenting, ask if you want to represent your side the way you’re about to.

If you, individually, maintain that level of civility and dignity, in both your argument and your prose, then nobody will be able to flag anything you say. And if we all did that, then … wow.

Now, I realize that 99% of Ricochet members never get flagged for violating the Code of Conduct. But many of us have been tempted, from time to time, to say things we shouldn’t. The Peter Principle isn’t meant as a condemnation or a scold, just as an entirely voluntary guideline to help make things even more civil around here.

And while we don’t always agree, we should at least be friends. And barring that, we should at least be civil to one another. Because that’s the whole point, right? That’s why we’re here. This isn’t supposed to be a sewer. Let everywhere else be the sewer, this is Ricochet. We’re better than that.

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  1. Umbra Fractus Inactive
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Mate De:I prefer the technique of descending to Yo Momma jokes when things get too heated.

    The Yo-Yo Ma jokes aren’t quite as successful.

    • #61
  2. skipsul Inactive
    skipsul
    @skipsul

    Umbra Fractus:

    Mate De:I prefer the technique of descending to Yo Momma jokes when things get too heated.

    The Yo-Yo Ma jokes aren’t quite as successful.

    Yeah, people get strung up when they try to tell them.

    • #62
  3. Whiskey Sam Inactive
    Whiskey Sam
    @WhiskeySam

    skipsul:

    Umbra Fractus:

    Mate De:I prefer the technique of descending to Yo Momma jokes when things get too heated.

    The Yo-Yo Ma jokes aren’t quite as successful.

    Yeah, people get strung up when they try to tell them.

    It’s all the manspreading all over the cello that gets them in trouble.

    • #63
  4. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Peter’s Principle is usually followed by Long’s Lemma:

    “You can’t tear down a wall before its built.”

    Quod Erat Demonstrandum

    • #64
  5. Arthur Beare Member
    Arthur Beare
    @ArthurBeare

    EThompson:A lot of that has to do with a generational gap that the site is currently experiencing.

    Do you mean the number of (ahem) more mature posters?  This is a major thing that sets us aside from other social media sites.

    #TKC for President

    • #65
  6. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Whiskey Sam: It’s all the manspreading all over the cello that gets them in trouble.

    There’s always room for cello.

    • #66
  7. Pugshot Member
    Pugshot
    @Pugshot

    Well said, Fred. Thank you!

    • #67
  8. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Considering this is a common comeback, and we even said it in front of my mother, I’m not so sure my family would pull our punches even if Peter Robinson was joining us for dinner

    Ackroyd and Curtain

    ps  I guarantee your plea for “civility” will fall on deaf ears. The people who will take your advice never needed it to begin with. And it would never occur to those who should take your advice that they should.

    so good luck with that

    • #68
  9. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Oh, Fred, Fred. After a long and difficult day I find that you have used my name to establish–well, a standard of decency, goodwill, and civility. When she comes across your post herself, my wife will quite pointedly roll her eyes, and even as Cary Grant used to say that even he wished he were Cary Grant, even I wish I were half as nice a guy as you suggest.

    But you know what? Thanks. Coming from someone who thinks and writes so well, the compliment means a lot.

    • #69
  10. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    skipsul:

    Percival:But Fred, I pretend the people I am arguing with are you. Wearing a sun dress.

    Lovely yellow print, by the way. Really sets off your eyes.

    Ugh, you and the yellow dress again!

    It looks fetching on you too, Skippy, even though yellow isn’t really your color.

    • #70
  11. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    skipsul:

    Umbra Fractus:

    Mate De:I prefer the technique of descending to Yo Momma jokes when things get too heated.

    The Yo-Yo Ma jokes aren’t quite as successful.

    Yeah, people get strung up when they try to tell them.

    I just flagged you comment as inappropriate. A pun killed my grandfather.

    • #71
  12. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Peter Robinson:Oh, Fred, Fred. After a long and difficult day I find that you have used my name to establish–well, a standard of decency, goodwill, and civility. When she comes across your post herself, my wife will quite pointedly roll her eyes, and even as Cary Grant used to say that even he wished he were Cary Grant, even I wish I were half as nice a guy as you suggest.

    Well you can always sue anyone who implies that you are one smidgen less nice than your brand makes you out to be. That is the only way.

    • #72
  13. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    While I can see that the Peter Principle has merit, I would personally prefer the Lileks Principle.  A vigorous discussion has room for a little biting sarcasm, and James is the master.  While Peter is a good and gentle soul, James is a good soul with a sharp eye and biting tongue (or pen).  They both embody what Ricochet is all about, to me at least.

    • #73
  14. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    • #74
  15. livingthehighlife Inactive
    livingthehighlife
    @livingthehighlife

    Hang on a minute….

    Fred, what did you do now?

    • #75
  16. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    peter_robinson

    • #76
  17. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    JimGoneWild has volunteered to do this week’s podcast graffiti artwork.

    • #77
  18. Orion Member
    Orion
    @Orion

    JimGoneWild:peter_robinson

    You forgot the eyebrows…

    • #78
  19. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Orion:

    JimGoneWild:peter_robinson

    You forgot the eyebrows…

    Wow! Wow. And macro-aggress against the ocular challenged!? Read Fred’s post, again.

    • #79
  20. Fred Cole Inactive
    Fred Cole
    @FredCole

    I want everyone to know that I object to “plotz” being italicized.  In my opinion, it’s long since joined the English language and should not be considered a foreign word.

    • #80
  21. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    This is true both within Ricochet, and without.  It cuts across the right-of-center world.  Within my community we have many, many conservatives and we all have come to hate each other over one person.  I recently engaged a member of the community on that subject, and was called an idiot, a lunatic, and when I said to him “I humbly concede the field to you” he called be a wimp.

    It is disturbing.  And wrong.

    • #81
  22. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Fred Cole: I want everyone to know that I object…

    Overruled.

    • #82
  23. Archie Campbell Member
    Archie Campbell
    @ArchieCampbell

    Annefy:

    ps I guarantee your plea for “civility” will fall on deaf ears. The people who will take your advice never needed it to begin with. And it would never occur to those who should take your advice that they should.

    so good luck with that

    But, one never knows, and it can’t hurt to try. Unless someone gets so mad at your plea for civility that they hit you with a ball peen hammer or something. It’s a weird world.

    • #83
  24. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Fred Cole:I want everyone to know that I object to “plotz” being italicized. In my opinion, it’s long since joined the English language and should not be considered a foreign word.

    Concur.

    • #84
  25. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Concur

    The bench has already ruled on the motion. Another outburst and we’ll have the bailiff clear the room!

    • #85
  26. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Archie Campbell:

    Annefy:

    ps I guarantee your plea for “civility” will fall on deaf ears. The people who will take your advice never needed it to begin with. And it would never occur to those who should take your advice that they should.

    so good luck with that

    But, one never knows, and it can’t hurt to try. Unless someone gets so mad at your plea for civility that they hit you with a ball peen hammer or something. It’s a weird world.

    It’s been my experience that advice like this is only considered when it’s personalized with a “like that time you …”

    It’s the same with parenting.

    • #86
  27. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Annefy:“like that time you …”

    It’s the same with parenting.

    If by … you mean that’s the point where the whining begins then I guess I see your point.

    • #87
  28. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Casey:

    Annefy:“like that time you …”

    It’s the same with parenting.

    If by … you mean that’s the point where the whining begins then I guess I see your point.

    Sorry. I wasn’t clear at all. I was speaking about parenting advice.

    That’s why I love having sisters. It’s all well and good to be agreeing with everyone about a certain parenting issue (say, for example, not spoiling). Everyone is in agreement and no one is learning a thing.

    Until your sister says: like that time you … (… representing some time I indulged one of my kids)

    Many of my shortcomings have been pointed out to me by a sister or my husband. Which proves you need a certain level of intimacy and trust to get personal enough for it to be meaningful.

    Generalized, non-personal statements like: let’s be good parents! or let’s all be civil!

    are usually not personal enough to make a difference.

    • #88
  29. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Generalized, non-personal statements like: let’s be good parents! or let’s all be civil! are usually not personal enough to make a difference.

    That’s why tasers and water cannons can be so much more effective in these circumstances especially when combined with tear gas. As an added bonus they’re environmentally friendly.

    • #89
  30. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Pseudodionysius:

    Generalized, non-personal statements like: let’s be good parents! or let’s all be civil! are usually not personal enough to make a difference.

    That’s why tasers and water cannons can be so much more effective in these circumstances especially when combined with tear gas. As an added bonus they’re environmentally friendly.

    Absolutely.

    I have one son who isn’t a natural when it comes to communicating. When he was about 19 I told him “quirky” was no longer charming and he needed to work on it. Trying to get a straight answer and/or useful information out of him was exhausting.

    “Be more open and forthcoming” was zero use.

    A well timed kick under the table, or me saying something like: now, here is an example of how you should respond to my inquiry : … worked wonders.

    Anything worth saying is worth being direct about. And if it’s not worth being direct about, keep your mouth shut.

    • #90
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