Turning Archive 2007

A somewhat forceful plea for civility (very long )

Dinyar Chavda
>I tried to stay out of this, but, in my opinion, this has gone way too far.

I have read, with dismay and flashes of déjà vu of rec.craft.woodworking, the recent threads with regard to TD.

Let’s look at the sequence of events and some facts, versus all the accusations that are flying around.

It starts with another complaint from TD re the AAW/AAW magazine.

Does TD have the right to complain about the AAW/the AAW magazine?
I’d hope so. We still haven’t eliminated the First Amendment.

Does TD have the right to complain repeatedly about the AAW/the AAW magazine?
I don’t think that there is any restriction on the number of times that he continues to do so.

Does someone like Jamie have the right to defend the opposite position?
Most definitely.

Does Jamie also have the right to say that he is tired of TD’s repetition of said complaints?
Again, most definitely.

Is it ok for Jamie to say this forcefully?
Again, most definitely.

Does TD have the right to withdraw from an organization that does not represent his interests, particularly the ones that he feels affects most turners, and yet try to change it from the outside, and continue to repeat the same issues again and again till we want to scream at him to shut up?
Yeah, actually. Most change tends to come in reaction to complaints from the outside of an organization; the members and management are usually too vested in the current status (e.g., Detroit, IBM, even a progressive company like Amazon.com), and only change when forced to change by what look like unreasonable people who just won’t shut up!

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw

How then does anyone have the right to:

Tell TD he is bashing the AAW to get people to join his club? (Is TD starting a club, other than the AAW club he started several years ago when he was a member?)
Impugn his motives in holding a gathering at his place?
Question his sanity?
Accuse him of dragging others down to compensate for his own limitations?
Accuse him of being a tiny, whiny person?

If someone supports him, they are vociferously shouted down as being duped into unwittingly AAW-bashing (that’s a novel one!)

And then when he responds to the attacks by essentially stating he is going to help off-line, he is accused of creating a harmful atmosphere, advised to crawl back into his hole, and to take his medication.

But of all the comments made against him, the one that really got me, and prompted me to write this was where he was accused of being one of “These tiny little people who scream so loud, yet do nothing to contribute” (By the way, it should be “scream so loudly”—you need an adverb, not an adjective).

TD does nothing to contribute?

For the first thing, there is a role in our society for the outsider who criticizes vehemently for change. One does not have to be a member of a group in order to effect change. Nader’s Raiders were outsiders, and, whatever you may think of his politics, his work (as an outsider) has affected all our lives, largely for the better. Terry could join the AAW and run for election, and try to change things that way. The fact that he has chosen to do this from the outside rather than to just drop the issue should be an acceptable way of doing this. You may disagree with him and his methods, but do so by arguing with them. For heaven’s sakes let’s try to keep the discussion at least one level above “Your mother wears army boots!”

I also looked to see how Terry has “contributed nothing” in the larger sense of advise/help to the turning community just at WC. This is not a scientific method, but I did a quick search of his postings since May 7. Terry has posted a total of 196 times---that’s almost 2% of all postings in that period. Excluding his 22 postings on this issue of the board/ magazine/ bowl gouge sharpening, that leaves another 174 postings in the last 4 months. (I should remind people that unlike most of us, people like Terry, Keith, Bill Grumbine, Steve W, etc., earn their livelihood from their woodworking. To me, a hobbyist turner, the time they devote to this forum is a measure of their true dedication to this craft.)

Included in these 174 postings by Terry were:

Advice about Waterlox vs Watco for sanding, and the kinds of Waterlox
How to use a scraper
Use of propane vs bloxygen for preserving Waterlox and other finishes
What to get/do as a beginning turner
What to get as a first lathe
How to hollow deep shoulders in a hollow form
What’s an acceptable tolerance for spindle runout
Advice re chainsaws
How to cobble-together a hybrid lathe from multiple lathes
Chainsaw sharpening
Balancing a wheel
Use of chucks
Tips on shop construction
How to measure wall thickness using a unique method
Experiences and advice re shows
How to tune up a grinder
And many others.

If that is “not contributing anything”, I am bumfuzzled!

Let’s not forget that Terry moderated the Wednesday night chats for a long time---that takes work.

Perhaps in order to help him contribute, Terry was encouraged in the recent threads to research and write an article for publication in the AAW at the rate of $100/page. Now, if I write an article about something that I am familiar with, I can probably do it at that price. But if it is on a subject I know nothing/very little about, if it covers a huge variety of species of wood, the impact that bugs from one region can have on a variety of other regions, then I have to do an awful lot of research, organize it and write it. I would be willing to bet that $100/page probably does not even equate to minimum wage. And let’s not forget that TD is doing his woodworking not as a hobby, like most of us, but in order to make a living!

Also, when it comes to contributing in a larger, societal sense, I think that people need to remember that Terry was one of the very few turners who loaded up his truck, and went down to help after Katrina. He wasn’t sure that he could make it there, he didn’t know how he would get back, but he went without any thought for his personal safety. If FEMA were as enterprising as he was, perhaps the honor of our country would not be marred by the images we saw in New Orleans and other affected areas.

The Internet is a great medium for communicating ideas. It is a great way to learn from others. It is really not a good way to have arguments, because too many discussions go on simultaneously within the same thread, the ability to react instantaneously hinders reflection, and people say things in a way that they never would face-to-face. I think that it would behoove us all to remember something that Molly Winton once ascribed to her mother, i.e., “It is rarely what you say that gives offence; it is how you say it that hurts.” There is enough pain and hurt in this world today; let’s not add to it here, when it can be avoided. Personally, I am ashamed of the way that TD has been treated.

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