ANST - Apologies and otherwise

Dennis Grace amazing at
Wed Aug 27 20:26:41 PDT 1997

Salut, Cosyns,

Lyonel aisai.

In a recent missive I made a statement that unfairly stereotypes Texans.
Wolf pointed out my error, and I apologized for making that statement. In
pointing out my error, however, Wolf said: 

>speaking of "broad assumptions", do you really want to annoy that 
>many people (grin w/fangs).

After tendering my apology, I replied:

>> Second, as to the fangs--are you threatening me or just boasting about your
>> remodeled dentures?  If it was a threat, I suggest you take it off list and
>> threaten me in your name alone rather than as part of "that many people."
>> There's really nothing noble or courageous about saying, "There's more of us
>> than of you."

Now, Wolf responds:
>will you chill out dude! 

Rest assured, Wolf, I was completely calm when I wrote that response.

>nobody is threatening you, nobody has threatened you, nobody
>will threaten ... at least from this house.  you can rest assured 
>that my teeth are quite mundane.  you're making some really 
>unwarranted and off-center assumptions here that seem designed to put 
>me in a less than positive light.  

I had rather doubted the statement was a threat, but my wife--who was
standing behind me when I read the missive--immediately asked, "Is he
threatening you?"  Your "grin w/ fangs" reads as a description of a baring
of sharp teeth, a nearly universal threat among carniverous mammals.  Since
this statement followed a statement about not wanting "to annoy that many
people," I would call interpreting your statement as a threat a reasonable
conclusion, neither "unwarranted" nor "off-center." 

As for the admittedly sarcastic query about your dentures, I was questioning
your choice of words.  If that little apostrophe isn't a threat, what is it?
Why specify "w/ fangs"?  If this is just your own particular colorful
variety of a smiley, I've not seen it from you in previous postings, and I
think it's an easily misinterpreted image which you might wish to reconsider.

As for your claim:
>you're last two sentences are totally uncalled for and i request a
>public apology.  you are inferring that i made a public challenge
>directed against you when none was made or intended.

I disagree.  In the first of those two statements, I opened with a
subjunctive clause--"If it was a threat."  Since this was not the case, the
remainder of the sentence is inapplicable.  The second sentence, on the
other hand, is simply a truism.  If the subjunctive statement does not apply
to you, the second statement shouldn't bother you.

>trust me, you would know it if/when i decide you were worthy 
>of a serious challenge

Here I think your anger is clouding your rhetoric.  You and I haven't met.
I don't know you, and you don't know me.  In other words, no, I wouldn't
know.  Incidentally, the phrase "worthy of a serious challenge" is rather
insulting, especially since--as I just noted--you know nothing about me.

>obviously you have never lived with wolves (i have raised and lived 
>with high-wolf  hybrids for 25+ years ... catching on about the 
>name is use?).  with that in mind have you ever seen a wolf "smile" 

In this block of text, I think you're finally giving your audience the
consideration you should have given before using the "grin w/ fangs"
apostrophe. No, I haven't raised wolves.  I know only a few folks who have.
I have raised many dogs, however, and a baring of fangs is a threat.  An
open-mouthed grin with a lolling tongue and just the tips of the principal
canine teeth showing is another matter.

Because I responded to Wolf's:

>being a "warrior-type" by nature, i've got a lot of gear - both 
>archaic and modern that's both "effective" and "attractive" (though 
>some would dissagree) ... my harley, HK's, body armour, lots of 


>> Being a warrior type by disposition and desire, I've got a lot of training
>> and spend a great deal of time reading and exercising.  Gear is cool, but
>> all it proves is that you can shop.  

he says,
>another low shot that is condescending and insulting and totally
>uncalled for (remind me to wear my greaves if i ever decide to
>participate on the field and you're around).  you are assuming that i 
>don't train?  you do not know me or my life history (few do).

Again, I have to disagree, at least in part.  Yes, perhaps my response was a
bit condescending.  You attempted to establish an ethos for your argument,
that of "warrior-type," but the only supporting evidence you offered for
this ethical claim was a list of possessions.  What I was implying, is that
you need to offer more than a list of your possessions if you want to be
taken seriously as a warrior.  Though I'm sure you didn't intend it, your
post came across sounding something like, "I'm a warrior, and you can tell
because I've got all this warrior-type stuff."   

In all fairness, however, I must admit that we were talking about "warrior
stuff."  Your statements say merely, "I'm a warrior; thus, I have warrior
stuff which I view in this manner."  So, assuming you never intended your
list of stuff as support for your claim to be a "warrior-type," I apologize
for the condescending tone of that passage.

As for the claim about greaves, I know your implication was simply that I'm
using rhetorical low-blows, but it comes across as an assumption that I'm an
unchivalrous combatant.  I don't think this is a fair characterization, even
in this little verbal interchange. Questioning the credibility of an
opponent's ethos in an argument is neither unfair nor unethical.  I'm not
apologizing to you for having done something evil, just for misreading your

As for assuming that you don't train, no I'm not assuming that you either do
or do not train.  As you say, I don't know you.  I was offering what I
consider a better model for establishing one's ethos as a "warrior-type."

Incidentally, in the future, if you believe you deserve a public apology, I
would recommend asking for it in private.  In your response, for example,
you have insulted me repeatedly and blatantly, but I will not ask for an
apology.  Most folks don't appreciate being rhetorically bullied into
self-correction.  Moreover, I would have preferred sorting out our
disagreements in private, but the King who knighted me said, "Let this be
the last blow you receive unanswered." I consider a public demand for a
public apology--a public questioning, in other words, of my honor--a blow.

lo vostre por vos servir

Sir Lyonel Oliver Grace
Dennis Grace
University of Texas at Austin
English Department
Recovering Medievalist
amazing at

Micel yfel deth se unwritere.
                           AElfric of York


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