in which I remember headbutting a professional in the nose.

Wow… this is the final installment of an old argument about Obamacare that I had with an old classmate – no longer a friend on FB.  Don’t know why I want to post it now, two years later, but it seems fitting.

I understand that there’s only half the conversation, but I want to point out it stopped being about UHC about eight emails back, and started to be about which of us was able to put thoughts into words. She is a journalist for a prestigious paper, and… well… tete-a-tetes like this one may explain why Damocles was written the way it was.


OK, let’s take this in chunks.

The core of your argument appears to be: I was a journalist, so I know how to show both sides, so I 
don’t have to show both sides. Put another way: I don’t have to be fair on my personal page, because
I was fair for years, so I am not being fair... and that’s fair.
You can make that argument, but it >is< intellectually dishonest. Further, no matter HOW passionately 
you feel about a subject, no matter HOW SURE you are that you are on the side of the angels, it is 
still intellectually dishonest, and since you presumable took classes in logic and ethics before 
becoming a journalist you should know that in your bones. 
On to this:
“I asked a rhetorical question and for those who didn’t understand that, I then made a note NOT to 
write anything if you disagree with me.” 

You say you asked a rhetorical question. By definition, such a device is “a question which the 
asker does not expect an answer to because the answer itself is supposedly obvious.” 
When you ask a question like “Why doesn’t everyone agree with me, because I am right?” As a rhetorical 
question then in side your own head it is obvious that the answer is because everyone else is stupid, 
slow, or perhaps twisted in some way. Once you take into account that this is a question of life and 
death – and you have cast yourself on the side of life – then the rhetorical answer is anyone who 
defies you must be on the side of death, right? What kind of monster must I be in that case? Your 
‘answer everyone is supposed to know’ is what casts me as the bad guy. And that’s why I answered, 
because subtle demonization is still as harmful and hurtful. 

Moreover, it couldn’t be clumsy use of language, or even that you mistook the definition of rhetorical 
question, since you are a professional in an industry where words are the stock in trade. This becomes 
the equivalent of “have you stopped beating your wife?”
And you are correct in stating it is not a neutral forum. You asked a question where I had an answer, 
and asked it not be given. Giving you the benefit of the doubt, I assumed you wanted a discussion 
instead of a full blown partisan hack-fest. I was obviously wrong. Now I see you do not want to be 
enlightened, you do not want to be proved wrong, you do not want to come to mutual respect and 
understanding, you wanted to take a cheap shot in public where you were safe and wrapped in a 
safe blanket provided by your editor-in-chief status of the page. Congratulations, you succeeded.
Because the page belongs to you, it is your right to delete all viewpoints that disagree with you. 
What is amazing to me is that you deleted my points, scolded me in public, then had the audacity to 
be amazed when I deleted you from my friends list. It is my right to walk away, and as far away as I 
want. I did not write you nasty letters, nor did I leave an abusive message in your inbox. I just 
left, without further words that might upset you. It was only once you chased after me to wonder 
what flaw in myself caused me to take you off of an online social networking site that I have 
I posted once for each question that was brought up, and if you had bothered to look past your own 
bias, you would have seen it was done respectfully and openly – even to the point that a woman who 
despises me and I came to a point where we could have begun discussing alternate resolutions to the 
UHC issue. It was by treating me and my arguments as if they had no value was, indeed, dehumanizing 
and dismissive. Instead of being treated like a person, I was treated as a characture—a political 
And, again, I apologize for not being precise: It was not whether you were being personal with me 
-- it was whether deleting you from my list was me being personal with YOU. I have a hard time 
disentangling my intellectual property from my personal character. I am livid over the treatment 
I have received, as would you if our situations were reversed.
You feel that I blatantly ignored your request, and you are absolutely correct. While in school I 
believed in pacifism to such an extent that XXXXX XXXX, a few seniors who’s names I never got, a 
punk-rocker from Western Hills, and that one guy in the class of ’92 who looked like a gorilla got 
shaved… can’t remember his name, in any case they were able to beat me up pretty much at will. Those 
days are gone, and the day I can let someone just take a cheap shot in an echo chamber is pretty much 
over as well.
Just because you create a place where you say nobody is allowed to disagree does not mean you are 
correct. It means you cannot stand criticism. Fine. Your right, as you say – again and again. At 
the same time I demand more from my friends. Hell, XXXX XXXXXXX and I can’t find a political point 
we can agree on. We are still friends over two decades after we met. The important bit is we can 
disagree, sometimes passionately, but in the end I respect him and he respects me enough nobody 
has to be gagged for the mental health of the other.
This is an interesting because it is here that you continue the slide into the depths of logical 
fallacy. You begin with Ad Hominem attacks – because now’s I’m a ‘fear monger’ that ‘pollutes’ 
your page. And while I can agree that you have more experience with socialized healthcare I must 
wonder aloud if that means a hill of beans… unless of course at the time you had terminal cancer, 
was a premature baby, or you suddenly became an elderly woman who needed expensive and risky 
procedures to extend your life. Socialized runs like a clock as long as you do not need it. At 
the same time, there was no chance at discussion, because it was ended with startling finality.
Now, I have to be careful, since it is clear that you have very strong opinions on this matter. So 
strong that you are forgetting what you just wrote. Notice:
“This, combined with the “fragile” comment show me you seem to think I am looking down on you, 
judging you, etc.  I’m not.”
But you just said I was polluting your page with my ‘fear mongering’. Is this just a rhetorical 
flourish I am unaware of? Did you forget that this was just in the last paragraph? I truly do not 
understand your position on this.
And as far as having a pass to disregard your wishes… well, you might have a point- if you had 
deleted all the comments. I know as of the time I took you off of my list most of those that 
agreed with you are still visible. 
Now, follow me a little longer, because you are projecting here:
“James, you really need to examine your self esteem here. No one is casting you as a villain.”
Ok two things:
1) What are your opinions on my opinions. Honestly. No, don’t censor yourself. Go ahead and give me 
both barrels. 
2) If I have such bad self esteem, why was I able to stand up to three or four other people to 
discuss rationally and respectfully views other than my own? Shouldn’t I have attacked personally? 
Shouldn’t I have cried foul and oppression the moment they presented alternate views? Did I not 
specifically state that they had motives that were pure and some ideas that had merit? Complaints 
that were valid? One would think that if I had self esteem problems I would just mutter to myself 
in a corner somewhere, or even delete those that disagree with me.
And, again, you are correct: you are under no obligation to be fair and balanced, or to stay your 
editorial hand for censorship. I did not put a political commentary in your status first. I did not 
make it blatantly one sided and closed to discussion. Yes, I responded against your wishes, and I am 
in awe at how much the tiniest, most respectful and gentle dissent makes you act in return. Just do 
not expect respect for creating a political atmosphere, denying alternate viewpoints, and ruling your 
space with an iron hand.
Nor do you get points for using the word f#@k!ng as punctuation. I spend all day working with sailors 
and soldiers. It will take spicier language to shock me, XXXXXXX, but I really hoped that we could 
keep this in the realm of adults.
But as I am discovering that (the time for civil discourse) in our country may have passed. And yes, we come from different 
ends of the political spectrum, but I am absolutely certain you have no idea of where I am on that 
And if your page is not a place for a free exchange for all ideas, what do I need it for? I am not 
a journalist: I am a novelist. Ideas, truth, facts are all I crave, all I want all I live for. Well,
to be honest, it’s all I go online for. I look for facts, I sift through them for truth, I back them 
up with information. I had hoped you would understand.
And again, I was not being combative or abusive at any point in my discussion on your page – unless 
dissent is now defined as vitriol. Plus I don’t think you understand the whole point of the discussion:
It was your job to convince me I am wrong. It was my job to convince you of the same thing. In that 
way we could grow, we could think, we could try to find the truth hidden by all the opinions and 
Sadly, now we are reduced to talking about what went wrong with the discussion, instead of the 
discussion itself. Maybe that was the point all along. 
I just don’t understand why, when I walk away peaceably and cede the field to you the way you 
wished, it is so important that you chase me. Do you want validation? Certainly: Again, let me 
say you had every right to do what you did. Was it intellectually honest? No. Censorship? The 
very definition. 
Should any kind of conversation continue? XXXXXXXX, you can delete my missives any time you want, 
reducing any effort I take to try to communicate with you to ashes. You have proven you are willing
to do it. To be honest, knowing this I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.
I am sorry to hear about your father. Lou Gehrig’s disease is a horrible cross to bear. 
Please, thank your brother for his service to his country. There are no words, no matter how pretty, 
fit to praise his sacrifice, so thank you will have to do.


There was no response to this email. I’m alright with that. The older I get the more I realize that some people do not want understanding. They want obedience.


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