Bad Astronomy Blogging

Contributed by
Oct 2, 2006
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Well, my post on Friday about the destruction of habeas corpus in America has generated quite the reaction. At least four people have vowed never to read my blog again. A couple of people are arguing Republican vs. Democrat ideology (mind you, I never called out the Repubs for the bill, and many Dems voted for it). Some have called me an idiot, and -- this is my favorite -- one guy named Joe wrote

Me, I’ve had enough of Phil and his idiocy. this was supposed to be a science web site, if I wanted idiot commentary on things that have not been researched/understood i could open any op/ed page from any podunk newspaper in the world.

First, this website isn't "supposed" to be anything, except my website. You'll find a few pages here that are at best tangentially related to astronomy, and I tend to wander a bit in my essays when the mood strikes. Sometimes I write about non-astronomy things that are important to me, and the essential freedoms of our country -- especially the ones being eroded away -- definitely count under that category. Mind you as well, the political post is somewhat rare. I write about astronomy and science far, far more.

Second, I made it clear in my entry that I did in fact read the bill-- I said I went to the Senate page to research it. I do understand what it's about, and I do understand it's unconstitutional, and I do understand it weakens or outright kills our obligations under the Geneva Conventions (or at least the third one-- have you read, them, Joe? I have), and I do understand that the result of the bill is to undermine practically every legal document on habeas corpus dating back to the Magna Carta. I also understand this bill is a mid-term election stunt most foul. Even conservatives are saying that.

Folks-- I am a human, a thinking human. I write nearly all the time about astronomy, but I have also had posts about gay-bashing, my new puppy, a naked woman (more on that tomorrow, too), cool pool shots, bad art, and James Randi's birthday. I have had few or no complaints about me straying off-topic when I posted those, so it's interesting that when politics is the topic a few people get huffy and leave.

I am not here to please everyone. This is a skeptical site, a critical-thinking site. I am absolutely 100% guaranteed to tick people off. No one likes having their pet fantasies shattered. Sometimes I'm polite about it, and sometimes -- like when my country is at stake -- I'm not.

If you disagree with me, fine. Stick around and argue it. I read the comments, and if I have the time and the motivation, I reply to them. If you want to leave, also fine. But do everyone a favor-- if you want to leave, then just leave, please, sans dramatics. As a netizen for the past two decades, I have seen countless people exeunt forums, blogs, bulletin boards, and listservs in a flash of drama. It accomplishes nothing, except for serving the ego of the person leaving (and I've also noticed a fairly high level of recidivism too).

I'd rather have people stay, of course, but I won't scrape to anyone else to keep them here, and I won't change my style or my content to appease anyone. The best you can hope for is to change my mind-- and as a scientist, skeptic, and rational man, that is something that I promise you can be done.

But not the way Joe did it, because despite of (and, perhaps, a wee bit because of) his statement, I will continue to post what's on my mind.

Count on it.