Bad Astronomy Blogging

Contributed by
Oct 2, 2006

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.

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