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OT: "Flaming" What's in a Word?


>From time to time in recent weeks we have seen quite a few references from
different members to "flames","flaming" or anticipation of "flaming" on list.
With all due respect for everyone here, I wish to comment on this.

I have been on this list for a long time now and I make a practice of briefly
scanning every post that appears. I cannot ever recall having read an actual
flame on this list. As I recall we have had only two that came close. We have
had a few unfortunate personal posts which ended up on the list and caused
some awkwardnessess, a few attempts at humor that fell flat, and several
strong outbursts directed to the list in general by interlopers, or by
hotheads, or by unbalanced people, but I don't recall a single serious
incendiary incident that meets my definition of a true flame job.

A flaming as I understand it is a poisonous public verbal attack on the
opinions of another phrased in terms that are sometimes purring and
saccharine, but more often violent, offensive, extreme and often personal. It
unequivocally conveys that the target is either a knave or a fool, and its
effect, and probable purpose, is the public delegitimization and humiliation
of the target. On the web or anywhere else it is destructive of an atmosphere
of amiable discourse, and civilized people want nothing to do with those who
engage in or enjoy watching such sport   

Now, as I understand it an insulting private e-letter is not a flame. It is a

An insulting or libelous letter about oneself sent to third parties privately
is not a flame, it is an intimate trashing, and may qualify as a cowardly

Someone expressing strong disagreement with one's publicly posted views or
interpretation of facts is not a flame if it is done in a respectful and
measured tone. It is a civilized divergence of learned opinion.

Someone speaking to another at a level beneath the true level of
sophistication of the addressee is not a flame. It is an unfortunate
misjudgement on the part of the speaker. 

A correction of a misstatement of facts is not a definitionally a flame.

Someone speaking to another in a tone that appears short, abrupt, or superior
is not a flame per se. It is probably situational exasperation or arrogance,
possibly reflecting chronic exasperation or arrogance.  

An opinion expressed in general terms on a controversial topic which is being
discussed collectively rarely manages to rise to the level of a flame of any
individual person in the group.

Now, I have been thinking about this for some time and I feel that referring
to things which are not flames as flames may encourage people to think they
have have been treated more badly, and thus suffered more of a public
embarrassment, then they have in awkward list situations. It may encourage
over-sensitivity and an elevated emotional tone on the list which is
counterproductive. And it does suggest this is the sort of place where this
sort of behavior is tolerated and can be anticipated, so, pardner, don't check
your flamethrower at the door. 

Which is not my sense of the flow of things at all.

Anner Whitehead, Richmond,VA
Henry Hall  Henryanner@aol.com

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