Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Monthly Sunday Confessional

I'm introducing a new category of posting on The Huck Upchuck. It's called "The Monthly Sunday Confessional." On the last Sunday of every month, I will be looking back at all of my previous postings for that month and reflecting on what I had to say. If I find anything that I have any regrets about for whatever reason, this monthly Sunday confessional posting will be the place where I can recognize moments when I wasn't at my charitable best, when I can correct mistakes, and when I can make amends if necessary.

The blogosphere is a place where passions often incite and move people to put up postings in the moments of such passions. And the fact that the blogosphere allows for expression without the tempering effects of having to say this to other human beings face-to-face, sometimes things get said on blogs that would never be said in any other kind of public forum. I am not immune to this characteristic of the blogosphere. But in my case, I often find that when my emotions subside and I have the chance to reflect rationally, coolly, and dispassionately on what I had previously written in the heat of passion, I get a bit embarrassed by some of my hyperbole. Hence, the creation of this posting category.

And my first confessional item for this month concerns a recent posting I made in reference to Louisiana Congressional Representative Tim Burns of Mandeville. In this posting, I called Rep. Burns a "bigoted, racist xenophobe" a number of times for some comments he made. The fact is that I do not personally know Rep. Burns, so it is unfair of me to make such a sweeping charge against him. I still think the comments he made were bigoted and xenophobic. I don't know how else they can be understood. But my mistake was in assuming that his comments weren't just boneheaded stupidities but rather a reflection of the character of the man himself. The charitible response would have been to expose the comments as bigoted and xenophobic, but to give Rep. Burns the person the benefit of the doubt that his comments simply came out wrong and were the product of carelessness of expression.

So, while I do think that Rep. Burns' comments that he supported these anti-illegal immigration legislative bills simply because people felt uncomfortable around well-behaved, but different-looking and different-language-speaking people in Wal-Mart to be problematic in its seeming bigotry and xenophobia, I also recognize that these comments may not characterize Tim Burns as a person. They may indeed do so; but they also may not. And I was a bit out of place, I think, to just automatically and unreflexively define Tim Burns by these comments. So, I apologize to Rep. Tim Burns; but I also exhort him to show that these comments aren't reflective of his thinking. He still has a ways to go to convince me that his intentions in promoting and supporting such measures aren't coming out of an attitude that I find troubling and problematic; but I owe him the chance to do so before labelling him definitively in the way that I did.

Here ends my first Monthly Sunday Confessional. We'll see what I have to atone for over the next month.

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