I think it's great that this list has hosted an open and fair debate
of contemporary affairs, particularly since Twain left us plenty of
material that is relevant to the discussion. Since domestic criticism
of George W. Bush has been all but outlawed during this "war," it's
understandable that some people find it shocking to see derogatory
remarks about the court-appointed president -- anywhere. I'm sure
they are equally flabbergasted when Bush critics show themselves to
be be both logical and effective. After regaining their equilibrium,
it's only natural for some of the shocked people to strike back by
questioning the patriotism of the critics. Buttressing the attempt to
silence such discussions are the posts mocking the employment of
Twain's thoughts for consideration and, GASP, interpretation in such
a debate. Imagine doing a thing like that! And on this list! What do
they take us for? How silly and futile!
Finally, the cries for civility arrive like a censor in a dinner jacket.
We have been discussing war and it is relevant to the Twain list
because he wrote about war -- a lot. Since war requires the killing
and mutilation of human beings, not to mention "the higher animals,"
discussing the pros and cons of such an undertaking naturally leads
to some unpleasant verbal exchanges. Life and death stir passion. So
be it. Anyone who has been on the internet for two weeks knows how to
delete e-mail they don't want to read. I'm sure many people exercised
that legitimate form of censorship before they ever read this post.
Good for them. I do the same thing when the discussion turns to the
market for Twain antiquities. I would never write a post suggesting
that since Twain was more interested in war than the list price of
the contents of his underwear drawer, such discussions are
inappropriate for this list. They are perfectly appropriate, they are
simply not for me.
By the way, I had never realized this was strictly an academic list.
Warmest personal regards,