Sunday, November 2, 2008

An Apology, But No Retraction

An Apology

I need to apologize to the Ruby community for freaking some people out the other day. I wrote a detailed rant about Chad Fowler and in my conclusion wrote that the Ruby community needed to rise up against Chad Fowler, murder him twice, dismember his corpse, set the remains on fire, and desecrate the ashes with urine.

I reiterate the specifics to highlight their lurid intensity and their absurdity. For instance, it's pretty obvious that murdering somebody once is enough to get the job done. You don't really get bonus points. I also said that desecrating Chad's ashes would make him "extra dead". In reality there's no such thing as extra dead. Even in the world of The Princess Bride there was only mostly dead, and dead.

Also, if you read the charges I level against Chad, they do make him look sneaky, but they don't make him look dangerous. So they don't really make him a werewolf. If anything, they make him a were-Scrappy-Doo.

Going back to the paragraph that upset so many people, there's an enormous contrast in tone between that final paragraph and the overall rant. I took the final paragraph out at the request of somebody it bothered - he sounded very genuinely upset - but I'm kind of regretting that since I'm not sure I can recall it word-for-word, and that would be very useful when seeking to contrast tone. Long story short, I would say the major difference was that most of the post was specific and coherent, and the final paragraph was demented and violent.

The missing link here is that ever since I discovered Stephen King this summer, I've been reading horror novels, watching horror movies, and writing a zombie apocalypse screenplay. I'm becoming proud of this screenplay. The biggest point of pride, for me, is that I'm going to have a huge fight scene between a group of zombies and a group of hippos.

I think this tells you a lot about the movie I have in mind. I'm kind of targeting the same blend of lurid absurdity that made Re-Animator both hilarious and terrifying. There's a strange area where horror and comedy meet; the luridness of horror can become the cartoonishness of particular types of comedy. You could probably remake a few Bugs Bunny cartoons as horror movies, and vice versa. Indeed the Bugs Bunny cartoons include a whole series of slasher pics starring an incompetent killer.

As an aside, this is one reason it's really good, in my opinion, to have more than one interest going on in your life. My day Friday consisted of six hundred thousand gajillion e-mails and tweets about Chad Fowler and one in-real-life conversation with a very lovely actress who was very skeptical about the idea of zombies vs. hippos. You don't have to be a genius to figure out which part of my day was the interesting part of my day. She actually asked me, "Where are you going to get the budget for the hippos?" Any day where you face that question is a good day.

I spent all Saturday moving and I've got more moving to do today. The idea of returning to more e-mails about Chad Fowler this evening or tomorrow just makes me want to give the Ruby community the middle finger, grab my balls with my other hand, and tell you all to get a life. However, this is unfair, for a couple reasons. First because there are plenty of people in the Ruby community who didn't contact me about my rant and don't appear to care. They should be the ones telling me to get a life. Indeed, some of them are.

Second, I got caught up in the drama of it all and fought back instead of pointing out the humor. I can't blame them for taking it seriously when I did the same thing, especially when I'm the guy who wrote it. Third, as the guy who wrote it, I have to take responsibility for the frenzy it induced, and in a deranged, backwards way, it's actually kind of flattering. It means that in terms of affecting people emotionally, my writing succeeded very well.

In terms of getting my idea across, however, this paragraph was 100% fail. Worse, it was fail of the that-guy-seems-psycho flavor, which isn't a tasty flavor.

I'm happy to stand by pretty much everything else I wrote. However, most people didn't pay much attention to anything else I wrote. One person ranted that even without the final paragraph it was "disgraceful" and hinted that my company should fire me, but I disagree with him on both counts. The bad news is my company only seems to disagree with him on one count; the good news is that it's the count that counts. My boss posted on the company blog that he thought I was "batshit crazy," but last time I checked I still had a job. You win some, you lose some.

So, I'm sorry, everybody, for using such provocative language and getting so many people so upset. I was aiming for a blend of horror and comedy, but only achieved the horror. I should have realized that the gossip/drama element would make people serious. I'll be a little less reckless with these experiments in future.

But No Retraction

I'm not as sorry as my critics would want, however, because I really don't think you guys have any justification for making such a huge deal out of this. I'm sorry I upset you, but it wasn't just my words; it was also your interpretation. When I say I have to take responsibility, I say that because I believe everybody should take responsibility for the things they do. Writing it was a thing I did; interpreting was a thing that other people did. A lot of the responsibility lies with me, but not all of it. The downside with open source is that if your job and your hobby are the same thing, it might turn you into a boring, overly serious wanker who can't tell the difference between writing lurid prose and starting a civil war. I apologize, but honestly, some of you really do need to get a life.

I also need to remember, as a first-generation American, that the name "Giles Bowkett" is not in and of itself enough of a tip-off to warn readers that English irony and double-meaning lay ahead. The assumption that you should take everything that anybody says with a grain of salt, and check it for concealed humor, is just not part of our culture in the United States. A few different people got the joke, but the only person who got the joke and doesn't have an axe to grind against Chad was Peter Cooper, who comes from the UK. It's not a coincidence. The nice thing about the English is they know how to read. (Except for PragDave, apparently.)

I'm not planning to take any of it back, either. Chad sent me a private e-mail; I deleted it unread and responded in public. I thought my point in the original rant was obvious, but I was wrong, so I'll have to rephrase it here: I don't trust Chad Fowler. I won't discuss this with him in private because I don't want anything to do with him, and because I want his moves to happen in public where other people can see them.

I originally titled my post "I Vote We Lynch Chad." I changed the title because people got so upset; however, the title has a virtue. Implicit in the idea of my vote is the idea that you get a vote too. I'm just going on record - Chad is a leader in the Ruby community, but I am not one of the people he leads. He's likeable enough, usually, and I admire his India book, but I mistrust him, and I have several reasons. I documented some of those reasons in my post. If the idea of Chad being a werewolf to be lynched bothers you, think of something harmless. Think of Canada.

Canadians are polite and nonviolent. They eat circular bacon and drink good beer. So - Chad's a Canadian Prime Minister facing a possible vote of no confidence, and I'm one of the people voting "no confidence."

That's all.