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[at-l] The Handbook, the Companion, and a respectful suggestion

    I wasn't going to go NEAR this subject ever again, as the last time I 
did, I had my head handed to me for a month.  I particularly enjoyed the 
color and ferocity, never mind sheer gutlessness of some of the unsigned 
personal replies.  Anyway, the whole experience was so much fun, I resolved 
to avoid the subject like the plague.  Not a particularly pleasant 
introduction to this list, believe me.

    But after reading some of the posts of the past few days, I feel 
compelled to comment, so here goes:  I understand entirely the anger and 
animosity that some people feel towards the the author of The Thru-Hiker's 
Handbook, who is also the webmaster of another Trail-related site.  Several 
people have provided me with detailed, very upsetting histories of events 
and circumstances that have led them to these feelings.  But justified or 
not, folks, how about a return to some simple calmness and civility here, 
OK?  Name calling, character assassination, speculations on an individual's 
mental condition or stability, and so forth, all seem to have gone a bit 
over the line.  Disagree with a man by all means.  And publicly, if you 
must.  Provide details of your disagreement and grievance, and share them 
with others if you must. If your complaint is legitimate, and you express 
yourself properly and well, your comments may well find a sympathetic 
audience.  But I honestly feel that it's possible to do so without your 
comments descending into the gutter of slander, invective, finger-pointing, 
and name calling, the likes of which can be found amongst any assemblage of 
nine-year olds.

    I fully expect to get ripped all over again for the above comments, but 
I genuinely believe it needs to be said, so I'm willing to take the heat.  
The present level of discourse adds virtually nothing positive to this list, 
and in fact, has lately taken a turn that is not merely unpleasant to read, 
but is simply ugliness personified.  By all means, be strident, vocal, angry 
if need be.  But can we please try to temper some of our comments so that 
their presentation can lead to intelligent, rational discussion?  And if 
not, I submit that strongly negative comments of a personal nature should be 
signed by the author with their real names.   If you're going to use 
language and tone of a certain nature, that's fine, but at least be adult 
enough to take responsibility and credit for what you've said.

     My last post on this subject, several months ago, suggested that we 
could perhaps find something better to talk about.  That is NOT what I'm 
saying today; this is obviously a subject that NEEDS to be talked about, and 
deserves to be. It's a subject that matters to a great many people.  All I'm 
saying is that there is a way to pursue this discussion in such a way that 
renders the commentary as worthwhile, honorable, and a credit to this 
mailing list.  Several of the recent posts have decidedly NOT fit this 
description.  I think we can do better.

                                             --Jack Tarlin
                                          (A.T. 95-96;97;98;99)
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