A reminder: the author of this Journal is known over at Perlmonks.org as Intrepid.
There is a haunting going on over at Perlmonks.org, and I thought I should say something about it, although what effect my doing so could have on the situation, I do not know.
A former participant at Perlmonks named himself with the decidely odd
handle "Wassercrats" and proceeded to become an active poster in the
Perlmonks community. During his rather brief period of activity there
(in 2004), he did not endear himself to the general user community by
posting nodes such as http://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=386089
or this http://www.perlmonks.org/?node_id=323102
It has occured to me both this evening and at other times in the past that "Wassercrats" haunts Perlmonks with a tenacity that bears noting for its cautionary import.
"Wassercrats" left Perlmonks in a cloud of acrimony and a stench of bitterness. He became more and more defiant over the course of his history there, "shouting" much invective against the wall of community opinion that was his subjective experience at Perlmonks. That written invective (much of which is now, to my understanding, in nodes that have been put "away" by editorial staff) always seemed to be calculated to make those reading more inclined to regard him with contempt, rather than to win friends or even make people slightly more inclined to tolerate him.
However, I myself was present at times late in "Wassercrats" brief tenure when I witnessed him in the Chatterbox behaving in a mild, friendly and jovial manner with those present, or attempting to (I'd add in explanation that although I have been a participant at Perlmonks since only shortly after its unveiling, I have taken periods of varying duration "off" and had not been attentive continuously for this accounted timespan). I noticed with a considerable degree of personal discomfort that his attempts to enjoy chatting amiably with others were met with a constant rebuff of attacks and mean-spirited put-downs, attempts to pull him back into past disputes, and similar bad-intentioned attempts at emotional manipulation on the part of nearly every Chatterbox-monk who was reacting to his presence in any way.
I was personally disconcerted by the degree of antagonism shown a
person who was, in my perception, clearly weary of being at odds
with an entire user community and longing for a little simple company
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that a considerably number of persons at Perlmonks, manyof them still regulars there, behaved in a really despicable fashion towards "Wassercrats". His penchant for self-promotion, for making broad characterizations of the Perlmonks community, his abrasive, confrontational style, his attempts to "critique" the Perl language and its cultural conventions without establishing any "cred" for himself first: yes, all these things made his poor reception inevitable. But these alone do not excuse a part of a community of people for becoming a mob and behaving in the manner that they did.
I hope the knowledgable reader will forgive my doing a brief bit of tangential prose at this point. I am afraid that the extremely underdeveloped ethical sense of some of the potential readers of this journal make it seem necessary to me.
In the study of human social history and literature, the study of the mind and of symbol and metaphor throughout known human history, we come upon a phenomenon which has come to be known (in English) as the scapegoat. A scapegoat is a person who is made to suffer by a village or community; and whose being made a sacrifice by that community somehow sooths the anxieties or fears of the mass of members of that community. The part of the word that is "goat" readily summons to mind the image of domesticated livestock being tied to a post and killed with a sharp knife or a dull club.
"Wassercrats" was a scapegoat. The "Monks" over there at Perlmonks
who became thirsty to see his blood (which is to say, in the
non-metaphorical sense, to quit ever using Perlmonks again,
preferably accompanied by a parting blast of hurt and anger - all
my readers have seen such a "flame-out" and know what I am describing)
Make no mistake abut it. "Wassercrats" failings were no different in kind from those of many other Perlmonks ; they only differed in the degree to which they were flagrantly expressed. I witness the same mental warts surfacing on a daily basis (during a bad week), now that Wassercrats is long "dead": the premature arrogance of those who have learned half or 3/4 of what there is to know about some computer technology, but speak as if they know it all; the utter ruthlessless in the ego of those who feel challenged on a technical point (causing them to try any argumentative ploy they think will work, displaying no regard for whether the truth is being forgotten in the process); the inability to self-reflect and see with any clarity that something is clouding their perceptions of others' intent or meaning. Wassercrats displayed all these foibles to such an absurdly exaggerated degree that he allowed the onlookers at Perlmonks to fall under the completely deluded miscomprehension that they themselves were completely or even mostly free of them.
There are those who may read this entry with no thought other than how to discourage anything remotely like it from issuing forth from my not-so-nimble fingers in the future, or how to provoke (if given the chance) a reaction from me that they think, in a calculating sense, would lessen my credibility as a witness and describer of this little morality tale from Perlmonk's recent past. Those are the people who are in fact not only haunted by the ghost of Wassercrats, but truly possessed by it.
Those who are most quick to feel a prickle of self-doubt upon reading this, maybe a touch of shame, are the ones least in need of entertaining the company of such feelings for any length of time.
Arrogance is apparently widely misunderstood amongst the part of the Perlmonks community which I've come to know as "the thick-headed lot." Arrogance is understood as a deceiver in the Buddhist traditions, those traditions which have made a systematic and thorough investigation of the different phenomena of human conciousness for a very long time. Arrogance causes itself to disappear from the sight of those afflicted by it, so that it can do its chosen work of undermining the perceptual accuracy as well as the moral standing of those under its sway. It is a huge blind spot right in front of the faces of the afflicted, that they cannot see at all. The reason that Arrogance possesses this capability and manifests this function in human conciousness is that it is quite vulnerable to human volition, free will and genuine intellect when it begins to be exposed. There is no more effective way to raise the ire of the truly arrogance-bespelled person than to sharply point out the malfunction in their conciousnesss at this time, that is being caused by the dominance of Arrogance. The outlashings of rage (sometimes hot but often cold) that are often witnessed are the flailings of the threatened disease - they are the infection in the ego of the afflicted person expressing its urgent need to, beyond all else, avoid having its name spoken aloud, its existence recognized to its host and victim.
Arrogance is not merely a minor character defect of the overly-confident or the perpetually insecure. It is actually a serious, self-perpetuating, chronic illness that undermines the health of the victim's relationships with those around him. Many people can smell the rot of that infection on the afflicted person from a long way off (and avoid the bearer like they would a plague carrier). Those who are themselves fairly to severely afflicted cannot, however, in many cases; they instead often band together for mutual protection, for the cover that membership in a group provides to them.
Wassercrats provided a part of the Perlmonks community a chance to
project upon a person (in whose defense it was clear that no voices would be raised)
To those readers from Perlmonks who still mention Wassercrats with a sneer of prideful contempt, as I saw tonight, I'd just like to remind you that you really ought to be seriously and non-transiently ASHAMED of yourselves. When you speak Wassercrat's name, you ought do so in hushed tones, and with eyes cast downwards. You may be a Perlmonk now, but the need for you to be a human being is going to last a lot longer. You need to disengage your overfed head for a moment and engage your malnourished gut. No victory was accomplished for or by anyone when Wassercrats left under those conditions.