Thou Shalt Do No Harm

At the risk of wading into something I want no part of…

Man…there have been some seriously acrimonious words bandied about in public of late, and all over differing views relating to whisky and whiskey. I confess that I love a good discussion or debate as much as the next guy, but there are some lines that are being crossed right now, and I have finally reached a point where I feel I have to say something.  

This forum here on ATW has always remained open and willing to embrace views of polarity. I have NEVER censored a comment, and I like to think that’s because those of you who do choose to comment here are highbrow, respectful and intelligent individuals. I thank you for that, and for making what I do easier and infinitely more enjoyable. To be clear…nothing that has been posted here on ATW, or to me personally, has sparked this post. A little birdie told me you’d have to look elsewhere to find the proverbial straw that finally broke the camel’s back.

So…as you may have noticed, I’m a fairly passionate guy when it comes to protecting the things and people I love. I have my own views, and occasionally I get up on my soapbox too, but I also pride myself in knowing that I don’t intentionally aim to harm an individual. Unfortunately, in recent days I’ve read one too many exchanges of outright name-calling, mudslinging, personal insults, etc related to what others believe or have done in the name of their whisky point-of-view or actions (inactions even?).

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with any of the instances to which I’m referring, count yourself lucky, continue to behave and I’ll be happy that you didn’t finish reading this post. And apologies, but I simply refuse to repost, or even directly refer to any of these instances, lest I lead anyone else to read what I think is embarrassing public spectacle and shameful denigration of others. Apparently some folks out there need to do a little self-reflection and recall what their mothers likely tried to instill years back: ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’

What happened to reasoned criticism? Intelligent debate? Common courtesy? At the end of the day there’s nearly always a way to make your opinion heard and your voice resonate in an articulate and respectful manner that would make people want to hear what is being said. The outright vitriol and brutish attacks I’ve read recently have literally made me absolutely disregard everything else these individuals have to say. How do you take seriously the words of a petulant infant? That’s how it comes across. You may have good points to make, but I won’t be listening.

Now I don’t for a minute believe we all need to be friends, or even to actually respect one another. Respect is something to be earned. I do, however, believe that everyone is entitled to a modicum of basic human decency. I may not like your opinion, but so long as it is an INFORMED opinion, and delivered in a respectful manner, I will listen to it.

So, listen up, keyboard warriors and internet mercenaries: It’s easy to hide behind anonymity and distance while lambasting someone for a tack that doesn’t jibe with yours, but ease does not make right. Bloggers, journalists, industry people, authors, distillers, all of us sharing the word on the drinks we love…we tend to become something of an entity, to a degree, and I think that strips the human element out of it for some of the readers (listeners). I think some individuals out there are losing sight of the fact that there are HUMAN BEINGS behind these whisky-related personas. These are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, parents and friends to others out there. Whether or not you disagree with their very existence should remain incidental to not being an outright boor to another person.

This is not a biblical ‘turn the other cheek’ or ‘love thy neighbour’ thing. At the end of the day, we all look stupid when any of us takes the low road.

As I hinted at above, please don’t dig for the individual instances I’m referring to. Again…don’t reward bad behaviour. Instead, I’d only ask that you absorb the message I’m trying to get across. Differ, debate, get heated, what-have you. Just do it with a little class.

In summation: Before you hit ‘post’ or ‘send’ or ‘tweet’, maybe think twice. Leave the passion in your message, but skip the personal attacks. And for god’s sake…lighten the f*ck up. It’s a drink.


– Curt

11 thoughts on “Thou Shalt Do No Harm

  1. Jeff

    I am glad that nothing I’ve posted has prompted this. I don’t participate in media such as Twitter, texting etc., only in comments attached directly (if that’s the proper term) to web pages (so the discussion moderator can determine, through associated email account, who is, or isn’t, the same writer) , so if anyone has been offended lately by material appearing in these other media, I can only assure them that it didn’t come from me, whether it had the name “Jeff” attached to it or not. I have no way of knowing IF such things have been going on or not BECAUSE I don’t participate in these media, but my intention is only to clear the air.

  2. skeptic

    Some people get very passionate about their views. When there is disagreement, occasionally that passion manifests itself in frontal lobe disinhibition (you DID paraphrase hippocrites so it’s fair to talk neurology).

    Second, if someone is writing passionately about whisky you gotta wonder, perhaps they had a dram too many first, as there brown nectar is also known to suppress frontal lobe function…

    I was once told never to post an email in anger. I haven’t taken that advice but I do try to walk away, take a breath, and go back and see if I can smooth out the edges of what I wrote. Sometimes it helps…

  3. two-bit cowboy

    Hi Curt,

    I’m quite sure I’ve read the “stuff” that prompted in your dissertation. I wasn’t motivated to scribe such a philosophical response to it as you have, but I like your take.

    I love to “people watch,” whether it’s observing live people maneuvering in public places or reading blogs, forums, and the like to pick out the things that make people tick. It’s always interesting, and it helps me assess folks’ potential responses to me, my actions, and my words. Following your line of thinking, I’d like to think that everyone does a self-assessment exercise when they see or read folks’ reactions to their actions and words.

    I fear, though, that self assessment is being replaced by the tendency for so many in our society to feel “entitled,” including the entitlement to say whatever comes to mind without regard for how their words might be interpreted.

    One man’s take ….



      1. ATW Post author

        As always. Bob is an utter gentleman, and has been through every interaction I’ve ever had with him. Add to that a veritable wealth of knowledge about the wider whisky world and you have a sage like no other.

        Bob…I kinda think you’re right. Hopefully we can help steer away from this course. Optimism.

        1. Skeptic

          Well, as the man said:

          love is better than anger.
          Hope is better than fear.
          Optimism is better than despair.
          So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
          And we’ll change the world.

          1. two-bit cowboy

            … which triggers my favorite quote from art critic Bernard Berenson:

            “Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today
            as you were a year ago.”

  4. David

    I am saddened and shocked by today’s attack on Parliament Hill. My heart grieves with the family of slain soldier Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

    This isn’t supposed to happen in Canada. And yet we have become a target.

    It’s easy to blame this on a right wing government that has changed our reputation from peacekeeper to war-maker, but I think it goes deeper than this.

    So tonight, when we have our drams, let us raise them to the memory of Cpl Cirillo, and the hope that this is the last time we’ll have to hear about such an attack on our democracy.


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