I was puzzled by Gene Weingarten's article "I Was Out of Line Online. So What?" [Outlook, Oct. 17]. Was it tongue-in-cheek? Was it satire? If not, why would he be so inconsiderate as to abuse and aggravate the people trying to use the chat room? And why would he share his childish acts with us as if he were proud of his cleverness? And why wouldn't he quit after being told he was acting improperly? At one point, he admitted that he was a little embarassed. I would think so.
He even had the audacity to ask if there was "intelligent life" out there. I get the impression that the only "intelligent life" missing was on his end.
There are chat rooms for just about every subject conceivable. If he didn't wish to discuss sports, then he should have gone to a different room, where the discussions were on a higher plane.
Weingarten says that this was his first chat room visit. Let us hope it is his last.
--Lester J. Rowland
Gene Weingarten's article relating his experience with AOL's chat rooms was supposed to elicit sympathy for his hapless fight against moronic dialogue. He pompously suggests that "our libraries will shelve only comic books" if people don't join his battle to raise the level of discourse in chat rooms.
His reasoning is idiotic. He is treating the issue as if the number of possible chat rooms was arbitrarily fixed and this limited supply must be carefully rationed and guarded against frivolous use. In fact, the number of possible chat rooms is nearly infinite; if Weingarten is unable to find one to his liking, then he is free to start one of his own.
His belief that the subject and form of communication in these chat rooms is a moral issue is completely misplaced. The sports chat room he describes is completely moral because the participants are there of their own free will and have agreed to play by a set of rules that are enforced equally.
His behavior, by contrast, is immoral because he continues to knowingly break these rules. He enjoys upsetting and baiting those he holds in contempt.
When presented with the Internet and all of its possibilities, Weingarten chooses to treat it as a limited resource that must not be wasted on drivel. This belief is as antiquated as the old idea that burning books can limit the spread of information.
--Joyce K. Nigh
Okay, so the football chat room wasn't exactly sophisticated. And they misspelled words. And they maybe even started sentences with "and."
In his description of his recent AOL chat room indiscretions, Gene Weingarten--eager to exercise his David-like free speech rights against Goliath-AOL--overlooks the fact that it's nothing less than annoying to have someone interrupt a focused conversation (no matter how pedestrian Weingarten thinks it may be).
Worse was the nakedly self-aggrandizing snobbishness; the pedantry of a self-appointed culture czar who gleefully baits complete strangers because he regards them as lowbrow to his highbrow.
Weingarten wants me to think that this is about the First Amendment when it's actually about protecting chat room users from boors--like him.