Monday, November 10, 2003
Recommended reading from blogger Tacitus
"Tacitus" runs a highly regarded right-of-center blog that generates a high volume of comments on anything and everything, and he is also a frequent and articulate commenter on various other blogs. This post from him, entitled (misleadingly, I think) "Failure of Nerve," is gracefully written but painful to read. He writes of his experiences as an Army officer and the complications caused by a long bout of clinical depression, but there's no "failure of nerve" in the history he relates — and it must have taken a huge amount of "nerve" to post something so personal and revealing.
I agree with his comments regarding the ugly term "chickenhawk" as used to describe pro-Bush administration supporters of the Battles for Afghanistan and Iraq in the War on Terrorism who have not themselves served in the military.
I do not condemn or second-guess, but I very strongly disagree, with the last explanation he gives for why he wrote this post:
I am writing this because you should know. It's certainly not right that people who may take my opinion seriously on war-related matters not know the full background. Now you do.
I feel no such obligation to readers of this blog. When and as I've thought it relevant, I've posted a fair amount of personal information about myself here, in one thread or another and on my biographical page. I've done so because one's training, background, experience, and overall situation — viewed from a reader's perspective — can obviously affect one's credibility. My history as a lawyer — and not just as a lawyer, but as a trial lawyer, from Texas, from a particular generation, and with a particular career path — very much shapes the topics that I write about. But I don't view myself as having thereby authorized my readers to insist upon knowing everything about me. There have been several occasions when I've refrained from blogging on topics because after thinking about them for a bit, I've decided they are just too danged personal for me to get into here.
Knowing that Tacitus has a background that includes military service does affect my evaluation of his credibility when he gives opinions on war-related matters, but knowing that he also suffered through clinical depression certainly isn't necessary for my evaluation of his credibility, nor even particularly pertinent to that particular evaluation. (His history with depression might be more relevant for purposes of evaluating opinions he expresses about depression or mental illnesses in general, but even then, I don't think he was ethically or morally required to reveal the personal details that he did.)
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Recommended reading from blogger Tacitus and sent a trackback ping are listed here: