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Living Freedom by Claire Wolfe. Musings about personal freedom and finding it within ourselves.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Claire Wolfe


Saturday, January 4th, 2014

On Thursday I posted something I wish I hadn’t. It was meant to be part one of a two-parter. I knew exactly what I wanted to say in part two, but posted the partial because it was getting long.

I expected to provoke discussion and some disagreement. That’s how it goes — all to the good. I didn’t expect to be so totally misinterpreted. I was stunned at the message people thought I was conveying. It didn’t even resemble the message I intended.

At first I thought a few individuals just didn’t get it. Or were deliberately twisting my words. Then as more odd comments came in I thought, “Well, I must have hit some nerves.”

But as the discussion continued (and IMNSHO became the lamest discussion ever conducted in these environs), I came to the only possible conclusion: I screwed up. I did a lousy piece of writing. I failed to say what I was trying to say.

I have to tell you, this badly rattled my confidence. It’s fine for people to tell me I’m wrong. It’s a-okay when the occasional person shows up to announce, “Your a Idiot.” It’s great when commentors point out, “You didn’t think of X. Or you screwed up Y.” It’s best of all when something I blog provokes spirited exchanges.

It’s terrible to have to conclude that I simply failed to write well enough to convey my meaning.

So for now I’ve taken that post private (EDIT: made it public again). I haven’t deleted it; just rendered it and all of its comments invisible until I decide what to do. I was going to delete it and skip part two until an email from a friend urged me not to. It’s funny; when I posted it, I knew exactly where I was going to go with part two, but now I wouldn’t know where to begin on that.

I’m also going to take a week off from blogging, starting after this post. My intention with the bad post was to begin the New Year delivering content with some weight and usefulness. I failed. My confidence is shot. I’ll get it back, but anything I tried to say right now would probably be crap. So I apologize.

I especially apologize to everybody who has supported this blog (and even more especially to you guys who recently sent wonderful gifts to cheer me and the blog on). You deserve better. I hope after a week off to think about what works and what doesn’t I’ll be able to give you better.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

36 Responses to “Apology”

  1. Phil Says:

    I hate it when that happens and trust me, I’ve had it happen a couple of times.

    Buck up Sunshine, you’re human, shit happens. The problem with writing is the lack of inflection and facial expressions that help to convey your thoughts.
    You’ve done what needed to be done, you issued your Mea Culpa and are now pondering how to rectify it.
    The one thing you are going to do is get right back in the saddle and keep your head up. Stiff upper lip and all that rot you know. (See what I mean about inflection?)
    Dust yerself off and get back to yer rat killin’.

    BTW, is it time to start shooting the bastards yet?

    Just kidding. I love that quote.

  2. @agorajoe Says:

    I have read and reread the post from that date, and I can’t figure out the problem.

  3. Karen Says:

    Honestly, I didn’t consider the piece badly written or a failure. It provoked a lot of discussion. It got people thinking and stepping in to voice their opinions, even if some of those opinions were just plain contrary. It seems to me that it was a subject that needs discussion, not necessarily so we can achieve consensus, but so we can each evaluate ourselves and our own personal situations.

    I agree with Phil that sometimes the written word just doesn’t come across as intended. There’s also the fact that each of us comes here from different backgrounds, at different ages and with different frames of reference through with we each filter incoming thoughts and information.

    Anyway, if you’re taking a break I hope you’ll enjoy it and get back to stirring our minds all refreshed and renewed.

  4. Kent McManigal Says:

    I just don’t see how people could take it the wrong way. Unless I also took it the wrong way. In which case…

    From what I remember I saw nothing to apologize for (unless it’s the kind of “apology” I sometimes make in my head while saying words that sound like an apology to someone who was offended by the way their own neurons happened to fire in my presence… etc.)

    I totally understand how you feel. Sometimes after a column or blog draws a lot of heat- and especially if that heat is directed at me, personally- I feel like tucking my tail and hiding in the dark under the porch with the spiders and pillbugs for a few days. Ahh… the smell of moist dirt and slightly rotten wood…

    Relax and feel better soon.

  5. Bear Says:

    You had a day with maybe one less than optimum blog entry. I wouldn’t sweat that. Heck, I’ve had entire books people didn’t get. Some people couldn’t get past the title of one of my short stories. That’s part of why I stopped writing: I wasn’t expressing myself well enough to engage people — and getting them to buy books — and despite years of work I wasn’t getting better. That is not one of your faults.

    For that matter, there are bloggers who seem to judge the success of their entries by the arguments generated. Check out Clark or Patrick at Popehat. [grin]

  6. Jeremy Says:

    As a long time daily reader of your blog I saw nothing deserving of an apology or anything unclear or not thought out. Can’t wait to see the conclusion. Thanks for your writing and insight.

  7. Peter Says:

    I read that article – in fact, I was planning to link to it and its predecessor tonight. I don’t know why some found it problematic . . . it seemed clear enough to me.

    Main thing is, take a break, relax, and catch your breath. We aren’t going away (even if sometimes you wish we would!).


  8. Jorge Says:

    Yeah, what agorajoe, Karen, Kent & Jeremy said. Piece was clear to me. I agreed with it. Looking forward to the conclusion.

    I only saw the first few comments and thought OLH was way off base.

  9. just waiting Says:

    I’m sorry I missed out on reading all of this one.

    I’m a slow reader, and I’m just finishing up the piece on “Nation of Cowards”, just my luck I go back to the main piece to find out where it was going and poof, its gone.

    I really hope you re-release the piece Claire, comments or not I’d love to finish reading it.

  10. jed Says:

    Well, I sure don’t think you need to apologize for anything either. But then again, I often find myself being misunderstood, so I’m pretty sympathetic. And hey, nothing wrong with taking some time. Hope you’re able to find some enjoyable things to do.

    @just waiting: Don’t feel too badly. I still haven’t gotten back to the piece about Vaclav Havel. I suspect I’ll appreciate it better after reading Savage Continent (Keith Lowe).

    In the meantime, here’s some pictures of a corgi balancing things on its head.

  11. Shel Says:

    I logged back on thinking I ought to comment again on Part One (that’s a hint). Now I won’t be able to go to bed until I post another entry !@#$

    It never occurred to me that the post was a failure. I firmly believe that if two people always agree, at least one of them isn’t thinking. While I agree with Bear that the volume and vehemence of comments don’t necessarily reflect quality, sometimes you have what I think are excellent links and there are very few comments, which I find quite perplexing (as you must). In fact I was pleased that there were so many responses, many from people I don’t ever remember having made comments before. The whole thing got so involved that to carefully sift through it all would have required much, much more thinking than I was ready to do :-(

    One suspicion I have is that just the use of the word “coward,” which has such an intense subjective component to it’s implication, spurred visceral responses. The subject, though, is an entirely pertinent one, as courage absolutely will be needed at some point, and will likely come from unexpected sources. The Southern firebrands prior to the War Between the States weren’t worth much once hostilities began and people like Lee, who dreaded the conflict, and Forrest, who said he voted against succession, were the ones who were the most useful. And anyone who doubts the American inclination to inflict savagery upon the helpless might look at either or or anything written on the treatment of the American Indian.

    In short, Claire, my permanent opinion of you is way higher than your temporary opinion of yourself. I did enjoy your use of IMNSHO at this moment; it was great :-)

    To Betsy: Sadly, the PCUSA is a lost cause. Anything in the WCC must be. My mother used to get “The Layman” which catalogs in
    maddening detail their sins(?). At one general assembly the young Presbyterians played Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.” I believe Keith himself, who is very patriotic and of the same ilk as Phil Robertson would scrupulously keep religion and hedonism separate.

    To Bear: That was a very nice mediation between two obviously well intended individuals. Sometimes these things bring out the best in people.

    To Paul B: Sometimes it feels like you seem to express disagreement in a more disagreeable way than necessary. While your point that we can’t know the degree of actual compliance is well taken, I just don’t believe spontaneous contentiousness necessarily puts you in a favorable light. Sometimes, though, in the past there were times when contentiousness was absolutely appropriate, as with IAM.

    To JD (was it JD?): You called Claire a “dunce.” What rock did you crawl out from under? While she would be the first to admit she has imperfections – and in fact just did – “dunce” doesn’t apply. You either are (1) a complete idiot and have never read anything else she has written or (2) you are a plant. I go with (2). You’re following Alinsky’s script to the letter. How often to you guys confer? How do you decide who’s going to try to sabotage who’s blog? How many blogs do you work on? How many different aliases do you use? It’s O.K. to answer truthfully. Trust me.

  12. Pat Says:

    “My intention with the bad post was to begin the New Year delivering content with some weight and usefulness.”

    You did that — in spades. It was _not_ a bad post, and *you* have nothing to apologize for. Perhaps it hit too close to home for some people.

    Get some rest, and forget about us. But please bring the article back.

  13. Curt S Says:

    Fwiw…. I have been reading your blog for a few years now. Maybe it is just me, but I didn’t see anything wrong with the piece in question. Now, I am NOT a politically correct person by any stretch of the imagination. If I want to say something I will say it…and do not really give a damm if someone is offended or not by it. In short, this is your blog, I see no reason why you cannot say what you think, even if it misinterpreted….still your blog. If some get their undies in a bundle over it…tough shit. Inho they can start thier own blog if they don’t like it. Keep up the good work!

  14. David Gross Says:

    Yeah… gonna “me too” here. I liked it and wanted to see where you were going to go with it. I think you may be experiencing something of a sampling problem where a lot of people nodded their heads and said “hmmm” to themselves and then some people spoke up because they were confused and so you figured you must have been confusing.

  15. Joe Agora Says:

    So it is settled: Not only should you bring back the article, but write more in the same vein – let the haters be damned!

  16. naturegirl Says:

    I’m always a half a beat off track from others around here, and I’m ok with that….I read it, and eventually did make it thru the comments too. I also linked it back to the link I mentioned in my reply. Hope she saw it in time. I see no need to apologize, and it didn’t offend me at all either. Made me think, but that’s what I come here to do (quite often). I also see no reason why you should bring the thunder down on yourself entirely, obviously from some of the comments right here – not all misunderstood it – maybe the others did (and it has nothing to do with how you wrote it).

    I hope you bring it back, too. And continue to write more, or add the other parts at least. Not everything written will reach everyone correctly, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it at all.

  17. Chris Says:

    Claire, you are one of the Internet’s bright spots. I always enjoy your posts and the last post was no exception.

  18. Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume Says:

    Claire, if you are talking about the post WRT Americans being cowards, you have nothing to apologize for.

    It should have been obvious to anyone with a lick of sense that you were not saying ALL or pointing out any INDIVIDUALS. Obviously, you were working at the societal level and not the individual level.

    It was nothing you wrote. The problem is that, as time goes by, there are fewer and fewer people out there with a lick of sense.

  19. MamaLiberty Says:

    I certainly didn’t see anything disturbing about your post, and was looking forward to the second part. The challenge of communicating our thoughts and principles is probably never going to get easier, and none of us will ever do so perfectly. Seems to me that what is important about blogging is the dialog, the exchange of ideas we might not have opportunity for otherwise. I was a little surprised at the level of criticism in some of those comments, but that just illustrates the limitations of blog dialog. I think it would have turned out very differently if we’d all been in a room just sitting around talking.

    Go get some rest and play with the pups. You probably need that for lots of reasons. But then come back and write part two. :)

  20. smitty Says:

    Gee, sorry I missed the post in question and hope it is re-posted soon.

    The subject matter appears to have been about cowardice? Probably the cowardice of Americans?

    If so, it surely is worth discussing.

    General cowardice may be one of the basic reasons tyranny continues to envelope us.

    We-and I do include myself-have really been a bunch of *chickenshits*…I suppose not every single individual…but damn near, don’tcha think?

    Allowing-yes, allowing-this government to morph into the overbearing monstrosity destroying precious Liberty that it clearly is…is simply a disgusting disgrace…

    Please bring the post back to life.

  21. Karen Says:

    While I was catching up on the comments this morning, I was reminded of a t-shirt I’ve been seeing online.

    I can explain it to you but I can’t understand it for you.

    And I think that pretty well sums up what “went wrong” with part 1. ;-)

  22. slidemansailor Says:

    Claire, your mistake was posting half your article. As you said, you knew where you were headed; where you wanted to take that article. Now you don’t. It will never be what you had intended it to be.

    But the world has only lost that one article. It gained the complete article the first half became, the discussion the first half triggered, and the ripples from its splash.

    I occasionally run across a draft or private article in my blog that got set aside for one reason or another. The trajectory they once had is gone. Their momentum is nill. If they were part of something really important I had to say at the time, that time is apparently past.

    I recently went through and deleted them all… give my thoughts a fresh, clean start. If it is important, it will come up on the guitar again.

    Repost and let it go.

    You raised the child to be a Presbyterian and he became a Catholic. Sad for you, perhaps, but once they are out the door, all you can do is watch and go on with the life you do control: yours.

  23. Jake MacGregor Says:

    don’t Retreat … Reload!

    Illegitimi non carborundum

  24. zelda Says:

    Put me in the looks like you hit a nerve category. I’ve been amazed and interested to read the reactions. Although time off for reflection and reconsideration is useful, I don’t think you should take the comments and reactions as a sign that you failed. My thought is that what you wrote was filtered through a high societal level of anger, rage, frustration and resentment that I think are based on a perception of individual and group powerlessness and ineffectiveness. In recent times we have lost/given up a huge amount of personal and societal freedom and responsibility. I have very limited opportunities to engage in in-depth issues discussions in person and read your posts (and the comments) as an opportunity to learn and think and investigate further. See Karen’s post above. I’m looking for one of those T shirts, may buy a dozen when I find them so I’ll have one for each day of the week and some spares.

  25. katiej Says:

    I agree with these comments and admire your courage for putting your thoughts out for all to see daily! Have a good vacation!

  26. Betsey Says:

    I wish I had your skills, Claire. You rock. Sorry if you feel you goofed; you didn’t. People read something and minds go spinning…

  27. Fred Says:

    I think the article is fine,as well as the comments.I need my Claire fix,keep writing!

  28. Laird Says:

    Claire, let me add my support, too. I thought the article was fine, as were (most of) the responses. So not everyone agrees? What of it? You made us think, which is what matters.

    Actually, I think it was your mea culpa which is in error, not the original article. It brings to mind the old epigram: “I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong.”

    I’ve been reading your books and blog for years and think you’re one of the best and most thoughtful writers around. Keep it up! From the structure of the piece I suspect that Part I posited the problem and Part II will propose a (partial) solution. I’m looking forward to it.

  29. Rainhaven Says:

    You absolutely shouldn’t have apologized. I’ve been basically saying the same things that you wrote in person to people who complain about our current situation.

    Your only “problem” was that you confronted people with truth. And some people can’t stand that. We are a nation of cowards. Everybody is afraid and nobody wants to be made an example of. So the gov. makes examples as it needs/wants. See: “Boston Strong”.

    My opinion is that you either get out while you can or hope that your progeny get their hands on pro-freedom material if it still exists and rise up. Because full on slavery is about to begin…

  30. Paul Bonneau Says:

    [To Paul B: Sometimes it feels like you seem to express disagreement in a more disagreeable way than necessary. While your point that we can’t know the degree of actual compliance is well taken, I just don’t believe spontaneous contentiousness necessarily puts you in a favorable light.]

    Yeah, I come off more heavy-handed than I should sometimes. Also maybe more than I actually mean. However I have to say that defeatism is possibly my number 1 hot button. I don’t see what good it does to look at that picture of those guys lined up and 1) assume the worst of them, and 2) give them hell for it. They are victims, after all.

    I thought I was expressing empathy. Maybe like Claire’s post, it didn’t get across very well.

  31. David Gross Says:

    One more thing:

    I’ve coincidentally been reading a collection of H.L. Mencken essays. If you read his “On Being an American” ( you’ll lose all fear of insulting the courage of your fellow Americans.

  32. Iwoots Says:

    Claire, a friend once called me up – needed to see me right away. He came over, explained how he wasn’t able to sleep the night before because he felt so guilty that at a get-together the day before he had called me “anal retentive” in a joking way, and needed to apologize.

    I told him “I am.”

    Point of that story: To be blunt, apology not accepted because you don’t need to.

  33. Jim Klein Says:

    Claire, I’m not too big on bandwagons, but I gotta jump on this one. I’ve read that post three times now, and I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re apologizing for. I thought it was good and it was definitely accurate. I don’t know what else there is. I’d take a “dunce” cap like that any time…that anonymous crack is just more evidence for the article!

  34. Mary Lou Says:

    Gosh, I had read the Boldly piece, posted it on RRND, and thought it was right on point .. then I got sick over the weekend and am just returning and find out that it caused a whole big uproar, good grief. I was eagerly awaiting Part 2 … I havent read all the comments, I gather some people were upset at the implication Americans are cowards, well yeah, many of us are. I know I dont rise to great feats of bravery (unless theres a helpless animal or child or elderly person involved and even then theres always more I could have done cause I always have in the back of my mind ‘he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day’ ), anyway, like many folks, I read Claire’s blog for inspiration (and dog stories and pictures of course) and I am awaiting part 2 …

  35. Brad Says:

    Nothing to apologize for, you hit the nail right on the head, even if it wasn’t what some people wanted to hear.

  36. Andrew Says:

    I read the post in question. I found it very resonant.

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