"You've been very clear that you do not wish to hear from anyone unless they are supportive and encouraging, and that any opinions short of unconditional positive regard are not wanted."
No. Kate. You have it wrong.
Support and encouragement are, of course always welcomed. We have been through a very long, very difficult series of events, and those who find it in their hearts to hold us up are treasured. Is there any human anywhere who doesn't appreciate being treated kindly when life seems challenging and dark? We are no different, whatever you might think of us.
We do not, however, limit the participation here to only those commenters who are "supportive and encouraging." Not everyone that comments here sees things exactly as we do, and there are surely those who hold ideas and opinions that vary from our own. If the hallmark of that "unconditional positive regard" that you find so objectionable is a reluctance to confront us and offer differing opinions, then some of our longest-standing, most reliable commenters seem to be lacking in that quality. They have no problem at all suggesting that we try something different, or encouraging us to investigate another path, or asking us to consider things from an alternative perspective. We really don't have a group of rubber stamp friends.
What we do have is a group of people who understand the notion of respect. These are decent people who understand that nothing is served by mean-spirited and abusive commentary. They come here as visitors, and they behave like visitors. They mind their manners. They consider whether the things they want to say will contribute in some positive way to the dialog, and if the answer is no, then they don't say it. They do not call names. They do not try to set us against each other. They don't take sides. They own their own opinions, and they offer advice for what it is worth (taking no offense if we choose to not take what is offered).
I really don't know why this is so hard for some people to understand. This is our place. We created it years ago. We've kept it going with some 1200 posts to date. We've poured our hearts out here, and we've nurtured this through a lot of ups and downs. To us, this place is important and valuable. It is a refuge; the place where we can safely pour out the confusions and worries and hurts along with the joys and triumphs and giddy moments. We do defend it. We reserve the right to have it be what we choose to have it be. And... we fully understand that some people may not want to "play" inside of those constraints. That's OK. No one should feel compelled or required to be here. There are probably hundreds and hundreds of blogs out there. If somewhere else seems more congenial, then we will wish you well.
There are a few cyber denizens who seem drawn to our blog, and perhaps others. They cannot seem to manage to say anything positive, or even polite. They must find fault. They are driven to be insulting. They are disrespectful and ill-mannered. They seem convinced that we somehow NEED them to point out our faults, failings, and pure fuck ups -- that their clear perception of our imperfections will, all by itself, endow us with the magic to turn everything around and convert us to the right path.
I imagine that these people would not accost some total stranger, out in a public place, and lambaste them with obnoxious and abusive nastiness. Consider -- who among us would walk up to someone in a crowded grocery and begin to rail at them about being enormously fat and slovenly and disgusting? Doing that would create a scene-stopping social crisis. The target of such rudeness would be entirely justified in taking whatever actions were available and appropriate to protect themselves and end the assault. We have commonly agreed upon social norms that almost always prevent that sort of scene from happening -- in real life. Here, though, on the Internet, it seems that some forget (or choose to ignore) the customs of civil interaction. Most often, here, the worst and rudest commenters will not only break all the rules, but then they will insist that it is their right to do that. "How dare we react negatively to their abuse?" they will wonder incredulously.
That sort of thinking just causes me to shake my head in wonderment. So, I am afraid, Kate that you will continue to be offended and disappointed in our recalcitrant insistence on having things our way here in our place. I imagine our opinions and attitudes will continue to annoy and irritate you. Maybe you will keep on coming here for some unfathomable reason. We won't move to stop you... And even when your opinions differ from ours, as today's so clearly did, we'll respect that. Just keep it civil. I don't think that is too much to ask.