In response to the commenter who inquired about which writing award Claire Novak had won: In 2008, she won an award from the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The award, for sports writing in the magazine division, was for an article entitled “The Ecstacy (sic) and Agony of Edgar Prado,” published in Louisville Magazine in April of 2007.
So that satisfies the curiosity of that particular commenter.
The Novak post invited quite a few comments, not all of which, unfortunately, are quite so easy to address; their tenor and their content left me troubled. Contrary to what one anonymous commenter wrote, I have no problem, in general, with people not leaving their names. Some valuable comments have been left here anonymously, and I have generally responded to them as I do to those with names. On other sites, I have occasionally left anonymous comments. I understand that at times, anonymity can be useful. In fact, in the Novak post I used an anonymous quotation.
But–and I know that this is going to sound like a lecture, so please forgive that teacher side of me–it’s not useful when people hide behind anonymity to be unkind and gratuitously nasty, characteristics that I found in some of the comments left on the post about Novak.
As moderator of the site, I have choices: I can choose to not permit anonymous comments—though as it’s pretty easy to type in a pseudonym, that won’t necessarily solve the problem. I could moderate comments and choose not to post those that I think cross the bounds of civility, but I loathe, practically and in principle, the thought of approving some comments and disapproving others.
I like the free exchange of ideas that blogging and commenting offers, and mostly, the comments left here have been respectful and civil. But in addition to trying to maintain my idealistic little world of courtesy and consideration, I’ve got a pretty serious stake in self-interest here, too: I’m not going to get people to talk to me if they have to worry about getting pilloried by the anonymous.
I appreciate that on the Thursday of Breeders’ Cup week, Novak took the time to talk to me. I would imagine that, as someone in the public eye, she’s used to the slings and arrows of demanding readers, and that she’s enough of a pro to accept and shake off both the compliments and the insults. That said, I wonder if she’d agree again to talk to me, given some of the comments left on that post.
It’s possible to offer criticism and to disagree without being nasty, and I throw out a gentle request that that be the standard here. In my perfect little idealistic Internet world, this space would be like class: lots of conversation and contribution, lots of agreement and disagreement, lots of respect and consideration, each of us accountable to each other.
I recognize that that’s not likely, but nor does it have to be a free-for-all, where people can be callous and unkind with impunity. Given the amount of reading material out there, I appreciate everyone who takes the time to stop by here and read; I am grateful, too, that you take the time to comment. I learn from you; you persuade me and you dissuade me; you challenge me. I hope that you continue to.