The last 48 hours haven't been very enjoyable. The Rams played a poor game at home to open the 2011 season, and were soundly beaten for it. In the process, multiple key players left the game with injury: Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, Ron Bartell and Sam Bradford. In the discussion that ensued, the emotion and the passion pushed us beyond rational fandom and into a stratum of petty childish mudslinging.
"Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress." - Mohandas Ghandi
As this site has grown, so has the community. With more voices, more disagreements are bound to arise. This, and there shouldn't be much argument to the contrary, is a good thing. Disagreement, when founded on principle and sincere observation, fosters critical thought. I'm down with critical thought. On the other hand, disagreement for popularity or position is only meant to stir up sensational response. That's pointless.
Over the past year and a half, no one claimed that mantle more often and with more obloquy than RamChop. Some had outright asked for him to be reprimanded. Others suggested he was the bellwether for a brand of vitriolic dialogue that turned them off the site. Of course there were plenty that saw him as an informed critic when others too often fell in line with the conventional wisdom. Truth be told, all three were fair. And for 18 months, I abode.
I abode while he insulted those who didn't agree with him. I abode while he created arguments immediately designed to draw in anyone who disagreed for the sole purpose of belittling them. I abode while he ruined what would have otherwise been reasonable opinions with a childish desire to inflame. And recently, he took it too far. So he's been banned. Permanently. And I hope we can all learn from this.
This is a community of ideas, where a good FanPost is better than a mediocre front page story, where front page writers are culled from the community. It's not a bulletin board for pissing contests.
I recognize that yesterday's game was, to say the least, frustrating. And with as much loyalty and attention as we commit to the Rams, it sucks when we don't see that rewarded in victory (you would think we'd be used to it, having lost our week 1 game in each of the last five years...). But we should all be big enough to not channel our disappointment with the team we follow to turn into anger at each other. The issues we have with the players or the coaching staff shouldn't evolve into issues with one another. The sad thing is how easy it is to not let the tone of TST sink to that level.
We'll be enforcing an incredibly basic code of conduct from here on out more strictly. As Van noted at the bottom of ram_rod's piece earlier, sometimes it's best to just walk away. And yes, it is possible to disagree without being assholes. Tevin and I disagree fundamentally on the value of the modern running back, and yet we can continue to engage in respectful commentary without insulting each other (although I got suspicions about anyone who watches Maury without the prospect of getting laid for it).
I've closed the comments for this because I want it just to be read, not discussed. We've had enough discussion for the last two days.
We can do better as a community. We can do better to each other. We can lose the game without getting lost ourselves.
If we want this place to grow into something bigger and stronger than it is today, we should do it starting now.