Outdoor Writers Association of America
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

August 14th, 2000


There are a couple of neat articles here this week having to do with fishing 'other' places and for that matter 'other' fish. 'Other' in both cases not being trout.

I like to think Fly Anglers OnLine is all-inclusive. Translated that means we don't try and tell anyone the only fish of value on a fly rod is trout. Trout? Which one? Some will favor a Rainbow while others prefer Brookies (which isn't a trout at all - but who's getting picky here.)

Any fish which will take a fly is fair game as far as I'm concerned. I've caught a bunch of 'non-trout' in my lifetime, and I sure plan on adding more. To say someone is less of a fly fisher because they fish for one fish instead of your favorite fish is downright silly. (And unless you have fished for and caught the fish you consider 'lesser' you really don't have any basis for comparison anyway.)

There has been a string of comments on our Bulletin Board the past week which really disturb me. Words like "elitist," "holier than thou attitude" "pearls to the," all over an article about using too light equipment and over stressing fish.

Fly fishers don't have to agree with the opinion of the writer who penned the article, (but I have personally seen the results and agree with Steve.) And frankly, fly fishers will argue over the best way to tie the simplest of flies - or any phase of our sport which is dear to them. Perhaps it is because one posting their comments on a Bulletin Board doesn't have the advantage of seeing the person they are responding to in person. The same comments or arguments made face to face may elicit a much different response.

The words and phrases quoted a couple of paragraphs back probably wouldn't be used if the other person was standing next to you. But lacking the ability to see that person, we are a bit limited. We can't hear the tone of voice, see a slight grin, or even the veins in the neck extended and throbbing.

I would hate to think the nearly thousand people who are now registered on the FAOL Bulletin Board are all uncivil people who cannot express themselves without degrading another person. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but how one expresses that opinion is a direct reflection of that person. In other words, if one person degrades another, he or she is certainly not somehow magically elevated. All lose. Once a person gets into a name-calling match the argument is really over. Emotions take over and any sensible discussion is closed.

Writing something in anger doesn't work either. I was advised once (or twice) to leave the piece I had written in anger until tomorrow. Re-read it, and if it still makes sense (if it did to start with) go ahead and send it. In my case it was send it to my editor, who saw through the garbage pretty quickly.

For those more accustomed to working in print, our bulletin board can be a place to say what they couldn't elsewhere. I don't have a problem with that, and in fact encourage it - as long as the tone and content is civil.

We seem to have lost a lot of common courtesy in this country. I'm not a world traveler, so I can't speak for other countries. I am a product of the era in which I was raised. Many of you do not know there was a time when a famous television star, Jack Parr, was removed from his very popular Tonight Show program for using the word "TOILET." There was a whole list of words in both radio and television that were not allowed. Each station or network had it's own list, this was not 'big brother' at work. Among those words was pregnant. The film, Gone With the Wind broke another of the rules. In that film, Clark Gable said, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." It was the first time I heard such language in a movie . . . it was the first time anyone had heard it! It simply was not acceptable language.

I'm not at all sure what we have today is an improvement. TV and radio are mostly crude, rude, and anything but 'gentlemanly' or 'lady-like.' Just because that type of language and attitude seems to be everywhere, doesn't mean it is just fine. It isn't.

I've said many times, the finest bunch of people I've ever met are fly fishers. Forgive me if I expect to be treated with courtesy and respect. Please note however, I do treat others with the same courtesy and respect.

Anyone who has an interest in fly fishing is welcome here.

But . . .

FAOL is not MTV, or the Jerry Springer Show. If you chose to post something to one of the Bulletin Boards, please do so as a lady or gentleman. Respect the opinions of others even though you don't agree with them. Agree to disagree in a civil manner. Anything less is a disservice to you personally - and to the rest of the readers.

If you insist you have to right to say anything that floats your boat on FAOL Bulletin Boards, sorry, take your comments to another website. Civilized discussion and comments are always welcome. If you aren't capable of following that directive, sit and mutter to yourself. Sometimes things are better left unsaid. ~ LadyFisher

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

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