Non-beloved, non-legendary Atlanta Journal-Constitution non-columnist Terence Moore submitted his final column today after accepting a voluntary buyout from the beleaguered newspaper. (Note: "beleaguered" is, technically, a redundancy.) The column itself, titled "To Braves, Hawks, Falcons, Thrashers: Good is for losers" is typical Moore: a mixture of the blindingly obvious (Atlanta's pro sports teams are not yet championship-caliber) with the stunningly wrongheaded (they're going to stay this way forever ... why?) and a misinformed cheap shot at Georgia fans tacked on at the end. It's not good, it's not even really in the same ballpark as "good," but as Moore columns go, it's actually par for the course: sometimes he doesn't even get the "blindingly obvious" stuff down right.
But this particular column isn't even the point. The point is in the "ediotr's note" that prefaces the oclumn, and which reads like so:
Editor’s note: This is Terence Moore’s last column for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Terence has decided to take a voluntary buyout, ending a stellar 24 years as a sports columnist. Terence sums up his time this way: “My objective was to get people to think, not to agree or disagree, just to get people to think.” We thank him for making all of us think and wish him the best as he moves on to new endeavors.No. No. That is not the correct objective for a sports columnist. Moore is, in fact, supposed to try and get his readers to agree with him--this is the point of his position, to elucidate, inform, analyze, help his readers understand the sports they're subscribing to his paper to follow. "Making people think" isn't the same thing as "getting them to understand." If Moore really doesn't care if you agree or disagree with him, then he doesn't have anything at stake in what he's written beyond how much attention it's getting--he's admitted to writing things even he doesn't truly believe, just for the sake of stirring the proverbial pot. On these here Interwebs, we call this "trolling."
A recent fisk at BHGP reminded me of this sterling and apropos quote from Fire Joe Morgan, may it rest in the awesomest peace ever:
I, for one, am sick of wrongheaded writers telling me I love to hate them when in fact I hate to hate them. A note to Baylessian contrarians: you should take no joy in being so wrong about something that throngs of people rise up as one to denounce you. This should not be what it means to be a writer. When thousands of people write you angry emails about something you said or wrote that was wrong, you should not shrug your shoulders and say, "I must be doing something right if I got so many people interested!" No, sir. Sir, no. You were wrong. That is the end of the story. You were so wrong you made people angry. There is no glory in your profound wrongitude. Please stop doing this.Trust me, Terence Moore: it was never your job to make me think. It was your job to explain why I should think the same way you think. Forgive me, but I think the inability to understand the difference between those two objectives--why the first gets you only halfway to where you need to be, why not risking being right can only result in being wrong--goes a long way towards explaining why neither Terence Moore nor tons of other former sports columnists have their job at all anymore.