David King Landrith is much-abused on LDS blogs, including this one. (Especially this one? â€“ No, that would be too much. I think that others have been a lot meaner than we, in spite of the ancient ban.) It isn’t difficult to see why David gets abused. He rarely agrees with what others say. If they take the standard Mormon position on a subject, he probably has a non-standard take on it. If they take a “liberal” position, he almost certainly has another take. He uses words, like “chick,” that aren’t politically correct, though he seems to do so less frequently or less insistently than he used to. (Thank you, David.) We could reasonably say that he can be argumentative. If you are looking to get the last word in an argument with DKL, look again. And he doesn’t always play nice. Witness his reply to YL: “If it makes you feel better to think that Iâ€™m just some out-of-touch loser without friends, family, or prospects, then far be it from me disabuse you. I mean really, itâ€™s no skin off my back; anything I can do to add a little light to your humdrum life is good by me.” If David thinks your reply is dumb, he doesn’t hesitate to tell you so, and he usually does so in personal terms.
However, though David manages regularly to violate many of my criteria for what good blogging requires, I like him. I like reading what he has to say, and I think I would like him as a friend. Why? Because he’s smart, not smart as in “high IQ,” though I have few doubts that his is high. Rather, David has what used to be called wit. He knows a lot of stuff and can get around well in a lot of contexts, and, however argumentative he may be, he argues very well. His responses are often very clever, even the mean ones. I enjoy that cleverness, if I look at it abstractly. I enjoy seeing David’s mind work. I enjoy the kind of intellectual honesty I think I detect in him. More than those things, however, I like David because he is quick to apologize when he sees that he is wrong, and he is not impressed with himself. I like very much that a guy as smart as he, with such different views on many things, someone who can be extremely frustrating to argue with (because he is witty and can be mean) is, nevertheless, a committed Mormon, one who, it seems, is in practice probably “run of the mill” (a good thing in my book).
When DKL is calling me arrogant* or arguing with me about Derrida,* it is sometimes difficult to remember that I like him. (It is a lot easier when he’s after someone else, especially someone I don’t know. It’s even easier when he is arguing on a thread I don’t know about.) But if I take a deep breath and count to ten, I can usually see why he is saying what he’s saying. I still think he’s wrong, at least about Derrida and, I suspect, about a lot of other 20th-century French philosophers. But I can see his point. I think I’m glad my daughter didn’t marry DKLâ€”though I also think I could be wrong about that. There are things I wish he would change. I wish, for example, that he would try harder to be nice to the people with whom he argues, but I’m glad David is in the Church and part of the bloggernacle.
*I’m too lazy to find the places where these happened and link to them.