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Re: Ban The "I" Word (Re: Incompetent Plan Checker)

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Bill Polhemus wrote:
Dennis S. Wish, PE wrote:

You really are a piece of cake - I'm not sure where the anger comes from, but since you asked, here are my personal opinions, of your e-mail replies; You are not dense, just stubborn and obstinate - you prove this by such dripping sarcasm. You obviously understand implied language and should understand decent behavior among your peers. You are not Autistic which would cover those who take language literally rather than understanding implied language rules. Don't push me on this one issue because I am an expert on Autistic behavior as well as those with Downs Syndrome. You don't fit the mold of either and that makes you simply cantankerous and obstinate.

Dennis, it's very simple.

I do not believe that it is "ethical behavior" to use a term like "incompetent" in reference to anyone else on this list. Disagreeing with someone's opinion is not a problem--though I wish that it were based on something less "passionate" than simply politics, as unfortunately happens all too often.

But the word "incompetent" has grave implications, even on a public forum. I have stated here how I had to learn--the hard way--how your words on forums like this can come back to haunt you in a legal setting, for example. Can you imagine how an unscrupulous attorney might use such a quote to his advantage in a courtroom?

I admit: I cannot get over how appalled I was that this word was used with regard to me, without that person knowing a single thing about any of the facts being discussed, and yet no one else seem to think it was a big deal. Again, it's one thing to disagree with someone's opinion concerning any of the issues we discuss, but when you use a term so fraught with negative implications as that... Well, I'm not "that kind of guy," but I shouldn't wonder if it were not actionable. I know at least one instance of a P.E. here in Texas who had his license suspended for using inflammatory language in a letter regarding another engineer's competence.

So I repeat: How is it that such a repugnant act as that is "acceptable," but it is NOT acceptable to bring up the fact of its repugnance? I seriously want to know the answer to that.

I do apologize if it rankles; I have the annoying habit of not letting go of things I feel are out of line. That's not to say "holding a grudge." It IS to say "this is unjust under any circumstance, and I can't just drop it."

But no one thought it worth even so small a thing as an apology, or even an acknowledgement that it was a very WRONG thing to do.

Between the two of us, I think it far better if _I_ am the one who leaves. My opinion seems to be in the minority regarding this topic, after all. And majority certainly rules.

Why couldn't you have stated it this way to begin with? First of all, I don't recall the post where anyone state you were incompetent, instead, if I missed the post, I only saw the counter attack and it appears from my perspective that you were attacking Gail Kelly.
This post explains a lot - something you might have done sooner. With respect to an opinion, that is exactly what it is and while I've had personal attacks thrown back at me in arbitration where the other side tried to show that I was not competent to design a certain type of structure when it acted like a simple retaining wall but was called a pool, I was able to convince the arbitrator that my knowledge included this type of design.
You can not stop anyone from over-reacting and using terms that may be out of place. But then again, because this is a public forum and you can't stop the misuse of terms by those who are angered or who choose to evaluate you without knowing the full story - you need to work harder to keep the accusation within the context of the argument rather than as an overall statement of fact. If someone accuses you of incompetence, then the lawyer would need to bring the person forth to prove their accusation. Without the proof, I would not think (although I have never had this tested) that a judge would allow this type of testimony as it is too easy to show that it was used out of context and may even have been used in anger.

I do agree with you that we should be careful as to how we address others - nothing is sacred via the Internet. Unfortunately, this is not always practical and we do tend to get over zealous in our responses as this thread has proven.

My only comment on this would be to expect everyone to watch their statements. If you strongly disagree to the point where you question the other persons competence, then take the thread private and try and clear it up that way before publicly blasting the individual.

Bill, to be honest, my perspective of this discussion was skewed from the start - it appeared that your were being disingenuous and sarcastic rather than honestly asking the question you just did. Had you spent time to rehash some of the comments and then approached them rationally as you did in this post, it might have placed a different perspective on how we viewed your actions. In a sense, this was your fault as well.

I only expect that we treat each other with respect. As you and I have done in the past - if we feel the other is out of line, we take it off the list and try and resolve the conflict - we don't make our arguments public to the best of our ability. None of us are perfect and this is a relatively new means of communication so we need to learn as we go along and hopefully those implied rules will be understood by everyone who participates.

Thank you for bringing your position into better perspective for those of use who may have missed something along the line.



Dennis S. Wish, PE
California Professional Engineer
Structural Engineering Consultant


760.564.0884 (office - fax)

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