Is There Room for All Us Fans in the SLC Dunk Tent?

This post started as a comment on Diana's downbeat, where she brought up the issue of Jazz fans turning on one another. It grew into this, so please forgive the length.

I appreciate that Amar refers to SLC Dunk as a community. It certainly is, but I'm less certain that community is as large and inclusive as some of us would wish. Not because people are being barred or formally ostracized, but because there are perspectives that are being ridiculed. Not respectfully countered, but ridiculed.

As an example, I really respect jazzyman. I sometimes feel paired with him in the minority defending Ty, Al, and all things that might be seen as the "status quo." I don't agree with all his posts, but I think he usually communicates his perspective respectfully and with enough clarity and reason to deserve respect in turn. Suffice to say, that is sometimes not how it happens. (Just look at the conversation that resulted from his comment in downbeat #942 arguing for the value of playoff experience, as a most recent example.) When this type of things happens, when a perspective is mocked rather than simply countered, everyone sharing that perspective feels belittled as well.

I often feel the need to defend Ty. So when for his decisions Ty is not only critiqued but insulted, mocked as being unintelligent or utterly lacking in other virtues, it may as well be me. Disagree with my beliefs freely, but please don't ridicule them, even when they are communicated or executed by someone else, be he a player (Al), coach (Ty), or executive (KOC). It is possible to disagree and counter anything without denigrating the person we disagree with.

One other thing that I fear creates unpleasant conflict here is the frequency of confirmation bias feeding aggressive rhetoric. Take for example the comments on Lindsay's interview, again, in Diana's downbeat today. (Thanks, Diana, for being willing to address this subject.) If we all had to raise our hands as being in either "the team is clearly mishandling the young players" camp or "the team is doing a respectable job with the young players, all things considered" camp, how many of us would read into this interview something that contradicts our personal feelings? I suspect none of us. People who think the youth are obviously being mishandled see Lindsay as likely to be picking his words with care in order to hide his own dissatisfaction with the development of youth, especially Favors. I, on the other hand, see his response as very typical of the Jazz front office historically, and attribute that to Lindsay adopting the approach the team uses when communicating to the fan base and not a commentary on the youth issue.

Which is right? Who knows? The fact that almost all of us can read into these comments something to justify what we believe or desire suggests that the comments aren't sufficiently revealing for any of us to be assertive one way or the other about their implications. The comments on Lindsay's interview were, last I checked, respectful and moderate (likely because of addressing conflict among fans in the same post). But sometimes, because a majority of people in this community (or at least who comment) share similar perspectives, the discussion confirming said perspectives snowballs into an examination of how obvious this "truth" is and how foolish someone must be not to share it. It isn't the perspective (youth is being dis-served) that's the problem--it's a number of people in agreement taking a very subjective interpretation, reinforcing each other, and in that process turning it into warrant, something so obvious it cannot even attempt to be countered without making one's self ridiculous.

Amar, Spencer, Prodigal, Andy, My_Lo, Yucca, Clark, Diana, and Moni are the core of this community. They initiate, feed, and propagate the interactions we all have here, and they do a fantastic job. But let's be honest: on some issues, including Al Jefferson and development of young talent, they more or less stand in agreement. Many Jazz fans who post and comment here do as well, maybe even most. Most, but not all. No one should change their opinions or perspectives to bolster those of us in the minority--but please remember that there is a minority who will disagree with what is said on nearly any issue, and how we talk about these issues determines whether they feel a part of this community or outside it. I know that, at times, I feel outside and unwelcome.

Sorry for the seriousness of this, but it's something that is increasingly bothering me. When I first took part in SLC Dunk, there was an extensive conversation going on here about negativity. I realize I likely share a lot of my perspective with those who were concerned about that then. I think the problems Diana brings up now are rooted in the same issue: negativity. Negativity, not so much in how we see the Jazz at any moment, but how we talk to and about each other and about the Jazz. The issue is almost never our beliefs but how we express them. I hope that mistakes, failures, and disappointments by the Jazz do not produce viciousness, mockery, denigration, or disregard in this community of Jazz fans.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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