Last Friday DJ published a thought-provoking story encouraging student athletes to seize the option to go pro when opportunities to do so arise. One line in the story, regarding universities generally not caring about whether students graduate, struck a nerve and the comments subsequently turned into the type of discourse we try to avoid at 11W.
While in a general sense, I agree with DJ's view that many universities put profits above education these days, many of you have an emotional attachment to one big university in particular, and I can see why you may feel that his statement did not apply to Ohio State. Ultimately, his opinion was not the issue -- we pride ourselves on the edge we provide, challenging popular opinions and avoiding the milquetoast analysis you see at so many other sites -- but his reaction in the comments is not what we'd prefer to see out of our writers. Things got heated and DJ and readers alike were insulted and probably felt as if they were being talked down to by the other party.
We thought it would be best to give DJ a little bit of time away from the site and also asked that he apologize to anyone that he may have offended. He decided it was best to part ways, so we mutually agreed to do so. He's given me permission to reprint his resignation letter:
Dear Internet Comrades,
On Friday, an article I wrote devolved into a messy string of ugly internet comments about something entirely different than what I had originally written. There's nobody to blame for it, but me. I humbly accept any and all blame and apologize to those which were angry at words I had arranged on the internet. It was a spirited debate which became (unfortunately) personal to me.
In the defense of my arguments and myself, I crossed some lines. In crossing those lines, I enraged some of the commentariat. I did my best to contain my words and standby the crux of what I was saying, but I'm not going to say I threw a perfect game.
I realize my abrasive ways aggravate a lot of people, and I realize this puts a lot of people I respect in very hard places. The Elders of this site have stood by me through much more embarrassing times than this past weekend, namely when I tried to bullshit a defensive preview like I had so many college papers. Then there was the time I used the word "fagz" in a crunken tweet against Manchester United's team and supporters. (And from those ashes rose @dj11w.) There were countless small factoids I bungled as well. However, I have done nothing but pour my heart and soul into every letter I've typed on the internet. I know it may seem like bullshit, but I have truly tried to choose which arrows I let loose from my sling. Even at my best, I can't do what this site deserves.
I respect you guys and your work too much to jeopardize your quest for credentials any further. The other night, when @hollabucks said I hurt 11W's "quest for legitimacy", I wanted to reply "It's already legitimate," but then I realized I had very little to do with the actual legitimacy of this website.
This stable is much more professional and hard-working than I probably will ever be. I have met most of you, and I have deep respect for all of you. I have been and will continue to be a fan of all of your works.
Thank you for seeing enough in the mangled humanity which is my existence to offer me my first writing gig. I will forever be in your debt and I am sorry for the ill-will which I have created. You guys will be much better off without me.
May Warren G. Harding Save Us All,
Donald J. Byrnes, II
I want to reiterate that we will go to bat for our writers and their opinions, even when controversial. This is an exchange of ideas and there will be some that you won't like. However, we will not tolerate the comments turning into a war zone between writers and readers. If you disagree with a writer's opinion, feel free to voice your disagreement, but do so without ad hominem attacks. We promise to do the same in return.
We wish DJ the best. He is a gifted writer and a wildly entertaining Buckeye fan. And while it's true that we're now staring down a post-spring game party named after one of his favorite words (hello, awkward), he's been invited to come out and enjoy the night with us and we hope he takes us up on that offer.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know.