|Jonathan, your method is crystal clear, as is your reasons for attacking Newberry and artistic standards in general.
Philip, your post centered around the idea of artistic preference. If that were the case, it would be right on. Of course we should let people like whatever they want...after all, it's just their feelings. It doesn't have anything to do with objective standards of art, or objectivity at all. Fine.
But if, on the other hand, we want to go a little beyond what we mysteriously feel about a piece of art, and actually talk about art with standards, then there is no room for "your opinion is as good as mine". If someone says that it is a great work of art, then he should be willing to back it up. If he's using the words in a loose way to mean he just likes it, he can say so. In this case Bob has said he likes it, and that's really all he was trying to say. He's also added some intelligent thoughts about why he likes it.
The issue here, as is almost always the case, is whether personal preferences are all that matter in art. Is Beethoven's 9th no better than rap music, but some people personally like it and are trying to claim their tastes are "better", without reason or explanation? Or is Beethoven's 9th a superior piece of art objectively? If they think its all subjective preference, and there cannot be objective standards or judgment, then they will get offended when someone says their art isn't as good. They will probably be even more offended if they accept that there are objective standards, and feel that their own tastes don't live up to it.
Your post indicates that you think it's the fault of the people demanding excellence and objective standards, as if they're just pushing their own preferences and angering others. I see it the other way. I see that whenever anyone suggest objective standards in art (and ethics as well), the people who think it's all preference get offended. This is made worse by some people who know their favorite art is bad, and consequently fear objective standards or discussions of excellence.
Of course, most of this uproar is based on a belief that your like or dislike of art should be judge based on the objective standards of art. In reality, there's so much more to consider.
Alec, I'm under the impression you don't accept the idea of objective standards in art (I believe you mentioned this elsewhere). It's not surprising then that you don't get Michael. He's trying to elevate the conversation to objective standards (or to keep people clear on the difference between that and their own personal responses). Since you don't accept them, of course your interpretation of his posts is going to vary. But asking for objective reasons for an evaluation is not the same as attacking it.
Hong, you're being completely unfair. You're welcome to disagree violently with Lindsay's view of Michael's earlier post. But Lindsay was quite clear that even though he completely disagrees with Michael and considers it "vile", he's still allowed on the forum. We may uphold standards, but we don't demand that everyone follow or be banned. You consider this a flaunting of our power as owners of the site. I think you're wrong. It's a statement that one can believe in something strongly, and still allow other people to voice their opinions. It sounds like you're offended that we even have the power, and think we should hide the fact and be ashamed of it. Well forget about it! It is our site.
I can just imagine if Lindsay hadn't mentioned our open policy. Everyone would scream that Lindsay doesn't allow dissent on SOLO! Oh please! Give me a break. Obviously we allow all kinds of dissent, even when we completely disagree with it. And we reserve our right to disagree with it, fiercely if necessary.
Num++, good post. But please, no more body-builder hugs!