...with arms held wide, yelling "whoa! whoa! whoa!"
Seriously, a thoughtful and heartfelt post. But I have a few things to say in response:
1) This has never been professional. It was personal from the get-go and I never pretended otherwise. I'm just not that disingenuous. No attempt was ever made to engage with any piece of criticism I have written. I was accused of trying to ruin careers and lives and take over the tadpole puddle of Canadian poetry with my shadowy cabal when all I was doing was a bit of freelance journalism. I responded in kind. It should be said that I've never met one of the people on the other side of this and have only met the other one--an old friend of hers, who got pissy with me on a previous occasion for calling her out on a passive-aggressive swipe--on a couple of occasions. Why they think they have some kind of privileged access to my motives is something only they can explain. Altho it would seem even that is to be doubted. At any rate, as soon as they cut it out, I will too.
2) Different sorts of conversation can happen at the same time. I'm always ready and willing to talk about poetry and/or criticism. Engaging in online dustups doesn't "choke" that anymore than talking about baseball or the weather does. People are multi-faceted that way.
3) This is so a game. And so is art. And very low-stakes games at that, at least in this part of the world. There's nothing wrong with games. I continue to participate in this one because I'm a small person and it continues to amuse me. If you're a big person and it doesn't amuse you, please see 4)
4) No one is making anyone read anything they don't want to. If, as my site stats suggest, people are fascinated by this argument--even if that fascination is rooted in disgust, they are nevertheless fascinated--they should be honest with themselves about the reasons why. You really want it to stop, you ignore it, you don't write long blog posts studded with links.