Just so we’re all clear…

There's been a recent kerfuffle on another blog about the blogger's comment policy.  I won't, for once, be going into details here about it1; I've left my thoughts on that post, and I think that about covers it.  But, because of that, I took another look at my comment policy and realised that I hadn't properly clarified that I believe it to be my right to delete comments that are offensive or insulting in tone.  I've never actually availed myself of that right in over five years of blogging, nor do I anticipate having to do so at any point in the imminent future.  And I repeat again that that right is one I will only apply to offensively-phrased comments, and that it will never be used simply to remove dissenting opinions.  However, it is a right I reserve for myself, so I have now rewritten my policy to make it quite clear that that is the case.  If anyone has enough of a problem with that that they feel the need to follow me over the internet telling the rest of the world what a fearful hypocrite I am, then, hell, bring it on.

1. That statement was merely intended to indicate that I didn't plan to write a post about it.  At the request of the person in question, I'll clarify that I've no objection at all to that person or any other posting their views about the matter/opening a discussion in the comments section here, if they so wish.

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4 responses to “Just so we’re all clear…

  1. Thanks Sarah–I’ll just respond to the comments you wrote there, since this is your blog and of course I can’t respond at FFF. If anyone wants me to respond to anything else, they are going to have to come here and comment.
    “Alan, however, has flipped out about it, reacted as though it were a direct personal attack, and sent you an e-mail that was highly unpleasant in tone and completely out of line.”
    My wife gave me a hard time about the tone as well, and I will acknowledge that it was not my finest hour. But just to be clear, I wasn’t actually just responding to the comment policy. There was a lot of negative talk about me on Twitter that prompted me to write the email (I didn’t say so in the email because for months now, for some reason, they’ve carried on as if public tweets are the same as private emails or IMs, and if they didn’t realise how foolish that was, I wasn’t going to point it out for them).
    The Twitter conversation culminated in FFF’s “I’m rethinking voting him off the island. One-time censorship doesn’t count, right?” which is what prompted me to go off a little half-cocked and write the email. Up until this point, you have to understand, I actually had a decent level of respect for her as a fair, honourable person despite our strong differences of opinion (sort of like the respect I still have for you, Dr. Sarah). So I was disappointed and disgusted by her obvious plan to start with the comment policy and then try to appear to proceed judiciously, but really just give me a show trial with her as the hanging judge if you follow my metaphor.
    There are some other points I’d like to make, particularly about how I might admittedly grate on some people’s nerves, but I generally don’t hurl vicious invective at people, even after they insult me in the most vile manner they can come up with. Probably the easiest and best way to do this though is to post the one comment I attempted to post to that thread, and the only comment FFF has refused to allow through (as I haven’t tried since for obvious reasons):

    Sooo…Alexandra wants to poison me (which FFF doesn’t seem to object to). FFF calls me a “terrorist”, refers to my “ugliness”, says I’m a “tyrannical, immature excuse for a human being”, repeatedly states that I’m a menacing “threat” (implying a threat of violence, which is patently absurd), makes the Orwellian doublespeak claim that I’m the one who “endanger(s) free speech in this country” because I’m trying to “muffle” those I “don’t agree with” (?!?). She also insinuates that I lack the “inherent goodness” most human beings share, and compares me to a neo-Nazi or anti-gay group that “hurls insults”. But Janet says I’m the one with “anger issues”! Oh, that’s rich. I’d be highly offended if this weren’t so absurdly over the top as to be comedic.

    I’m satisfied with this post though, FFF, in spite of the hyperbolic insults (maybe even in part because of them as they make you look ridiculous). Even if you don’t approve this comment (you never made it clear whether you had already decided to bring the censor hammer down or were on the precipice of doing so–so I need to at least give you a chance in all fairness), you did post the full email exchange as I requested, and you linked to the comment thread that allegedly justifies your screed against me. I’ve got to believe that any reasonable person not already heavily predisposed to your side would read all this and think I come out looking better than you do; so I thank you for putting it all together in one convenient spot. If you ban me, and then I find you posting critical remarks on lactivist blogs, I’ll just link them to this thread and then, as you said, let them decide for themselves whether you’re a hypocrite.

    Oh, and one more thing. You disingenuously claimed you weren’t planning on censoring me until I emailed you. A little “Tweety” bird told me (and a lot of other people) something different–so why the pretense?

    After refusing to let others read this post for themselves, FFF nevertheless commented about it:

    Alan did attempt to respond, but as his response included more threats, I chose not to publish it.[…]I dislike abusers, and I think that is what Alan is. [I]f I didn’t ban him, THAT would be out of fear[…]fear of what provoking an unstable individual could do to my reputation – and as some of you have warned me, my personal safety.

    Now, I plead guilty to being argumentative, but as my lovely wife noted in a comment on that same thread (which I invite everyone to read–I was particularly heartened that she vouched for my gentle, nonviolent nature), it is a “lawyerly” kind of argumentativeness, wouldn’t we have to agree? Now, sure, people tend not to like lawyers; but it’s hard to deny that the lawyerly style of discourse is, almost by definition, civil. But what about the things FFF said to me and about me? Were they civil? Or might “scurrilous” be a better adjective? And what about FFF’s level of honesty here? Was it a fair characterision of the censored post to say it “included more threats”? Or was that calculated to inspire people to imagine me, sputtering with impotent fury as I finally lose all cool, unleashing god-knows-what kind of vile threats of revenge upon her?
    I firmly believe, as I already said in the comment, that while I might rub a not-insignificant proportion of the population the wrong way, a reasonable and impartial observer would have to agree that in these exchanges FFF comes across much, much worse than I do. And it’s not just a case of her losing her temper (though she clearly did); there is, as I say, a fair amount of cool, hard-edged calculation involved here to try to smear me as much as possible on my way out the door. I think I deserve some credit for not losing my cool to anywhere near the same degree she did, and in fact for lowering the temperature after my initial email.

  2. Ruth

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/aug/16/homebirths-midwives-hospital-baby
    Why don’t you write about this subject (above.) what (if anything) is wrong with the original study?

  3. Granny C

    IMHO your policy, as slightly revised, and your blog post setting out the background and reasons is admirably clear and practical. Preserving an arena for discussion of issues of interest to women which are pressure free and tolerant to different views is an important goal. My regret is that so much time has been spent on this rather issue than the content of the many interesting topics on which you put fingers to keyboard. Your blog is much appreciated by many! Granny C

  4. Ruth

    i like the new picture!
    Love Ruth x

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