Thursday, November 29, 2007

Through the Looking Glass (And Back Again)

In the spirit of a request made by Cliopatra's Ralph Luker, I have removed an evening post that was in this space about my relations with a certain academic blogger and his followers, one that I wrote after deleting several days worth of ugly, pointless comments from the followers (who may be real people or not; it's hard to tell.) Ralph also wrote to said blogger about his behavior and asked him to desist: thank you, Ralph. In my reply to both of them, I noted that I expected this blogger to do be a gentleman and do the right thing on his side as well, removing three recent posts that have sparked a particularly nasty and violent set of remarks about me on his blog (including two posts that feature a puppet show where a Harry "Potter" puppet is blown up by a ticking time bomb), on my blog, and in two of my email accounts. Since we now know that this history colleague of mine has turned on Blogger's comment moderation function, we also know that he has actively approved these comments. My guess is that if past practice holds, the "ticking time bomb" posts will disappear, he will claim they were never there to begin with, and he will demand that I give him "evidence" that they ever were. For other critical opinions of what KC incites and tolerates among his resentful fans, see this post at Acephelous and this one, part of a series, at Re:harmonized.

My regular readers should know that comment moderation has also been turned on here. All comments that are decent will be activated; spiteful ones will be trashed. And yes, to anticipate the next group of nasty emails, it is my right and responsibility to do that: no editor of a print or electronic publication publishes everything that comes over the transom. Just because wild populism can exist in the blogosphere doesn't mean it should.


Morning update: In response, Ralph and I received the following message from the blogger - "It is not my custom to 'take down posts,' and I will not do so in this instance.

"It is, as I have said both publicly and in an e-mail to Prof. Potter, unfortunate that Prof. Potter elected to publish statements about the lacrosse players (and, of less relevance, then about me) that were demonstably untrue; and it is even more unfortunate that--when asked to produce evidence for those statements--Prof. Potter declined to provide any such evidence.

"That said, DIW is a blog about the lacrosse case, not about Claire Potter. If Prof. Potter no longer publishes false statements about the case, I can't imagine why I would ever have a reason to write about her, nor can I imagine that our paths would again cross--


So the answer to the question is: no. A person who is constantly insisting that other people apologize and retract things (that may have been implied, but not presented as fact, by things they wrote as a critical comment on a current event) does not apologize or retract things because he never does anything wrong. Other people do things that are wrong. And who decides what is right and wrong? He does, of course. And he never writes or tolerates comments that imply anything reprehensible, like that I might be blown up, for example, because months ago I made a passing reference, in a post about media representation and race, to a criminal case that he was writing a book about. And let me say, I think it is particularly chilling that he left these comments up, since he is currently living in Israel on a Fulbright, a place where people really do get blown up all the time, and it is one of the great tragedies of the time we are living in that all the people of the Middle East are not free from terrible, random violence, and that even people who survive these bombings will be damaged by them forever.

But although I have re-edited last night's post to reflect this blogger's refusal to compromise with anyone, I think Ralph's original point stands and I would like him to know that I, at least, am paying attention: this blog, and my public image, does not have to be soiled by pointless quarrels with people who do not know me nor I them. So after a few days of comment moderation, life will resume as normal on Tenured Radical.


Sisyphus said...

Hmm, good luck with that and wishing you all the best!

Tim Lacy said...


What a mess! ... I like you being you, so keep up the good work here.

- TL

DCJ said...

The blogosphere does seem to be a fruitful space for discursive violence, which I suppose makes sense given the medium's distancing effect and its ability to separate and dehumanize the Other.

Oso Raro said...

Damn, missed all the drama cuz I was wrapped up in my own. Hrm. : /

Your response, as posted here, is nicely collegial tho. Too bad collegiality is a mannerism out of the 19th century, seemingly.

Jennifer said...

As someone who has had a blog run-in with the DIW guy, I offer my deepest commiserations. It's so frustrating dealing with him and his followers--and it feels so discouraging (at least I felt discouraged) -- the level of anger and the amount of discourtesy (which is a polite way of putting it to say the least but I don't want to swear on your blog). Keep up the good fight TR!

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, speaking as a DIW reader, I am again quite sorry for the distress you encountered. I don't think one can tell the whole story of why you were distressed, however, without noting that KC Johnson was at that time himself being victimized by a long-term troll named "Polanski", who was sending Johnson forged messages purporting to come from you. I think it is to Johnson's credit that when he discovered he had been acting on false information he immediately announced the fact.

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