Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Whatever happened to careful reading?
The amusing little fracas generated by my little essay that raised the question of censorship, or self-censorship, in Jihad Watch comments demonstrated, unsurprisingly, the difficulty some people have with reading carefully.
One can see the difficulty in the long-time reader and commenter at Jihad Watch, "Cornelius", in his hyperventilating alerts to fellow Jihad Watch readers, in his subsequent comments there (particularly this one), and through my detailed refutation in two parts of his flimsy and agitated mush of claims in the comments section of my little essay in question.
This difficulty in elementary reading comprehension is not limited to "Cornelius": Robert Spencer himself, in weighing in to the little fracas, demonstrated at least one fundamental misapprehension. After describing at length how the falling out between himself and Andrew Bostom was all completely Bostom's fault (other than Jimmy Buffet in Margaritaville, has anyone ever known anyone who admits that a falling out could have been their own fault, or at least partly their own fault?), Spencer then writes of the omission of Bostom's name from a Jihad Watch comment:
Hesperado, who knows none of this, just assumes that it must be some sinister action on my part. Again: the guy is nuts.
And later mentioning me again:
Assuming sinister or self-serving motives on my part...
The tangential misapprehension on Spencer's part aside (that I ever claimed his fallings out with colleagues over the years were completely his fault), had Spencer read my essay carefully, he would have noted
a) that I only raise the question of official tampering with reader comments; I did not "assume" anything "must be" the case
b) that I also raise the possibility of self-censorship -- that, in other words, the Jihad Watch commenter in question, "dumbledoresarmy", censored herself because she had "gotten the memo". Indeed, that was emblazoned in my essay's title itself; hard to overlook. And the essay in turn noted a recent article on Jihad Watch by the new kid on the block, "Roland Shirk", where Bostom's name was again conspicuously absent; as well as a notice on Jihad Watch by Spencer himself in which, again, the absence of Bostom was conspicuously absent. In this kind of a climate where Bostom seems to have become persona non grata to the extent that his name is left umentioned even in contexts where at the very least a hat tip would be de rigueur, it then becomes questionable -- for the reasons I argued both in my essay and in detail in my two comments (linked above) to "Cornelius" -- why Bostom's name was strangely missing from the comment of the normally scrupulous and meticulous Jihad Watch commenter "dumbledoresarmy".
And lo and behold. Scrolling along down that thread, what did I come upon, but "dumbledoresarmy" all but admitting that in fact she had, in so many words, censored herself, just as my essay had conjectured as one possibility:
In the particular posting that Hesperado cited I must confess I did hesitate to name Bostom, being aware of the falling-out.
In the later posting where I did name him, it was because I had thought some more about the matter and decided that, well, free speech is free speech...
P.S.: There is also the matter, as I noted in the second part of my comment to "Cornelius" linked above, of a trustworthy source (a long-time reader, commenter and supporter of Jihad Watch) telling me in an email of having seen a comment by another Jihad Watch supporter (a particularly avid if not rabid one) altered in order to clean up both its foul invectives and its hostile language apparently almost tantamount to threats against me. If this is true (and I have no reason to disbelieve in my source), then Spencer's claim that "I don't edit comments that are posted here" is either a lie, or a cleverly worded way of skirting around the question of whether not he, but Marisol, sometimes edits comments at Jihad Watch.