At long last, we reach the effective end of Matthew Johnson’s epic saga of exaggerations, false interpretations, inept logic, and outright lies, with an appendix in which he attempts to justify using the comments on this blog as evidence of my horrific thoughtcrimes:
Appendix I. Inclusion of blog comments
This Appendix examines the question of whether to give weight to comments made on Beale’s blog by people other than himself. A key question is whether or not Beale actively manages the content of the comment threads on his blog by removing comments: if he does so, it follows that he has permitted all other comments to remain.
In considering the question, it’s worth looking at the precise meaning of the term “moderate” in the context of Blogger, the blogging platform used by Beale. As this article by Blogger explains (https://support.google.com/blogger/answer/42537?hl=en), turning on Comment Moderation in that platform means that all comments have to be actively approved by the operator of the blog before they are published. Beale’s blog is not moderated in this sense, possibly because the large volume of comments on his posts would make it impractical.
However, there is evidence to suggest that Beale actively manages the comments on his blog. To begin with, his post “Rules of the blog” lays out conditions under which he will delete comments: If you refuse to either answer a question or admit that you cannot answer it, then you will not be permitted to comment here and all of your subsequent comments will be deleted. (See Fig X.1)
Cross-comments and off-topic comments will usually be deleted. If your comment gets deleted, deal with it. (Ibid.)
There are at least five people who have been banned that insist on trying to comment here from time to time under different names; just ignore them as someone will get around to deleting their comments as well as the comments of those who respond to them soon enough. (See Fig X.2)
You will not call me a liar without providing any evidence of my lying, nor will you attempt to attribute to me words I have not written or actions I have not performed. If you do, your comments will be deleted and you will probably be banned. (Ibid.)
Any insertion of evolution or Creationism into a post that is not directly and specifically related to either subject will be deleted. (See Fig X.3)
If you are one of the small group of persistent anklebiters who insist on making the same tedious and incompetent attacks over and over again, I will simply delete your comments. This group includes, but is not necessarily limited to Beezle, Cabal, Cisbio, Dan Picaro, and the weirdo who keeps posting about his ancestors being fish. (See Fig X.4)
Attempts to claim that my refusal to further engage with a commenter whose arguments have repeatedly been demonstrated to be flawed are the result of cowardice or an inability to respond are false and will be deleted. (Ibid.)
There are, therefore, clearly stated rules on what is not permissible content on Beale’s blog. Since Beale does not forbid threats or defamatory comments, it would seem that they are allowed under his rules. He restates his willingness to delete comments in a later blog, “In which we are amused,” in which he explains how comments work on the site: It’s even easier to Remove Content using Blogger’s comment template than it was with CoComment… so don’t operate under the mistaken impression that it’s going to be any harder for me to keep the usual suspects from getting out of hand than it was before. (See Fig X.5)
Along with his stated intention to manage comment content on his blog, there is evidence that Beale actively does so. He threatens commenters with deletion:
Obvious, you will address me here as Vox if you wish your comments to remain. (See Fig X.6)
and blocks commenters when he disapproves of their content:
Beale: You can start commenting again as soon as you demonstrate that you can produce something besides ignorant and reflexive anklebiting, Obvious. It didn’t escape anyone’s attention how you fell silent and didn’t admit that you were wrong when I referenced the information about the introduction of 16-bit color and dynamic lighting models. If you can’t bring anything original to the table, no one is interested in what you have to say.
Commenter: Really? (See Fig X.7)
Beale: Yes, really. If you’re just going to ignorantly snap at ankles, you’re not going to be allowed to participate. Take a position, for crying out loud. Stand up for what you believe, don’t just yap in reflexive response to things about which you know nothing. Look at DH. He probably agrees with me about as much as you do. But he has a lot more to say than simply offering snarky negativity. There is nothing wrong with disagreeing. Or being wrong. But for the love of all that is left and right, don’t be so bloody tedious. And it wouldn’t hurt if you’d drop the passive-aggressiveness either. It doesn’t make your arguments convincing, it makes them sound like they’re coming from a petulant teenage girl. (See Fig X.8)
Deletion due to content seems to be common enough on the blog that commenters expect it: Vox is certainly ging [sic] to delete this but your comment is too amusing… (See Fig X.9)
The above comment was, in fact, deleted: it survives in the comment thread because another commenter quoted it. (We can be certain that it was deleted by Beale and not the commenter because when a commenter deletes his or her own comment it looks like Fig X.10. The commenter whose comment was deleted participates further in the thread and does not dispute the attribution of the quote, so we can assume that it is genuine.)
Therefore it would seem that Beale actively manages the content in the comment threads on his blogs, meaning that while he may not necessarily agree with the content of those comments that are not deleted, he does consider them to be appropriate for publication. In addition to the above, there are two comments that should be given particular weight: the rape threat against NK Jemisin (which was published through the SFWAAuthors feed; see Section A.3.3, Rape threat against SFWA member by blog commenter) and the allegation that Teresa Nielsen Hayden has herpes (which he reproduced in one of his own posts; see Section B.1.1, Personal attacks).
Here Matthew Johnson is clearly attempting to use my very light comment moderation, (which is entirely focused on allowing for a very broad range of discourse), and portray it as my only allowing content of which I approve. He is doing so because he is attempting to manufacture a way to make me responsible for the two comments by blog commenters that he claims “should be given particular weight”.
Never mind that the one comment is not, as he falsely asserts it to be, a rape threat at all, while the second comment is clearly satirical given that it purports to be written by a Sonoran Desert Toad. Given Mr. Johnson’s evident inability to detect satire, one can only wonder why he has not yet published a lengthy investigative report concerning former SFWA president John Scalzi’s self-described predilection “to force myself on women
without their consent or desire and then batter them sexually.”
Phoenician February 04, 2013 6:54 PM“Odd, isn’t it? Scalzi
would tuck his little manhood away and put on some fishnets for a
little publicity yet he most likely won’t take on Vox for what
would amount to a lot more publicity if crushes his biggest foe.”“Biggest foe”? Bwahahahahahahahahhahhah!! Do you
people have no sense of your own *ridiculousness*?“Some sad wanker who has achieved
fuck all in life except helping his father evade taxes starts
preening about “Alphas” and “rabbits”, a bunch of
sycophantic losers slime up to him because his posturing feeds their
neuroses and insecurities, and now you’re claiming that he’s the
“biggest foe” of someone who actually has a life?“Dude, VP isn’t the “biggest
foe” of anyone or anything except his own grasp on reality. He’s
a sad loser, fawned on by other sad losers.”
As it happens, I neither agree with that comment nor consider it to be appropriate for publication. It is vulgar, factually incorrect, and illogical, but as it was on topic and clearly expresses Phoenician’s genuine opinion, I saw no justification for eliminating it. The same is true of the two comments about which Matthew Johnson is complaining, although the one written by the Toad also happened to be more than a little funny as well.
My primary concern in moderating the discussions here is to foster genuine intellectual discourse. That means ensuring that the commenters keep their attacks on each other within reasonable bounds, answer questions that are addressed to them, not repeat the same statements over and over again, and refrain from going too far off-topic. While I feel an amount of responsibility for defending those who come and participate in the discussion here, I have no concern at all for those who are not participating in the discourse. I feel no more responsibility to intervene when one commenter expresses a negative opinion about an SFWA member than when another commenter expresses one about a German politician or a Japanese game developer.
According to this report, the SFWA Board is not only asserting the right to supervise my speech, they are asserting the right to supervise the speech of every single individual who comments on my site or the site of any other SFWA member.
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