A mistake at VFR

An entry in early September began with a comment by a reader about the blogger Steve Burton at What’s Wrong with the World. The comment consisted of two points: that Burton had recently written, “I’m still gay, and I’m still agnostic—and I’m still way into ‘human bio-diversity’”—information that was new to us; and the question why 4W’s editor Paul Cella had given Burton blogging privileges at that conservative Christian website, from which platform he has repeatedly attacked not just my ideas but my motives and my honesty. The comment included this sentence: “The standard joke is that [Burton] must have incriminating pictures of Cella.”

When I posted that entry, the significance of that sentence completely passed me by. I simply didn’t notice it. If I had noticed the sentence and taken it its offensive nature, I of course would have removed it from the entry.

Also, unfortunately, no one at the time pointed out the offensive sentence.

A correspondent has just pointed it out to me, and I have removed it. It should not have been posted, and I apologize to Paul Cella for having posted it.

A couple of things need to be explained. People don’t understand what’s involved in creating VFR every day. Because I edit and post readers’ comments myself, and because I’m generally a careful editor, people assume that I go over every line in every comment and submit every syllable to the most thorough scrutiny. That’s not the case. I’m human, working sometimes with great intensity and under a lot of pressure reading and editing comments and writing my replies, frequently working on two, three, or four blog entries simultaneously, with my energy and available attention stretched to the limit. Under those circumstances, it’s quite easy for my attention to slip for a moment and for something to pass me by that shouldn’t, as happened in this case.

A similar slip occurred about three years ago, when a reader said something that was or could be seen as disparaging about a certain right-wing blogger, and I posted the comment, and instead of that blogger writing to me privately to point out the offending nature of the comment and ask that it be removed, she precipitately launched a full-scale war against me which destroyed relations between us.

In this instance it’s particularly puzzling why no concerned party bothered to write to me about the offending statement privately. Are people under the impression that I am in the habit publishing such low-level personal insinuations, even if, as in this case, the commenter said he intended it as a joke?

In reality, in my normal editing of comments, I regularly soften rough statements made by commenters about other commenters, as I don’t want my commenters being nasty to each other. Given that fact (which of course readers in general cannot know, since they’re not aware of what goes into my editing of comments), it would be spectacularly out of character for me deliberately to post a trashy accusation/joke about anyone, let alone about Paul Cella, who used to be a regular commenter at this site.

Another problem is as follows. VFR comments are generated from e-mails to me. Frequent commenters at this site send me many, many e-mails. Sometimes they may assume that a certain comment of theirs is private, meant only for me, not for posting, but I might post it, while missing something that I should have caught. Thus something that is meant privately and would be offensive if published, may, without anyone’s intention, end up published, which is what happened here. It’s a mistake that can happen. If people see something of a personally offensive nature at this site, they should assume that it was not intentional and tell me about it. Which of course doesn’t mean that any particular reader’s view of what is offensive and my view of what is offensive will be the same in every case. Some people think that the entire corpus of my writings on certain subjects is offensive.

- end of initial entry -

Gintas writes:

It was a bad joke, and I hope Mr. Cella forgives me for it.

October 15

LA writes:

Since posting the above, I’ve learned that Paul Cella did not bring Steve Burton into 4W. Cella became the editor after Burton was already a part of the 4W collective of bloggers.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 14, 2010 01:59 PM | Send

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