There was (note the past tense) a post about Bristol Palin‘s recent comments regarding sex education on Skepchick this week. You’ll notice that the Skepchick link is now broken (as of me writing this – I don’t know if it will be reinstated). That is because the author, Stacey, deleted the thread. I emailed Skepchick about this and our exchange is below. First I will explain what happened on the thread to the best of my recollection. Keep in mind this is my point of view as a third party.
Stacey linked the Bristol Palin article and
posed an AI question wrote a little about it – I can’t remember the wording. A reader (something soup – cloudsoup?) took issue with the alleged “political nature” of the thread. Stacey replied mostly to the perceived tone of the person posting in language that gave the impression that she was very offended and felt personally attacked.
Although I did get a sense of bluntness and disrespect for the ideas Stacey had written, I didn’t get a sense of a personal attack or disrespect of Stacey herself from cloudsoup’s comments. Also, I felt that commenting on the “disrespectful nature” of the comments rather than correcting the errors and getting the thread back on track served only to further distract from the topic. But that’s just my opinion – although I did comment as such at the time.
I checked on the thread today to see if it had progressed and saw that it was missing. I promptly emailed Skepchick via the website form at around 4:30 pm today:
Name: Kimbo Jones
Message: What happened to the Bristol Palin post from yesterday (or
maybe it was the day before) that Stacey posted? It seems to have
This is a good question. Anyone know what happened, or was there a blog bug?
and Stacey responded:
Sent: February 19, 2009 4:45:41 PM
I deleted it because at least one of the readers perceived it as having a political bias and was offended. Also, there was little to no discussion about the topic, so in addition to being offensive, it appeared to be uninteresting to the readers.
I thought it made a good story that Bristol Palin took a different position than her mom on abstinence and sex education, but I was mistaken.
I replied with a little more acid in my tongue:
I am disappointed to hear this. Many people contributed to that thread and because it was in a way you didn’t like you just deleted it. I do not believe that self-censorship is an appropriate response to readers getting huffy toward you or a topic getting derailed. I sincerely hope this never happens again on the website. My trust in the Skepchcks [sic] has been severely compromised by this act. It shows a lack of maturity on your part and a lack of respect for your readers.
To which Rebecca has responded:
All the Skepchicks have been having a behind-the-scenes conversation about this, and we’ve agreed that something like this won’t happen again. I’m sorry for this causing you distress, and I hope that you continue to contribute to the blog. We all appreciate your comments and would hate to see you even cut back on your participation.
On a side note, having known Stacey for some time I can say that she is a wonderful person who has the utmost respect for the readers, and I think this was just a momentary lapse.
Thanks so much for writing, and for your support of Skepchick.
All the best,
I hope you don’t mind, but I will be blogging about this from my point of view as a reader. Thank you for your response.
I am absolutely appalled that an author on Skepchick would delete an entire thread simply because she felt offended. That completely erased all contributions to the thread due to the actions of one person, as if the other people’s comments meant nothing. Not only is that deeply immature (“I’m taking my marbles and I’m going home”), but it prevents anyone from learning anything from the situation.
The main reason I wanted to post about this was not to insult Stacey, but to point out that this happened. I have this urge that people need to know that something existed and now it doesn’t – because of a chilling Orwellian deletion resulting from offense.
I have strong opinions about being “offended” – the responsibility is entirely on the offendee (not the offender). Anything could offend anyone at any time. Does that mean we should all walk on eggshells? No, it means we should all lighten up. I get offended, everyone does. The difference is I try to make that my own responsibility. I’m not saying I’m better than other people, at all. I just feel people should pick their battles and get upset over what’s really important. For example, something that stifles freedom or human dignity (like deleting free speech), as opposed to say the “tone” with which someone commented on a blog thread and disagreed with something.
Like this post. Clearly I am “offended” that Stacey deleted the thread. But I’m hopefully expressing that offense in a constructive, rather than destructive, way that is entirely my own responsibility. I hope I am getting my point across.
I’m not always 100% successful in this endeavor, so other people may not be either. I get it. But to delete the entire experience is, in my opinion, way over the line and I never expected to see it happen on Skepchick.