This comment was recently obliterated from a writeoutloud.net discussion board by the moderator Graham Sherwood. It had been posted by Martin Brenchley on behalf of David Moore, not infringing any site rules current at that time. It was taken down as it asked several questions writeoutloud.net repeatedly failed to address. The root of this discussion was the obliterating of David Moores account due to the alleged offensive nature of his poem “War criminal” that decision although final In writeoutloud.net opinion is still contested, and not forgotten.
A few days have passed since the previous comments on this thread allowing time for reflection and a welcome break.
I was going to walk away, but instead simply took some breathing space to contemplate the statements made by Greg Freeman, Graham Sherwood and others, none of which to my mind made anything any clearer. I’m going to try and work through some of the things that have been said and offer something in response, I’ll try not to miss anything.
Greg Freeman states that he felt compelled to join the discussion only after a former WoLer came back to have “one more go” regarding Graham’s administrative WoL colleagues hanging him “out to dry” it seems to me that admission in itself highlight the WoLers initial suspicion, as Greg only bothered to step in when his position of silence had light shed upon on it. Greg, are you supporting Graham or taking umbrage at your own readiness to show support being questioned? Possibly both, even so a little late to the debate… but better late than never I guess.
One principle seems to have been missed entirely, Greg Freeman states that the moderators decision is final. I was amazed when I saw that, yes it is written in the guidelines for all to see, however I would challenge Greg, most of those commenting here are fully aware of the decree, some even recognise the fundamental flaw contained within it. Not only does it dismiss any right/facility to appeal the possibility of an ill considered or unjust decision, it completely ties the hands of the authority who imposed the decision to reverse it and in doing so retain any credibility. Maybe that guideline needs a little jiggle, but maybe not. It might offer too much opportunity for appeal…something the WoL management seem keen to avoid. As for the remark “If you still don’t like it, you are free to leave” well what can a person say to that? A clear indication of a lack of willingness to engage with any appeal. To utter those words in several offices of my previous employment would have seen me removed from my position. We must not expect too much though, all the administrators are volunteers as we are frequently reminded in times of WoL crisis. Greg later goes on to quote the dangers of populism in the rise of the far right, quotes like “If they don’t like it they can leave” go down a real treat at populist far right rallies, in fairness those of the left too. Enough of that…it’s so obviously flawed it barely warrants discussion.
Greg Freeman’s stance on the use of offensive language baffles me. He states it is now completely unacceptable whether in context or not to use any offensive word. Winding that all the way back to a ridiculous state, how then do we have a discussion about it…seriously apply your rules without any qualification…do it, see what happens? in fact read some history Greg and see what actually happened. Your theory if put in to practice would obliterate so much of what has been written and performed that it would be a crime in itself. I have an opposite view, progress is rarely made by the obliteration of things and never by silencing. I believe the human race will have truly made progress when it is able to communicate with itself without elements of it feeling the need to protect those they deem less educated or somehow less deserving from their own sensibilities. We cannot have debates on language without utilising the language we are debating. We cannot learn from history if it is no longer there to bear witness to our previous folly. Gregs idea of progress to my mind is pure denial and blind idealism, In fairness I think the idea of the human race in total harmony and open debate is also idealism, but it is one which embraces inclusivity as opposed to censorship and exclusion of rights to access.
Greg goes on to say this “but it may be rather that we have shown too much tolerance in the past” by “we” Greg is referring to WoL. So lets just think about that for a moment…if Greg is correct that in the past WoL has been too tolerant then it would have demonstrably failed to adhere to its own guidelines. So that said can I request an example be provided where WoL has been too tolerant? Surely such an act would have shown prejudice and/or favour, I can site specific instances of the censoring of some words and not others which are almost identical in thrust. I can point to instances of anti semitism I have seen on WoL that have not in any way been addressed (to my knowledge)
To take comfort from the “vast amount of WoL users who have chosen not to weigh into this discussion” well another stunning statement, can I see some figures on that assumption of choice please, I mean in reality that is a very amusing remark. I can’t imagine taking comfort from the silence of those whose voices are probably more important than any other in this discussion. Rather, I would take comfort from their joining the debate..irrespective of stance and opinion, I would have expected WoL’s desire was to engage not silence, though on form that’s probably giving it too much credit.
Finally and just for now, I can assure Greg Freeman that his assumption of forgetfulness by participants in this debate regarding it’s origins, in my case at least is wholly unfounded.
Just a quick response to John Coopey’s comment. David Moore contacted the WoL moderator on at least two occasions between his suspension and the deletion of his account. He specifically requested he be permitted to retrieve parts of his profile/conversations/writings prior to any deletion. Additionally he contacted Julian Jordan (WoL co-founder) by private email making the same request. An acknowledgement was made in respect of one email to the moderator, however the subject of retrieval was not addressed in any way. No response was received from Julian Jordan. It can only be assumed therefore that the deletion of the account in its entirety without access being granted to its author (who had requested such access at least three times) was enacted as a form of punishment in full awareness of the requests made by the author, it is difficult to conclude any other reason for such a malicious and cruel act.
I haven’t the time now to start on Graham Sherwood’s latest comments but will at some future point address them.
The account on which the above comment was posted has subsequently been obliterated. The reasons given for its deletion did not conform to WoL guidelines and were not evidenced by any technical data. The account did not contravine WoL guidleines at its time of use.