|It's with sadness that I report that the talks between me & Jennifer failed. Or rather, they succeeded, then failed. We reached an agreement, I was set to make the announcement ... & Jennifer pulled out. Now, Joe is so peeved with her that even if I still wanted her back & she wanted to come back, I'd have to fight him over it. Only very rarely do I interfere with his running of SOLOHQ & pull rank, & I wouldn't do it over this.|
A matter that should have been of no consequence—moderating someone pending an apology that nigh everyone here acknowledges was owed—turned into World War Three after the apology was refused. Blame is directed at me for my angry response to Jennifer after David Elmore was placed under moderation. That response provoked Jennifer into leaving, for which ceremony we continued to provide an operatic stage (& still do, in a sense). An outpouring of applause & sympathy occurred for Jennifer, along with loud booing of me, some open, some behind my back. What should have been a storm in a teacup became the nuking of Hiroshima, with fallout still being assessed.
Tonight I want to back up & say a few stock-taking things, not in anger but in sorrow.
First, I want to provide an extra piece of context that I should have supplied in the response to Jennifer that set off such a maelstrom. Just two days prior, I had received a mirror image of the question Jennifer posted, only in much less polite form, from David Elmore via SOLO Mail. Here's part of it verbatim:
Are the cherished kings and queens of SOLO beyond the pale? Is the soporific and facile (I am being too kind) Rowlands not proper game for ridicule when he repeats himself, and then repeats himself, and then states the most obvious of points in a preachy fashion? I had planned to make another post on that thread pointing out how all the pejorative adjectives I used on his simplistic ass were founded, but I thought that would be too much for him to handle. Instead, I made a thoughtful post (with some ribbing) showing how he confounds virtues -- to the detrimate of himself and others. I proved my case and was sanctioned heavily for it. Rowlands got broadsided by me. So what? The panty-waste is used to getting high-fived and and slapped on the ass. He's pissed. Let the silly fucker be pissed. That's what SOLO is about, isn't it? ... If you've read my posts, they are rational and largely nice -- because most people are not Rowlands or Phil Coates. You must know that. I will not apologize, as I'm sure you've surmised. I wish very strongly to stay on SOLO, to be your friend and many others', so I hope you will change your mind.
How a forum handles criticism of its leaders is a true measure of its allowance of free discussion. I'll patiently wait and see how you handle this, and I'll put on hold a half-dozen articles I'm working on.
Thus, when Jennifer, Mr Elmore's close friend, posted her query, two nights later, about insults directed at SOLO's leaders, with the same sting in the tail—that her opinion of SOLO rested on the answer—it smelled very strongly to me of a continuation of his agenda. (In fairness to Jennifer, she insists that it wasn't.)
I quote now what I said to Jennifer during our negotiations:
So that’s two threats within two days from two people pushing the same line on the same issue.
So I got mad. I don’t take kindly to threats & ultimatums. I got mad. I said, among other things:
"Now let's cut to the chase here. In the preceding remarks, I have rubbed the noses of the infantile prats who clearly need educating about the rudiments of the free market in a principle that is clearly foreign to them: if the owners of this site choose to be utterly arbitrary, capricious, cruel and 'unfair' in the rules they impose and the way they impose them, that is entirely their prerogative. Anyone who doesn't like it is free to fuck off. No one is here under duress. But in actual fact, of course, the owners of this site don't make that choice, notwithstanding the idiotic charges levelled at them by some on this thread. All that has happened is that one of the owners, the one shelling out the dosh, has taken justifiable exception to being insulted, and has demanded an apology. I'm still assuming and hoping the insulter will have the decency and sense of perspective to proffer it and we can all get on with more important matters.
I noted to Jennifer that she had responded by quoting the above up to the words "is free to fuck off," deliberately ignored the crucial words that followed, & said, "Well, I'm glad that's been cleared up. It's been fun folks." I noted that this looked awfully like an outcome looking for an excuse.
See, there never was a reason for Jennifer to take my post so personally, as I hope is more clear to you since I've shown you the Elmore mail. I never mentioned her. All my remarks were directed at her, Elmore ... and absolutely anyone else in the whole wide world whom the shoe might fit! If it didn't fit, didn't apply.
Please re-read what I said in that post on the matter of perspective:
I raise "perspective" here intentionally. One thing on this thread that has left me boggle-eyed with incredulity is that some posters are saying their whole opinion of SOLO, and their decision whether to stick around, hinges on the outcome of this dispute. Seriously! An owner exercises his prerogative ... and this is suddenly something akin to Rand/Branden or Kelley/Peikoff. SOLO is suddenly guilty of the worst excesses of the ARI. For fuck's sake you guys!! We have sweated blood to bring you an Objectivist culture that is the sunlit, open field that it should always have been. And you know bloody well we have succeeded! For the first time, apart from the deliciously heady early days of NBI, it has actually happened! "It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours." And, if the truth be known, the freedom to dissent and question is much greater here than there. This, without falling into the feeble-minded, limp-wristed, mealy-mouthed ecumenical nothingness that became TOC (hopefully about to be corrected). Yet you're prepared to walk off this field just because one of its owners demands an apology of someone who wronged him? If you are really so lacking in perspective then you clearly never belonged here and you should walk off. Preferably, run, in order that my vomit doesn't reach you. But is this really you? Have I been so wrong about some of you?!
The answer to both these questions is clearly, in my mind, "No! This isn'treally you, & I haven'tbeen wrong about you." My post was a generic kick-ass where I deliberately avoided mentioning names because it wasn't about particular personalities but particular fallacies– very silly fallacies which particular folk seemed to be in danger of succumbing to. I didn't think for a second that Jennifer would step up & say, in effect, "This is aimed at me & only me, so I am fucking off" (& this is leaving aside the shoe-donning implication of this). I didn't imagine for a second that our site would morph from our "open, sunlit field" into a bloody battleground that would make a Mel Gibson movie look like scenes from a Pilgrims' picnic. But I hadn't counted on Jennifer's apparent desire to leave & find an excuse. She was off like a whore's drawers, not even taking time to tell me privately before announcing her departure publicly. If leaving SOLO were a painful thing for her, done reluctantly, surely she would have stuck around for long enough to see if her grievances could be resolved?
I didn't want her to go. She was right up there among SOLO's brightest & best. Her playfulness & positivity, her sassiness & sauciness, will be missed by me as much as by any of you. She was quintessentially SOLO. I tried to bring her back. She agreed to come back. We agreed on terms. Then she changed her mind. If you want to know why, you'll have to ask her. No explanation she's given me makes any sense. But, whatever the explanation, a deal's a deal. Isn't it?
I can't pretend this isn't easily the worst thing that's happened to SOLO in its short life. It is. SOLO is badly wounded, & there'll be no shortage of ill-wishers snickering with glee as they hover to drive some more stakes into the wound. In a sense, it's precisely one of SOLO's great strengths—its openness—that has enabled this episode to be so destructive. The ill-wishers have had a field day, & no attempt has been made to censor or restrict them.
We'll survive. The smoke will clear & we'll find ourselves on the sunlit field still. We'll clear the rubble & regroup. We'll flourish.