|Time for me to make some amends, folks. On July 7, I wrote:|
"That's not at all how I interpret the "Hellen" episode, nor NB's purpose behind it. I don't think it's obvious, or even true, that the only plausible alternatives are that NB was mentally ill or engaging in a "malevolent practical joke." It was not that long ago that both Diana Hsieh and her one-time colleague Carolyn Ray each (at different times) were moderators of NB's discussion lists, as well as guests in his home (on more than one occasion). Things seemed quite cordial (but who knows, right?) for at least several years. Then, within the past two years, Diana did an abrupt 180 and began to scourge both the Brandens -- coincidentally (or not) during the same period that she divorced herself from The Objectivist Center and began drawing much closer to the Ayn Rand Institute. (And we all know how ARI feels about the Brandens!) Whether this was an "admission requirement" for entering the inner world of ARI scholarship and assistance, or instead merely Diana's own coincidental timing for arriving at a firm judgment about the Branden's -- well, I leave that to the reader. I really don't know, though I have my suspicions."
I appreciate the reader who brought to my attention that my suspicion of an "admission requirement" by ARI (of condemning the Brandens) would best have been handled by asking Diana directly, rather than speculating or insinuating, as I did in the above paragraph. My apologies to Diana and to everyone else who understandably found my comments inappropriate.
I also wrote:
"All of that is background, as I understand it. And my understanding of what then occurred on Diana's blog was that NB wanted a chance to confront Diana about her
harsh break from him and Barbara. After she told him that he was not welcome on her blog, NB apparently re-entered the blog under the guise of (or with the help of someone named) "Hellen" and tried to re-open the issue. To me, this is neither a sign of "mental illness" nor a "practical joke" (malevolent, or otherwise). Using a pseudonym (if that is really what NB did) is really pretty tame stuff. (It's not all that different from Devers finagling her way into Rand's apartment in the late 1980s in order to try to get her to reconcile with NB). It appears to have been motivated in this case by the desire to clear the air, to get Diana to re-engage with the issue, and to try to reach an understanding about what went so wrong that Diana had to do such a precipitous, harsh U-turn in regard to the Brandens. Diana has a habit/policy of very abruptly cutting off discussion of issues she doesn't want to continue, even if there is no element of rancor involved, and freezing out the Brandens is only one of the more frustrating examples of this. (Another is her intolerance over any discussion of the free will/determinism issue.) In any case, I think that Adam is indulging himself in a false alternative that fits his biases and is thus not remaining open to a more plausible explanation for the "Hellen" episode."
I want to make it clear that I am not saying that Diana (or any blog-manager) is under an obligation to allow any and all discussion. Some discussions are flawed by bad arguments, insults, and outright errors. Some discussions are just umpteenth, high-volume, low-insight rehashings of polarized issues. Certainly, it is reasonable to cut these short. However, I would think that a non-rancorous discussion of a topic of considerable interest to the most active participants on a blog-list would be one of the last things that a blog-manager would want to curtail -- and that was my impression of the free will/determinism discussion and its fate on Diana's blog-list. Still, I realize that Diana and others simply have no patience for this "perennial favorite," and they are completely within their rights to pull the plug on it, when it pops up on their blog-list.
I also want to make it clear that there is a sharp distinction to be made between terminating the above kinds of discussions and banning posts by people like the Brandens, whom Diana considers to be seriously immoral. There is irritation, and then there is moral outrage, true enough. Further, while I do not share her evaluation of them (to put it mildly), and while I think there would be considerable value to be gained by a two-way discussion of the facts and principles involved in their past behavior and her condemnation of it, again, Diana is certainly under no obligation to provide a forum for the Brandens.
So, I apologize for the indirectness in dealing with my suspicions about ARI, and I apologize for any suggestion that Diana is defaulting on some kind of obligation regarding her blog-list, whether in regard to serious moral issues or relatively tame topics.
Best to all,