Only gaze below if you really want to . . .


Drew Newman and I have (cordially and together) decided to advance our dispute about the quality and appropriateness of my contributions to EphBlog beyond the mere facts of what life is like at Williams now and on to the “persecutions” that I have engaged in. Drew suggests that, of the three he mentions (Foster, Morty/Marsh, Nigaleian), the last is the most “egregious.” So, let us start with that one.

Drew objects to:

Public Persecution of Innocents in the Laelian Situation

Recklessly and wantonly accusing others in Laelian situation, causing harm to their good names without any basis — other than mere speculation — for making your accusations is completely irresponsible.

A handy summary of my writings on the topic is here. My response to Drew:

1) “Persecution”? Surely, you must be kidding.

2) For my attorney on this matter, I would like to enlist the help of Kevin Koernig ’05. See his comments. If it is alright for Schapiro to impugn the entire community, why is it not alright for me to *guess* as to the identity of the specific party? (I suppose that a consistent position would be that neither Schapiro nor I should have written what we did, but I do not think that this is Drew’s position.)

3) The key issue, I think, is the appropriate analogy. Should we consider postings/comments in EphBlog to be similar to articles in the Record? Should we consider them to be similar to articles in magazines like The Nation or The Weekly Standard? I think that the answer is Yes in both cases. Although little of my writing is a good as that found in these three fine periodicals, my status as a writer is completely analogous.

In other words, which specific passages does Drew think either do not belong in something like an op-ed in the Record and/or would not be allowed in by an editor like, say, Bart Clareman or Mike Needham? I *think* that everything that I have written would be allowed in (although it would, of course, be much more snappy if it were done by, say, Oren Cass), although I am ready to be convinced otherwise.

Here is the analogy I would like to propose. What if we had the same set of facts about, say, the cabinet of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. That is, the Governor announced that a member of his cabinent had acted the way that Laleian did but refused to announce who the guilty party was. Would it be OK for a writer/reporter for, say, the Nation to try to get to the bottom of it, to write a series of articles in which he:

a) Noted the names of all the cabinet members.
b) Cleared specific people as innocent becuase they, for example, were out of town when the meeting occured.
c) Reports that a certain member of the cabinet has a history of outrageous statements.
d) Revises the list of possible suspects to make use of new information as it comes in.
e) Writes an article saying, “I don’t know who the guilty party is, but, according to the facts that I have gathered, it must be one of Jones, Smith or Wilson.”
f) Writes an article saying that it is, in fact, Jones, even though neither the governor nor anyone in authority will confirm that. Apologizes to Smith and Wilson.

Again, there is both reporting and opinion-writing going on in this analogy. Like many bloggers, my writing tends to do a little of both. In any event, I have gone on long enough. Let me turn the field over to Drew (and others). Although I am stubborn, I have been convinced in the past to change my own posting habits on the basis of reasoned criticism. I am ready to believe that the next time something like this happens, I should act differently. But, I have yet to see a compelling, or even particularly persuasive, case for doing so. My only request is that critics cite specific passages that they find offensive. (Feel free to replace actual names with X, Y, Z or whatever in any quotations. I realize that some critics believe that repeating the names of innocent parties in this rehashing compounds the injury.)

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