THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY is a compelling factual history of neoconservatism and its influence on US Foreign Policy in the Middle East during the first decade of the twenty-first century. Click on image above for details.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I've little doubt that the current management team of Margo Kingston's Webdiary would refuse to publish a reply by me to Fiona Reynolds comment today, so I submit it here to enable those who seek the truth to see both sides and decide for themselves what has occurred.

What you will read below is Fiona's comment, in which she takes each point of my earlier comment and provides her position on it. Between the "stars" is my response to Fiona's position on each point:

In detail, then

Submitted by Fiona Reynolds on May 29, 2008 - 10:19am.

It has taken me longer than I hoped to respond to Craig Rowley’s post, but the excuses are reasonable: travel preparation, a busy week on Webdiary, and the need to work through three months of last year’s posts to make sure that I responded accurately. Now, I get annoyed when Webdiarists reproduce the entirety of an earlier post, but I feel obliged to respond to Craig in that manner to make sure that I cover all the points that he raised.

CR: Over the past year my simple question (the second, censored one) has been met with anything but an answer, Fiona. It has never been answered. Not by Margo, nor by any other members of Webdiary management.

FR: Incorrect. (1) Margo made her position abundantly clear on several threads, in particular the Yep, says honest John and the Saudi Arabia behind Iraq terrorism threads. (2) I understand that Margo emailed you personally at least once about this matter. (3) I know that I also emailed you about it, and discussed the matter at length over lunch in August last year – or don’t I count as a member of Webdiary management?

My statement is, in fact, completely correct. Here's my email to Margo Kingston and her "answer" to that question:

Hello Margo,
Would you please just explain to me (if not all 'diarists for the sake of Transparency) why do you rule the remorseless ridicule routines of "Eliot Ramsey" as acceptable comment and rule out any questioning of your unexplained position on that?

Margo's response was:

"He's interesting, and he doesn't complain when he's DNPed I don't think he crosses the line, Craig. Simple as that. You disagree. That's fine with me. But I've ruled on Eliot several; times and I'm not going to change my mind. So you accept my view and move on at Webdiary, or go elsewhere. Simple."

In other words, Margo said as his content was interesting, therefore his "remorseless ridicule" campaign was acceptable to her; and, most importantly, she would not explain her rationale. Take it or leave.

If we're generous then there is one potential clue to her rationale in the statement she provided. It could be that where she points out that "he doesn't complain when he's DNPed" this is the core rationale. If so, then Margo's priority was no longer what was reflected in WD ethics through statements like:

"I will do my utmost to ensure that Webdiary is a space to which all readers, whatever their views or style, feel safe to contribute. If you are offended by something in Webdiary, feel free to respond. I won't publish any material which incites hatred."


"I will publish most contributions made in good faith which are critical of Webdiary's content or direction, or of me.

"Clearly the new "ethical" standard applied at WD is not to openly and transparently work through any issues raised by 'diarists.

Indeed, Margo's priority had become to devote as little, if any time as possible to the running of WD.

Take her near complete absence from the pages of WD (and even from behind the scenes) over the past year as evidence.

Fiona has been similarly motivated to not deal with essential issues, such as how WD ethics are applied, and that's due to not wanting to take the "time" necessary to deal with such issues.

Further, when Fiona and I shared lunch last year we did not discuss this matter "at length". There is, however, one item that did come up in our conversation that day and on other occasions that now need to be made clear to all interested parties and that is this: Fiona Reynolds' nickname for "Eliot Ramsey" is ERII. It signifies that "Eliot Ramsey" is the second identity used by a person whom had been previously registered with Webdiary using a different identity. That earlier identity was "C Parsons."


CR: And yes, I am a parent. I'm one who shared his real identity here; and to a degree put my family at some risk by sharing that genuine identity. You know I'd been threatened during the time I was moderating Webdiary.

FR: To the best of my knowledge and belief, (1) all people who have been moderating on Webdiary over the last two and a half years have shared our real identities here, and (2) all such moderators have received varying levels of threats during that period.


The issue I had raised was not pseudonymity amongst moderators. I've never taken issue with that aspect of WD. Indeed, for me the issue is not even pseudonymity per se. I understand that some people need to be protected behind a pseudonym. The issue I have, in fact, raised with WD management is a breach of WD's published Ethics. Specifically, the promise in those published Ethics that has been breached is:

"If you don't want to use your real name, use a nom de plume and briefly explain, for publication, why you don't want to use your real name. Please send me your real name on a confidential basis if you choose to use a nom de plume. I will not publish attacks on other contributors unless your real name is used."

If current WD management doesn't want to honour that promise any longer, then fine; but they could/should be transparent about it and simply alter the WD Ethics to say they will publish attacks by pseudonymous ‘diarists on other 'diarists.


CR: I'm also one of those whom you and the others allowed to be targeted by the ridiculer (engaging in what is a form of bullying; a most cowardly form as he sheltered behind his false identity).

FR: Incorrect. All moderators (perhaps me more than the rest) have taken considerable pains to protect Webdiarists and, indeed, you in particular, from much of what you have deemed to be “targeting” by the “ridiculer”.


No, considerable action would have been to very simply and straightforwardly tell him in editorial "bold" comment to cease targeting people. In other words, TROLLING WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.


CR: Why? Well now you reveal it was because you consider his abusive personal attacks to be "entertaining" and "piffle."

FR: Incorrect – but we need to clarify something first. So-called remorseless ridicule, if it involves personal abuse, offends Webdiary’s moderation guidelines and is not published. So-called remorseless ridicule of other people’s points of view etc. does not amount to a personal attack but to robust contesting of ideas, and as such does not breach the moderation guidelines. Secondly, I have never regarded “abusive personal attacks” as entertaining. Thirdly – and I probably didn’t make this sufficiently clear, my observations were confined to so-called remorseless ridicule of ideas and opinions, and I did not say that I found that to be entertaining piffle – all I did was suggested that others might find it so.


CR: Do I really have to remind you that those targeted don't feel that it was particularly "entertaining" to be targeted?

FR: Partly accepted. I sometimes don’t find it entertaining to have my opinions challenged, but I don’t see that as a personal attack on me. On the contrary, I see it as part of the cut-and-thrust of the contest of ideas. What I (and other moderators) certainly do not find entertaining is being “targeted” by remorseless, relentless questioning (or, more accurately, banging on and on and on about something that was resolved long ago).


Three things are wrong here.

First, if Fiona was as dedicated to the contest of ideas as she claims then she'd not be party to censoring any debate on the ideas themselves.

Truth is she's censored a whole series of comments I'd made responding to the ideas expressed by her friends Jenny Hume and Ian MacDougall because they didn't want me to make those comments. They didn't want me to make comments on their comments because Jenny Hume had demanded (via Fiona Reynolds) that I make an apology to her friend Kathy Farrelly and when I didn't she judged me (the person) unworthy of Webdiary.

And yes, you read it right, Fiona Reynolds had made phone calls to my home to relay Jenny Hume's demands.

One rule for some, eh?

Second, if simply being asked to explain how a decision they'd made matched their published ethical standard caused so much discomfort to Fiona Reynolds, why is it that she cannot comprehend how unwelcoming, how unsafe Webdiary had become to those who were targeted by "C Parsons" and other trolls for "remorseless ridicule" (presumably in order for him to get off on the Schadenfreud).

BTW I've so often use that particular phrase and place it in quotation marks because "C Parsons" had actually stated that was his specific purpose in a comment that had been marked DNP.

Third, the issue has never been resolved. Not "long ago." Not recently. Not now.


CR: So now I understand the "why" (you thought it was fun to facilitate the bullying), but I still don't see how it squares with WD Ethics?

FR: Incorrect. See above.


Wrong with "incorrect" and lazy with "see above." Fiona's dodging the key issue which is this: How does the decision WD management had made square with their published ethical standard? They refuse to explain it; they don't seem able to explain it. I reckon it's because the decision simply cannot be shown to meet the published ethical standard.


CR: Indeed, as one or two of you have acknowledged over time that very point about the special deal made to allow the ridiculer his pseudonymity (which is a deal it seems I cannot mention for fear of censorship), with no answer to my question I simply cannot comprehend how what's been done reflects WD Ethics.

FR: Incorrect, and fallacious. IF one takes the position that (original) identity A is the same as (now) identity B, one cannot assume that identity B is the pseudonymous identity. It’s equally plausible that identity A may have been the pseudonym, and if as appears to be the case identity B is that individual’s true identity (insofar as it is possible for us to check), there is nothing more to be said.


Fiona's argument is that which is fallacious and this is what more is to be said. Whether one take's her "hypothetical" position, or even the position of any reasonable person apply simple logic, then one sees clearly that the person changing from identity A to identity B has either lied to Margo Kingston about their genuine identity when using identity A or when using identity B. Unless Margo Kingston had agree to provide pseudonymity twice. She's never admitted to that, and if she had agreed it during the "C. Parsons" period, then her poorly phased question to "Eliot Ramsey" about this issue was either absurd or devious.


CR: That's the very reason why I have asked the question more than once. I would really like to hear a reasoned response that attempts to demonstrate how the decision made to give that person a second identity could be ethical. It seems I never will.

FR: And so ad infinitem. This particular topic is closed. Permanently.


Aside for the "silencing" aspect of Fiona's final position, it is also once again avoiding an answer to my question. Where's the reasoned response I was seeking? Telling me to, in essence, "shut up and shove off" doesn't even begin to demonstrate how the decision to give "C Parsons" / "Eliot Ramsey" (CP=ER) a second identity is ethical.

Interestingly, in times past Fiona must have found it unethical to allow CP=ER another pseud. When suspended back in February he'd tried to fly a third and fourth (and possibly a fifth) identity. Hence the appearance and quick disappearance of "Patricia P Kennedy" and "Lesley Partika."


FR: After all of this, Craig, you may find it difficult to believe that I have great respect for you. You are an informed individual who demonstrates great compassion and an interestingly lateral approach to many troubling issues. Your contributions to Webdiary over the years have been appreciated by many people, including me. Your obduracy on this matter, however, is disturbing, unproductive, and frankly does you no credit. Maybe it’s time to take a break from Webdiary – but you know that you will always be welcome to contribute in the constructive way that you can do so well.


Welcome I may be, but return to WD I will not. Certainly not as long as WD management's obduracy on this matter continues to show them to be unethical, and lacking in empathy for those who were targeted by a pseudonymous nasty precisely because that had contributed to WD in the constructive way. So that's looking like it means probably not ever.

1 comment:

Craig Rowley said...

My apologies, there are a few typos in that reply and I've really mangled a sentence in the last paragraph of my previous comment. It should be:

Certainly not as long as WD management's obduracy on this matter continues to show them to be unethical, and lacking in empathy for those who were targeted by a pseudonymous nasty (and they were targeted precisely because they had long contributed to WD in a constructive way).