I ... stumbled across these comments in Ann Althouse's blog, regarding my skepticism of Sarah Palin's pregnancy stories. I deserve criticism on this and have aired it on this blog ... not because my doubts have been put to rest, but because I know I'm out on a limb and I know that means you take your fair share of whacks. But look at these comments, which Althouse engages with and certainly doesn't remove. I have a thick skin but really...Go to the link to see what he selected from the comments to quote.
This comes with the territory. Some of it is even a little funny. I'm not complaining. But it does bear noting that on a widely read conservative blog, this stuff is routine. I think that's part of the GOP's problem. I also think that Althouse's engagement in the comments section and failure to remove any of these remarks is eloquent."Althouse engages"... "Althouse's engagement"... hey! That reminds me of the time he gratuitously mocked me for writing a blog post letting people know I'd gotten engaged. A peek into Andrew's psyche? Tied to his obsession with Palin's womb? Think about it.
Anyway, as many of you readers have seen time and time again, I have a very high tolerance for vigorous/rough/nasty speech in the comments here. (Some of it is very pro-male homosexuality!)
I rarely delete, and there is no way that my failure to delete indicates approval. I do sometimes participate in the comments, and I have one comment (accidentally double posted) near the beginning of the thread in question. That comment of mine is a response to a commenter (Loafing Oaf) who asks:
How come we often see Althouse commenting on Andrew Sullivan posts but we almost never see him posting replies? I like Andrew Sullivan, but I wish he'd engage in more back-and-forth between him and bloggers who disagree with him.(Guess that one got answered.)
Althouse tends to post replies when bloggers post criticism of her. In recent years, a lot of the bigshot political bloggers have decided to just ignore debating people who disagree with them.So I did engage with a commenter in that thread. I answered a specific question that was addressed to me, and that I happened to find interesting. What I don't do — and what Sullivan is wrong to infer — is monitor the hundreds of comments that come in every day. I don't systematically keep track of anything. Sometimes I read haphazardly, and I am a very busy person... a very busy person who is committed to free speech and to creating a place where people with different opinions can talk with/at each other.
Now, Sullivan is upset/annoyed that some homophobic things show up in the threads here, as if it says something about my blog. He doesn't have comments, but I'll bet if he did, he'd collect plenty of homophobic crap at his place too. Probably even more than shows up here. Maybe that's one reason he doesn't have comments. But I've chosen to open my place to comments, and I have a strong free speech policy.
And let me add that my writing on this blog has never included anything homophobic, that I have a long record of supporting gay rights, and that many of the commenters who hang out here here are gay men. There is no way that I am cuing readers to be homophobic, and I think people who care about free speech and vigorous debate should be careful not to impute such things to me.
ADDED: And check out the lame piling-on by the local blogger for the Isthmus, Kenneth Burns:
... Andrew Sullivan... quotes vile anti-gay comments on the blog of Ann Althouse, the Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Althouse is teaching on the Madison campus this fall.Indeed, Althouse has been teaching on the Madison campus since 1984.
These slurs appear quite literally under Althouse's name. If her policy is not to delete comments, that's her prerogative. But what purpose is served by leaving them up, other than to humilate gays like Sullivan and me and further curdle an already dismal political discourse? Is this prominent Madisonian proud to have these people as readers?The purpose is free speech and vigorous debate.
AND: No one emailed me to point out offensive comments and request that I consider deleting them. I wasn't aware of any of them until I read Sullivan's post this morning. I did get email the other day asking me to delete some nonsense about Glenn Beck. (I didn't delete.) I might delete some truly vile things about gay people. I've deleted comments that contain the n-word. Try emailing me!
ALSO: Boy, a link from Sullivan — who has huge traffic — brings very few readers over here. I would like them to see what the real context is. Of course, a link from the Isthmus blog brings absolutely nothing. As expected.