“Banned” in a functional sense

There was this blogpost that community, unpaid blogger Heather Rusaw-Fazio wrote for the Times Union site in the spirit of #MeToo. It became not visible and the site inaccessible to the blogger because the post did not meet whatever community standards the Times Union thought were being violated.

Which standards, exactly?

Ultimately, Chuck Miller posted the piece on his blog, and I on mine. I referred to it as a “banned” post.

Rex wrote publicly, to a friend of mine:

We did not, in fact, silence a woman’s voice. A woman who is the senior editor in charge of engagement – and thus the supervisor of community blogs – took the step of protecting Heather and the Times Union from a potential libel claim. (As publisher of the blog, we are susceptible to libel claims.) We are quite eager to publish Heather’s post, but we have suggestions to make it less likely that we – and Heather – might be vulnerable legally. Since we have a lot of experience in legal matters, we could advise her on this, but at this point she has chosen to remain silent rather than accept any such suggestion. It is very regrettable, but there is certainly no intent on our part to shut down conversation.

What does Heather have to say about this to Rex? That this is pretty much the opposite of what Heather was told by TU folks:

There has been very little to no consistency on blogger standards from blogger to blogger or post to post for some, and I hope you take the time to read all of this and truly understand.

Is it the use of f**k?
This is the first time I’ve actually censored myself in using the F word in this blog or the Books blog. I’ve said worse and have used the full word minus asterisks in the past with no shut out or removal of the blog. Not consistent.

Is it the word penis? Insertion?
How would you prefer I describe sexual assault? His “thing?”

Is it because it’s pornographic?
The definitions of sexual assault and pornographic content is vastly different. I’ve violated neither the contract I signed, which is valid, until another is presented.
Kristi wrote about mother/daughter porn and it’s still there. Readers have shared others. Not consistent.

Tena specifically mentions “graphic.”
The only correlation between the word graphic and the newly shared ToS to which we must also adhere, is to the word pornographic or child pornography. Show me differently where I’m in violation.

It has been eight or nine months since [Mike] Huber left, yet he’s being blamed as the reason for no contact information? If you have his equipment or network access through AD, you have access to everything he had, specifically his Outlook contacts. Not one person there has made an effort (in 8 or 9 mos) to take a couple hours to organize your community of independent bloggers?

Let me just present you with the scenario. I was terrified while writing that blog. Every emotion came back to me as it usually does when I allow myself to recall the assaults. I was in tears. I was shaking. I felt like I was going to vomit. I felt like I was going to be dismissed – again. I published and then unpublished. I finally scheduled it for 6am when I knew my alarm would go off at 6:30 and it would be too late to change my mind.

Then the comments are coming all morning. I received about 30 private messages, 10 texts, couple phone calls, about 5 emails from women saying “me too” and sharing their story with me and saying thank you. I’m finally beginning to understand the impact one story can have. My stomach calms down and I stop shaking. I’m finally able to actually to get food in my stomach.

Then I get the email from Tena. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain what that did to me emotionally. I’m sure I don’t have to explain the impact that had on the women who follow me. I shouldn’t have to explain that once again I was shut down, silenced, and made to feel as if I had done something wrong by sharing sexual assault stories. Go to my Facebook page to find out. It’s all public.

Hundreds more are involved now and asking what I want them to do. I’ve been asked if you’ve apologized. No.

Rex, I appreciate your attempt to explain it was all a miscommunication, but it was absolutely wrong and in direct discord with what was agreed to after Chuck Miller’s situation until the “mysterious new Hearst blogger contracts” appear. Communication is supposed to happen prior to pulling a blog.

Shannon, you, and Tena have my email address and I can be reached on Facebook. There is no excuse, especially not Huber leaving you with nothing.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that no one on staff really cares about our little group – and that’s fine. It is what it is, right?

I will call XXXXX tomorrow to gain access so that I can simply delete the post.

Thank you…

Thus the disconnect.

Rex took exception to my term “banned,” and in a limited sense, he is correct. Heather herself said that if the second overture made to her by the paper, as it turns out from Rex himself, had taken place initially, the problem might have been resolved.

But I was thinking of “banned” as in what happens in Banned Book Week, when it celebrates items that were banned or challenged.

I was reading a September 28 Times Union editorial. Make absentee voting easy, and it actually explains an effective ban:

Eligible voters in New York may legally cast an absentee ballot only for certain reasons — sickness, disability, infirmity, or being out of town on Election Day. But those who juggle work and obligations like child care, or who lack transportation, or who simply have no time to get to the polls, are left with a choice: forfeit their democratic right, or falsely claim a legal excuse, as some admit they do.

This obstacle is likely a key reason why turnout to choose local, state and national leaders is so poor in the Empire State. This form of voter suppression — intentional or not — is fundamentally little different from strategies employed in states that purposely make it difficult for many people, especially low-income urban residents, to vote, from requiring photo IDs to having fewer polling sites or locating them out of the way for those without personal transportation.

Now, I happen to agree with the sentiment of the piece. But a literalist would argue that, since there was apparently no intentional bias against a class of people, there is no voter suppression, even if the vote is suppressed.

So the Times Union may not have INTENDED to suppress Heather’s piece. But by locking her out of her page, and being slow in communicating with her why, it effectively accomplished the same thing. And she’s going away, which is a shame.

Unsurprisingly, Chuck Miller has a take on this issue.

What is patriotism?

American flag background - shot and lit in studioRight before Independence Day, PARADE magazine ran this poll of the “most patriotic cities” in the United States, which was actually based on Amazon.com’s “comparison of America-themed flag sales between Jan. 1. and June 24 on a per capita basis among cities with more than 400,000 residents.” I don’t find literal flag-waving to necessarily equate with patriotism.

Indeed, I was taken by this piece by Daniel Nester in the Albany Times Union, A flag stirs feelings of uncertainty, which is also about human relationship.

Flag-waving, depending on whom you talk to, is either something one overthinks or doesn’t think about at all…

I’ve never owned any flag, unless Phillies pennants or rainbow Gay Pride banners count. Continue reading

August Rambling: Deep dark secrets

The Hook-Up Culture Is Getting 20-Somethings Nowhere. On the other hand, Casual Love.

How we get through life every day.
Continue reading

May Rambling #2: New Zealand music

Descendants of Solomon Northup, who recounted his story in a memoir, 12 Years A Slave.

The Real Origins of the Religious Right. “They’ll tell you it was abortion. Sorry, the historical record’s clear: It was segregation.”

Dustbury points to an article about how the ineptitude of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and its predecessors, go back nearly a century.
The Worst Argument Ever Made Against Gay Marriage.

Amy Biancolli’s book: To plunge is to live. Also, her parents in love.

Judy Sanders, former local news reporter and photographer, is dying of ovarian cancer. Confronting the long goodbye from Paul Grondahl, and a piece by her former colleague, Ken Screven.

Diane Cameron’s blog Love in the Time of Cancer has been going on since 2008, but I just discovered it.

Getting kicked out of the prom.

New York Erratic asked: “Have you ever dated anyone who turned out to be gay?” Continue reading

My first Facebook unfriend

thumbs-down1I expected that the first time I would bother to unfriend someone on Facebook would be because of some great, substantial, important issue. And it wasn’t. It was Because Facebook.

I wrote, on Facebook:

FACEBOOK wrote to me:
Why am I not seeing a movie?

If you aren’t seeing A Look Back movie when you visit facebook.com/lookback, it may be because you have not shared very many things on Facebook. Depending on how long you’ve been on Facebook and how much you’ve shared, you’ll see a movie, a collection of photos or a thank you card.
Continue reading

August mid-month bailing-out Rambling

©www.jimbenton.com. Used by permission.

Here’s the truth of the matter: I was away last weekend, overbooked. (Will explain, eventually.) I’ve been exhausted much of the week, rather ticked by something else, and it’s difficult to write. I’ve created ONE blog post for this site this week (the one about the possible Olympic boycott in 2014).

Since I write ahead, it wasn’t an IMMEDIATE problem, but eventually, it would be. At the same time, I hit on a whole bunch of linkage, enough (as of August 9, as I write this) for a whole post, with three weeks to (I hope) find more linking goodness for the end of the month. So consider this my summer vacation/”it’s my blog and I’ll cheat if I want” post.

The Mark Evanier News from ME section, in honor of him being named by TIME magazine, as one of the 25 Best Bloggers of 2013:
While I am very fond of his stories about his parents individually, I love Tales of My Mother and My Father #1. “My parents met in Hartford, Connecticut in the mid-forties. They dated for a time but there was enormous pressure for them to not do this. My father, you see, was Jewish. My mother, you see, was Catholic.” Continue reading

July Rambling: privilege, and 12-tone music

Watch the important documentary Two American Families online at Bill Moyers’ website. In the same vein, To Rescue Local Economies, Cities Seize Underwater Mortgages Through Eminent Domain.

From Meryl, the graphic novel expert: The Armageddon Letters and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Also, Zahra – from Paradise to President. Published in 2011, its story takes place in Iran, June 2009.

Brief Thoughts on Shelby County v. Holder by Mark S. Mishler. (But the actual title is TOO long!)

Daniel Nester writes about privilege. I found it interesting, in part, because it reminded me of certain white sociology students Continue reading

Chuck Miller’s blogging flashback, involving me

Chuck Miller, without a camera obscuring his face

Chuck Miller, a fellow blogger on the Times Union newspaper site, “came across this old video clip of an event from three years ago.” How did he GET that clip anyway? I’ve never had it.

“In March 2010, the Times Union hosted a blogging get-together at the College of Saint Rose. I remember being part of this event; heck, I even showed up in a little video clip that promoted the event.” Continue reading

Recycling my gay marriage/SCOTUS post

I have a blog at the Times Union newspaper, the local Hearst-owned daily, where I write far less frequently, and generally have a difficult coming up with topics there. I KNOW what I want to do here in THIS blog, but after over three FIVE years there, not so much.

It’s the week in late March of the Supreme Court hearing two cases about gay marriage, or same-sex marriage, or marriage equality. The latter term may be preferred by advocates – of which I am one – but the former two are more descriptive. It’s like talking about interracial marriage, which was a marriage equality issue in the US in my lifetime. Most people these days don’t say, “Hey, there’s an interracial couple,” do they? Continue reading

Checking the Checking Account QUESTIONS

There was this column in the local paper a few weeks ago about a fitness club that kept debiting someone’s checking account after the person had cancelled the service. Terrible, awful, etc.

Then another columnist picked up the story, noting: “As someone who logs on to my bank account about once every week-and-a-half and who makes sure every charge on her credit card statement has a matching receipt, I can’t fathom how an adult would allow this to happen.” And the subsequent commentators also had fun at the victim’s expense, how she should have noticed the $20/month over a THREE YEAR PERIOD. And that’s true, of course.

But in attacking the victim Continue reading