Online acrimony? Why, the very idea!

There’s no guiltier pleasure than a good internet dust-up/feud/dogfight, and there’s a doozy going on right now involving BoingBoing, one of the better-known online time sinks. In true internet fashion, nobody knows what really happened but everybody has an opinion about it, and BoingBoing finally decided that keeping quiet about it was less and less of a constructive strategy.

That Violet Blue thing

Bottom line is that those posts (not “more than 100 posts,” as erroneously claimed elsewhere) were removed from public view a year ago. Violet behaved in a way that made us reconsider whether we wanted to lend her any credibility or associate with her. It’s our blog and so we made an editorial decision, like we do every single day. We didn’t attempt to silence Violet. We unpublished our own work. There’s a big difference between that and censorship.

[…]

This is a directory of wonderful things. If we no longer think
something is wonderful, we have every right to remove it from this
directory.

The whole statement sounds as carefully parsed and worded as the average White House press release, but never mind that. Here’s why this whole matter fails the smell test for me: “I had the right to do that” is just about the lowest standard of conduct possible, even when it’s true. Dip below that and you’re left with no standard at all. It’s the next level of ethics right above “I did that because I wanted to.”

The other troublesome thing is that the purged messages were removed for reasons other than their content, which is not the most free-speechy, open-sourcey thing I’ve ever heard of.

Anyway, I’m hoping this will blow up bigger and nastier, and consequently more entertaining. I don’t have a dog in this fight, but some of my favorite dogs could easily get mixed up in it. Get the popcorn ready.

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