Steve Denton AKA Monkey Von Monkerstein posted a set of statements he identified as his comment policy. This was in response, or more accurately, in reaction to, a little tug of war we had in the comment thread to this post.
I commented something to the effect "that looks like a Jack Kirby fist" or something to that effect. I came back a few hours and found that the comment was missing. I thought that perhaps I had not saved my comment and wrote something to the effect of "Weird, I thought I left a comment. I thought I wrote 'That looks like a Jack Kirby fist'". Within seconds that comment was missing as well. I figured Steve deleted the comment, as he had to others of mine in the past, so I commented that, "If you are deleting my comments as a matter of principle, you missed one on the turkey post." That comment soon disappeared as well, but not the turkey one.
It appears that I violated one of his many rules. I wasn't "trolling", right wing or otherwise. I wasn't pointing out a typo, I wasn't "denying the comedic premise of" his post (whatever that means), I wasn't communicating with any other poster (although why that is a sin is not clear from any of his rules or the explanation he gives for his rules. It probably is because I have either annoyed him in the past, or my Jack Kirby comment annoyed him then. I think it is probably the annoyance clause that I violated because his annoyance and his discussion of his annoyance dominated the text of his post.
Meditate for a moment on exactly what happened: He was annoyed by my casual musing about the identity of a comic book artist.
Today, I find a rant directed at me where he refers to me as a troll who, among other things, has "no concept of what a blog is for". All this ire directed at me for a simple request for some further information or a little extra elaboration on just why he thought Vilsack was a poor choice as Secretary of Agriculture. You'll have to take my word for it that the question was asked civilly and in sincerity. It's no longer there because Steve deleted it.
I came to Steve's blog originally because I am a fan. I own an actual hard copy of his book that I bought when it was in print. The cover was really eye-catching and I dug the do-it-yourself spirit behind how he produced and marketed it. It's a mystery with a unique story and some pretty cool twists and turns.
He's selling electronic versions of his book for eleven dollars so throw the guy a bone and buy a copy.
When Steve was actively marketing his book he ran into a snag trying to get Malaprops, an independent bookstore in Asheville, NC, to carry his book. Simply put, they wouldn't carry it because they thought it was (in Steve's words) "too racy".
The book is a little rough around the edges, editorial-wise, and it has some very juvenile, almost puerile, sex scenes. I think that I can see the issue from Malaprops' perspective: The book was just not ready for prime time and they didn't want to cheapen their brand by offering a book that was not up to most literary standards. But, you follow the link, you will see where Steve calls this "censorship at its finest".
You see, Steve takes great exception to being culled from the offerings at Malaprops and thinks he is being censored. His opinion is that merely deleting his book from their offerings is a violation of the principle of free speech. Never mind that he had complete editorial control over the contents of his book and no authority had imposed restrictions on the words it might contain. In Steve's view, merely refusing to sell his book was an abomination to the principle of free speech.
Blogs, and specifically Blogger, provides a medium for free speech, and freedom of the press, almost unparalleled in the history of writing. Readers and writers, once they find each other, have an amazing opportunity to engage in conversation. Rants, treatises, poetry, song, and images are the gifts of the writer to his reader. The reader in turn gives his attention and consideration to what the writer has laid down. The Blogger interface provides an instant means for the reader to respond to what the writer has said.
Great is the gift of the Writer to the Reader, but greater still is the thoughtful response to the writer's words.
There does exist in the Blogger medium freedom of speech. The writer can write anything he wants, and when enabled, comments can flow freely. Other options for the interface allow the web-log host to moderate comments, turn comments off completely, or allow access to the blog by subscription only.
So yes, there is freedom of speech in Blogger comments sections. And deleting those comments does violence to the principles of free speech we in western society hold dear.
It also is a slap in the face of the reader who not only took the time to read the post, but cared enough for or was inspired by the post to write a little something in response. The casual deletion of comments because the commenter may have "annoyed him in the past" is a belittling insult, bullying, and violence against an individual and an ideal.
When you think about it, it's really a small thing: Just a few words written inspired by other words. But ultimately it means that we existed, and that we cared and exchanged thoughts.
So, Steve. Continue to delete my comments. I will continue to leave them if what you write moves me to. You have the power to do so. What motivates you I can only guess at.
Whatever you decide, I hope that you continue to write and continue to make your corner of the cosmos a better place.