Sunday, June 25, 2006

An Open Letter to John Seery


First, here's a little background for my readers. John Seery is a Professor of Politics at Pomona College where, according to the one sentence bio on The Huffington Post, he teaches political theory. Pomona College is a private liberal-arts college located in Claremont, California.

John is a graduate of Amherst College, and then went on to get both his Masters degree and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. He has published extensively and has been a professor at Pomona since 1990.

More to the point of the letter I'm posting to him, he is also an infrequent commentator/blogger over at
The Huffington Post. I read Huffington's consortium of bloggers every day and enjoy them thoroughly. I subscribe to her daily email briefing. I consider Huffington to be an important source of both news and opinion.

Yesterday I read Professor Seery's very long and rather intellectual discussion of
Ann Coulter's new book, Godless. His essay is entitled "Ann Coulter Has a Point, Kind Of (Hear Me Out...)" and if you click on the essay title, you'll be taken directly there. I encourage you to read it.

I read it and I thought it was one of the best discussions of her book that I've read. Now, gentle readers, please note he ripped her to shreds. He condemned her language and style as "indefensible, hideous, inflammatory, attention-getting (look at me, look at me!) 9-11 widow bashing." But then, much more importantly, he blasted her very premise as a retread of old and long discarded concepts.

Seery writes, "If Coulter had done her homework (or if her publisher had held her to customary research standards), she might have realized that others have made such a case against liberalism in much more elegant and compelling terms. In fact, such an argument against liberalism has been a commonplace in democratic theory for some time, and thoughtful folks (left and right) have already moved two or three steps beyond it."

Professor Seery is no Ann Coulter fan, which (finally) brings me to my letter.

    Dear Professor Seery,

    I read your essay in yesterday's Huffington Post entitled "Ann Coulter Has a Point, Kind Of (Hear Me Out...)" and thought it was intelligent and thought provoking. It is rare for a critic or any reviewer to move beyond the sound bites and actually take an honest look at her premise.

    I found your essay to be enlightening.

    I'm writing you here on my website because my repeated efforts to reply to your post over at Huffington were never published. It's now been 24 hours and I'm guessing my letters to you there (which are nearly identical to my note above) will never appear. I wrote two, one at about 8 am and the second at about noon.

    The real question is why? I have a Huffington account and password and I've replied to essays there in the past.

    However, over here at the WIZARD website, I've occasionally been critical of the liberal bloggers over at The Huffington Post. If you were to read my earlier essays, you'd find I occasionally refer to them as the "Hollywood Glitterati" and have criticized some of their posts and their choices of topics.

    So I'd like to think that Huffington's editors have tracked back my links and I've been "blacklisted." That would actually be an honor to have Huffington notice my little blog which only gets 50 or 60 hits a day.

    Of course it's possible that BOTH my posts were somehow lost in the shuffle. That just seems so terribly unlikely.

    No, I'm afraid the truth is that the editors are simply using the replies to shape the conversation and to further make their points. And that's why I'm writing to you here.

    The seventy one (71) published replies as of this morning are mostly attacks on you, many of them mean spirited and personal. I know you've read them and I don't wish to offend you further, but I'm reprinting a few below for the benefit of my readers.

    "Wow, what an incoherent mess of a post. Can you imagine listening to this guy lecture in a classroom?" writes DLSteinhardt.

    "No, really, you reich wing apologist, she doesn't have a point," writes jmpurser.

    "mr. sewery. You are the biggest asshole on the planet," opines rosie.

    "No, I won't hear you out. No one should listen to what an uncivilized narcissist has to say," says raker.

    "You are just as dishonest as Coulter, and the politeness and literary citations do nothing to validate your rhetoric," writes twgbonehead.

    "Just crucify Coulter an be done with all this bullshit she's allowed to generate. She'd be stunning up there on her cross," suggests pneumaticus.

    "It takes a professional academic to examine a few trees so minutely as to miss, not only the forest, but the fact that it's on fire," writes MrWonderful.

    And then I really loved these three nuggets of truth and civility from a poster called Lwayno, who posted multiple times:

    "Annie Coulter Gives Up His/Her Virginity."

    "Mary Carey, GOP Porn Queen,Replaces Karl "Turd-Master" Rove As White House Pimp-Madam."

    "F-You Cheney Deeply Offended By Outing Of Valerie Plame."

    While a very few replies were posted that defended your views or commented on them intellectually, the vast majority were critical and, I believe, written by people who never got past your headline.

    I'm guessing if my replies were blocked, so were a number of others that either complimented your essay or applauded your intellectual honesty.

    Huffington can publish or block anything they want. They certainly don't need to reprint my rare comments. It's their website and they do have full creative control.

    But I think they set you up at a "straw man" so the villagers could burn you down. And they came with pitchforks and matches. Those with water and bandages were blocked at the gate.

    Bob Keller,
    the WIZARD, fkap

*** UPDATE: Monday, June 26, 2006 9:43 am ***

My missing replies over at The Huffington Post have shown up. Both replies were there this morning (along with 50 other previously unpublished replies, the total is now 121 replies). It might have been the personal intervention of Professor John Seery, who I contacted by email.

Or it might be the huge "reply controversy" over at Huffington that caused the 50 missing replies to appear. It seems that I'm not the only one who noticed the editorial bias in the posting of replies.

Huffington "fired" a blogger,
Dr. Peter Rost, who complained mightily about comments and replies being manipulated, edited or removed entirely by the Huffington editorial staff.

Read more about the Huffington controversy, also posted today in The Huffington Post, by contributor John Peretti. It's titled
Peter Rost's Accusations. Here is a brief excerpt.

"Several readers have commented that they don't care about the Rost issue, but they would like to see improvements in the HuffPost commenting technology. I agree and will address this issue in another post in the near future. From a technical standpoint, it is challenging to process literally thousands of comments a day in a way that features the best comments and eliminates postings from spammers and trolls. More soon."

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