Stop writing to me about Mairson and [USA Today reporter Cathy] Grossman. I have no respect for their opinions at all. …
My policy has been and always will be to write as I will, to say without reservation what I think, and to have a damn good time while doing it. I will not mute the way I express myself because a couple of delicate little flowers wilt when a blog does not have the same formal tone as a long-established magazine, and I will categorically reject the criticisms of idiots who look at what I say and see only shrill, rabid, militant, screaming, hysterical, obscenities — that is a slanderous mischaracterization that immediately calls into question their capacity for critical thought. …
So to all of you who’ve been pestering me with Grossman and Mairson’s ginned-up non-controversies and bluenosed fussings, don’t worry. Nothing is changing for me. Web servers might change, blog software can shift, different paymasters might try to borrow my pages, but I am completely free: I write what I write because it is what I want to write, not because I am obligated to put myself in a straitjacket to please an advertiser. And I am especially not constrained by a pair of prissy, shallow whiners who have no association with me, no input into what I say, and absolutely no relevance. [emphasis added]
Read the whole thing here.
It’s worth noting that the concerns we’ve expressed here at Society Matters — and that Ms. Grossman shared with her readers at USA Today — are not “ginned up non-controversies.” The editors at National Geographic are already worried about the rhetorical style of Myers and some of his fellow Sciblings (as the bloggers at ScienceBlogs are known). From Retraction Watch:
One of the issues that is likely to be contentious — and certainly was for Myers, who is no stranger to invective — was that of standards and practices. Braun [David Braun, vice president of news and editorial service at National Geographic Digital Media]:
It is important to debate freely and robustly. National Geographic has a gold standard reputation for quality. National Geographic values and standards apply to all of our content, wherever and however it is received. With our respect for freedom of expression, we are also sensitive to the way we communicate. We are sensitive to our worldwide audience’s expectations of our brand. So we avoid unjustifiable offense and are sensitive to generally accepted standards.
The subject later came up in a question from Scibling Ed Brayton, who noted that he posts an item called “Dumbass Quote of the Day” and does not shy away from sharp words on politics. Braun responded that material has to run through their standards and practices:
I don’t want to sit here and comment on a case-by-case basis but I do want to work with you to work this out. We do stand for freedom of expression. We want to aim for a higher level of debate that is respectful and doesn’t offend in an unjustifiable way.
We suspect this will be an issue as Scienceblogs is integrated into Nat Geo.
We suspect the same thing.
* Ed. note:
bugger |ˈbəgər; ˈboŏg-| vulgar slang chiefly Brit.
verb [ trans. ]: penetrate the anus of (someone) during sexual intercourse; sodomize.
8 June 2011 @ 12:15pm:
PZ Myers, in the comments section of his own blog:
Somebody slap Alan Mairson, please. He’s been whining at me constantly lately about my “profanity-laced diatribes” and how I dare to dismiss the faith of billions as lunacy. He’s a prim, prudish bluenosed wanker who has appointed himself the politeness police over an organization which no longer employs him. Which makes him a disgruntled former employee who seems resentful that his former organization might possibly have an independent contractor who doesn’t have a stick up his ass like he does.
He does seem to have found a like-minded censorious colleague in the odious Grossman. The company he keeps does not reassure me that he’s a serious critic — just another whiner about ‘tone’.