Friday, January 15, 2010

Arbitrary and Capricious Censorship at A&E’s Message Boards

On or about January 14th, 2010, I posted the following message on the A&E Message Board covering its Hoarders show in a thread entitled “Horders[sic] OR LAZY??? I KNOW- LAZY LAZY LAZY”:
It's Astonishing How Some People Find It Necessary to Compare Themselves to Hoarders

I'm not sure why people find it necessary to say things like, "I work three full time jobs and still find time to cook for my eight children, wash the dishes after every meal, clean my bathroom bowl each time someone uses it, vacuum and dust my furniture every morning by 6am, mow the lawn, . . . "

Do these people think that their ability to discharge all of these responsibilities makes them better human beings than the people featured on Hoarders? What, exactly, are they trying to prove, other than their total self-centeredness and lack of compassion?
Another contributor who identified herself by the alias “windswept” posted this response:
To "netesq"

You said non-hoarders have "total self-centeredness and lack of compassion"

It's actually quite the opposite. People who are RESPONSIBLE don't hoard, don't neglect their children, spouses, homes, and animals. This grown-up type of self-discipline requires compassion towards others and sacrifice.

It's compassionate to be honest with the hoarder, and let them know just how destructive their behavior is towards the rest of the world. Hoarders just don't want to hear it. It infringes on their fantasy world.
When I read this response, I couldn’t help but notice that I had been misquoted, so I responded with a post entitled "I Love It When People Put Words In My Mouth!" Had I known that some unknown entity at A&E was going to delete this response, I would have made a copy. As it is, the exact text of that post is lost in the ether of the Internet, but here’s my best attempt at recreating it:
I said no such thing, you ignorant twit! But I have no trouble believing that that’s what you heard. If you read my post again, this time without embracing your exaggerated sense of self-importance, you’ll find that I was pointing out that some people cannot seem to discuss anyone else’s situations without comparing those situations to their own. Indeed, some people are so self-absorbed that they don’t seem to notice that they are putting words in someone else’s mouth.
When I checked back some time later to see if there was any response to this followup post, I noticed that it had mysteriously disappeared, and I posted this comment:
The Case of the Mysterious Disappearing Post

Who'd a thunk it? No profanity; nothing even remotely approaching uncivil discourse, but my earlier post entitled "I Love It When People Put Word's in My Mouth!" is now gone. Even so, it's pretty clear that the person who misquoted me as saying that "non-hoarders have total self-centeredness and lack of compassion" read my response.

BTW, absent some sort of adequate explanation from A&E as to why my earlier post disappeared, this will probably be my last post on these forums.
To their credit, more than one person on the Hoarders forum whom I consider an adversary told me that I should stick around, but I am not the sort of person to suffer arbitrary and capricious censorship, so I resolved to steer clear of the A&E Hoarders Forum unless and until such time as the powers that be at A&E made some sort of bold gesture, such as admitting that my post should not have been deleted. As of this writing, no such bold gesture has been forthcoming. Rather, someone who uses the alias “aetv_rita” posted this truly bizarre notice in the above-linked thread:
Just a reminder

Hi all – I’d just like to remind everyone that our community is not a place for namecalling or profanity. Please review our Terms of Service before posting, or send me a message, if you have questions. Also, if you respond to a post which violates our Terms of Service your reply will also be removed – so it’s best not to respond at all! Thanks everyone.
What is this nitwit talking about? The context of this post is slanderous in that it paints my now deleted post in a false light and makes it sound like I posted something truly horrible on the A&E Hoarders Forum. Consequently, as soon as I am done posting this blog entry, I will send A&E a formal demand for a retraction.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a frequent poster on the A&E boards, I am amazed at the level of immaturity and common playground-bullyism I've seen on the _Hoarders_ board.

I read this forum to learn more about the disorder. I need to know how to compassionately deal with my good friend who has Asperger's Syndrome that manifests itself as a severe lack of decision making skills which leads to hoarding.

It seems many, however, read the boards merely to sharpen their claws by way of schadenfreude. Making oneself feel good by bringing others down is, to me, inexcusable.

I couldn't believe it was "netesq" who got reprimanded in this ugly little pissing match. I don't agree with everything he says, but it is always rational discourse and based in honest opinion. To remove such a post while leaving those who chose the kindergarten battle skills of name-calling, one-downsmanship, and baseless nastiness is ridiculous.

It's stupid to silence a voice of reason in the midst of childish squabbling, and the A&E moderators will be hearing from me.

- Kiki

6:46 PM, January 15, 2010  
Blogger Internet Esquire said...

Thank you for your support, Kiki. With the possible exception of one or two of my respected adversaries who offered their support for me on the A&E website, your comment here on my blog is the clearest validation of my otherwise self-centered sense of outrage at being unofficially reprimanded by the powers that be at A&E. As someone who sees Hoarders as a force for good, it is my sincere hope that this particular act of censorship was an honest mistake.

10:31 PM, January 15, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, here's my best guess on what happened, based on my days of moderating another board.

Most deletions are the result of another poster "flagging" or reporting, the post. On the bottom left of every post you'll see a yellow flag. The most active "flaggers" are usually the most argumentative, but lacking the skills, maturity or facts to argue effectively, they will use the report button against their adversaries at every opportunity. They can't bear it when they themselves are criticized, and look for anything to remove the criticism.

Certainly there are more offensive terms than "ignorant twit" on the board, but only because no one has reported them. The "lazy slob" crowd certainly isn't offended, and the rest don't use it. Admins don't have the time (or desire, probably) to read everything. Reviewing the sheer number of member-reported posts is time consuming, so context often isn't taken into account.

For what it's worth, I agree with your assessment of all the "I keep my house clean, why can't they?" self-centered posts. I'm gobsmacked by the inability or unwillingness to understand this mental illness. By the rage level, you'd think the hoarders had broken into the poster's own home and trashed it. Every week brings on a new wave of outrage, Hysterical Hand-Wringers, Lynch-Moms and Poisonous Prophets of Doom. Why on earth would you want to leave? ;)

Seriously, I do hope you'll reconsider. You're a valuable asset to the community and an experienced voice of reason we can ill afford to lose.

I was a little surprised however, given the topic, to see on your blog that "Comment moderation has been enabled. All comments must be approved by the blog author."

aka "chromeplated"

7:36 AM, January 16, 2010  
Blogger Internet Esquire said...

Yes, Jannika. Given my zealous support of free speech, it is ironic that I choose to moderate comments on my blog. However, in these days of spam, spam, bacon, eggs, and spam, it is somewhat of a necessity. When it comes to actual substance, my threshold is much higher, but there have been one or two instances over the last decade where I have actually rejected a comment, so I am not without sin in this matter.

8:10 AM, January 16, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right, Jannika. You have validated my point about common playground bullies. A bully will taunt, tease, hit, pinch, and name-call to his heart's content, but guess who screams the loudest when someone looks cross-eyed at *him*?

I agree that "ignorant twit" is, technically, name-calling and probably against the terms of service. But it is nowhere near as offensive to me as some of the other epithets flying around on that board.

I wonder what it is about this particular disorder that sets off such a vitriolic feeding frenzy? I don't get it!

2:43 PM, January 16, 2010  
Blogger Internet Esquire said...

Whether or not "ignorant twit" constitutes name calling is a judgment call, but as I stated in my followup blog post, I don't think it is. I suppose I could have posted a more sort subtle, passive aggressive comment, but why? If the roles were reversed, I would be apologizing to the person that I had misquoted.

3:34 PM, January 16, 2010  

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