Monday, January 28, 2013
Below is the text of a comment that I agreed to take down from my post Jim Shooter-A Second Opinion, Part One: The Best Job He Can over at The Hooded Utilitarian. The comment was taken down at the request of Hooded Utilitarian editor Noah Berlatsky after several days of behind-the-scenes whining from James Romberger, the comment's subject. I took the comment down grudgingly and only to placate Mr. Berlatsky. I pasted the text here and resolved only to take the post live under certain circumstances. Those were if Mr. Romberger decided to continue his antics, and I decided I'd had my fill of him once and for all. If you're reading this, that has happened. The comment originally appeared between this comment and this one at the original post.
Robert Stanley Martin January 12, 2013 at 11:23 am (Edit) Note to readers:
What follows does not relate to the Shooter discussion per se. It is about an editorial problem at the site that reared its head in the comments here.
Noah Berlatsky, the site’s editor, would have preferred that what I write below not be posted. However, I feel Noah’s efforts to deal with this problem behind the scenes have unfortunately proven ineffective and trying to deal with it again in the same manner is just enabling it. I thank him for giving permission for me to address the matter here despite his preference that I not do so.
James Romberger asked that a comment of his in the above thread be taken down. He did so after I sent him and Noah Berlatsky an email asking that he identify himself to readers as the author of the posts by “Joe.” The IP address for the posts by him and “Joe” are the same. Noah Berlatsky granted his request over my objections.
I suspected James was the author of the “Joe” posts as soon as I read the second one. The attitude, the specifics of what was written, and the tendency towards a hallucinatory misreading of what he’s responding to are all typical of James. However, I had no intention of making an issue of it as long as he didn’t comment on these threads under any handle besides “Joe”. I sent him an email to that effect yesterday.
I don’t have a problem with people using pseudonyms. I’ve done it myself. They allow people to explore ideas they, for whatever reason, might not want to publicly commit to under their own name, as well as shield them from personal attacks. In this case, the second “Joe” comment gave me the opportunity to talk more about the creation of Epic Illustrated in more detail, and to give public acknowledgement to the efforts of James Galton, Rick Marschall, and Archie Goodwin with regard to the publication. I couldn’t comfortably do that in the main essay.
However, I do think it is inappropriate to post under different names in the same thread. If I see that happening, I will contact the person and ask that he or she reveal themselves as the author of all the posts in question. Which, again, is what I did with James this morning.
People make mistakes, and I would have been willing to just let the comment be taken down in most instances. However, James Romberger has a long history of posting reckless, nastily antagonistic comments in response to things I write. Depending on how badly he gets his head handed to him in return, he will then run to Noah, cry that he’s sorry he posted the comment in the first place, and ask that the entire exchange be taken down. Noah, understandably wanting to maintain civility, has complied, although the last few times it has been over my strenuous objections.
Noah has further tried to keep the peace by asking that James and I not comment on each other’s posts. James agreed, and it was fine by me. However, in practice, all James understood that he was agreeing to was that I wouldn’t reply to anything he wrote, which is all he ever wanted in the first place. He was under no obligation to reciprocate that, as long as he kept it out of comment threads on my posts. So, secure in the knowledge that my own sense of honor would keep me gagged, he would reply to my writing in comment threads for other people’s posts, and in posts of his own, both here at HU. I finally said to hell with it, and started responding to him again, although I did my best to stay civil. It seemed to work out for a little while.
However, the problem with James is that with him, the concept of civil disagreement is ultimately an oxymoron. As has been my experience with him going all the way back to the comics poll, he throws fits if he can’t have everything his way, or be confirmed in his views 100%. And he hit upon a new strategy of dealing with me writing things he didn’t like. He would simply use his contributor privileges to remove the passages he didn’t like from what I wrote. He only managed to do that once. In response, Noah and Derik Badman then reprogrammed the site to prevent any contributor from pulling a stunt like that again. Sometime later, after another round of him running whining to Noah after I shredded his response to something I wrote, Noah took down the exchange and asked that the moratorium be reinstated, at least at HU.
Before the article above went up, I told Noah that I fully expected to James to once again not honor the moratorium. I also demanded that no comment of his be taken down without my permission. I don’t know what Noah said to him, but we now have “Joe,” and James once again running to Noah to take a comment down to apparently avoid public embarrassment.
I’ve had enough of this. I’ve gone along with efforts to deal with it nicely, and I feel that my trust is being abused. Perhaps shining a public light on James’ antics will motivate him to take responsibility for what he writes, or convince him to not respond to what I write at all. Either is fine with me.
Back to the Shooter discussion.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
The Hooded Utilitarian. It covers the impressive accomplishments of his time as the company's editor-in-chief. Click here.