04 May 2008

Rev Dr Barbara Reynolds - Silencing the Flock

Most of you may have been keeping up-to-date about the saga which is rumbling on regarding Barack Obama, Rev Jeremiah Wright Jr and Rev Dr Barbara Reynolds.

I won't bore you with the details but provide a link to a site where you can obtain a version of events, at your convenience.
The angle I am taking on this story is: How do you deal with people who write things about you which appear on your blog/site which you don't like.

Dr Reynolds has received a slew of negative verbal attacks due to her perceived role in the 'taking down of a brother' - Barack Obama via Rev Wright. Her blog ReynoldsWorldNews had a post supporting Rev Wright which was written prior to this debacle. Interestingly enough most of the comments were post-debacle and contained comments which suggested she was a Judas, 'how can you sleep at night', 'shame on you', etc. The comments were vociferous, clear, emotional and very frank. No misinterpretation of their dissatisfaction with Dr Reynolds was possible. Comment after comment castigated her in no uncertain terms with the odd dissenting voice being quickly fired upon.
Now the interesting point for me was how Rev Reynolds dealt with the barrage of unflattering comments. She did not exercise her right of reply. It is her blog and she could respond in anyway she liked without censor. She, instead, decided to, firstly, remove her post regarding Rev Wright, including all comments.

The next day I checked her site and realised that 'anonymous' persons had written comments on another of her posts -related to the Rev Wright issue.

Today, I notice, all comments have been disabled.

For someone who is/was a journalist, who understand that politics is a dirty, nasty game and if you take a dip in the cesspool you will inevitably be soiled, it is astounding to me that she has decided to silence those who voice their honest opinions. For someone who purports to promote the 'word of god' she represents all that is negative about those who stand on pulpits and preach to the 'flock'. Don't stand up and be different, don't shout out at perceived injustices. Just don't have an opinion of your own.

In a so-called democratic society, I would recommend that in future, Dr Reynolds, you allow, welcome, enable dissenting voices to be heard. Is that not what the Civil Rights Movement was objecting to? - state-sanctioned silencing of those who, rightly, objected to the status quo, those who refused to accept segregation as a natural normal god-given way of life.

Come on, Dr Reynolds, let those voices be heard. Don't silence those who have an opinion. It does you nor the causes you support or promote any favours.


Grégoire said...

Thanks for another great article. You're rapidly becoming one of my favorite net-intellectuals.

I'd like to think that there's a difference between state-sanctioned censorship, and managing one's own forum effectively. I don't think Dr. Reynolds is denying anyone a response. Those who want to comment can open up their own blogs and provide links. She seems merely to be keeping her own house in order.

New Black Woman said...

As a blogger, you can't expect people to agree with you at all times. I think by disabling all comments would be a way for people to lose respect for what you have to say.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hi there!

I know that my blog has a lot of controversial issues but I will delete comments if people come into my house (blog) launching personal attacks. Constructive and respectful disagreement on the issues is always permitted. I do not permit personal insults to be hurled in my house (blog) and anyone who visits my blog knows this.

If they are UNABLE to dialogue and debate and respect everyone then they can't come to my house (blog).

I don't think that's CENSORING dissenting opinions but it's setting a standard for HOW the group dialogue should be handled.

Just my little opinion on the matter!

I am looking forward to reading your series on Black Atheists. As a Christian minister, I am always interested in other thought that is out there.

Thanks for letting me blow my trumpet! (smile)



Zee Harrison said...

Thank you ALL for taking the time to comment on this post!

As I have said before, I want my blog to representative not only of myself but of all people and their views about anything they read on my blog.
This world is too full of people who take things personally. Just because someone disagrees vigorously with me does not mean I will ever remove their comments. This blog is not here as a 'group-hug/love-fest/aren't I wonderful!' blog. I wish to encourage openness, frankness, opinions, discussions and that will include someone disagreeing with me at times. That's OK! Even if someone uses profanities on my site I will not censor them. Sometimes it is good to get the whole story, the real deal, esp. if I have been perceived as doing something which may affect the election of the first black American president of the USA.
You may have noticed that I have not accused Dr Reynolds of doing anything wrong - I don't have enough information in order to come to that conclusion.
But you can rest assured, I am comfortable with criticism, I am comfortable with people pointing out where they feel I have erred - even if they use language that I may not feel is appropriate - my focus is on encouraging people to be real, be themselves and share without hindrance. There are not enough opportunities where that can happen in life. I want my blog to one such place.

Thank you again and drop by again soon!

Ralph Dumain said...

Reynolds' blog seems rather unintelligent, as I would expect of someone overly preoccupied with religion.

I was not aware of her role in Rev. Wright's press conference. I am not a fan of Obama, but I detest the Clintons much more. Nevertheless, Reynolds' culpability in setting up Obama to look bad is not established by the link you gave. Organizing a press conference for Wright in itself doesn't clinch the case unless Reynolds also knew Wright would make a fool out of himself and planned to sabotage Obama's campaign. But where's the evidence?

You also suggest that Reynolds is an advocate of Rev. Wright, which makes the outbursts against her rather puzzling. If she is both pro-Wright and pro-Clinton, what does that imply?

Zee Harrison said...


You no doubt have noticed that I have made no judgements regarding Dr Reynolds' alleged role in the Wright/Obama saga. I have no evidence nor proof of her input, negative or positive.

But, you asked a good question: what does it imply?

Implications are not facts, but a thinking person may wonder about her actual relationship with Hillary and also if there were hidden agendas of which we are unaware of.

The Billary Story is to me, a woman born and raised in the UK, very disturbing. This Democratic race has given me real insight into the machinations of (American)politics.
Hopefully, all those black people who praised Bill Clinton for being 'the first black president' (excuse me whilst I choke!)will realise what devious, underhanded, megalomaniacs the pair of them are.
But, hey - that's politics!

Thanks for your input,

DBB said...

Zee, I'm with you - I also have a blog and I really don't want to moderate comments - the only comments I've deleted were those that were obviously just advertisements, and those went away after I disabled anonymous posting (I was starting to get a lot of them).

I've noticed a distressing tendency to silence opposing viewpoints (along with insulting them) on many other blogs. Sure, they are welcome to do that - but then I'm also welcome to voice my opinion about them when they do so - I think it just leads to echo chambers.

I think the best way to foster reasoned discussion is to be reasonable myself - I try to avoid insulting or nasty to any commenters, even those I disagree with. I think being polite works far better than being acerbic. I think some bloggers let the echo-chambers of synchophants go to their head and they get nastier and nastier with time, causing more commenters to get nasty in return, resulting in more being banned, until you end up with a nice little gang of synchophants. And not much in the way of constructive discussion, because all opposing viewpoints are kept out or, at best, ridiculed.

Maybe it is more of a problem with more traffic - but I still think it is better to engage and discuss politely than to just start hurling insults and banning people. I'm glad to see you seem to have a similar philosophy.

Ralph Dumain said...

Reynold's censorship of her own blog is a non-issue. The problem would be censoring some other site that would result in the suppression of needed information for the public. Certainly, any site owner has a right to refuse to clutter up the site with anything other than her own refuse.

Most blog commentary that I've seen is a waste of space. It's even more worthless than oral banter since the latter at least doesn't leave a documentary record.

There are some negative critical remarks on Reynolds' site, BTW. You probably missed them. But her commentators are as idiotic as she is.

The entire site is religion-based in the most stupid fashion. Reynolds just can't be too bright given what she writes. Her advocacy of Hillary is baseless, and her uncritical attitude towards Wright is a symptom of what's wrong with the black church, not just one black church.

I wonder if you do understand American politics better. The UK has sunk pretty low itself, with Thatcher and Blair behind you. But the USA is a bottomless cesspool of irresponsible ignorance. Without an understand of how debased our public sphere is, you don't understand us at all.