Ron Silliman has turned off the comments stream for his blog because he chooses to no longer moderate the vitriol. Somehow, some people have interpreted this as an offense against readers who do not favor L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry. I'm not sure how anyone can reach this conclusion.
A number of people calling into sports shows I follow have lamented that "because of steroids", Alex Rodriguez' 600th home run is meaningless. Really? While I understand people's disappointment in tarnished heroes, I don't know how, at least if you're not a Yankee-hater, you dismiss the accomplishment.
Wil Wheaton is attending a gaming convention this weekend and has decided to execute a Howiemandelic maneuver and not shake hands with people during the covention as a way to avoid illness. This has some people offended, and they've made that known in his comments stream.
Common thread here seems to be to find a way to subtract from the importance you assign to persons of accomplishment who do somehow not permit us to apply our values to their work. Or maybe that without the direct link we want to a person with talents we recognize, we choose instead to have no links at all. I don't get this at all.
It's not that we can't feel loss, even deprivation at something taken away. But how does it subtract from the pleasure of experiencing the artistic product to have diminished respect for the artist? I'd have to delete half my playlist if perfect respect for the performer were a requirement for enjoying the music. The message is "I am not interested in your talent of you don't deliver it to me in the way I choose."
In the specifics of Silliman's comment stream, my question is: if you have something to say in response to one of his posts, why is the only place you can say it on his website? If you object to the elimination of his comment thread, isn't that the same thing as resenting losing a forum for your own words? Does he have an obligation to provide not only his time and energy, but also an audience for his readers?
That's the question. What's the answer?