In this corner, we have Keith Burgess-Jackson, of Anal Philosopher
and Conservative Philosopher
And in this corner, we have Max Goss, who blogs at In Hoc Signo Vinces
, and who until recently was a contributor to KBJ's Conservative Philosopher blog.
Apparently the seeds of this feud were sown when KBJ posted this reprehensible comment:
President Bush should make it clear to the North Koreans that if they attack the United States, their people, their culture, and their land will be incinerated. It will be as if they never existed.
To which Max responded:
Somehow I don't think Keith is sensitive to Just War Theory's requirement of proportionality or its emphasis on the distinction between aggressors and innocents, not to mention conservatism's worries about unintended consequences.
Then, all was quiet, for a while.
Until KBJ threw a hissy fit
and removed both the comments and the trackback feature from the Conservative Philosopher blog, saying:
Our grand experiment with comments and trackbacks is over. They're gone. The overall quality of comments was poor, and many of them were abusive to boot. Why in the world would I pay good money to make myself into a target? If this decision angers or upsets you, fine. Go elsewhere. The blogosphere, like the American West before 1890, is a wide-open place.
What's more, KBJ did this without first consulting any of his fellow contributors to the site, telling them, essentially, that if they didn't like it, they could leave. Which Max promptly did
Observant readers have noticed that Keith Burgess-Jackson has eliminated every trace of me from The Conservative Philosopher, to which I was, until this morning, a contributor. I feel like I owe an explanation to my readers from both sites. There is little point in reciting all the details of the pathetic little saga that unfolded. Suffice it to say that I quit this morning, citing, among other things:
* discomfort with being associated with a loose cannon of dubious conservative commitment;
*KBJ's sudden disabling of the blog's comments feature and his deleting of old comments without so much as a warning to readers or contributors;
* KBJ's evident contempt for both me and his readers (the latter was best seen in the now-deleted comments; I expect they will appear in Google's cache in the next day or so, however).
Max also wrote an "open letter" to KBJ which included these remarks:
As it so happens, I was already growing increasingly uncomfortable with having my name associated with The Conservative Philosopher. While the concept of the blog is good and its stable of contributors is outstanding, I have been troubled by, among other things, your rudeness to commenters, your dubious conservatism, and your occasional petulant outbursts.
I did not seriously consider quitting, however, until I experienced your reaction to an email I sent criticizing your comment about North Korea. Not only did you evince what I considered excessive impatience with my questions, but you also treated me shabbily, suddenly proposing, out of the blue, to enforce your early requirement that contributors to TCP hold a Ph.D. (This despite your having invited me, without my even asking, to join in the first place, even though you knew I was ABD.)
I don’t like to make snap decisions, and so I decided to take the weekend to think over whether I would stay on. On Sunday, however, you made my decision for me when you completely removed the comments feature from the blog, claiming that readers’ comments were "awful," "poor," and sometimes "abusive." ... Your decision was surprising, to say the least, not only because you eliminated what I take to be an essential feature of a blog, but also because you did so without so much as a warning to either readers or contributors. I realize that this was your prerogative, as you never fail to mention, but your exercise of it was, in my opinion, both rash and inconsiderate. It confirmed my impression that you do not care what anyone else thinks, including those who have helped make your blog a success. Please remove my name from the sidebar.
KBJ, however, tells a slightly different story, claiming that Max did not quit but was fired, so to speak. In this post
, Keith really shows his true colors:
I had to kick one of the bloggers off the blog. He should never have been on the blog to begin with, since he doesn’t have a Ph.D. or a D.Phil. degree in philosophy. I made a mistake letting him in. As it turned out, he has many problems. From the very beginning, he was telling me how to run the blog. I don’t even know him! He seemed obsessed with me. The other day, for example, I said that if the North Koreans attack us (with nuclear weapons), we should incinerate them. He said I was advocating genocide. Perhaps he didn’t notice the word “if.”
Anyway, good riddance. As I say, I should never have let him on the blog.
KBJ then starts ranting about somebody he kicked off of another blog (do I see a pattern emerging?):
I also had a problem with someone I kicked off The Ethics of War blog many months ago. Evidently, he still resents this, because he attacked me personally in the comments section of The Conservative Philosopher. I finally banished him from the site. This young man is only a student of philosophy (at a third-rate university). He has much to learn about charity, professionalism, and civility. I will be very surprised if he gets a tenure-track job in philosophy.
Classy. Keith finishes up:
All in all, the comments were a bad experience. I have told my fellow bloggers that if they don’t like my decision to disable the comments, they are free to leave the blog. ... Now I know why most serious bloggers don’t allow comments. They’re far more trouble than they’re worth. Live and learn.
This is rich. First of all, KBJ says that the other bloggers are "free to leave the blog," as if that were somehow his decision--what, Keith, did you really have the option to force them to stay? Or is this just another way of saying, "It's my blog!! Mine!!"? As one of Max's readers commented
, "I suspect that Keith was the kid who took the bat home when the game did not go his way."
Second, he seems obsessed with professional rank and status, saying it was a mistake to have somebody on the TCP blog who didn't have their doctorate, and then the comment about the other student being from a "third-rate university." Anybody who's spent any time around academics knows that having a Ph.D. does not
make you a better thinker, as Keith--who has both a Ph.D. and a J.D., which he makes sure to put after his name--himself evidences. And as for "third-rate" universities, I don't recall anyone mentioning the University of Texas at Arlington, where KBJ teaches, in the same breath as Princeton and M.I.T. (Max, by the way, is ABD ("all but dissertation," for those not in the know, meaning essentially done but not technically) from the University of Texas at Austin, one of the top philosophy programs in the country.)Third,
KBJ says that "most serious bloggers don't allow comments." Hmm. That would come as a surprise to Atrios
, and Kevin Drum
, all of whose blogs are much more highly regarded than either of Keith's.
So anyway, I don't know who's telling the truth here ... well, okay, it's clearly Max, since Keith is clearly a delusional egomaniac. All I know is that it's strangely fascinating to watch someone melt down in such a public way.