Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Newsarama Removing Comments In My Defense

You would think that in a thread where I'm being slaughtered, a couple of positive comments for my side would be allowed through.

But not at Newsarama.

I've just got my second report of a comments in my defense being blocked to this post by Newsarama moderators. Not only are the comments blocked, but the IP address as well so new comments can't get through from those users.

I've allowed literally almost a hundred nasty, negative comments to be posted on my blog on this issue. I've paid my dues on this. These comments were incendiary, aggravating, repetative, and very time-consuming to answer. Why can't a big website like Newsarama be as "brave"?

What are you afraid of, Newsarama? Why are you using a website that is theoretically supposed to be for "general audiences" to promote a political agenda? Is that what your site or Imaginova is all about?

Newsarama: do you print your "news" just for a certain segment of people in the comics community? Or for everybody?

Again: free speech...only for some.

Postscript: If Newsarama wants to only present one point of view and censor others, that's fine. If they want to block my supporters and present a grossly skewed version of the debate, that's also fine, because it's their site. It's just that they should wear their bias on their sleeve and admit it, instead of pretending that they are a general audience site.


  1. Anonymous1:20 PM

    I was just over there and generally it seems to be people supportive of, if not your views, then of addressing the issues brought up in a calm, polite manner.

    But the whole thing seems to have become spun to be about you and other industry people, rather than any of the ideas originally brought up. Which is a shame. Especially at Christmas.

    Try to enjoy the holidays Val.

  2. Welcome to the world of the conservative comic book fan, Valerie. Not saying that you are a card-carrying conservative (in fact, I know you're a proud liberal on most issues), but at the same time you're experiencing the same "mob smack-down" conservative commentors receive every day on blogs and message boards they dare to post ideas contrary to the Mass GroupThink.

    It's times like this that you realize those who are the first to label others as intolerant, bigoted, closeminded, and (of course) "fascist" are the first ones to reach for the First Ammendment kill switch.

  3. I haven't had my comments removed, but I apparently now have to submit all my comments for moderation. That's fine.

    It's one thing to engage in intelligent, respectful discourse about the porno Simpsons and Supergirl and Lost Girls. That's a conversation I'm interested in. Newsarama posted a hack job, calling the president of a major comics organization a "crank" and a "crackpot", and then attributed comments to her that were never made. The fact that they stand by this piece is shameful, and indicates how far that group has fallen.

    Hey, I disagree with some of your position, too. But just because we disagree doesn't mean I'm going to call you names or spread lies. That, apparently, is the difference between me and Newsarama.

  4. wait, didn't you block all comments on multiple post decrying those who disagreed with you?

    yes, if newsarama is doing that they are hypocrites. i'd rather have a serious debate than one sided ranting on both sites.

    people can be against the government stepping in and regulating something but be in favor of boycotting stores that carry the product. I just can't see why you keep equating a fear of government censorship about anything with aquiesence of a moral evil?

    It's tiresome to have support for a belief used to slander me because some aspect of that belief leads to disgusting material being produced.

    Does this mean all Catholics support child molesters or all Muslims support terrorism, due to a few bad seeds or that the intolerant scriptures condemn unbelievers to eternal concentration camps?

    Is everyone who buys from Gap or Disney complicit in the forced labor of children (some who work until their hands bleed only to be whipped for slowing down) and women (some forced to take morning after pills lest companies be forced to provide natal care) across the world?

    finally, stop using everything to attack DC while giving every other comic company a free pass, or please explain what makes their publications, not their editorial department, worse than other comic companies. I know Marvel will show girl's panties or less (Have you seen Frank Cho's avengers?) and have scenes that degrade women?

    So does Top Cow, Crossgen, Image, etc.

  5. Valerie, I may not agree with you on this subject but I also really don't agree with what J. Caleb Mozzocco wrote and anybody else who crosses the line from debating what you wrote to personal attack.

    But that everybody can speak out on this issue, regardless of what view they take, without the cops busting down their doors and putting them in jail indicates that there is (still) free speech for all.

    I don't think we will ever live in a world where you can speak an opinion without somebody holding an opposite opinion speaking back.

  6. Newsarama's been using a badly-designed comment spam plugin for months. If you take the time to actually read a post and the comments on it, or look at something else and come back, it assumes you're a spammer and kicks back a bogus error message, and the moderators won't even see it.

    The way to get around the bug is to type the comment in Notepad or another text editor, reload the page, then paste the comment into the form and submit it.

    While we're at it, I do see comments favorable to you on that thread.

    So maybe it's not someone trying to censor your side. Maybe it's just the same broken spam filter that's been there all along.

  7. I have another question - should we stop the making of real porn?

    This is something I go back and forth on, but really isn't porn just prostitution?

    Isn't it just as filled with abused women (and in many cases men) who turn to drugs to numb the feelings of degradation?

    I've heard of feminist porn, but frankly nothing I've ever seen has qualified so I wonder where this mysterious Grail of porn is.

    The counter argument? Government controlling our bodies. Is that enough of a justification?

  8. Yeah, I tried to reply to something J. Caleb Mozzocco wrote in response to one of my comments, but after taking the time to write out what I wanted to say and then post it, I got a message stating, “Your comment appears to be spam. Spam comments will not be tolerated on this blog.” I tried posting using a different web browser and I got the same thing. I then went back later and tried again. Same thing. I can only assume that my IP address is blocked or flagged as belonging to a spammer. Oh well.

    Just because you are an advocate for comics doesn’t mean you should also be an advocate for child porn. One honestly has absolutely nothing to do with the other. The last thing I want anyone to think that is just because I like to read comics, illustrations of adults anally raping young children has anything to do with me or the things I value or enjoy. It doesn’t.

    Dwight Whorley, the first person convicted under the PROTECT Act of 2003 law, was downloading both photographic child porn and illustrated child porn on a public computer at a Virginia job bank. He, a convicted sex offender, seemingly thought illustrated child porn was more than just “lines on paper”. He apparently got some kind of twisted sexual gratification from the illustrated child porn as well as the photographed child porn.

    Imagine that.

    I guess I feel the same way a movie buff would feel about coming to the defense of someone who imported a snuff film from the Philippines. Just because the two share an interest in works created through the medium of film doesn’t mean the two are anything alike.

    I’m a big believer in free speech and the First Amendment, I just don’t think images showing young children being sodomized is something comic book fans should feel an obligation to defend. Do I think that the First Amendment gives pedophiles the right to procure images -- photographed or drawn -- of children being anally penetrated by adults? No, I sure don’t.

  9. Snow Princess, correct me if I'm wrong -- but didn't I post boat-loads of negative comments directed at me over the last week-and-a-half?

    I have something called a JOB (several, actually, overlapping each other) that precludes me from moderating hundreds of comments all the time. Every once in a while, I have to get out of the Bubble (gasp!) and make a living. So it's either I make a post with no comments so I can just do my work and not be distracted, or I don't post at all.

    In contrast to my personal blog, Newsarama presents itself as a "news" site. Hence the name Newsarama.

  10. If it makes you feel better - my posts, which are very much against you, and everything you stand for, have also been removed.

  11. Yeah, imagine that...newsarama not being balanced.

    Next you'll tell me that most comic book fans are fat, sweaty guys who have Catwoman fantasies.

    Um, scratch that.

  12. For all of Snow Princess' complaining, I always see her (their?) posts on here, so....wait, what?

    That and, why do people assume so much about people on the internet? I don't *know* Valerie and would never presume to pretend I do. Just like I don't know Alan Moore or John Byrne or Peter David or David Lapham (although I met him once, nice guy)....there's no agenda. There's the feelings and stance of someone who actually has worked in comics.

    Maybe that's what scares people. It's easy to dismiss some rabid weirdo on a message board. Much harder to do that to someone who has seen the man behind the curtain.

  13. >Snow Princess, correct me if I'm >wrong -- but didn't I post >boat-loads of negative comments >directed at me over the last >week-and-a-half?

    Yes, and I've commended you before on letting dissenting viewpoints through.

    But this defense of you having a job doesn't hold in my opinion, because posts about SNL and other funner topics did not have comments disallowed, whereas your posts about this issue did.

    It's unfair to write a tirade where you accuse people of not caring about child porn because it's not trendy and then disable comments. You specifically attack people who disagree with you, allowing for no nuance at all, then turn around and disable comments. That seems cowardly to me.

    My partner was molested for years, and she herself said that it didn't make sense to ban illustrations on the basis of a cartoon being classified as a person. So its insulting to be told that I support child porn, when instead I am against all REAL porn simply because I accept the unfortunate but necessary concepts of free speech.

    I live in world where democracy means people can pass Prop 8 and one of its vocal supporters is invited to pray for Obama when I gave money I didn't have to get him elected. I accept the consequences of democracy, and pay for it Val.

    It sucks, it hurts when gays are dehumanized by supposedly beautiful religions, but I accept it there just as I accept it in the case of illustrated child porn. Just as I accept freedom of hell faiths to practice and state amendments to constitutions.

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Admittedly, this has been a difficult topic for me to understand. It seems like something that ought to be simple, but...

    Anyway Val, I'm glad you're (1) talking about this kind of stuff, and (2) allowing others to voice their opinions. A few weeks on your blog gives me more to think about than a few years on Newsarama.

  16. In Newsarama's defense, they just posted a fantastic article by Jeff Trexler on the issue. It was reasoned, insightful, and even called for respect from all who are passionate about the issue, regardless of which side they're on. It's the mirror image of Caleb's article. It's an article that Newsarama can be proud of presenting to its audience. It's a little confounding that the Newsarama organization found value in both articles.

  17. Val, I understand your dial is at 11 at this point--and I have no love for the new Newsarama--but as someone who's had intermittent troubles posting to their boards for weeks, I think it's entirely possible that it's a technoglitch and not specifically targeted at you.

    I don't agree with you on this issue, but I see tremendous value in the debate you've raised. And I think if you can be a lot less Mark Waid and a lot more Kurt Busiek in your responses, that value will only increase.

    It's clearly a hot-button issue with you, and understandably so--but I encourage you to stay on-message in a positive, focused way that is neither accusatory nor tainted with (not-unjustifiable) paranoia. You have a right to be pissed, but everyone who comes away from this back-and-forth thinking it's about you being pissed represents a lost opportunity to add to your cause. Again, I really do respect you and what you're saying--but, for what it's worth, from my perspective, the part where this is about you is at the moment louder than the point you're actually championing.

  18. I don't understand, free speech is not "only for some"; you said your piece. And people responded to it. Why is it ok for you to say things like "Neil Gaiman and I aren't even living on the same planet", and then act like it's completely unreasonable that someone would be shocked to hear a creator or creative mind stand for any form of censorship. Upset because you think people misunderstand or misquote you? Tough, be more clear. In the meantime stop acting so outraged and pretending that you have no idea why people are so upset about this. Because I think free speech is NOT just for some, it's for all, including those critical of your opinion.

  19. I posted a joke headline with the word "Crackpot" in it.

    I referred to your "ill-conceived, poorly-written blog posts expressing crazy-person positions."

    And I said "if, at the very least, when you think of Friends of Lulu you think of some crank on the Internet." IF.

    I thought it was pretty clear I was talking about what you were saying, not you.

    If that counts as an attack on you personally and a crucifixion, well, we differ in our definitions of "attack."

    You, meanwhile, said that it "could be that Mozzocco is a card-carrying dogmatic idiot" and "Why pretend you are tolerant? Stop the charade, already, and embrace your fascism. J. Caleb Mozzocco, embrace your fascism, embrace your intolerance."

    If this is a joke feud type thing like you did with that creator recently, I'm not in on it and certainly don't get it.

    Regarding folks having posts bounced back and warned that they're attempting to span, I had the same thing happen to me. It seems to occur if you leave the window open too long, or post too long a message.

  20. That's childish what Newsarama is doing. I almost quit going to their site once. I think I will this time. I don't know why I go there. Their site isn't as interesting as Comicbook Resources.

  21. "I don't understand, free speech is not "only for some"; you said your piece."

    Really, Paul?

    That's why I was emailed by a couple of people telling me that they support me but not to mention their names because they were afraid of backlash from the witch-hunt at Newsarama.

    And that's why when anybody expresses anything resembling a conservative opinion, they get shouted down by the angry mob.

    It wouldn't be so bad if those yelling "free speech" and "thoughtcrime" weren't just as dogmatic -- just taking it from a different end of the ideological spectrum.

  22. Caleb, when you first started blogging at Newsarama I found your posts rambling, and unfocused -- but I took pity on them and actually defended them. Because I figured that those were your first few posts, and that you were just getting warmed up.

    But, just from a purely technical point of view: your posts suck. That's the only real revenge I get for all the bullshit you have put me through. Knowing that when we push our ideological differences aside, your posts are really not that well-written.

    I hear that you want me off of Friends of Lulu for having an opinion that is not the "norm." I want you off of Newsarama for bad writing.

  23. Rick, I understand where you're coming from here. but I do think it's still something you can't legislate away.

    I've seen stuff of this type, and my first reaction is usually a perverse chuckle. My second is invariably a thought of "who the hell come up with this frickin' stuff?

    I can get a small laugh out of the juxtaposition of sexual imagery with ostensibly wholesome children's fare and not at all be inclined to emulate it in any way.

    Imagine that.

    Mr. Whorley is one messed up dude who, if illustrative child porn had not been available, would likely have used just about anything else as a trigger. He git twisted gratification out of the stuff because he himself is twisted.

    If you try making such imagery illegal, then lock up all the Disney animators while you're at it for sticking still nudie frames in most of their animated films.

    If you're really for the First Amendment, then you have to allow for forms of expression that you don't agree with. Anything else is a mistake, because whatever you like, the reality is SOMEONE will disagree with YOUR choice. Trying to satisfy everyone's taste ends up satisfying no one.

  24. Oh and Caleb -- enjoy the little schadenfreude you've created. This is the high point of your career.

  25. Caleb- for the first time in a long time with Newsarama, my comments are now marked for moderation. I think it's fair to say that something's going on. I don't mind that my comments are now being moderated- I don't think I've said anything that would violate Newsarama's TOS, so I'm not really that bothered now if my comments are being double-checked before being posted. I'm certainly not being censored there.

    And you did more than call Val a crackpot and a crank- you also attributed comments to her that she didn't make under the guise of "by her logic, she must feel this way". It's shoddy work, Caleb.

    And on that note, I've said all I can say on this, so I'm done.

  26. This just in:

    "I was just joking" was a weak excuse for being nasty back in 1997...just sayin'.

    It makes someone posting on a well-known comic book website under the guise of a blog reporting facts look ridiculous.

    (Holy crap, was that really Mark Waid???)

  27. Mark, I hear what you are saying.

    But there is definitely a bias against conservative thought in comics. Not really so much *within* the industry -- but most certainly in the media and the most vocal people in the fandom.

    And I'm not even a true conservative. I'm against child porn, extreme sexual/violent images of women, and sexual harassment. Oh, and I believe in God. But on a lot of issues, I don't see eye-to-eye with right wingers.

    The question is: do conservatives deserve any sort of respect or inclusion within this fandom?

    And my boyfriend tried to post on Newsarama in defense of me yesterday, and his post was rejected.

  28. The way I look at it, things could be infinitely worse for me --

    We could be having this whole brouhaha because I was *for* child porn.

    So, cup half full.

  29. i just posted over yonder. it appeared on the board immediately.

    i wish folks would de-escalate this discussion by a factor of, oh, ten or so.

    val, i know you're upset, and with reason. but those last couple of digs at caleb just seem like they're beneath you. when you feel like people are lowering the level of the discourse, that's when it can be the most valuable to keep your side of the dialogue clear and classy.


    happy holidays. and peace on earth.

  30. edit: i was wrong. my comment showed up for me, thanks to the miracle of cookies. but it's still awaiting moderation.

    sorry for the confusion. (mine.)

  31. Actually, I did see your boyfriend's post on there today, so maybe the glitch got worked out.

  32. I understand what you are saying, and ostensibly I agree. People shouldn't be vilified for their opinion, and you're right, which is why it's ultimately frustrating that your response to such vilification is to go on a tirade in turn.

    I don't think this has anything to do with the fury over conservative opinion, especially since I think that generally most people in the comics world, fans and creators alike, skew more conservative. I think it more has to do with the idea that because you find something offensive it should be done away with. That's plainly what you're saying. I think Nazis are horribly offensive, but they have the right to be ignorant animals, just like I have the right to refer to them as such. And someone with a sexual drawing of Simpsons characters -- the Simpsons, who do not even resemble humans! -- has the right to look at that drawing, regardless of how inane and disgusting I think it is. What's entertainment for one is sick to another, has been since the beginning of time. My parents don't understand Pere Ubu, I think the Eagles suck. Yay, differences! I know this sounds like a simple rehash of every argument that's already been stated but to me it's really that simple. Either there is free speech or there isn't, and if there is you have to deal with the shit that offends you.

    Regarding this "witch hunt" at Newsarama... really? Did you REALLY get messages from people asking to stay anonymous? I just seriously can not believe that to be the case. What's to be afraid of? The internet is not a monster that can kill you in the real world, it is a series of tubes.

    Ultimately I feel that I'm not really as incredulous as some of the people who have posted (I am not going to stop reading your blog; on the contrary, I had never read it before this, and will be coming back often, it's quite good). But as I originally stated, you can not be surprised that some people would be upset by your stance on this.

  33. "The question is: do conservatives deserve any sort of respect or inclusion within this fandom?"

    That's a bullshit question and you know it. Focus. Of course they do. You know it and I know it, and anyone who would answer "no" is beneath contempt. But trying to fight disrespect on the internet is like trying to push the tide back with a broom. C'mon. Message boards populated by the anonymous are, by and large, cauldrons of hate, and any respect found on them has slipped in totally by accident.

    I appreciate that you're under fire unfairly, but trust you to lead by example, not through retaliatory attacks. That's a waste of time and energy that is (a) beneath you, and (b) furthers your argument not one iota. Every minute you spend lashing out at an individual over all this is one less minute that gets devoted to your more noble goals. And, again, while I don't agree with you on this point, I am tremendously impressed and excited by your stated objectives of creating resource links and such.

    I understand why you're pissed, I really do. At any given moment of the day, I have enough rage in me to power a aircraft carrier; you have no idea. But I also therefore know, in my more reflective moments, that there is no more addictive emotion than feeling hard-done by. Just speaking personally, I'd rather see you expend that energy on making your case and drawing others to your point of view through the strength of your argument rather than playing into a pointless, unresolveable "us vs. them."

    "And my boyfriend tried to post on Newsarama in defense of me yesterday, and his post was rejected."

    That's entirely possible. It may well be that Newsrarama is rigged against you, and I don't mean that sarcastically. I don't know. I'm just saying that I can't post there half the time either, about anything.

    You're entitled to your anger. I'm in no way trying to take it away from you, and anyone who is can go eat dirt. But you have impressed me in the past with what you're able to do with your anger when you really focus it through a lens that enlightens.

  34. This is a blog, not a democracy. She can allow comments or not allow them all she wants. But it's hilarious to read all these grand analogies people are making.

  35. You're not talking to me. You're not talking about what I wrote. Or what you wrote.

    Caleb, when you first started blogging at Newsarama I found your posts rambling, and unfocused -- but I took pity on them and actually defended them. Because I figured that those were your first few posts, and that you were just getting warmed up.

    When? Way back, three weeks ago? I've been at Blog@ since Dec. 1st; I've been blogging a little longer than you have in general (EDILW went up in '06, I think). And writing professionally my adult life. This is as warm as I get.

    But, just from a purely technical point of view: your posts suck. That's the only real revenge I get for all the bullshit you have put me through. Knowing that when we push our ideological differences aside, your posts are really not that well-written.

    Well I suppose it's a good thing you're not an editor any more then, huh? What have I put you through? I publicly disagreed with your public stance. So what?

    I hear that you want me off of Friends of Lulu for having an opinion that is not the "norm.

    You "hear?" Did someone read my post to you? Because I didn't say anything like that. I asked if it's weird for the president of the Friends of Lulu to publicly attack a boardmember of the CBDLF and label--directly or indirectly--the folks she's advocating for as sickos and should-be criminals. That's the extent of nefarious conspiracy to get you kicked off of the FOL board.

    I don't really care about your opinions; I disagree with some of them, but, again, so what? Why do you even have a public blog if you don't ever want to be disagreed with in public? Why don't you just do this stuff through myspace or some site where only people you mark "friends' can read?

    At any rate, I assure you this is not the climax of my "career."

  36. And I guess I shouldn't hang around here arguing with you, either, particularly if it's just going to be you calling me names, acting paranoid and not actually responing to anything I'm saying/have said/you've said.

    Feel free to email me if you'd like to discuss anything out of the public eye. I'll leave it up to you and readers to read what I wrote vs. what you wrote and draw whatever conclusions you and they want about who's on the "attack."

  37. Val,

    It's Newsarama. Anyone taking them seriously is already a lost cause. Don't let them get to you. I don't agree 100% with you here, but I registered with google today just to voice my support for you. The abuse they heap on you is way out of bounds. And their weasely defense of said abuse is sorry indeed.

    I've seen that a portion of the comics 'net community has a strong negative emotional reaction to you. And I see them crawl out of the woodwork to pile on you at every chance. While I think you were more at the Waid end of the posting spectrum in your previous post, most of your detractors have a lot more to apologize for than you do.

    This is my favorite comics blog. Please keep it up.

  38. Okay, this is one of the few blogs I read and I hardly ever post, but I have to comment: Caleb's post was dickery of the highest caliber, and the posts by Ms. D’Orazio, while fiery, are much more understandable in light of the subject at hand: adults deriving sexual satisfaction from depictions of children

    Mr. Gaiman's post was thoughtful, and perhaps too quickly summarized by Ms. D'Orazio, but I was struck by the lack of moral outrage on his part for the viewing habits of the man in question. A glaring omission, and disconcerting: his first concern is the legal right to own Alan Moore books, and not the fact that a man was deriving pleasure from sexual images of children?

    I may agree with Sting on this, that I do not believe there is a political solution. I think it's a slippery slope. Honestly, without trying to toss out a dire situation, would Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita be banned? Not that my inspiration should be to preserve work I enjoy as opposed to standing up for what is right (I preferred Pale Fire), but I think creating hard-and-fast rules can just produce further travesties. Before we make rules, we must come to a consensus on first principles. Look at how Japanese pornography became depraved to a level that would make the Apostle Paul think Romans 1 was an understatement, likely as a result of them banning the depiction of genitals.

    However, many decrying the ruling are committing the ad consequentiam fallacy. Rather than address whether the creation of such obviously sexually-oriented material is right or wrong, they address the possible consequences of ruling one way or the other. This is a weak fallacy, because it does have relevance, but it cannot be the thrust of the argument.

    This may seem to contradict my earlier reference to Lolita, so I won't try to defend myself. I will say that this issue far too often avoids the discussion of the role and responsibility and government and looks for consequences.

    That said, I wonder if part of the US comic community response in support of the convicted man, or at least attacking his overseas attackers, comes from understanding that this ruling has profound relevance to the state of modern comics and animation. I haven't been reading DC Comics for two years now, and it wasn't a hard habit to break. They wrecked my favorite titles and characters (Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Green Arrow), and their writing just became horrendous.

    And yes, Mary Marvel had a great deal to do with my decision. The teaser image of Countdown where she was done up like a dominatrix, caressed by two older women...

    Contextually, the writing at DC is so dismal and has generally been for several years now, that I don't think I'm making a poor logically abductive statement when I say that the hyper-sexual recasting of Mary Marvel and other heroines is not being done for any artsy reasons

    We're getting into intangibles, and I worry that both parties in this debate need to do more study of the philosophy of identity, governmental theory, and cultural relativism before this debate can be fully had.

    I do wonder if Alan Moore, one of my top five writers, is getting too fair of a shake. Why is his work untouchable? After all, he's depicting the sexual exploits of children, including incest. I haven't purchased Lost Girls and I just don't know if I will. Moore has always prided himself on his open-mindedness to sexuality, but what has it gotten us?

    For one, the lesbian in Watchmen who read pornography oriented to male heterosexuals and broke down crying, saying "I want to be straight." I haven't known a single lesbian like that. They may exist, but I regard it as a glaring weak point in a masterpiece of sequential art.

    Flash forward to The Black Dossier. A wonderful if less accessible entry into the League books that really lays out Moore's philosophical ideas of "The Planet of the Imagination" and "Idea Space." But the sex in it? Near-childish. After the initial hilarity of a 1984-themed Tijuana Bible and a sequel to Fanny Hill, it became clear that Moore writes his women like his men - when it comes to sex. The entire book was a paean to male sex fantasies. Even though he did knock James Bond's block off (hooray!), he himself seemed to portray all women as nymphomaniacs. It may seem more enlightened ("At least they want it!") but it isn't.

    Seneca wrote that fire is what tests good, and adversity is what tests strong men. A robust debate is how ideas are tempered.

    As fiery as you can be, Ms. D'Orazio, you do allow disagreement on your blog, and you do not resort first to ad hominem fallacies. The same is not true of all your opponents.

    Even if there is a legal right to such material in the States, perhaps this Australian case can shed light on why a segment of comic viewers are seeking out sexual material. Perhaps the question for the comic community (West and East) should be not What is our legal right? but What is ethical?

    After the Iron Man movie came out, one of my students (junior high) began buying Iron Man trades. She's becoming a fan of Tony Stark and the Avengers, and my first impulse was fear. She has a poor body image, and I'm terrified what will happen if she dives into modern comics. I know, I'm being a reductionist. There's more to it than too-thin or too-busty superheroines. But the culture overall is very anti-feminine, and the few trying to change that are either marginalized or, perhaps in Alan Moore's case, going about it the wrong way.

    Likewise, the year previous one of my male students became interested in superheroines. I met with his parents to suggest some titles and trades, and cautioned them not to let him buy anything that catches his eye. He was in 7th grade - the wrong age to let a young man test his view of gender relations using the pages of 52 or Countdown.

    And I'm not a prude. I lost a curriculum battle to read a superior translation of The Epic of Gilgamesh that was shot down because it had the word "semen" and "breast" in it.

    By and large, the response I get when bringing this up around other comic fans offline is either "You're making a mountain out of a molehill!" or "Yes, I guess it's bad...but I'm not planning on changing my habits."

    I can only hope that the shift in sequential art from a print-dominated industry to a web medium that supports many niches will result in the dinosaur publishers burning out in the next couple decades.

    Until then, please continue to raise your concerns. This is a blog, not a New York Times editorial page. You have everything right to be vitriolic, especially when you couch your anger in thoughtful posts.

  39. Val - I am with nelson and mark in thinking the site doesn't users session variables properly (based on my own similar experiences.)

    That said the site has not been the same since the changed hands.

  40. Caleb, with the "Ann Coulter Defense:"

    I posted a joke headline with the word "Crackpot" in it.

    I referred to your "ill-conceived, poorly-written blog posts expressing crazy-person positions."

    And I said "if, at the very least, when you think of Friends of Lulu you think of some crank on the Internet." IF.

    I thought it was pretty clear I was talking about what you were saying, not you.

    If that counts as an attack on you personally and a crucifixion, well, we differ in our definitions of "attack."

    "I wasn't actually calling you a crank, per se, but I did put the word 'crank' in some sentences about you, so if other people make that connection it's their problem, not mine."

    Nice, Caleb. I have no problem with never reading anything by you again, nor do I have a problem with forever deriding Newsrama as the hacky, industry ass-kissing joke of a site that it is. Thanks for making all comic fans look like jackasses.

    And remember... I'm not calling you a jackass.

  41. I absolutely condemn any censoring of your viewpoint or the viewpoint of anyone who agrees with you or tries to defend you on Newsarama. I absolutely condemn the personal attacks on you. I absolutely condemn any attempt to make this debate about the people involved rather than the issues at stake.

    I also absolutely condemn and STRONGLY disagree with your attempts to paint all of those who do disagree with you, and much more reasonably, with the same brush. Addressing your previous post as well as this one: I support the right of Muslims to protest peaceably against what they feel to be a blasphemous portrayal of their prophet as much as I support the right of others to express what some feel to be blasphemy. I support anyone's right, everyone's right, to write angry letters, to march in the streets, to organize boycotts. I do not support violent acts. I do not support the official sanction of law against expression that does no tangible harm.

    And I support your right to express your opinion. I disagree with you on this. It happens. I've disagreed with you before. But I do not, under any circumstances, want you silenced. I hope you'll change your mind. I'm sure you hope I'll change mind. But even if neither of us never does, I would never, ever, ever want either of us to be silenced.

    Free speech is for EVERYONE. Please STOP pretending that everyone who's defending absolute free expression in this matter actually means that some forms of expression should be more free than others. It's rude and it's unworthy of you.

    But hey. Even if you continue to press that argument, you're welcome to it. Merry Christmas and God bless.

  42. They wouldn't even let me post a comment saying that I disagreed with your position on the issue. I assume because I went on to say that everybody is wrong from time to time, it's not as if you've got a nutjob idea like Dave Sim or Frank Miller, and your work is still awesome.

    So: you can dis on the Occasional Superheroine all you like, but even going so far as to say that disagreeing with someone does not make them crazy is not allowed.

    In any case, keep being kickass!

  43. The superhero is inherently a conservative concept, one that values individual over collective responsibility.

    On that Newsarama thread, there seems to be about half pro-Val, half anti-Val.

    As for the "News" aspect of Newsarama, I have danced that dance with Doran and Brady for a decade. The line goes - Newsarama is not a news focussed site, hence the "arama" bit. It's much more of an entertainment site. I consider that misleading, they don't.

  44. Valerie-

    I'm a free speech advocate, and I admit the cartoon bothers me a lot less than it bothers you. But I understand why it bothers you so much and I have the same concerns. At the same time, I'm not exactly sure I agree with you on this issue.


    I take these battles on a case-by-case basis and try not to conflate one with all the others. I think anyone with the ability to think critically will pick and choose things worth defending and things not worth the effort. There's a huge difference between some reactionary PTA nut decrying Judy Blume, Charles Darwin or James Joyce, or a religious leader calling for the murder of an author over a novel and your stance on this cartoon.

    I could logically delineate the differences but then this comment would go on forever. And I don't think I should have to; I believe the difference should be self-evident.

    I don't see how attacking you is taking some high-and-mighty idealistic stand for freedom of expression. In fact, I think support for this stupid cartoon belittles the very real debates on the topic going on elsewhere.

    And the level of villifying you and the self-aggrandizing posturing accompanying all this has been even more ridiculous: the "slippery slope" arguments that in turn become pretty slippery themselves (thanks Wikipedia, for arming us with definitions of fallacies that then take the place of actual logical arguments), the idea that you're conservative, the equating of your opposition to this crappy little cartoon with an advocacy of an Orwellian thought-police state. I think there was even a mention of Nazi Germany, which is generally the tipping point of where a debate goes from valid to inane.

    So while I'm much less inclined to outrage about the cartoon in question (while at the same time wanting nothing whatsoever to do with it or its creator), I think a lot of the response to your stance has been thoroughly hysterical and wrong-headed. And the Newsarama blog entry is insulting and pandering, a "preaching to the choir" attempt at currying favor.

    A joke.

    This is how comics fandom operates? And these are the things we choose to defend with all this empty rhetoric?

    Pathetic. It's making a joke of real oppression and real efforts to maintain human rights and artistic expression. So no thanks, komics kiddies.

    I plan to use my pro-free speech ire in more constructive ways and in favor of worthier causes. If I think a creator has been unfairly targeted for censorship or wrongfully prosecuted, I'm going to support the hell out of that person.

    But this crap? I wouldn't piss on it if it were on fire.

  45. Val said- And my boyfriend tried to post on Newsarama in defense of me yesterday, and his post was rejected.

    FWIW, they did accept a post by him this morning in which he defended your professional credentials. He did it quite well. :-)

  46. People disagreed with you but I don't think that we were calling for your exclusion for the comics community. Please stop with the martyr act. No one wants you silenced or excluded. Some folks disagreed with your position (and some of your debate techniques), it happens on teh intrawebs. Tempers flared on both sides, but again, that's the internet for you.

    I wish you would stop implying that your detractors are for child porn. It makes it sound as though we are in favor of pornography featuring real kids, and not arguing that drawings of cartoon children don't fit the criteria of child porn. It's dishonest. I don't think any one here supports porn with flesh and blood kids. If someone is actually exploiting real kids, by all means they should go to prison. Not for drawings though.

    Anyway, I hope that we can all still get along (whether we agree or disagree). Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Good luck with Cloak and Dagger.

    Best wishes,

  47. Valerie, I hear you and I agree with you on all the points that you make and for the things you find unpalatable in this industry.And for the lopsided view that anything vaguely conservative is vile. I too am a Liberal person who believes in God,collects comics, is against child porn in ANY FORM,against extreme violence and images against women,men and children just for pure titillation, and sexual harassment.
    Keep going and keep strong.
    Oh and Have a lovely and Merry Christmas with your loved ones! :)

  48. I came to this site after reading the post on Newsarama. I expected to read a rambling opinion by a "crank", "crackpot", or possibly a "psycho chick". I did not find that. I think your opinion is well thought out and consistant throughout your posts.

    While I disagree with you entirely on this topic. I do commend you for allowing posts of both sides of the debate. In fact it seems that, while the posters are overwhelmingly against you, you allowed the posts and kept consistantly defending your opinion.

  49. Wow. Now, I don't want to get into a name calling type-of-thing, but the other writer noting here that "[he] referred to your 'blog posts expressing crazy-person positions'...[he] thought it was pretty clear [he] was talking about what you were saying, not you," just shows he has mental comprehension/reality issues. It's cool. PROUD. Everyone is labelling you. Crackpot. Crazy. Etc. They label you because it's the easiest way for them to dismiss you. To make you the irrational OTHER, but not by attacking your stance but through personal attacks. Honestly, be effing proud because you respond with thought and they respond with drivel.

    And lots of us have your back, and are proud of you.

  50. Mark W. --

    I hear you. You have good points, and you inspire me to focus on what is important.

    And, sincerely, I'm very honored that you posted on my blog.

  51. Thanks, Val (and Newsarama). You've got me thinking about iconography and how people decode visual images. (Scott McCloud discusses this in "Understanding Comics", with Magritte's "The Treachery of Images".)

    When do words (abstract images) and pictures become actual objects? If I were to design the Arabic calligraphy of "Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullāh" so that is suggested a face, would Muslims take offense?

    Yes, it's a complex issue. For Christians, it's a contradiction with Exodus 20:4 (idol worship).

    There are no easy answers, but here's a quotation from a great philosopher:
    "Most minds are like concrete . . . all mixed up and permanently set!" --Alfred E. Neuman

    Thanks for helping me search for truth, Val.

  52. I agree with most everything Mark Waid's said so far (there's a sentence I couldn't have imagined I'd be typing this morning). The best way to figuratively pants someone on-line is to stay on point, while they try and drag the arguement into the gutter.

    btw, when did newsarama become all DC all the time? two or three years ago they seemed to be all in Joey Q's butt. Something happened there, right?

  53. I am curious if the content of the blocked users (since IP address blocking is done to essentially ban users) is known?

    I get a sneaking suspicion we are getting only side of this story.

    As for Newsarama being "unfair"...isn't the nature of a blog to express opinions? Valerie expressed hers, the guy over at newsarama (Blog@ being the key phrase) expressed his to counter her point. Its valid, its fair, its a part of the blogging community.

    Experience should have taught people that in areas, but especially in the comic arena, there is without exception two sides to the story and so far we have only heard one.

    I am inclined to think there is an aggressive backstory in part because I was expecting some outragous comments beyond the pale and when I went to read them I found the normal comments you find on any blog, some for, some against, some just stupid, some insightful, etc.

    If your going to share opinions iwth the world, expect to deal with the consequences. If your going to moderate those consequences away, then the comments shouldn't be allowed at all. This is the pitfall of moderation, it leaves you wide open for attacks of "hiding" the truth and censorship.

  54. I don't think you are any of those names or I would not have been reading your blog for over a year now.

    I think your overplaying the victim here.
    I think your not addressing very real concerns.
    I think you might be purposefully misunderstanding arguments.
    I think someone deciding what is ok and what not ok is reducing me to nothing more then a child.
    If its not hurting anyone else then let me make the choice and have to deal with the demons of that choice weather it be a bottle, a cigarette, a videogame, or a taste in the depraved.
    I think that to think some sicko getting of to Bart is the same thing as someone getting off to a real boy is dangerous and is a massive insult to those that truly suffered, I say this as someone that has seen the effects this has on those I love.

    Still no matter how wrong I think you are on this topic I know you have your heart in the right place and for that you still rock.

  55. Hi Val

    I have a 'label' for you. HERO.

    You are one of my online heroes. Long may your blog continue in the vein to which We have become accustomed.

    You're my hero, you rock. Please continue to put across challenging thoughts, opinions and fire. This comment seemed the only way to get that message to you, even if it ends up not getting posted.

    (I disagree with you on most of this issue BTW, but you've given me much to dwell on.)

    (clever man that Mark Waid...)

  56. Anonymous4:19 PM


    Think of how much more frustrating/awesome this would be if it were over violence in video games.

  57. Anonymous11:04 PM

    Again, a private organization blocking opinions is not prohibiting free speech.

  58. The point to argue in this case isn't cartoon vs real children, but the point is whether it encourages abuse of children. In fact, it's arguable that the use of cartoon children just an avenue to pursue child abuse without actually using children.

    Frankly, this seems the purpose of some anime, to find animated stand-ins for children.

    Is this cartoon child sexuality an alternative and outlet, or does it encourage and promote abuse of actual children? I've yet to see either side argue these positions convincingly, even though my gut reaction is the latter.

    For those arguing the persecution of conservative views, I find it amusing when conservatives claim to be the majority opinion yet victims of a larger liberal conspiracy. Just argue your points rationally and stop going for the emotionally charged status of martyrdom.

    I also want to echo others who find Caleb's defense of "I was just joking" utterly ridiculous. If that is the best you can come up with, Caleb, you are indeed at the apex of your writing career. Oh wait. I forgot about the likes of Maureen Dowd and Thomas Sowell.

  59. "The point to argue in this case isn't cartoon vs real children, but the point is whether it encourages abuse of children."She has made noise about that and even linked a report on the matter that said people are getting raped thanks to playboy but overall the argument seems to really just be a matter of faith.