Today I learned via an off-blog message from a friend that ACME - she whom I adore from afar and fives weeks back - is no longer participating in the discussion at Rex Parker Does the New York Times crossword Puzzle. Apparently she had finally had enough of the rude and abusive commentary that was frequently directed at her by Evil Doug, the self-appointed blog monitor who feels that it is his right and responsibility to see to it that all comments meet his personal standards.
I've written here before about Evil Doug and I don't want to devote any more of my time or my space to him. But there are others who share responsibility for ACME's absence, notably Rex Parker himself for his failure to rein in the bullying behavior that caused her to leave. Rex has some rules for the comments section of his blog, one of which he specifically mentions in the FAQ section, as follows:
"8. Why was my comment deleted
Take your pick: a. you were rude to someone, b. you
were way off-topic, or c. you were talking about tomorrow's puzzle (you
He also has an often repeated rule prohibiting personal attacks on another commenter, but the comments that drove ACME, and others before her, away were both rude and personal attacks so they should have been deleted immediately and the one who posted them should have been warned, or banished. Rex, as I noted in my earlier post, has not been around much to enforce his own rules lately so the ill behavior continued until it had what I suspect was the desired effect.
But the whole Rexville community must bear some of the responsibility for the loss of one of its most beloved members, too. Too many of them were willing to turn a blind eye to behavior they knew was offensive, and some even seemed to anticipate with a guilty glee what off-color, politically incorrect or otherwise just plain offensive remarks might be in store for the day. Bullies are successful when they are tolerated and get the attention they are seeking. If the reaction of the community had been to simply shun the perpetrator, ignore his comments, don't comment on them and certainly don't reply to them I believe the behavior would have stopped. If a bully can't get attention he fails in his mission and it's pretty hard to make anyone read your comments on a blog.
As I write this I haven't reached the point in time on the blog when these events transpired so I do not know what the reaction of Rexville was when they learned that ACME was leaving for good but I will be very interested to find out. But there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain: just as there was no joy in Mudville when Casey struck out, the can be no joy in Rexville with ACME gone.
I will miss ACME, as I'm sure others will too. But I'll miss her most.