Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Spectrum Blog - Why magazine editors should not run blogs!

This is a recent e-mail I received from the person running the Spectrum Blog over a recent comment I posted there. Here is their statement and my comment (though I have to reconstruct it as they edited my comment removing some information, contrary to the purpose of blogs to offer information to the readers):

Regarding the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Adventist Pulpit writes:

"At a time when many are pushing for a more prominent public display of the 10 commandments I think it is valuable to see religous leaders seeking to do more than just show the commandments, but live the principles of the faith by calling for an end to US sponsored torture."

Preach it. And so should every American pastor.


Interestingly enough Bill O'Reilly had two of the signers of the group who placed the ad in the New York Times. One on his radio show and one on his TV show. He asked both these Reverends for examples or incidents of this US sponsored torture. Neither could answer that simple question.

It is also interesting that the guest editorial in the New York Times Op-Ed Contributor Detainees in Despair By MOURAD BENCHELLALI Published: June 14, 2006

Where in he writes:
In the early summer of 2001, when I was 19, I made the mistake of listening to my older brother and going to Afghanistan on what I thought was a dream vacation. His friends, he said, were going to look after me. They did — channeling me to what turned out to be a Qaeda training camp. For two months, I was there, trapped in the middle of the desert by fear and my own stupidity.

As it turns out this guys immediate family have been convicted in France of terrorist crimes. Maybe for a terrorist going to Afghanistan is a dream vacation.

They also refer to my comment on a different day that said:

Why does this ad say nothing about George W. Bush and his anti torture position. Seems biased contrary to it's so called non partisan statement in its mission statement


for a little more

The webmaster of the Spectrum Blog writes in an e-mail to me:

Hey Ron,

I appreciate you joining the discussion. Please grammar
check your
posts before you add them as we try to make
reading Spectrum a reading

this guys immediate family
should be:
this guy's

his anti torture position.
should be:
anti-torture position?

it's so called non partisan statement in its
mission statement
should be:
its so-called non-partisan

Also, we are cutting out the NYTimes post because
it doesn't directly
follow as a comment on its post.
Politics and culture are messy and
Spectrum is most
interested in how Adventism should respond to current

events. Signing or not signing, fighting poverty or
not, we want to keep
things pinned to the Adventist
context. There are plenty of places to

discuss liberal vs. conservative values, the
Spectrum Blog is a place to
think about the
application of Adventism in the world.

If that's not clear, let me know.

The Problem with this kind of editorial reworking is that for one thing it makes the commenter feel anxious about their comments "is this going to be good enough did I spell everything right is my grammar correct?" Most people who receive a comment like the above from the blog webmaster would likely never comment again, I would say that many would never even go back to that blog. As I have been dealing with internet forums for years I have a thicker skin. Having also had articles published by Spectrum's Website and Adventist Today I also know just how much time it takes to go though after presenting my thoughts to check the grammar, spelling and correcting extraneous or missing words. I am pretty sure that it is not something that most people who comment on blogs want to go through and not something that blogs in general make people do. If they wanted to provide a spell check and grammar check in the comment field I would certainly welcome such an addition but as of now, most including Spectrum Blog do not have such niceties. Now I don't know that Alexander Carpenter actually acts as an Editor for Spectrum Magazine but he certainly is acting like an Editor.

Second is the problem of editing out useful information because the information seems irrelevant to the editor. Such as the removal of the comments about the New York Times post. The perspective in the original blog statement presented the idea that the US sponsors torture. (...but live the principles of the faith by calling for an end to US sponsored torture.") The guest editorial is from someone who says they were tortured as the NYT editorial says:

"After two weeks in the American military base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, I was sent to Guantánamo, where I spent two and a half years. I cannot describe in just a few lines the suffering and the torture; but the worst aspect of being at the camp was the despair, the feeling that whatever you say, it will never make a difference."

This is particularly troublesome if the editor of the blog has a political ideology which they are trying to foster. In this case it is the further left liberal position that the U.S. is bad, we are torturing people and we as SDA's should join with these other Leftist groups (National Council of Churches) and a few non-combatant groups like the United Church of Christ. Chaired by former President Jimmy Carter who it appears from his comments the last couple years was not just sitting next to Michael Moore at the last Democrat Convention but has ideology that matches Moore and whose political ideology becomes more important then presenting accurate and truthful information.

Unlike a magazine, a blog provides a much freer environment to exchange information with links to countering views without the need to explain what the countering position is. Just click a link and see. Some like the webmaster of Spectrum Blog see little importance of a terrorist with family terrorist ties (of course the NYT does not mention that part) going on a dream vacation to Afghanistan and getting caught by military forces fighting the Taliban and claiming he was tortured by the U.S. What does that have to do with a comment on a blog that says the U.S. sponsor's torture? While others look at these things as pretty likely propaganda products with a Liberal Political agenda and wonder why a group that places an ad in the New York Time does not even mention any examples about the so-called torture that the U.S is supposed to sponsor and ignore the current administrations own statements made against the concept of torture.

So indeed Politics and culture can be messy but if you want Adventism to respond you have to have a framework of truth to respond to. The Spectrum Blog presented one side of an issue with no evidence to support it's claims. Yes the Adventist church is against torture yet so is President George W. Bush. Yes there is torture in the world but that was not what the Ad was addressing. It was not a call for North Korea to change their practices it was a call for the U.S to stop sponsoring torture, yet the U.S says it does not torture and there has been no evidence that they are sponsoring torture. So from the Adventist perspective do we simply accept accusations from certain Liberal Politico's or do we look at the evidence and question the evidence that is put forth by such groups as the NY Times. The issue is far more serious then a few missed hyphens or a missing apostrophe, if the Spectrum Blog wants to correct misspelling they have my blessing, if they want to censor comments because they don't know the issues they are sorely mistaken.


Ron Corson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ron Corson said...

This was a comment I was going to post over on Spectrum Blog but then I thought well it does not really follow their comment so even though it is useful I better not post it over there So I will use it hear for all those willing to listen.

Sorry about the misspelling in the earlier comment. Though you certainly gave me something to talk about on my blog.

I also noticed that google has a new toolbar for spell checking so this is a test of that toolbar using IE
non partisan Non-partisan
It found no problem with either of the non partisan words but flagged google and tst. The first suggestion for tst was test. This is a great addition to the toolbar a must have. you can get it at: