Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
Winston Churchill

It isn’t often that I get as angry as I was last night. But I’ve had a good night’s sleep and calmed down, so now I might be able to write about the problem in what I hope will be a more or less objective manner. (Considering that Sean Kinsell has called me mellow, I now have a — what’s the word? — reputation to uphold!)
Anyway, some recent intrusive personal attacks against Nick Packwood — one of my oldest and dearest friends in the blogosphere — are simply outrageous. Nick’s post was highlighted earlier by Steven Malcolm Anderson in a comment, and linked by Glenn Reynolds yesterday, and it’s important enough that I think a little background is in order.
It seems that a jealous blogger (apparently a licensed clinical psychologist) tried repeatedly to glom onto Nick’s site and was banned from commenting. For that, she’s launched into a major snit fit, and is questioning Nick’s fitness to teach. (For the details of the dispute, I suggest reading this fairly neutral account from a Canadian blogger originally loathe to take sides, but who ended up siding with Nick.)
Nick, it seems, committed two major crimes in the eyes of this psychologist:

  • 1. He posted non-pornographic pictures of highly attractive women (this was deemed “exploitation” by the offended psychologist); and
  • 2. He will not grant the psychologist a free forum to harrass him in his own blog, nor will he help promote her blog.
  • Here’s what Nick said, in a wonderful analogy to free ice cream:

    Ghost of a flea is a blog written and published at my time and expense for reasons I am not certain I can properly articulate. Most of the time it is a labour of love but it remains labour nonetheless. If you spot something here and choose to write about it please have the common courtesy to offer a link in recognition of my work. If you are an argumentative soul regularly outraged at my ramblings I suggest you vent your feelings at your own expense elsewhere. And if you find all this free ice cream is not to your taste please feel free to read something else or, better yet, write something more interesting. I am certain the world will beat a path to your door and bask in your fascinating thoughts. When I shut down the Flea it will give people something else to read and if you are especially lucky you can pay for the bandwidth they will use to tell you how boring your work is.

    I don’t blame Nick for entertaining thoughts of quitting, because this is all so damnably unfair. In the year and a half I’ve read his blog, I’ve never seen him show malice towards anyone. I’ve characterized his blog as an “eclectic cultural cuisinart,” because it features all the following and more: humor, art, fashion, politics, history, archaeology, the weird, the offbeat, and yes, pictures of incredibly sexy women. Nick is always cheerful, clever, witty. No one could be less deserving of the despicable kind of attack to which he’s being subjected. Questioning the employment fitness of a blogger (while I’ve seen it before), is just so low that it ought to be outside the bounds of civilized conduct among bloggers. I know that there aren’t any enforceable rules in this game, but as I’ve said before, bloggers have every right to recognize that certain things are just plain wrong. I have condemned incivility, even though I am not perfect and have been rude myself. But trying to hurt a blogger’s employment — that is so far beyond name calling and rudeness that it ought to be unthinkable.
    My admittedly low standards are offended.
    As to Nick’s “crime,” well, there’s no question that the women are extremely attractive. I have admitted that I am bisexual, but I think if I were 100% homosexual I’d still be turned on. That’s how good they are. I have never asked Nick whether he’s turned on personally by the pictures, because it’s none of my business. But whether he is or not, whether I am or not, is that the point? The women are incredibly beautiful. They’re as much art as any classical works of art depicting the female anatomy, and while they’re hot and slick by modern American standards, they’re not even nude, much less pornographic!
    So come on! Unless you’re an Iranian mullah, what exactly is the problem? The more I thought it over, the more I suspected that the primary complainant is more along the lines of a troll than anything else. And by definition there’s no pleasing a troll, because they seek attention, not fairness on the merits.
    Nick has also been featuring regular posts like this on Winston Churchill:

    We will not win a war against fanatical puritanism by pandering to the puritans in our own ranks. There is plenty we have to say that may offend one another. That is the first and last prerequisite of the liberty for which we fight. If we are not to be intimidated by the men who would saw off ours heads we cannot allow our purpose and our policy to be dictated by those who are afraid of their own shadows. You may eat granola, watch improving documentaries and wag your finger as you wish. I would rather have champagne for breakfast. We shall see who lives longer and who dies happier.
    The Winston Review is a Flea-feature intended to offer spirited, uplifting alternatives to the defeatists and apologists of the mainstream media. This week’s Review is dedicated to smoking, drinking and loving too much (as if that last were even possible). God bless the spirit of Winston Churchill.

    God bless Nick, too.
    I see this as an attack on the beautiful by the ugly. The dark side is that when ugliness attacks beauty, the ugliness is made uglier. The bright side is that the beautiful is made more beautiful.
    So I think Nick will win.
    As he should.