Blog Terrorism

As you all know, the last few months have been a time of intense growing pains, figuratively, for this blog (and literally, for me, as I’m growing a human and all). I’ve been struggling with what I want FFF to be, both in terms of tone and intention. My conclusion is that it is firstly a place for support, and secondly, a place for debate and discussion. These two purposes are almost equally important (much like the dual nature of breasts, when you think about it), but I need to ensure that the “support” part takes center stage. It was the reason I started this blog – because I had no support when I was struggling – and I don’t want to lose that.

Out of concern for the discussion/debate part, however, I had adopted a “no censorship” policy (other than extreme profanity or spam); I wanted the blog to encourage intelligent discourse on a heated subject. And other than a few instances when things got a bit mean-spirited, I’ve been impressed by the lack of truly offensive material that has been posted here, especially considering the circumstances. Plus, the vitriol has always been directed at me, not at my readers or those that comment here, so I’m okay with that. I chose this path, knowing full well that I would not be Miss Popularity because of it.

And then came Alan.

I won’t rehash the past few months since his arrival on FFF, except to say that I’ve had numerous discussions with long-time readers about how to handle him; the consensus has always been that he is offensive and tiresome. But lately, I’d been feeling like we’d all come to accept Alan as part of the FFF landscape; he seemed  to be behaving like a rational human being, for the most part, and occasionally contributing something of interest or relevance to the discussion. Worst case, he was like my current infestation of ants; not fun, occasionally distracting and inconvenient, but you learn to live with it.

However, on this post, I thought he started creeping into dangerous territory once again. You can see how I responded in the comment thread; I also added a caveat to my all’s-fair-in-love-and-war comment policy about keeping this a place of support.

I was helping FC put his shoes on after our MyGym class this afternoon, getting ready to head to our local farmers’ market with some friends, when I saw the telltale red flash on my Blackberry. It was a message from Alan, which changed the game, altogether.

I’ve informed him that I am posting the exchange here. I’ve also responded to his last email, only on the blog, because an attorney friend advised me to treat him as a threat and ignore his emails (although I won’t be deleting them as I stated to him in my haste, since they could be used as evidence if this harassment continues).

I wanted to expose this person for who he is, and then ask for input. Did he cross the line in such a way that supersedes my desire to refrain from censorship? I’m curious how you all think I should handle this, since this blog is your space too, and I want to make sure it stays a safe, warm, and open environment. I don’t see Alan as being conducive to that environment, but I also hate to censor… so what would you do?

***

Email #1: From Alan

I sense that with your new posted policy and your recent comments, you are reconsidering your no-censorship policy.  If so, I would suggest you reconsider your reconsideration.  If you go that route, you can guarantee I will be on you like a tick on a dog, following you to sites where you go to present your opposing views (like this one), and I’ll be sure to highlight your hypocrisy, not to mention the irony of calling yourself “fearless”.  Call it “mutual assured destruction”.  😉
Sure, you could still continue to be the unchallenged grand poobah behind your walled garden; but wouldn’t that be a pyrrhic, hollow victory?  I’d say you have more influence by having the freedom to go around and dissent on others’ blogs, without being undermined by the embarrassment of it being revealed that you’re throwing stones from a glass house.
Let’s be clear: I’m not trying to blackmail you into doing anything in particular (other than letting my comments get posted as always).  I’m just pointing out the consequences if you take the “nuclear option”.
Alan
 _________________
Email #2: From the FFF (sent via Blackberry as my kid tries to get my attention by throwing his blueberries on the floor while other mothers look on in horror):
Alan,
You are a tyrannical, immature excuse for a human being. Just to be clear. And I will not have you attacking any of my readers. I have been perfectly reasonable, allowing your comments, despite numerous pleas to do otherwise. I’m not asking much from you, except for a little common blog ettiquette, especially considering the sites that have decided to disallow your comments. I have never been disrespectful on other blogs as you have been, in fact I take great pains not to be like you-so your threats don’t scare me. You must be a really insecure man to spend the vast amount of your time getting off on harrassing women on the internet. Keep those comments coming, but you better believe I will change my comment policy to “no censorship with one exception, alan thomas, for the following reasons, etc etc”, including these threats. I will also be posting this email and my response on the blog tonight, just fyi.
Peace.
________________

Email #3: From Alan:
Some points/questions:
–Yes, I’ve been banned from other sites.  In almost every case, it was because I cited the statistics (which can now be found on the AAP breastfeeding statement, though they were not at the time) showing that formula feeding is associated with significantly increased infant mortality.  This was seen aomething that was just absolutely taboo, despite the inconvenient fact that it is a reputable scientific finding (whether you dispute it or not).  To your credit, you never acted as though this could not be mentioned (though maybe the fact that the AAP has it in their statement now is part of that?).
–I’m sure in fairness, you’re going to post your email to me, in which you call me a “tyrannical, immature excuse for a human being” (tyrannical?  I’m not the one trying to censor someone) and accuse me of “spend[ing] the vast amount of [my] time harrassing(sic) women on the internet”  Then I’m sure you’ll also find equivalent examples of where I’ve similarly insulted you or anyone else for that matter.  Oh wait, there aren’t any!  Even referring to Brooke’s “venom” is far milder than the above.
–I’m sure also in your comment policy explanation of “alan thomas, for the following reasons” you’ll be sure to: (a) not post any out-of-context statements I’ve made that I later said I regretted/apologised for, without also posting the apology.  And you’ll post the comment I linked to, in which you called the blog post “insulting and misleading”, not to mention “cruel and counterproductive”, and let people judge it side by side with the one you cited in your recent comment.  I’m sure no one would think that you were way more on the attack in your comment than I was in mine, oh heavens no.
–And speaking of context, I’m also sure you wouldn’t neglect to point out that you had a longtime reader of your blog leave because she thought “you lot” were being “mean girls”; nor would you fail to note that despite it not fitting so well into your narrative of my goal being to “harass women on the internet”, at the same time all the bickering has been going on I’ve been posting supportive comments about the need for more awareness of lactation failure, and even linking to a story about a longtime lactivist who is now formula feeding.
Because you do have some integrity, don’t you?  I always thought so, anyway.

____________________________

My response (not sent as an email):

To answer your questions:
Actually, the sites I’m referring to have nothing to do with formula feeding.
Yes, I will be posting the emails verbatim. Typos and all.

I don’t see the need to pontificate on your being banned from the blog in my comment policy, because I don’t imagine anyone (besides you) will care very much. I can’t see myself ever banning anyone again; I will not be blocking individual comments, just one specific individual. If anyone is curious about your departure, I will direct them here; they are welcome to go back to whatever posts they want and draw their own conclusions. This is not the Alan Thomas blog, it’s the Fearless Formula Feeder; your presence or absence from here has a negligible effect on lactivism, breastfeeding, or formula feeding, which are the topics we cover (although I expect you are a big fan of negligible effects, considering your stance on these same issues).  I’d also like to suggest, once again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record – why don’t you start your own blog? You have plenty to say. I realize it takes courage to put yourself out there and all, but it would really be an ideal solution. That way you could dole out whatever you want and people could respond in kind on your blog. That’s how this whole blogosphere thing works. It’s easy to start – just go to Blogger.com, and start writing.



Regarding the comment I made on Analytical Armadillo:  I stand by what I said. The difference is that I made one or two comments, said my peace, and never returned to that blog.  I didn’t see myself getting anywhere with that blogger; she has a right to express herself on her own personal blog, just as I have a right to respond – but other than that, it would just be nasty and counterproductive to stick around and harass her or her readers, who deserve a place to feel understood. THAT is what I’m referring to by “proper blog etiquette”.
Alan, your opinions are not the problem. My problem with you is that you have literally hijacked my blog. You write obscenely long comments, often having little to do with the post in question; pick apart tiny points that distract from the original purpose of the post; have copied & pasted lengthy discussion threads from other sites; and as I said previously, use the blog as your own personal soapbox, or taking a less insidious view, as a chat room forum. I know it’s a tough distinction, because the blog invites discussion, but you’re the only person who has ever had a problem understanding the different mediums.
On that note, this is my fundamental issue with you, and why I do wonder if it’s not in the best interest of the blog – and lactivism, for that matter, which in its purest, most altruistic form, I respect greatly (ie, Best For Babes, PhD in Parenting) – to block your comments. You mentioned Fifi’s departure, which was a situation that upset me greatly; made me question the nature of the blog, and my intentions with it – but ultimately, that was one individual, among many, and I learned a valuable lesson, which is that you can’t please everyone. (I’d also add that we never had any such drama on this board until you showed up, and brought out the worst in everyone with your behavior; another reason I struggled with my comment policy for the first time in the history of the blog, even though we’d endured some pretty intense attacks prior to your arrival). That incident was also behind my change in comment policy – as I explained, this should be a place of support, first and foremost, and if I feel that atmosphere will be threatened by a particular comment, I will have to consider denying it. Yes, it’s censorship, and I hate that it has to come to that. But I need to protect the nature of Fearless Formula Feeder. It has always been intended as a place of support for all women, regardless of background or infant feeding history. As long as you have come here to listen to others, and be listened to, in a sensitive, non-judgmental way, I applaud that. That doesn’t mean I won’t allow comments insulting the blog, or my intelligence, or my morals. But if someone is argumentative towards a woman who has come here and had the courage to voice unpopular opinions, or her darkest thoughts, then we’ve got a problem.
Some part of me actually thought your presence could be a good thing, in showing the ugliness that is extreme lactivism. On the other hand, I think it does a real injustice to the admirable women who are lactivists for the right reasons. I may not agree with them; they may make me irritable at times; but I have learned to respect them and admire them. I feel their conspicuous absence from what I’ve unaffectionately dubbed “The Alan Chronicles” speaks volumes. I feel it is insulting to them and their cause to have you held up as the only example of lactivism on this blog. That, in my opinion, is doing far more harm to your (assumed) cause than this blog could ever do.
Still, I wouldn’t have censored you, and wasn’t planning on it, until you crossed a line and threatened me in your email this evening. It is people like you who endanger free speech in our country by essentially trying to muffle those you don’t agree with. And before you throw that back in my face, I want to be crystal clear – my urge to ban you comes from your behavior, not from your opinions. I hope more people with opposing viewpoints would come on here and comment; I think I need to trust that they will see I’ve never banned anyone in the past, and will most likely never have to do again in the future, unless of course you come back using a pseudonym, which I wouldn’t put past you.  I’ve never encountered anyone like you before, online or off; I believe in the inherent goodness in people, so I assume that most folks who come on here and stick around will do so out of genuine interest in an open exchange of ideas, not as some sort of masturbatory experiment. 

Freedom of speech is great, but when there are Neo-Nazis spouting hate, or anti-gay groups hurling insults, I start wondering where we draw the line. I’m not sure integrity, in that sense, is worth sacrificing morality or better judgment. This is where I am left.

The FFF
***
And that’s all, folks. 

And thoughts from the peanut gallery?

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

Suzanne Barston – who has written posts on Fearless Formula Feeder.


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43 thoughts on “Blog Terrorism

  1. 1) Alan strikes me as the type who promotes BF and yet would be struck down with horror lest a woman get a breast out to feed an infant in a public place.
    2) If formula really *does* contain poison, can we offer him a bottle? 😉

    Praise Alan etc.

  2. @Alexandra,

    Funnily enough, the guy LOVES seeing women breastfeed in public. In the comment thread that pushed me over the edge, he was chastising a breastfeeding mom who admitted that she didn't feel comfortable nursing in public for her own personal reasons, which he claimed was making it more difficult for other women to nurse in public.

    But he definitely likes to tell women what to do with their bodies, that's for sure. And in the end, isn't that the same thing?

  3. Having just received emails from Alan (because @amoment2think would not approve his comments to me on her AP post)I can attest to some anger issues. Alan, I think it would help us all a great deal if you figured out your purpose on the web. There are SO many sites in agreement with your beliefs — places where you will feel supported and appreciated and vice versa. PHDinParenting, CodeNameMama, etc., would love your input, I'm sure. Relax, take care of your family and enjoy life…it's short.

  4. Good riddance! I've come to dread his comments. It's like he knows just how to suck the joy out of parenting. Plus a direct threat is MORE THAN ENOUGH reason to block someone. It isn't censorship, it's protecting yourself (and us!) from harassment.
    This blog has been a life saver to me, I love the support and understanding here. Go FFF!

  5. holy cow. What a fruit loop!
    I typically have a no-censoring policy on my blog as well, but in my opinion, he's reached the level of SPAM and that policy does not apply.

  6. Wow.

    This is a blog. It is not a court of law. Therefore, no one has an inherent, unchallengeable right to be heard. Posting the counterpoint is necessary to encourage open and productive dialogue. However, comments that damage either the dialogue or the community that sustains it aren't useful.

    FFF, you have a clear mind and a cohesive message. Deciding that someone is ultimately disruptive to this community will not take away from either of those things. You know who you are, and who you are here to support (and that would be all moms, breastfeeders and formula feeders alike). So, no worries on the topic of hypocrisy.

    And Alan, since you will likely be addressed many times in this space, I want to say that you have a lovely wife and a beautiful family, from what I can tell from their blogs. All of us have to work–very, very hard–to create the kind of world we want our kids to grow up in. It's obviously important that your world includes AP and breastfeeding, but don't let those principles get in the way of basic respect, decency, and just plain love, for all humans, everywhere. It's a struggle to live by that law, but we all have to try.

  7. I say kick him out. The topic of harassment/bullying came up frequently in the BlogHer10 sessions (esp the social action/community ones). The sessions are available on the BlogHer site as podcasts but I'll tell you that the opinions varied except for one commonality. For those running the more pure “support blogs” – everyone agreed there was no place for this behavior in a community. All those bloggers said they blocked the bullies from their site in deference to their readers. Alan doesn't want to “inform” your readers or discuss anything, he's crossed the line into harassment. Go ahead, kick his sorry *ass out. If he's not playing by the rules he doesn't deserve a soapbox – he can set up his own blog to make his pathetic threats. Honestly, bullying a group of women who want some solace…disgusting.

  8. There is an ongoing dialogue in my family about the fact that he should start his own blog. And then my husband asks, “Are we still talking about this guy?” I know I have “encouraged” his ire by speaking out on things he vehemently disagrees with, but I also believe strongly in calling someone out when it's warranted, and given his email to you, it's obviously warranted. I'm sorry you are even in this position.

  9. Alan scares me, and not in a good way. Many times his posts were condescending. The problem isn't his opinions, it's his attitude. I really question his motives and agenda. It seems to me that his extreme pro-breastfeeding stance is a cover up for feeling threatened by the power women actually possess for nurturing their children. Just my humble opinion.

    While your viewpoint may be backed up by statistics, your attitude isn't helping your cause. Please think about changing that and you may gain a lot more pro-breastfeeders to help you in your fight. Good luck.

  10. He seems not to comprehend that he has no legal standing and is, in fact, opening himself up for criminal charges. He must have missed the memo on internet harassment being a felony.

    As it happens, free speech and censorship are only concepts which apply to governing bodies. You are not a governing body, but an individual with a blog. The concept has no application here and you are more than free to control what content is made available. I'm so ill of people presuming that they own the whole internets.

  11. Hi FFF
    I just noticed a mention of my blog in your comments:

    Regarding the comment I made on Analytical Armadillo: I stand by what I said. The difference is that I made one or two comments, said my peace, and never returned to that blog. I didn’t see myself getting anywhere with that blogger; she has a right to express herself on her own personal blog, just as I have a right to respond – but other than that, it would just be nasty and counterproductive to stick around and harass her or her readers, who deserve a place to feel understood. THAT is what I'm referring to by “proper blog etiquette”.

    It's a shame you feel “you won't get anywhere with that blogger” – as I sent you an email following your comments, expressing that they were in no way an attack on any non breastfeeding mum and a couple of other bits, but you didn't reply.

    I am pro evidence and pro supporting mums to make an informed choice. If a mum knowing everything chooses to not breastfeed, that is HER choice. It may not be the choice I would make, I might not agree with the cost to a public health system (unlike USA where parents pay the cost) nor the impact on the environment; but as breastfeeding is a deeply personal issue involving two people – women may have their own reasons we don't know/understand for not doing so and nobody should judge that.

    Secondly, given the crap support the vast majority of mums receive (even those who WANT to breastfeed – and surely we should help those before we start on people who don't even want to do it?!) how can anyone blame mums? I stress this in ALL my articles and really have no idea what is so offensive in my blog. I posted this to try and stress this: http://analyticalarmadillo.blogspot.com/2010/07/formula-feeding-mums-start-shouting.html

    Don't we both actually just want to support and empower mums?

    Anyway I'm sorry I have seemingly upset you so much, as I say I am NOT anti formula feeding mums, I'm anti not giving parents the information they need to make that choice everyone talks so much about.

  12. I've really had to struggle to not respond to his comments. Some of them really dig into me and I can spend hours coming up with what I deem as the pefect response, I never post them though because he strikes me as the type to take it how he wants and then argue (thus so far that has been true).

    I know how nit picky he can get because when he commented on my post that you referrenced on here he tried to start a debate over Home Schooling it needed state laws, which it already has. The post wasn't about home schooling, it was about stopping the argument over how we should feed our babies.

    Regardless, I'm very tired of the drama and it really ruins my comment reading because there are a lot of very well worded comments I want to read, but then there are all of his persistent comments that are very narrow minded.

    So yeah, I'll stop rambling. I just have to say I think this is a good idea. I really think he should start his own blog or find a new hobby. The fact that he has been banned from other places speaks volumes.

  13. I've been reading this blog for a few weeks now, and Alan's comments as well. He reminds me so much of another Alan I ran across in the internet realm, long ago on the AOL boards. I have often wondered if it is the same Alan. LOL

    I enjoy the blog immensely, btw.

  14. As hard as this is to do, I think you've made the right decision. I haven't been a regular reader of your blog for an incredibly long time but I have been around long enough to have not read certain posts I was interested in simply because I didn't want to be angered by Alan's comments. I have commented on things he has said but then forced myself to walk away from the senseless back and forth he loves to much.

    I like debate as much as the next person, as long as it is respectful and productive. In the interest of it staying that way here, I think you've done what you had to.

  15. I agree with Jenny. Good riddance to bad rubbish! This blog is an incredible source of both info and support for us moms. Don't change a thing. Just protect yourself from the true zealots.

  16. “If you go that route, you can guarantee I will be on you like a tick on a dog, following you to sites where you go to present your opposing views.”

    Dear me. For someone who seems to be so interested in self-immolating, martyr-like parenting styles, Alan certainly does seem to have a lot of time to stalk people on the Internet.

    Oh, wait! Hang on! Silly me!! Self-immolating martyr-like parenting is WOMEN's work, of course!! Men have the right to spend as many hours as they like doing pointless crap online.

    Dear Alan: Please go away. This is a fab blog and you are a deeply annoying person.

  17. From Alan: “If so, I would suggest you reconsider your reconsideration. If you go that route, you can guarantee I will be on you like a tick on a dog, following you to sites where you go to present your opposing views (like this one), and I'll be sure to highlight your hypocrisy, not to mention the irony of calling yourself “fearless”. Call it “mutual assured destruction”. ;-)”

    With that, I'd say he's officially a cyberstalker.

    And that's an actual crime: http://www.cyberguards.com/CyberStalking.html

  18. @Analytical Armadillo,

    First of all, I want to apologize for not alerting you to the fact that your blog was mentioned here. Embarrassingly enough, I forgot that Alan had included an active link in his email to your post; I would have/should have let you know that this occurred.

    I also apologize for not responding to your email. I do recall receiving one from you, which I meant to respond to; unfortunately it came during a time where I was crazily busy with job-related work and it must've slipped my mind. It did impress me a great deal that you took the time to do this. And I thought the post in question actually had some excellent points – that's what I meant in my comment when I said something to the effect of those points being overshadowed by what I considered misleading statements about formula feeders who argue for choice.

    My comment about “not getting anywhere” with you was honestly more in reference to Alan's actions on this blog – because he was certainly not getting anywhere with me or my readers, except to cause drama, anger, and hurt feelings. I didn't want to start arguing with you on your own blog for those same reasons – I could tell from the comment thread that you have a strong, vocal readership that holds the same opinions as you expressed in this post, and I strongly believe that everyone has a right to their own opinion. I also don't like it when people use other people's blogs as their own personal soapbox, as I explained in my responses to Alan. Considering the point of your post was about a particular article, I didn't think it was appropriate to go off on a tangent about general feelings towards formula feeders… but I did want to comment on the post, just to let you know that as a formula feeder who fights for choice and respect, the post was offensive to me. I might have chosen words that were a bit strong, and for that, I am sorry. I really do think you are an excellent blogger with strong opinions (which I think is a great thing, even if I don't agree with them) and your response to my comments was professional and respectful, and you have my utmost gratitude for that.

  19. Goodbye Alan. I'm not a fan of censorship for the most part, but when it's for the right reasons, and it's your blog, it's fine. I found you when I had started feeling guilty about quitting breastfeeding (which funny enough happened long after I actually quit and about when I was thinking about a second) and this place made me feel better. I think sometimes all we see out there is borderline extreme lactivism – certainly those people are the most vocal, and it can be very difficult to find information that presents both sides. As an attorney, I'm a big fan of both sides of the issue, and certainly things done in the promotion of breastfeeding have never sat well with me. I want balance really, not activism, and this site has it. I also appreciate all of the stories from other women. No one wants to feel alone.

    Honestly, I believe Alan may have a lacatation fetish. My husband is very pro-breastfeeding because he believes it's good for babies, but that's about as far as it goes. Not to say that men can't be supporters of womens' issues, but I believe they can very easily cross a line into creepy territory, and I think he did it. And to know that he's been banned before, well, that kind of strikes me as a personality issue. And by the way, I really dislike the threatening tone in his emails. Keep those in your records.

  20. I found most of Alan's comments to be very odd. Picking apart someone's post or comment the way he did was not supportive of lactivism in my opinion – he seemed to just want to rile people up. Anyway, as a lurker and someone who reads this blog for support and information, I am glad you have decided to ban his comments.

  21. Blimey.

    I did notice your comment policy in passing, and took it as a gentle warning that you might, reluctantly, consider censoring comments that were not respectful of others. This wouldn't have bothered me even if I had no previous knowledge of your style of discussion; given the way in which you've responded respectfully to Alan's comments so far, including some fairly tactless and insensitive ones, I'd say there's ample evidence that we don't need to worry about you using this policy as an excuse to bar someone simply because you disagree with their views.

    Alan, however, has flipped out about it, reacted as though it were a direct personal attack, and sent you an e-mail that was highly unpleasant in tone and completely out of line. I fully expected to find, as I read on, that this was a one-off and that he'd posted a follow-up comment apologising for going too far in his tone. This, of course, didn't happen, and it doesn't look from his follow-up as though Alan sees any need to apologise for anything he said.

    Alan, since I know you're reading this, here are a couple of points for your consideration:

    Firstly, the appropriate response to your concerns over FFF's comment policy would have been along the lines of “I'd like to query what you mean by that new comment policy”, or “I'm concerned about what your comment policy says and would like to clarify.” Going straight into attack mode was not OK. (And following it up with a claim that you thought her to have integrity was not convincing. If you really thought that, it's hard to see how you could have blown up in the way you did.)

    Secondly, following up every comment a person makes on any random site with a comment to the effect of “But do you all realise what a terrible thing FFF did? Look at what a hypocrite this makes her!” is not, I'm afraid, terribly likely to get you the outpouring of support and sympathetic outrage that you seem to be expecting. What it's actually likely to do is to make you look like a nutter. Trust me on this one; I used to do that kind of thing. I stopped because I realised just how badly it was backfiring. And because I grew up a bit more.

    Oh, one afterthought – I don't think anyone should be banned from a site simply for posting mortality statistics with different activities, or any other ascertainable fact. However, given what I've seen of your near-total inability to grasp when a comment may be badly timed or insensitively phrased or otherwise offensive in the way it's made, I'd hesitate to chime in with you on the righteous outrage against the sites that you claim did such to you without, at the very least, hearing their side of the story. I'm open to the possibility that you were barred from those sites for the same reason you appear to be about to get barred from this one: you actually did something offensive, and were just too clueless to realise it.

  22. Continuing… FFF, I think I may be the only one who'll actually be sorry to hear Alan go – I like lively debate, and, for me, having the other person make himself look like a prat just kind of adds to the fun. But, as you say, this site isn't primarily about debate. It's about support. I recall you've talked about trying to separate out the two parts, and I think that would be the perfect solution. Until and unless that happens, you have to find a solution that works here.

    Alan, when I started this comment (more accurately, the previous comment, since I think I'm going to have to break this into two parts), I was going to suggest that FFF stuck with what I still believe her comment policy to be – allowing all comments that aren't actively objectionable and offensive, and not banning all comments from a commentator just because some of them cross the line. I've been rethinking that. You've repeatedly demonstrated that you have a pretty hard time recognising that line, seeing how your comments might come across to others, or grasping that the best of points can be ruined by the way in which it's put across. I can see how FFF might just not want to be stuck with the continuous job of having to put the brake on you that you should be putting on yourself. If she feels you've now proved that you just can't be trusted to behave appropriately on a support blog and should leave it – well, I can't say I blame her, really.

  23. This blog has helped me tremendously and I think I speak for others too. Your blog says it all ” standing up for formula feeders” You mentioned yourself FFF that it is a support blog for formula feeding mums. A long story short: Alan is some guy on the internet to me, but thank goodness he is not my therapist! Anyone who would say “how unfortunate for you” and criticize you for your bodily choice such as NIP among many other things is not conducive to support. While I felt at first that Alan was being a decent proponent of breastfeeding advocacy I slowly over time felt like he was really doing everything possible to change the direction of your blog to fit his views because anything you wrote about the was positive about formula feeding would turn into endless posts and taking other posters' statements and turning it around in such a way to evade the actual meaning of our post in it's context. That's when he lost me and it did nothing for lactivism in my POV.

    Where does a SAHP get all this time? I'm jealous of that though, I can't even start my own infant potty training blog right now with my feisty 2 year old running a mock. Alan with all of your posts you could have started your own blog perhaps something along the lines of a rebuttal to all those who support formula feeders and rest assure many feel just like you. I encounter them everyday at the park, gymboree, and playdates.

    Alan says:
    If you go that route, you can guarantee I will be on you like a tick on a dog, following you to sites where you go to present your opposing views (like this one), and I'll be sure to highlight your hypocrisy, not to mention the irony of calling yourself “fearless”. Call it “mutual assured destruction”. 😉

    -Umm can someone say “Cyberstalking”?

    Alan, you know I will be honest. I pretty much tuned you out as I do with others man/women when you start to tell us what we should do with our bodies and how we should deal with our bodies in public and private spaces. Now I just plain straight up lost respect for you, but don't worry about it I am just some Non-breastfeeding mom in cyberspace.

  24. I'm fairly new on the scene here, but I've read through a number of posts and here is my sense of Alan's presence.

    He quite clearly has an agenda. While he argues that it doesn't necessarily conflict with respecting peoples feelings on this blog; in reality, he has proven that he is unable to separate the two (his agenda for “promoting” breastfeeding vs. treating the people who are active here with respect)

    He seems to view every post and comment through the hypothetical eyes of a woman contemplating breastfeeding or struggling to breastfeed: if he sees something that could even remotely be construed as discouraging, he seems to panic and then attempts to do his own version of lactivist “damage control”.

    Unfortunately, he seems to be more focused on trying to rescue those breastfeeding “lost souls” than showing consistent empathy for the real woman who are going through real experiences here. Sure, when he's called on it sometimes he recants, but it clearly isn't his first priority or primary intention in being here.

    I also find censorship unsavory, but in a circumstance like this, given the purpose of this blog and his history here, I'd argue that it is warranted 🙁

  25. I had actually stopped reading the comments on this site because of him. He was offensive and unless he can whip his boobs out and feed a child this is none of his business. Supporting women is one thing, being a male lactivist is just creepy. He needs to find his own website or 900 number or something.

  26. Thank god He/It is gone. I wont have to hear about your sorry existence. I agree with Anonymous do you have any idea HOW creepy you are.

    !!!!GET A LIFE!!!!

    ALAN have you ever herd of a dynamic proxie MAC banning it coming sweetheart!

    DAN

  27. Thanks, everyone, for your input and support. Alan did attempt to respond, but as his response included more threats, I chose not to publish it. And I will no longer be allowing his comments on the site – he is just too counterproductive to the purpose of the blog. I dislike censorship, but more than that, I dislike abusers, and I think that is what Alan is. It was actually his comment scoffing my “fearlessness” that helped me come to this decision – because if I didn't ban him, THAT would be out of fear. Fear of what people will think of me; fear of his attack on my integrity; fear of what provoking an unstable individual could do to my reputation – and as some of you have warned me, my personal safety. So I'm choosing to be fearless, and facing his retribution.

    Done and done. 🙂

  28. I think banning Alan was the right thing to do. I stopped reading comments, too, because Alan was hijacking threads with long-winded comments that often veered far off the topics of the posts.

    You gave the guy a chance, and he repeatedly failed to act with civility and respect. I'd certainly kick his ass out.

  29. @ FFF

    No one, including my husband, would deny that he can be a real pain in the ass. Banning him for that reason is your right. Making unsubstantiated claims, however, that he is dangerous, psychotic, or threatening your safety is nothing but ridiculous.

    The only thing he “threatened” to do in his responses was link people to a post you made on your own blog! Libelous comments may make you feel better about your decision to ban him from participating here, but I felt I had a duty to let your readers know that you are being disingenuous.

  30. Hi FFF
    Thanks for taking the time to reply 🙂 I just found my blog mentioned on a google alert, so had to check it out. I don't know anything about the “Alan situation”, other than what I have just read up here ^. I hope whatever it is didn't start just because of your comments on my blog? Certainly doens't help anyones cause much! In the same way people saying they “couldn't be fagged” isn't really a fair representation of many non breastfeeders, people going out of their way to upset others (in the name of breastfeeding) doesn't help us bfing nazi lot either! lol
    Thanks again 🙂
    AA

  31. @crunchymidwesternmomma

    Seriously, shut up! We are all GLAD Alan is gone. Move on with your life and tell your husband to pick someone to stalk. If you do not see his email to FFF as outrasgeous then you need a reality check.

  32. @crunchymidewesternmomma

    We understand that you truly love your husband and stand behind what he believes in. There is nothing wrong with that. I feel the same way about my husband and he is very supportive too. Let me tell you though, that if my husband was sending emails such as the ones he sent to FFF. I would not only be livid, but I would also let my DH be aware of the criminal consequences he could face due to his writing style. This is whether I believe in his cause or not.

    You run a blog and what if someone like this was sending you harassing emails about being pro breastfeeding or being AP or what if this happened to someone else's pro-breastfeeding blog and they got emails like this. DO NOT even begin to tell us you would not cry foul. As much as lactivists' want freedom of speech rights and the right to NIP which I DO support, btw, formula feeding parents also deserve the same rights without getting hassled. You can't have it one way or the other.

  33. I also stopped reading comments because of him. Not because he's pro-breastfeeding, but because I felt his tone was inappropriate and insensitive much of the time. Healthy, respectful debate is one thing but when it starts to feel combative and more like an attack, that's a whole other ballgame.

  34. @crunchymidwesternmama:

    There may of course be an e-mail or Twitter comment out there that I missed, but I can't find anywhere on this post where FFF has called Alan 'psychotic' or referred to him as dangerous or threatening her safety. She did, however, say that he was an unstable individual, and expressed concern over what he might do. That doesn't strike me as unwarranted. Alan threatened to follow her around the internet criticising her to others, in response to his fear that she *might* censor him. He flipped out over this fear and became unpleasant, insulting and threatening in tone without trying to discuss the matter with her or clarify what she meant. Now, it's true that what he threatened to do isn't such a terrible fate in the grand scheme of things; but, with respect, I think you are missing the point. The point is that this is a very socially inappropriate way to behave, and, when a person behaves in such a way, it does raise legitimate questions and concerns as to what else they might do that's socially inappropriate and how much further they might go. I don't think FFF can be blamed for having some concerns about the situation, and I certainly do not see anything that she has said here that is libelous, disingenuous, or ridiculous.

  35. While I disagree with his methods of telling FFF that he was going to call out her hypocrisy, Alan is far from a dangerous person, which is what FFF was insinuating in saying her personal safety was in jeopardy. Another of his soapboxes is arguing against spanking children and even though he is fiercely argumentative, he is a very gentle person. I wouldn't expect any of you to know this because you have only seen his lawyerly side, but I see his gentle and nonviolent demeanor every day.

    How is calling someone a terrorist in this day and age anything but libelous? FFF also called him tyrannical and an “immature excuse for a human being” even though he never once stooped to name-calling. Sounds like libel and defamation of character to me.

    Aside from the fact that I don't think any of these adjectives describe his actions or his person, the only reason I said anything is to call attention to the unfairness, not to gin things up. Since FFF didn't post the second email response from Alan, I wanted to be clear that there were no threats of violence or anything of the sort.

  36. @crunchymidwesternmama:

    Funny you should say that. Making a deliberate point of following someone around the internet to claim on other sites that she's a hypocrite sounds like defamation of character to me. Dismissing this behaviour as something you merely 'disagree' with, while calling it defamation of character for FFF to post a comment from an e-mail that was initially sent directly to Alan that Alan himself indicated he thought it would be fairer to post publicly, leaves you on shakier ground than I personally would want to be standing on.

    As to your claim that Alan 'never once stooped to name-calling', he referred to FFF's 'hypocrisy', called her a grand poobah behind a walled garden, and claimed it was ironic for her to call herself 'fearless'. I suppose you could make a case for each of those comments not being, in the strictest sense of the word, name-calling; but I think you'd be splitting some pretty fine hairs there. All this, let me remind you, was in response to a gentle hint that she *might* have to delete comments that were not respectful of others, given the nature of this blog as a support blog; and following several weeks during which he's made some fairly tactless comments and she has repeatedly responded by trying to keep things calm and respectful. If you disagree that this behaviour of Alan's in any way merited the adjectives 'tyrannical' or 'immature', then so be it; I daresay we can agree to differ on that one.

    And it's good to know that Alan's such a lovely person in real life, but, as you so correctly point out, this is not actually something that any of us are in a position to know. What FFF does know is that he threatened her out of the blue in an attempt to make certain she'd keep doing things the way he wanted her to do them on her own blog. I repeat the point that you seem to have missed the first time: The issue here is not that the fate he was threatening her with was fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things, but the fact that it is so socially inappropriate to come out with unprovoked threats at all. FFF did not 'say her personal safety was in jeopardy' – she mentioned the possibility that it *might* be. There's a difference. When a person you don't know that well starts making threats out of the blue, there is nothing at all ridiculous in having some concerns as to how far they might choose to take it and whether things might reach the point of this person threatening you or acting against you in more concrete ways. If that isn't going to happen, then great; but please stop acting as though FFF is in some way overreacting and being unfair to your husband for having at least considered the possibility.

  37. @crunchymidwesternmama
    I don't think Alan is dangerous at all. I just think he may have over reacted. Saying things like:
    “I will be on you like a tick on a dog, following you to sites where you go to present your opposing views (like this one), and I'll be sure to highlight your hypocrisy, not to mention the irony of calling yourself “fearless”. Call it “mutual assured destruction”. ;-)”

    seems to say to me that he's taking this very very personally. I know people have tried to explain to him the purpose of this blog, and have tried to get him to slow down on the debates or what I term as arguments because he'd keep going as long as people replied.

    Grant it, emotions do get the best of people at times, I don't think it was the best idea to essentially say he'd be tracking her every internet move/comment. That really is just bizzare to me. Her choice to screen comments was thoroughly thought through and in part due to the many complaints received because of his, at times, insulting comments.

    Anyways, I'm sure he's a wonderfully loving husband and father despite his e-mails. Judging by the smiley face I'm guessing he was part joking. It's hard to tell on the internet because you don't get to see their facial expressions or hear their tone of voice.

    Regardless, he needs to learn to respect other peoples choices and recognize most of the women on here wanted to breastfeed but couldn't for various reasons and are trying to work out the dissapointment or guilt they feel or have felt.

  38. There is a reason why blogs can have comments “approved” by the owner. This site is to support eachother, not to deal with immature drama. Yes, there is productive “devil's advocate” discussion, and then there's crossing the line to harassment. This dude needs to get a life!!!!

  39. Just popped in from Dr. Amy’s site, where we have recently been graced by Alan’s presence. I totally support your right to ban him from your own space. That’s not censorship, it’s firmly escorting a belligerent guest to the door. If you tried to silence him from speaking in *any* public space, *that* would be censorship. But this is your space, and you have every right to have standards for the participants.

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