The Case of the Missing Violet Blue

This post was originally posted as a comment on BoingBoing, in relation to that site’s deleting of stories related to the sex columnist Violet Blue. I am posting them here, because, as the Violet Blue episode illustrates, BoingBoing can’t be trusted to maintain an impartial record.

Background on this, mostly via Google, can be found here, here, here, and here, among other places.

I really do hope this issue is addressed because, as the situation now appears to this outsider observer, it reflects horribly on Miss Jardin, and by extension to the other BoingBoingers. It would be a shame if BoingBoing’s integrity were to be seriously damaged by this scandal. BoingBoing is a strong voice for openness and transparency in our electronic society. It would be a shame if the greater cause of freedom in our modern world were damaged by these disreputable actions.

Let us consider the facts -

BoingBoing has been disingenuous in it’s own official pronouncements. When the official Boing Boing moderator, Miss Hayden, posted the official BoingBoing post on the matter, she dismissed the severity of the deletions by claiming media reports of over a hundred posting deleted were too high. It has been documented that at least seventy postings related to Violet Blue were deleted. Not quite a hundred, but a massive enough purging of the public record.

Insinuations by Miss Hayden and Miss Jardin that Miss Blue is somehow responsible for the deletions through bad behaviour are vile, especially as they fail to disclose or deny Miss Blue’s assertion that Miss Jardin and her were “casual” lovers for a brief time. Miss Blue claims ignorance of any misbehaiour, and Jardin and Hayden have darkly hinted that a failure to disclose is to protect the parties from embarassment.

What is most likely is that Miss Jardin deleted the posts in the aftermath of her intimate relationship with Miss Blue. One can well imagine that the break of intimacy might have been more jarring to Miss Jardin than to the libertine Miss Blue. Perhaps some embarrassment over the nature of their relationship troubled Miss Jardin. She suggests as much to the LA Times in comparing her own actions to those of her own father in destroying some of his own erotically-themed work.

It is hard to believe that some public action of Miss Blue prompted the deletions, since then Jardin would need no coyness in explaining herself. It is also unlikely that Miss Blue was banished for acting as a groupie, as has been suggested by many partisans of Miss Jardin - Miss Blue is a successful blogger and columnist in her own right, and not dependent on BoingBoing for attention, nor are there any other reports of Miss Blue behaving badly to get publicity. She writes for Forbes magazine, for goodness’ sake!

So the likelihood is that Miss Jardin’s actions are from personal animus towards Miss Blue, probably prompted by the breakup of their love affair. There is no evidence of any other behaviour by Miss Blue that would have bothered Miss Jardin enough to withdraw her own work from the public sphere.

Other reasons given by BoingBoing, such as the “expense” of keeping these posts public are also fatuous. That this reason is officially cited by BoingBoing brings into question, again, their own truthfulness about this episode.

There is also considerable contradiction in the account of how the deletions were decided upon. At first, the action is depicted as one decided upon by mutual consensus, while later it has been asserted that the BoingBoing bloggers work independently and usually without consultation, and that the deletions were unilaterally done by Miss Jardin.

So the appearance is of Miss Jardin destroying her own work in petulant repudiation of a spurning lover, a depiction even more pathetic in that the spurning lover is oblivious to the original offense. One can well see why Miss Jardin has not been more forthcoming. Her actions were reckless and immature, and perhaps priggish. In the absence of any credible evidence otherwise, one must come to the sad conclusion that the evasiveness of Miss Jardin and BoingBoing is not in deference to Miss Blue’s easily embarrassed sensibilities, but rather out of embarrassment for their own bad behaviour.

We hope that Miss Jardin will put this matter to rest by a full and honest accounting. The openness of the discussion that this comment is a part of gives one hope, but just in case, I’m posting them on my own blog. As this recent episode makes clear, BoingBoing doesn’t have the best track record recently as an open and transparent public forum.

I am even sympathetic to Miss Jardin in her dilemma. No-one likes their intimately private life made public, particularly in such a unflattering way. I hope that she will consider the example of Lady Godiva. Sometimes riding naked through the town’s square can be the best thing for one’s reputation, if the cause is noble.

-Addenda in response to BoingBoinger’s comments, the numbers and names refer to the post numbers and the monikers of the posters.

@mdhatter,1546 - I made factually-based speculations, not insinuations.

What happens with BoingBoing is my business. It is a publication of far reach and its integrity is a matter of public interest. When its integrity is brought into question, the actions that bring that integrity into question is everyone’s business, no matter how personally embarrassing the underlying reasons for those actions may be.

@1545 Archeaopteryx

A putative private lover’s quarrel is not my business, but as I explained to mdhatter, an important public forum’s integrity is my business. I merely cited facts to speculate on the likely cause of the resulting scandal. If BoingBoing is going to delete its archives on the basis of personal romantic involvement, that is a matter of public interest.

Miss Blue has claimed there was a sexual liaison and Miss Jardin has not denied it. If it were untrue there would be no reason for her not to deny it.

And to use some other slang, mdhatter, I just find it skeevy that Miss Jardin might be using a subject’s sexual acquiescence and acquaintance as a criteria for their inclusion in BoingBoing.

Finally, Arch, if you are going to try to use my own words against me, use them properly  My language is neither rude nor the motive capricious, as suggested by the word petulant.  My speculations are rather unpleasant, but I have tried to express myself without vulgarity or personal rancor.

6 Responses to “The Case of the Missing Violet Blue”

  1. Emily Says:

    “Miss Hayden”

    Actually, her last name is Nielsen Hayden, and she isn’t a “miss”. That ought to be Ms. Nielsen Hayden, just for the sake of being respectful.

  2. Michel Says:

    The choice of honorific hasn’t much bearing on the argument, so I’m not going to change it. The term is not meant disrespectfully.

    My apologies to her and Mr. Nielsen Hayden.

  3. the shadow Says:

    A Speculative Disquisition on the BoingBoing Affair

    All very interesting. One thing that occurs to me is that, in Violet Blue’s sfgate column about the hypocrisy of Amanda Congdon somehow trying to pretend that she can do what she wants as a vlogger/blogger, and that standard journo rules don’t apply, while also acting as a journo of ABC (Disney owned, interestingly enough), some have suggested that VB’s column may have caused Congdon to lose her ABC gig when Disney/ABC honchos found out about her profitable side job as a “Rocketboom”-style persona promoting DuPont Chemical Corp. interests by doing similar vlog adverts for DuPont.

    Ya gotta admit that VB is no dummy, and that that column was quite incisive and showed VB knows how to separate the wheat from the chaff, like with a scalpel. Maybe someone at BB perceived her, or an advertiser may have suggested, especially after that, and the split with Xeni, as indicative of someone who couldn’t be controlled, a kind of loose cannon on the deck of the BB profit-ship-of-state.

    Now, follow me carefully here, as it gets somewhat complex:

    Congdon was a fave of BoingBoing for her Rocketboom work. VB points out and shows Congdon’s hypocrisy and imperious “I can have my cake and eat it too” attitude, which may or may not have led to her being fired or leaving ABC (it’s unclear what happened there, in fact). VB not so subtly exposed Congdon’s contradictory motives and ethics. VB’s sharp but perhaps not so wise as to potential consequences.

    VB has a “casual” lesbian affair with Xeni–XJ may not have seen it as being as casual as VB characterized it, but XJ, while not denying it, certainly hasn’t admitted it publicly, or as a reason for the deletion/censoring of VB’s posts or mentions of VB from BB. But, XJ may have become additionally pissed off at VB for her sfgate slam of Congdon, even if it was legit in terms of pointing out Congdon’s side vlogging for DuPont Chemical Corp., and how it could be construed as a conflict of ethics and contractural interests by ABC, which was seemingly unaware of Congdon’s side work for DuPont.

    But here is VB pointing out the conflict of interest, and ethical contradictions, in her column about Congdon, which the BB’ers, and XJ in particular, must have known about shortly thereafter. And Congdon’s a BB/XJ fave. Now, one of the most interesting questions here is one of _timing_–just why and _when_ did VB and XJ break up? Did VB spurn XJ? Did XJ think she had an exclusive relationship with VB, and perhaps found out differently? Was there a conjunction in timing between the Congdon column and the break-up?

    So much of the actions of XJ, and her unilateral censorship, and her lame excuses after the fact reek of a lover spurned or finding VB may have had “other interests”–the lover’s spat, and breakup, and Congdon being exposed by VB may be only part of the story, but potent emotional factors and motivation to do a number on VB ever so quietly–VB didn’t even know for a year about the deletions. Let’s call it what it was: covert censorship.

    But here, on a more general level, you may have another, perhaps even more significant twist–Boing Boing has posts that are _sponsored_, but _not identified_ as such to their readers, and thus are a form of underhanded advertising masquerading as news items and bits of net interest. “Ms. Nielsen-Hayden” even acts in a role as paid moderator for these covert adverts.

    Could it be that, in addition to all of the above, the real or primary reason that BB and XJ are not willing to fess up is that when their readers put together the fact that BB is massively, hypocritically exploiting not only their own prior ethics and rep about transparency, corporations, and the rest, as shown by their actions against VB and others, but also just might have been concerned that VB was potentially a liability to their advertisers, not just for the sex stuff, or the Congdon thing, but, might eventually expose BB for being the frauds they apparently are for doing the same kind of thing VB exposed Congdon for, and that BB was/is doing something far more venal, cynical, deceptive, and essentially ethically and morally fraudulent by carrying posts that are actual adverts for various products and services, without identifying such as same, and that VB might have blown their cover and full-scale hypocritical source of money/profit by doing a “Congdon” _on BB_?

    Jesus–do you get what I’m driving at? So many people complain about the deteriorating quality of BB, due to immensely narcissistic self-promotion, Cory’s endless promotion of his own products, the negative influence of the multiple millions of dollars now following from the audience BB built up and largely still has, and exploiting their audience by mixing the cool, quirky, and interesting things that BB still carries (even tho’ increasingly slowly or delayed, compared to other established and up-and-coming sites, and with less credit, link backs, or other net etiquette niceties) with the sludge of items that are actually unattributed adverts, coupled with draconian moderation to reduce or prevent comments like this one, or legit criticism that points out the contradictions between what BB says it stands for, and, in turn, what it actually does, thus even more obviously establishing the fraudulent exploitation of the “old BB” rep, and trading in their net cred for the money? God, BB has made itself into a really bad, self-consuming joke!

    Wasn’t it during the Nixon/Watergate era that Deep Throat said to “follow the money”? The money has corrupted BB, and it’s team, so thoroughly by now that it’s no wonder they want the VB scandal to go away, even if VB never intended to expose BB’s corporate lackey, money-grubbing, venally hypocritical current practices–just the controversy alone focuses media attention and investigatory interest in just what has been going on at BB, and they can ill afford to admit that, as opposed to all the liberal, anti-copyright, transparency-loving sentiments they constantly express, they are complete and utter frauds when their statements are compared to their actions and policies. These former “net hipsters” have become corrupted by their “Godfather,” Federated Media uber-meister Battelle’s efforts to bring ever greater levels of money to himself and his “team” by selling their credibility to the highest corporate bidders! They’ve sacrificed themselves and their prior reps for the Profit Motive!

    They’ve cannibalized themselves, and are trying to maintain for as long as possible the image of objective, “cool-hunting” sophisticates while simultaneously selling out! Oh, the humanity…no wonder they’ve tried to quiet this storm, and demur giving straight answers–they just want it to all go away, and due to their own lies, deception, and phony, bland non-answers to repeated inquiries, it has all just metastasized, and back-fired on them!

    The truth won’t set them free–it will impugn and degrade whatever rep they have left in the minds of the majority of their naive readers, and stop the money flow. And they have corruptly done it to themselves.

    They’ve bargained away trust, rep, objectivity, being cutting-edge, etc. for the ‘almighty’ dollar. And the longer they can obfuscate, censor (VB was not the first or last caught in this “reality distortion field”, or whose comments and posts were “unpublished” –oh, what a villainous term–) and any comment or hint that they are frauds is quickly scrubbed by the moderation clones, in order to extend their run for as long, and as profitably, as possible. How utterly, ineffably, and stupidly sleazy.

    I spent several hours reviewing at least a dozen sites where the Violet Blue controversy and scandal was mentioned, just out of curiosity about why BB was dissembling and trying to obscure the reasons for her Stalinist-style “disappearance” (and no, the wayback machine having these censored posts is just a laughable belated misdirection on BB’s part). When I came across references to the BB’s undisclosed practice of mixing in adverts as posts to the actual non-sponsored posts, it struck me that that was most likely the “smoking gun” in this creepy little scandal.

    Now, I should emphasize, in conclusion, that this is just my humble little opinion, and derives from multiple sources of information on the net, but if you browse around like I just did in the last couple of hours, the way BB is acting makes a lot more sense–they fear exposure. Even though it’s just speculation, it’s possible that the way VB exposed Congdon may have set off alarm bells at BB, with similar and perhaps greater legal, ethical, and moral liabilities may have realized they had to deep-six and disassociate themselves from her as quietly as possible, and they’re still in “damage-control” mode, but due to their clumsy handling of the VB affair, and their continued denials and obfuscations, they have, if anything, due to the alternative voices, comments, and sources on the net they can’t control, have created a matrix of facts, opinions, and speculation, which if anyone ties it all together, could be terribly damaging to everything they do, not just BB, and all the means they use to generate capital. Now, I wonder if, by posting this here, and maybe Mr. Evanchik may make it disappear also, due to it’s implications, I may find myself on the receiving end of untoward and unwanted attention. If so, well never mind. It will be like none of what I’ve noted here ever happened. But if I can consider these as at least possibilities, others can and may already have done so.

    I’m saving a copy of these comments for backup regardless. Michel, you do what you want–you will anyway, right? Perhaps you can take my idle theories noted above and do some research that pulls even more threads together. But just the fact that, according to a number of sites, and related comments, BB uses their site to foist sponsored adverts as posts that are not identified as such on their readers is not only reprehensible, but is just plain stupid, as it degrades the quality of the “BB experience” such as it has become as a result, and even more repulsive, the contradiction and hypocrisy of BB in doing so, in addition to their own blatantly and repetitive self-promotional efforts, as compared to their public statements about their politics, transparency, copyright and corporate issues, etc. is so obviously counter-intuitive and self-destructive that if anything, somebody more skilled than I in researching, documenting, and writing a summarization of all that I’ve said here might have themselves a humdinger of an article or post, if they so choose to take that potential risk in telling the truth of these issues and matters of real import to the net.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but as a long-time BB reader, who noticed how relatively poor in quality and breadth BB was and had become over the last couple years, I think I may have elucidated in a moderately coherent way some of the primary factors as to just why BB has declined in quality while ironically their audience has grown, and they’ve become very much more profitable and rich.

    Appealing to a lower common denominator, and demographic, as far as I’m concerned, by self-censoring, going “net mainstream”, and slipping in sponsored posts or a form of subliminal advertising, in effect, has corrupted what I thought BB was about, and supposedly stood for. That dirty laundry should be aired, washed, and if permanently soiled, tossed out, metaphorically speaking. I for one am less inclined to take whatever BB posts as either wonderful or untainted by commercial greed and biased corruption. That’s a story that needs telling by someone.

    When content is deceptively corrupted by commercial interests and corporate sponsorship, and for profit, and which is also not identified as such or acknowledged publicly, how do we know what’s real, true, or unbiased? I know that sounds naive, but the net, and its relative many-to-many freedom of information distribution advantages are increasingly important, relied upon, and growing rapidly.

    If we don’t know, or aren’t told, and thus are essentially being deceived as to the source, motives behind, and corrupting influence on content being sold as useful, helpful, and objective, when it’s actually not, users should at least have the opportunity to be openly informed and make their own choices. Christ, this situation with BB reminds me, offhand, as very similar to some of the creepier, manipulative elements in the plot of Gibson’s “Pattern Recognition.” The BB cool-hunters, to some unknown degree, are working for The Man to exploit and capitalize on their readers interests and input.

  4. the shadow Says:

    It occurred to me, in view of my rantish commentary above, that my primary concern over the issue of corruption and/or cover-up hinges on the question of whether Boing Boing actually does put sponsored, but unattributed posts on their site, or not.

    While there are some references on the net to this being a sub rosa practice of BB, I now realize I may have sipped someone else’s Kool-Aid. If true, and BB _does_ get paid to post (and moderate “attentively”) items that are not noted as sponsored, then I stand by my expressed concerns.

    However, if BB does _not_ take money to post covert adverts on their site, or associated sites, then I take back what I’ve said, and sheepishly, with chagrin, have to suggest “never mind” to the above comment.

    Does anyone know, for sure, one way or the other? It would seem settling that question would be crucial to defining whether BB is taking money for posting, or not, and the issue of moral, ethical, and legal liabilities.

  5. Michel Says:

    I recall that with the nauseatingly laudatory Virgin Atlantic airline posts, care was taken to explain that Virgin was not paying for the attention lavished upon them.

    I’ve taken BoingBoing off my bookmarks list, and rarely visit the site anymore. While the Violet Blue episode was the straw that broke this camel’s back, I had become increasingly more and more dissatisfied with them for some time. Other than Cory Doctorow, I always found the other contributors, particularly Miss Jardin, to be annoying.

    I do think that there is a rat here, but it’ll take someone with more interest in the matter than me to root it out. Miss Blue has said she will get to the bottom of it, and I hope that she does, if only because I think it will make a good and tawdry tale.

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