On the Removal of Controversial Posts

Tea Makers OmbudsmanGreetings, Tea Makers’ readers.

I hope this column finds you and your family in good health.

You may have noticed the recent removal of some posts from this blog. While these eradications are understandably frustrating for readers engaging in the spirited e-dialogues contained in their appended comments, the eliminations were not taken lightly, nor done without serious grounds.

The most recent example was last Thursday, when a young woman and CBCer decided to post her letter of resignation on her web site. This was in turn dispatched by a contributor to The Tea Makers.

It was done without malice or even a sliver of commentary but in the comments section, some readers questioned the veracity of online reviews written in support of the young woman’s work. Some questioned her talent. The discussion quickly turned dire and threatening.

The most offensive comments were removed as quickly as they were found. But after some discussion with the young woman in question, it was decided to remove the post altogether for at least a ‘cooling-off’ period, in accordance with longstanding Tea Makers policy.

Lest there be any confusion about the policy, quite simply: If something bothers you, you can request its removal. It will not always be granted, but it will be considered.

Before the missive was taken down, the popular podcaster Jesse Brown gave his personal, passionate stance on the matter at hand:

I interviewed Ouimet a while back. She made a strong case for this site, arguing that all of the anonymous criticism and rage and bloodletting is a constructive and necessary thing for the CBC. As nasty as the discourse got back then, it was mostly done by people who worked at the CBC and cared about it and wanted it to be better.

So what the fuck is this?

[The young woman in question] doesn’t work at the CBC. Your tax dollars don’t pay her to write. Her book, her career, whether she deserves her success or whether she’s a hack who should commit suicide (as one redacted comment suggested) none of it has anything to do with the supposed idea of this forum.

Are you discussing her book? I don’t think so. Nobody here seems to have read it. What you are debating is whether other people like it, and then whether those people are “real” or not.

So if this isn’t about the CBC and it isn’t about a book, what’s it about?

It’s about random character assassination. You may as well just pick a stranger off the street and start debating whether they deserve the money in their wallet or the clothes on their back.

That you are doing so anonymously is a factor. Anonymity may be necessary when telling truth to power, when criticizing your employer or your government. But why is it needed to rip on someone like Borel?

The only reason I can think of is that you’re ashamed of what you’re saying.

And some of you should be.

Disclosure: I am a friend of [The young woman in question]. Therefore, please disregard everything I just wrote, if that’s what that means to you.

I’m going to set aside Mr. Brown’s coarse language, and chalk that up to the after-effects of one of the all-night cartooning sessions to which I happen to know he’s prone. And we shall also set aside the notion that web-scribes writing under their true appellations are more prone to civility, a theory this comment clearly debunks. This is fodder for another column which I am currently penning in another Microsoft Word file.

But I felt that the issues raised by the removal of this particular post merit further discussion:

1) The young woman in question was the author of a popular, unflattering memoir based on her own life. She also was the original source of the document posted to The Tea Makers. Should she not have expected some measure of conversation on what she herself was distributing?

2) Do we, as netizens, have the right to things written about us on web sites being accurate, civil, and flattering? And if things go south, what’s the proper response? Removal? Rebuttal?

3) Is Jesse Brown correct in expecting that The Tea Makers remain in the state to which he is accustomed in 2007? Under what circumstances should it be allowed to change?

4) Why do employees of the Q radio show inspire such anger, frustration, and mockery among employees of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and certain members of the public at large? Is it possible that the presence of this heated commentary on the Tea Makers indicates a deep-rooted resentment that has no voice or platform anywhere else in the Canadian media landscape? And if so, should these netizens not be allowed a chance to speak their minds? Or should their access to channels of communication be trumped by authors published in books, who are eminently more trustworthy?

I present these items to you, the Tea Makers reader, for your perusal and intellectual entertainment. These are questions I myself must answer in the split-second timelines of the internet. I would also be interested to hear your thoughts, if any, on these matters and will read with relish any further issues you have to add.

Enjoy the rest of your week. Remember that with Fathers’ Day coming up, there are fewer gifts Dad will enjoy more than reading Corked, the memoir written by former CBCer Kathryn Borel, nominated for a Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour. You may be eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping from Amazon.ca, check the site for details on that.

Yours in good stead & Tea Makers forever,
Wanda M. White
Tea Makers Ombudsman


  1. Fake Mac Furlong
    Posted June 18, 2010 at 8:36 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Relax, kids. Stephen Leacock wasn’t that funny, either.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 6:41 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Whiny little crybabies like Jesse Brown and Kathryn Borel should start a support group for pseudo-celebs like themselves, where they can all sit around and cry about the mean things that people say about them on the internet. Call it “Victim’s of Internet Character Assassination aka Criticism (by) Anonymous”.

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 17, 2010 at 7:23 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Humourless “humorists” like Jesse & Kathryn would have no problem with us if we were praising them – it would save them the trouble of having to write their own praise.

      Incidentally there’s only one “popular podcaster” in this country and everyone knows that it’s Todd Mafin [sic].

      • Teanut Gallery
        Posted June 17, 2010 at 8:34 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

        Get well soon, Jesse!

        • Anonymous
          Posted June 18, 2010 at 12:47 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

          I really hope that Jessie’s not mad at us. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that Jessie Browne didn’t approve of something that I did. He’s like a mother figure to me.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    After that particular blog post was taken down there was no activity on this site save for a couple of posts for 2 days. A little preview of what’s to come if the censorship continues?

    And Kathryn Borel is a published author who regularly seeks media coverage; not some meek private citizen ex-CBC employee as some have claimed. If she doesn’t want to be publicly criticized than she should stop seeking fame and go back to being just a private citizen.

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 17, 2010 at 3:58 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

      Agreed! It’s tiresome the way people pursue fame and celebrity, but they just want glory, and heaven help anyone who disagrees with them or questions their motives.

      • Anonymous
        Posted June 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

        if kathryn wants privacy, she should use a nom-de-plume.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    For better or worse, anonymity provides a focus on what is being said, not who is saying it.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    authors published in books are not eminently more trustworthy, they just have more time on their hands and know the right people

  6. Anonymous
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:24 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Freedom of speech isn’t always pretty. Hostile comments may be generated from the belief that certain employees at the CBC (& not just on Q) are given a free pass to say and write whatever they wish, to promote themselves in any way they want to without consequence and because they have access to resources non-CBC’ers don’t have, they are a privileged elite.

    Why is this former-Q-employee-now-author protected from negative comments? Why isn’t Jian protected? or George? or Sook-Yin Lee?

  7. Appropriate
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:17 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I thought the semi-moderated discussion regarding Ms. Borel while rude, crude, crass, and rash, was entirely appropriate for this site and subject matter. There should be no subjects off limits and the ridicule of Toronto hipster cliques that include Ms. Borel, Ms. Brown, and many of the existing and ex-CBC Toronto people are entirely warranted and desired by many of us across the country. Vive la Tea Makers libre!

    P.s. I miss Ms. Brown at CBC. Are there no other bearded ladies working for the ceeb?

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