The War Against Barry A.

Salvador Cordova recently posted in Noyau the contents of a private email he received from Barry.

Administrator Neil Rickert thanks Salvador for posting it and suggests an OP.

Administrator Alan Fox suggests an OP.

Administrator and site owner Elizabeth Liddle suggests an OP.

None of them call into question the wisdom of posting the contents of private emails on the site.

Extremely poor judgment by them all.

Salvador indicates his willingness to publish more of his private correspondence with Barry and does so.

Elizabeth creates an OP which includes some of the contents of the original private email.

One can only speculate how things might have been different if it wasn’t Barry Arrington’s private correspondence that was being published.

I’d like to propose a rule that prohibits publishing the contents of private correspondence on this site without the permission of all parties to the correspondence.

Such a rule should not be necessary here but recent events clearly indicate otherwise.

A sad few days in the history of TSZ. Please publish such a rule and let’s move on.

18 thoughts on “The War Against Barry A.

  1. None of them call into question the wisdom of posting the contents of private emails on the site.

    It was too late for that. It had already been posted. If Sal had privately asked my advice, I would have advised against posting it.

    Given that it was posted, there was certain to be a continuing discussion. So it was better to have a separate thread for that.

    As for a war against Barry — I doubt that this hurts Barry at all. And posting that message probably does hurt Sal. So, no, I don’t see this as a war.

  2. I’d like to propose a rule that prohibits publishing the contents of private correspondence on this site without the permission of all parties to the correspondence.

    I’d endorse that rule.

    I also have to say that Arrington’s email didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know. We already knew that Arrington is a hard-core culture warrior who thinks that “materialism” is going to destroy the West from within. That’s the party line at Uncommon Descent, and they scream it constantly from the top of their cyber-lungs. The only new information in the email was about Arrington’s personal dislike of Cordova. I have to say, their personal falling out is of no interest to me. It’s just gossip.

  3. The NSA has already seen it, how can you call it private?

    But seriously, you have a right not to publish any correspondence that you get. As a recipient, unless you’ve already agreed otherwise, you are under no obligation not to publish such correspondence. This is not attorney-client. This is not doctor-patient. This is not trade secret. It’s nothing more than a nasty personal rant attempting to stay under the radar. There’s nothing about it which deserves or demands privilege.

  4. Just think, Darwin was warring with Barry Arrington well before he was even born. Or at least that makes as much sense as this OP.

    But I guess if going by the same sort of evidence that IDists accept for non-designed microevolution and claiming that it indicates design on the macroevolutionary scale is supposed to make sense, just about anything goes.

    Glen Davidson

  5. The only surprising thing in that email was the phrase “I owe you an explanation”.
    As to the ethics, that would depend on whether the author had a reasonable expectation of privacy: if one sends a combative email to someone one dislikes (and who reciprocates the sentiment), then one is pretty stupid to expect it to stay private. No “innocent” third party was harmed.
    Now, if Barry wishes to show up here and argue that he did expect Sal to keep the email private, he is quite welcome. And he would regain the protection of the rules here, which IMO he forfeited with his venal tell-a-falsehood-and-then-run-away commenting history here.

  6. I’m not sure how wanting Barry to be ethical, honest and accountable for his actions constitutes war. But then again the siege mentality at UD and within ID probably creates a different view of the world.

  7. “A sad few days in the history of TSZ. Please publish such a rule and let’s move on.”

    Will you be pushing for “please don’t have a different public message / propaganda than you believe privately” rule at Uncommon Descent, Mung? You could really start cleaning that place up!

  8. When I first became a school leader in the NYC area, I’ll never forget the advice an experienced principal gave me…that being, never put anything in an email and send it to someone if you wouldn’t be comfortable with it being on the front page of the NY Post. Pretty much true. There is no agreement of silence…as was mentioned.

  9. llanitedave: As a recipient, unless you’ve already agreed otherwise, you are under no obligation not to publish such correspondence. This is not attorney-client. This is not doctor-patient. This is not trade secret. It’s nothing more than a nasty personal rant attempting to stay under the radar. There’s nothing about it which deserves or demands privilege.

    Yes.

    I’m amazed about people here complaining that Sal did the “wrong” thing by revealing a “private” email as if Sal was somehow obliged to keep it secret.

    It doesn’t matter whether Barry was abusive, or not. It doesn’t matter whether Barry lied, or contradicted himself somewhere else, or not. The only thing that matters is that Barry (apparently) chose to send a message to a person with whom he has no confidentiality agreement. Sal is absolutely within moral bounds to delete the message, print it out and use it as toilet paper, or publish it anywhere he wishes.

    I’d quit the Skeptical Zone if the anti-free-speech contingent succeed in getting a rule about “no sharing emails without permission from all parties”.

    I don’t even believe in any value of untrammeled “free speech” but that proposed rule is corrupt.

  10. References to “privilege” and “obligation” are misplaced, IMHO. Those refer to or suggest externally imposed legal obligations and consequences, not the personal and interpersonal ethics of the behavior.

    Prior to Barry sending his final message there clearly was, in my view, an intact implicit (albeit not legally binding) expectation of privacy, grounded in ordinary interpersonal courtesy. Indeed, Sal explicitly assured Barry of as much when he stated, “It’s probably in our mutual interest to keep our disagreements between us. I have no intention making any public flap and will quietly do as you said.” That was Sal’s last statement of intent prior to Barry’s diatribe, which was essentially a harsh description of those disagreements, and it would have been reasonable for Barry to expect Sal’s stated intention to govern his handling of his next message. It probably would not have been reasonable for him to expect the same courtesy to extend messages that followed the diatribe – the message certainly does justify dissolving any further relationship and with it any further expectation of ordinary courtesy and privacy. But not for violating the implicit privacy of that particular message, which I think inherits the expectations that preceded it, not those that follow it.

    That said, this is just a description of my own thoughts and feelings on the matter. I don’t support the notion of a “rule” imposing that standard upon others, which seems like a solution looking for a problem (how often does this really come up?). I also recognize that these choices fall into the realm of personal ethics where suasion rather than coercion applies.

  11. llanitedave:
    The NSA has already seen it, how can you call it private?

    But seriously, you have a right not to publish any correspondence that you get.As a recipient, unless you’ve already agreed otherwise, you are under no obligation not to publish such correspondence.This is not attorney-client.This is not doctor-patient.This is not trade secret.It’s nothing more than a nasty personal rant attempting to stay under the radar.There’s nothing about it which deserves or demands privilege.

    I entirely agree.

    There are many circumstances in which confidentiality is ethically mandatory. There also circumstances in which publication may be ethically mandatory.

    The idea that the recipient of any correspondence automatically has an ethical duty to keep it confidential is incoherent in my view. and emails in which the recipient is accused of something they want to rebut is (often) one of where they do not.

  12. Wow, this latest charade about Barry and the emails have really brought out the rage from the ID regulars here. Total meltdown. Posts are ranging from just blatant trolling (it’s a war against irrationality), through denial (we’re wining, not losing!), to just throwing hissy fits that the secret was revealed (case in point: op).

  13. Alan Fox,

    You know how Wikipedia works right? FIRST you have to know the word, THEN you can check it on Wikipedia. You know, like all those who heard of the word AFTER Barry used it?

  14. I think the wikipedia thing is irrelevant (though slightly amusing).

    Personally, I had no problem in Sal publishing the text of his emails, but I did not think they made a very appropriate OP That is why I posted my own OP, in order to start a wider discussion of the ID mind-set as revealed Barry’s letter had revealed (and it’s similarity to the paranoia of the Wedge Strategy document), rather than of the rights and wrong of Barry’s treatment of Sal.

    But I’ve bumped a couple of less meta posts, as I’d rather this site was not dominated by web squabbles.

  15. I’m inclined against publishing personal correspondence without permission, personally, although I can’t draw a hard line as to why written conversation should have different rules to verbal.

    Rules seem to change when the sender is deceased. If they’re significant enough, everything gets published!

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