Sunday, July 15, 2018

A farewell to the (remaining) faithful. Post 1296 and final...

THIS PAST TUESDAY, July 17, marked 13 years to the day since I launched this blog in conjunction with the release of the namesake book. In the beginning and for quite a while thereafter, SHAMblog was a daily must-read for many of you; you've told me as much. We had several thousand loyalists, dozens of whom either commented regularly and/or contributed newsworthy, fascinating, provocative links. A few of you did guest columns. Indeed, my little blog became a lively and oft-cited platform for vigorous debate on all matters pertaining to the nation's social, psychological and motivational dynamics. Sometimes I'd go off-theme, and while a few of you would chastise me...

"Stick to what you think you know, Steve," as someone memorably put it
...those were precisely the moments when others jumped in with both feet. We also spawned spinoff blogs that in time, I won't deny, eclipsed this one as a venue for momentous news and top-level discussion of the scams emanating from SHAMland.

A few weeks ago I took the blog offline. This was a move that had been coming for awhile, actually, but the back-breaking straw was when one of our most devout readers sent me a screenshot of an adfor anal porn, of all thingsthat sat smack-dab in the middle of my most recent post. (Good God I hope there's no such eyesore here now!) I'd toyed with Google Adsense for awhile but discontinued my participation months ago when they kept running ads touting Tony Robbins, Deepak et al. So the porn ad was an annoyance on two levels. First, there shouldn't have been any advertising anymore. Second, an ad for anal porn is arguably even more off-putting than an ad for Deepak. Google couldn't seem to give me a straight answer about why this was happening (or the whereabouts of the final Adsense payment due me), so I decided to pull the plug. And that decision will now be permanent. SHAMblog will go dark. It's time. It's long past time.

There are other factors as well. I've tried to tell it straight on SHAMblog; tried to perpetrate critical thinking no matter how far from the beaten path such thinking led me. If I were going to continue to maintain the blog I'd want to sustain that no-holds-barred flavor in both my posts and the Comments section. As you know, however, we live in a world where no-holds-barred discourse is no longer fashionableespecially when a man (this one) hopes to be able to show his face on campus. Long-term readers will recall the extremity of my financial crunch a few years back. While thankfully I weathered that storm and came out okay, I've made peace with the fact that retirement will come in the form of my death. No rocking chairs for this guy. I will continue to haunt campuses for as long as they'll have me.

I will also continue to take what I consider to be the intellectual high road in more formal venues, notably The Wall Street Journal and Claire Lehmann's courageous and groundbreaking Quillette. Such publications offer dramatically greater visibility than today's SHAMblog as well as a certain insulation from the negatives that accrue to someone who takes unpopular public positions nowadays. Ideas never seem quite as inflammatory when you write them for major markets as when you write them on your own blog, which is assumed to be a direct pipeline to your hulking Id. It's akin to the dichotomy between controversial viewpoints voiced during formal debate and a shouting match on the same topic that erupts around the water cooler. Even in snowflakey academia, one is given a good deal more leash if the venue for one's apostasy is a respected journal. Pen a critique of #MeToo for The Wall Street Journal and you may be branded a loathsome defender of the patriarchy, but publish the same exact critique on your blog and suddenly you're a "closet rapist"; women will begin telling people that they no longer "feel safe" around you. I had to learn this lesson the hard way after a satirical blog post on "rape culture" blew up on Twitter and angry students and their mothers began emailing that very sentiment to administrators at Lehigh, where I then taught. Emphasis on the then. Though I'd been assured I could expect indefinite employment, I was now told (just weeks before the new semester) that a tenured prof had returned unexpectedly from sabbatical and, because he was well above me in the pecking order, my classes would be reassigned to him. Can I prove that this occurred because of the blog post? No, I have no smoking gun. But a man hears things, and can put two and two together.

(So why take any risks?, you might ask. Why publish anything "provocative" anywhere? Fair question. What am I gonna do, though? Just curl up into a python-like ball and wait for people to toss me dead rats?)

To those who are still with me, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your readership, your contributions, and your patience with me when I (or your fellow readers) went off the rails. Let me offer a special thanks to those of you who reached out to find out "where did the blog go?" or to ask how I was doing during my existential struggle, back around 2014ish. It has been my privilege to get to know many of you a little bit, and to host your thoughts. We had a helluva run. I am proud of what we all did here.