Update 7/31: All of this is now obsolete. See here.
Think Bonnie Raitt.
This post is addressed to a couple of hundred people in the universe who now believe I am a liar, a sexist pig, a person of poor judgment, someone who should be ashamed of herself, ethically blinkered, dishonorable (their words)....you name it, I've done it. I'm going to list the top 10 very bad reasons people have for thinking any or all of that.
#1 Some think that by standing up for Chris Mooney on the issue of how he vetted Tom Johnson, I'm actually taking a position on a whole host of issues concerning moderation of the Intersection, etc. etc. Not true. I am weighing in on the vetting, and nothing else. For the vetting alone, he has been charged with dishonesty, ethical malfeasance, shabby journalism, a pervasive bias...and more. That's what I'm responding to.
#2 Some people think it's "ethically blinkered" to deal with the vetting issue, without concerning myself with other gripes people have about Chris. I suppose they'd think all the defense lawyers at The Innocence Project were ethically blinkered too. (That's very wrongheaded.)
#3 Some have an irrational level of trust in "William," who confessed some of his sins at The Buddha is not Serious last week. So they think the truth must be compatible with what William said. Here's why this is irrational: William has every reason to distance himself from any persona that reveals a lot about who he really is.
#4 Some think this is a trial, so if they can't see the evidence I'm looking at, they should completely disregard what I say. I suggest that these people better hurry up and throw out all the books in their library. Most of it's hearsay.
#5 Some think it's incumbent on me to "out" the mystery person behind all of this if I want to be taken seriously. That's really strange, since just last week at The Buddha is Not Serious people were making peace with this very person, and saying they respected his desire to remain anonymous. Ophelia Benson was even writing about going Desmond Tutu. Now she's saying she's "frosted" because I'm "protecting" this person, despite his bouts of sexism (which she knew about during the Tutu phase).
#6 Some are quite confused about what the issue is. It's not whether the mystery person is generally credible. Of course he isn't. It's whether Chris Mooney properly vetted Tom Johnson before elevating his comment in October 2009. [update 7/28: correction here.]
#7 Some people think if Chris properly vetted Tom Johnson, then every single thing in Tom Johnson's comments must be true. But no. He was properly vetted if (A) Chris was given evidence that solidly established Tom Johnson's identity. Yes. Email, websites, many other links, and yes Chris contacted Mystery Person using university email. And (B) the identity made Mystery Person's account reasonably plausible. I don't think Chris needed to do a background check on Mystery Person. I don't think he needed to spend hours and hours following every link. Things just had to look plausible, and they did.
#8 Some people are absolutely sure that Mystery Person couldn't have seen the things he claimed to have seen. They think they have no biases about this, and Chris's putting any trust in Mystery person shows his biases. But in fact, there are biases on the other side. When each person asks "could this have happened?" they are picturing their own experience of "meetings. What meetings? Who's at the meeting? Your assumptions about this are your biases.
#9 Some think I'm supporing Chris to get a spot on Point of Inquiry. Yes, and maybe he'll send me a check for a million dollars.
#10 Some people don't use what they know rationally. I thought it was worth me stepping into the fray because I actually thought I'd be believed. No sooner did I take Chris's side than a bizarre pattern emerged. Instead of reasoning "She's trustworthy, so she saw convincing evidence," they said (several people!) "this Jean Kazez is not the one we knew." My prediction that I'd be believed was premised on the assumption that other people are reasonable, and that turned out not to be true.