Barry, you owe your readers a public forum where you can further explain your decision, and offer those who are stunned and hurt an opportunity to express that to you directly.
It’s the right thing to do, and it needs to happen right now.
Okay. Here’s the same post, this time with the comments open.
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Announcement: I’m not the owner of “Amptoons.com” anymore. I sold it a couple of months ago.
Five months ago, I was facing two problems. First of all, I was in real financial trouble – we were paying all our bills, but by a slimmer margin each month, and if things had kept on going that way it was only a matter of time before we’d come up short. Plus, one person in the house hadn’t been able to pay his rent in a long time, while another seemed on the verge of being unemployed (although as it turned out, that was a false alarm).
Second of all, I kept on having to beg my host not to shut down “Alas” for using too much server time – and in fact, “Alas” was briefly shut down more than once, and I was forced to remove a lot of functionality in order to reduce server load. My host kept on telling me that I needed a dedicated server, but the cost of that is well beyond anything I could consider.
Then a buyer approached me offering to purchase amptoons.com, so he could use it to improve search engine rankings for his clients (how that all works isn’t something I have any knowledge of). He offered a substantial sum of money – not enough to erase my money worries, but enough to ease the pressure for a while. Plus he offered to provide a free dedicated server for “Alas.”
The contract took months to wrangle, but here’s the bottom line: The new owner has absolutely no control over the content of “Alas.” However, “Alas” plus my cartoonist pages are the only parts of amptoons.com I have any access to or control over. The buyer also has the right to put in one or two inconspicuous links on “Alas,” positioned in a way that would make it unlikely that anyone but search engine robots would follow the link.
I was assured by the buyer that he would never host porn sites on “amptoons.com.” And I wrote into the contract that his link on “Alas” could never be a direct link to a porn site. But beyond that, I have no ability to control what the buyer does with his pages – the deal is that he has absolutely no say in what’s on “Alas,” but we also agreed that I have no say over what he does with his own property. And – as a couple of “Alas” readers have noticed – some pages I don’t own include links to porn.
[Edited to add: A couple of readers have speculated that I didn't know that the new owner would link to porn on his pages. That's not true; I kept the links off of "Alas," but I knew that he would be putting links to porn on his own pages.]
I’m essentially in the same position as someone with a blog on “blogspot.com” – I don’t own the domain, and although I control what’s on my own blog, I don’t have any say over what’s posted on the domain other than my little piece of it.
I realize that some “Alas” readers will feel that I’ve sold out, or that this puts me beyond the pale. I’m genuinely sorry for that. For the record, I don’t feel I’ve been victimized (as one person suggested in email), nor do I feel like I’m a total sell-out. What I feel is this: I’ve made a compromise, one that I probably wouldn’t have made in a perfect world.
That’s all. And now, back to your regularly scheduled political rants.
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New comments from Amp:
I warned the new owner that a likely result of this sale would be many other blogs delinking “Alas.” He said that didn’t matter to him and wouldn’t impede his profit; whatever his business model is based on, he isn’t concerned about that.
My views on porn: I’m not terribly pro-porn; most porn, like most mass media, seems sexist and harmful to me. The arguments that porn prevents rape or is in some way tremendously beneficial to society strike me as not at all supported by the evidence. On the other hand, I’m also not especially anti-porn, in that I don’t see porn as being particularly separate from or different than regular mass media, either in how sexist and racist it is, or in the harm it does. I’m convinced that there are other problems far, far more pressing than porn, and I think what I’ve written about over the years reflects that. If all porn disappeared from the face of the Earth tomorrow, I think that sexism, misogyny, and the wage gap would continue uninterrupted.
As I understand it, from the questions I asked before selling “amptoons.com,” the practical outcome of what the new owner does is that when someone searches for “porn,” they’re more likely to find his clients’ sites than other clients’ sites. I’m not thrilled with that, but I also frankly don’t believe it makes the world a worse place if porn company A gets ranked above porn company B in porn searches. Nor do I believe that I could have prevented such manipulations from taking place by refusing to sell the domain.
For me, this compromise is similar to the compromise I’ve made in the past accepting pay for cartoons from small publications who depended on strip club and escort ads for their income; or for being a secretary for various firms on Wall Street (some of those firms do, in my view, far more harm than porn ever has).
I’m not saying what I did was great. It wasn’t. It was a compromise, one that I felt I had no choice but to accept. It’s not something I would have done if I thought I could afford not to do it. It’s a bad thing, disturbing to me, and understandably disturbing (or much worse than disturbing) to my anti-porn readers. I know that some people who formerly liked me will now have lost all respect for me. I understand that, and I regret their departure; at the same time, my respect for them is undiminished.
That said, I’ve never been big on the politics of personal purity. It’s hard to be sure, because I’ve written thousands of blog posts and comments, but I don’t think I’ve ever criticized another feminist for being insufficiently pure in their personal life, their porn use, their income source, or the ads on their blogs.
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One criticism of me that I think is especially strong is that I should have announced the sale of amptoons.com before it happened, to give people a chance to comment and to give other bloggers the chance to delink. It was wrong of me not to do that, and I sincerely apologize for that.
“Alas” reader “Curious” has usefully posted many links to other bloggers criticizing me on this thread. Some of the bloggers are people who have, as “Achilles and Patroclus” says, “the same folks who have been berating Amp for being insufficiently feminist for literally years now”; but others are people who have been quite kind to me over the years, and who I don’t think are knee-jerk Amp-bashers.
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Comments are open for discussion (very much including criticism), but the usual moderation policies apply. Also, I want to remind people that I’m not at the computer all the time, so it may be many hours before I read comments.
This thread is for feminists, feminist-friendly, and pro-feminist posters only.