How Did That
Letter I Submitted
Get Posted?
[name removed]

From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: [name removed]
Subject: Re: [removed]
Date: August 10, 2004

Ah, [my friend]!

Should I simply remove the entire web site?

Do you think this would make the people happy?

Shorter Graphic Rule

Why do so many readers who submit Letters to the Editor of Positive Atheism Magazine later insist that I remove the letter? So large a portion of the magazine and the web page consists of letters that readers have submitted for publication; so many of our e-list dispatches back then consisted of requests for comments that we could post or publish.

Why do so many people do this!? Why do I sometimes get up to a half-dozen such requests in a sinigle week?


Positive Atheism is a philosophy that is based in the supremacy of truthfulness among humankind's ethical values.

What do you suggest I do about this huge, HUGE problem that eventually started costing me so much in time (which equals money when doing this) that I started to become afraid to post letters at all? Why should I take the time to post material that people submit when chances are I'll end up spending thrice the amount of time dealing with people who are embarrassed to admit (to people they don't even know) that they're atheists?

Shorter Graphic Rule

Before you respond to this reply, please read our Guidelines regarding material sent to the editor address.

Meanwhile, a week or so before the date of the letter in question, I sent out an e-list dispatch requesting feedback on a certain subject. A short while later, you sent a short letter discussing that very subject and, I might add, providing a very important perspective on that subject. There was nothing in the letter to indicate that the letter was private or not to be posted, etc., so I am fully justified (more than justified, actually) in posting that letter.

We post four basic types letters plus a handful of oddballs approved on a case-by-case basis. The four basic types are:

Those are the four official categories. We have posted a few others that don't fit into these categories, but the vast majority of our letters are one of these four types.

Your other letter fits snuggly into the first and most important category and this letter, the second category. This letter is especially pertinent because of the surprisingly huge number of requests we receive from people who want us to remove their letters! No, we don't do that: we just don't delete things that we have already posted. We modify them, but we won't remove them. The only ones that get removed are the duplicates: when I notice I've posted two copies, I change one of them. This has happened twice in the Letters section. The closest I ever came to having editorial reasons for removing a letter was because the reader had been misled into thinking he was writing to someone other than an atheist magazine (or so it goes)! We gave him the benefit of the doubt. We had to and we were glad to, as well: it was addressed to our correspondent and did not contain our name. I never did remove the letter, however; instead, I simply rewrote it. I removed enough content that most courts would deem it a different work. Then I put one of my many pen names on it, which is my perogative as an editor.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Entering our 10th year of service
    to people with no reason to believe