How Did That
Letter I Submitted
Remember me? [description removed] How are you? how are the kitties?
Cliff, when I type [my name] in the search box, I get a comment I made a long time ago regarding [subject removed]. Why is it there and can you PLEASE take it off?
From: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
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?
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?
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:
1. letters having to do with our editorial position (atheism, bigotry, skeptical debunking, religion and government, etc., that is, letters that you'd expect to see in the "Letters to the Editor" section of a trade journal (of sorts) for atheistic activists
2. letters having to do with the nuts and bolts of running a magazine and a web site, including discussions of or questions regarding our policies, why we do things differently from the way that American Atheists (or whomever) do them, and the legal and ethical tight spots we risk getting into by doing what we do both in print and online, in short, letters about publishing a magazine, running a web site, and engaging in political activism and social advocacy
3. friendly letters of a personal nature, such as a greeting to myself or the other volunteers, a short hello from a former volunteer or, more often, a fellow activist or some other kind of public figure; essentially, anything that reminds us that we are human, that appears (to us) to be something that readers might like to read, that makes good fodder for comic relief amidst a series of heavy discussions
4. abusive letters, including sales pitches for organized religion, lies either to or about us, trick questions clearly sent in an attempt to trip us up ("Next time you're online arguing with an atheist, ask him such and so"), thoughtless railing against atheists in general, death threats, and so forth
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.
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
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to people with no reason to believe