On January 31, I posted an entry expressing my astonishment at discovering that New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow had blocked me on Twitter. (For the link, see below.) I gave Blow the benefit of the doubt and explained that our complete lack of direct contact strongly indicated that his action was an accident.
But since deliberation couldn’t be ruled out, I felt obliged to check with the source to find out for sure. On February 3, I sent him this email:
“Dear Mr. Blow,
“I am writing to call your attention to a new post on my blog RealityChek that was occasioned by my surprising finding that you have blocked me on Twitter.
“As my post indicates, the block may well have been inadvertent on your part. Certainly, our areas of interest overlap little, and I have only tweeted about two of your own tweets. Nor have these tweets contained language that would meet any reasonable person’s definition of offensive. I have sent out tweets on subjects you do follow closely – e.g., Ferguson and similar race relations and policing issues. But although many have differed from your own positions, I don’t believe they could reasonably be called offensive either. The same holds for other tweets of mine.
“Moreover, as my post makes clear, my long record of appearances in many leading national and international publications, including The Times, surely places me outside the “crank” category. So does the fact that my Twitter following includes many prominent journalistic, business, economic, and political figures.
“So I hope you will write back and let me know whether the block is accidental or a deliberate decision. And if the latter, I would appreciate an explanation. Please note that I plan to report as a follow-up item on my blog any response I receive – including confirmation that the block was an accident.
“Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to hearing from you.
“Sincerely, Alan Tonelson”
More than ten days have now passed, and still no response from Blow. I know he’s a busy person, but given that I mentioned a record of publishing in leading national media – including his own New York Times – it now seems clear to me that he did deliberately block me, and that his sensitivities are way too delicate for someone making their living by generating and participating in public debate.
After all, nothing could have been easier for Blow than to state that his action was mistaken, and to remove the block. (Again, I have never tried to make contact with him – even by tweeting.) So it seems he deserves some credit for honesty. But if so, it’s hard to avoid concluding that Blow surmised that a truthful response would have confirmed a tetchiness that’s stunningly inappropriate for his profession – and indeed completely embarrassing for an adult with even minimal self-respect.