Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Pope is in bed with the (ahem) MSM

A comment on the article Consigned to Banality; or, Can Truth and Beauty Survive in a Media Age? Part One

It's bad enough that the ABC Religion and Ethics page ignores the general audience and instead models itself as a sort of trade paper for clerics and theology students. But now the editor wants the rest of the media to follow his example!

When the doddery old Catholic church tells the newfangled European parliament it's looking a bit wrinkly, it's a classic "man bites dog" story.  The "bond between human dignity and transcendence" would have a pretty high switch-off factor. The cub reporter who filed that as a headline would not have a long career, unless of course funding cuts at the ABC are reversed and the Religion and Ethics page creates a new position.

And surely this intimate relationship between the Vatican and the media is totally consensual. From "remember the poor", through to "expect a punch", the perfect soundbite is delivered repeatedly by this Pope. Just like politicians and their spin doctors everywhere, they know how to play the game. 

I also don't recognise this demonised form of liberalism spelled out here. People exercise individual rights when they go to church, just as much as when they go the Gay Mardi Gras.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Enough of the Jesus already!

My response to: 
Competitive Scapegoating? The Case of Two Nations, and Two Condemned Men

I come to the ABC Religion and Ethics page expecting to be appalled by the garbled delusions of believers. For a moment I thought this article would be an exception. After all, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 3, and the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Kill" are an excellent example of secular and religious values coinciding. All Australian governments, federal and state, have abolished the death penalty. I feel good about that. It should NOT be a surprise that politicians, the general public and the media are showing solidarity on this issue. The media interest is what you'd expect, given the history of the Bali 9, and the precedent set by Van Nguyen and Barlow and Chambers. It's exactly what you'd expect.

And speaking of Van Nguyen, we are again seeing that the victims of capital punishment are from Asian backgrounds, but that does not stop us from thinking of them as Australian, as our own. They are like the kids we went to school with, the kids we lived next door to. Anglos/skips/white Australians (whatever my ethnic group is called) have had boyfriends, girlfriends, sons and daughters in-law just like them for decades now.

The "moment" I mentioned earlier has passed. It seems to me that Scott Cowdell is desperately looking for some sort of sin for Jesus to save us from. We don't need this sort of old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone condemnation from his pulpit. Isn't there enough real racism out there for him to condemn without resorting to inventing some phantom so he can promote his theology?

Friday, February 27, 2015

A bit more Frying

A little comment I made on God, Suffering and Stephen Fry: A Response to John Dickson:

Joel's reasoning reminds me of Douglas Adams' little fable asking us to picture a muddy puddle which might somehow develop intelligence:

'Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, "This is an interesting world I find myself in — an interesting hole I find myself in — fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, may have been made to have me in it!"'

Likewise, the beautiful things in the world were not made for us, we evolved to see them as beautiful.

By the way the puddle story ends with the sun rising and evaporating the puddle. What an evil God to make such a destructive sun!

The appreciation of beauty is also better explained in evolutionary terms: we love the environment which sustains us, and this love is amplified by culture and social interaction, e.g. poetry as a courtship ritual. It doesn't lessen the meaning and nature of beauty. I prefer it to be believable rather than dependent of a mysterious God.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Islam is STILL not a race

Here's my reply to the article  Religion and the Racial Discrimination Act: Don't Muslims Also Deserve Protection?

Death threats and online bile from the likes of the Australian Defence League deserve condemnation. A racist might target a person because of their race, and then use religion as a weapon in their racist arsenal.

So some racists appear to be critics of religion. But not all critics of religion are racists. There are legitimate reasons to criticise religion which have nothing to do with race. Criticising a religion should be accorded the same respect as the concept of freedom of religion.

Including religion in anti-discrimination laws is a bad idea as it will curtail that freedom... we have the freedom to worship God, the Earth Mother, Odin or Satan, and we also have the freedom to blaspheme against them as much as we like.

The section in this article claiming that people born into a religion do not have a choice is also worrying. I think measures need to be taken to ensure that people born into a religion have as much choice as possible. People born into Islam should have a choice to leave Islam, as much as people born into any other religion have that freedom.

If they do leave, they might want to take part in the criticism of their former religion, criticism which might include satire and even ridicule. Restriction of the freedom to criticise religion is a restriction which disadvantages Muslims too, if they find themselves in this situation.

Somehow Mariam Veiszadeh's effort at making religion a compulsory part of life reminded me of the liberal government's insistence on our "Judeo-Christian" foundations, which I also find to be an erroneous imposition. 

JUSTIN BROWN left the following response to my comment:

04 Mar 2015 9:18:48pm
It's one thing to criticise a religion.

It's a completly different thing to say that all proponents of a religion or atheism should be assimilated, segregated, banished or even worse exterminated from society.

Racism/Anti-credism goes much deeper than mere criticism. It's a deep felt hatred for another's belief, culture or race. They have the same root, an unjustified anger against your fellow man, without first having tried to understand the individual himself.

And I left the following  response to Justin:

What I'm saying is that hatred of a belief is a different thing to hatred of a race. It's wrong to lump them together as you have. You might hate communism but love Chinese people. It wouldn't be very good if the government declared that in order to protect Chinese people, vilification of communism would be banned. No, we should be free to mock communism, or capitalism, or environmentalism any way we like. Plenty of Chinese people are not communists, and they would feel a bit miffed at this misguided attempt to protect them, which is actually only empowering their political rivals.

It's the same with religion. Plenty of people from South America are not Catholics, and they want the freedom to mock Catholicism, especially if the power of the church is improperly entrenched in corrupt dictatorships. Plenty of  people from Iran/Syria/Indonesia/Saudi Arabia etc. are not Muslims. They already face segregation, banishment and indeed extermination in countries which have the death penalty for apostasy. And from what I have observed, they are pretty unhappy at proposals to  bring in laws enshrining the protection of Islam or any other religion. It is not protection for all the people, it is acquiescence to a powerful religious elite. 

Justin, I do not dispute your argument against deep-rooted hatred. But what we are talking about here is the proposal to create the blunt instrument of a law which could hurt people, including some of the very people it's intended to protect.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Abortion in America

Here's my comment on an anti-abortion article from the ABC Religion and Ethics site.

The high temperature debate in the United States is not a good test bed for consideration of this issue in Australia, where opinions are likely to be more mellow.

But if I pretend to be American, I'd say the author is not taking any middle ground, and seems himself to be at one of the poles:  the pole where people gather and say "ban abortion".  Likewise the claim that opinion is shifting in that direction seems a bit premature. We'll see about that when it comes to the debates, the rulings in the supreme court, the mass rallies, the social media campaigns, the celebrity endorsements, the Hillary Clinton candidacy etc. etc..

My preferred middle ground is to take the prohibition threat out of the debate, then set about reducing the number of abortions by other means. Making contraception free and increasing resources for sex education would be good. I am glad to see equality in the workplace is already on the table in Mr Camosy's vision.

Je Suis Stephen Fry

An article which tried to explain Why Stephen Fry's Complaint Against God is Unconvincing - if You're a Christian was spectacularly unsuccessful. Here is the comment I posted in response.

The problem of evil is just one of many reasons not to believe in god. For some it would be exhibit A. This was certainly the case in Jonathan Miller's "Rough History of Disbelief", which began its elegant and thoughtful story with Epicurus and his riddle "whence cometh evil".

For others, the problem of evil might be exhibit E. Mr Dickson is asking us to pretend we don't have a problem with A, B, C and D, and THEN try to understand why E can also not be a problem. That's a lot of pretending, and to be honest, I'm not quite sure of the point of the exercise, as the arguments all hold each other up in the air like some kind of Escher drawing, with none touching the ground.

His reasons for asking us to try this thought experiment are problematic. Firstly, I don't think you can say "the vast majority of people" believe in a creator". China with its state atheism, India with its ambiguous Hinduism, Europe and Japan with a statistically high proportion of atheists, don't add all that many. Plenty of cherrypicking churchgoers are also far from convinced and are really just hitching their vague pantheism to the wagon of Christian ritual.

John Dickson then asks us to accept a conceptual version of Russel's teapot (or the Flying Spaghetti Monster to take a more modern example). "You can't prove that X doesn't exist, therefore X exists" is the nature of this argument. In this case, we are being called on to prove that God's mysterious plan doesn't exist. Even if we fail, it still doesn't prove the plan is out there somewhere.

We are also required to set aside the frankly unsustainable claim that Jesus was or indeed IS God. We must then accept that the cruel execution of one person is somehow compensation for all the unjust suffering that has existed throughout history. And even if it meant more because that person WAS God, the whole thing was actually orchestrated BY God who could have stopped it in the first place.

I'm still failing to make any sense of it whatsoever.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I've got soul, but not A soul

I'm just about to post this comment to the article How Politics Lost Its Soul: Liberalism and Its Discontents

The author acknowledges and then completely glosses over the major problem with this article: there really is no such thing as a soul. It's an imaginary concept to describe sensations which are all in the brain, influenced by and interacting with other parts of the body, especially the endocrine system. The soul is about as credible as a ghost story in a Scooby Doo cartoon, and giving such deep consideration to this concept is no basis for government. Political entities which have claimed to be motivated by the well-being of the soul include the Islamic Republic of Iran and former US President George W Bush. I would like to see a pro-soul party promise that, if elected, they would provide evidence of the existence of the soul (the evidence being along the lines of James Randi's million dollar paranormal challenge, and not just an appeal to philosophical theory). It could then be added to the list of political promises that includes "no cuts the the ABC", and "no carbon tax under a government I lead". Read my lips.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Theists and atheists should unite against the common enemy of ISIS/Daesh

I actually have some problems with the article "Evil Acts for a Good Cause? Why it is Dangerous to be Assured of One's Salvation", but I tried to suppress them and jump to the conclusion that Daesh is so bad that it's in a category all its own. The problems include that even if you strip away the brutal means that Daesh employs, the ends are still highly undesirable. A caliphate is a religious dictatorship, and it is not a good cause. Also, no matter how much you support the Palestinians or oppose the US drone strikes, it in no way justifies going to war in Syria or Iraq just because some of the people hurt by drones or Israeli missiles are of the same religion as you and the residents of Iraq and Syria. Raising the issue of the drones and the Palestinians is an echo of  the vengeful thinking that leads to jihadi adventurism. But the comment I posted is meant to say, let's worry about that debate later. Stopping Daesh is a bigger priority.  

Here's the comment I ended up posting:

If you read “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris, he seems to draw the conclusion that a version of “salvational cause amorality” is the natural destination of some orthodox religious views, and that a nuclear holocaust at the hands of Islamist extremists is a depressingly likely scenario. If paradise awaits after death, why not bring it on?

Although I normally lap up anti-religious tracts like his, I couldn’t quite buy into Harris’ pessimistic theory. I prefer to think that genocidal tendencies will be overwhelmed by the more productive survival strategy of co-operation. Although I may disagree fundamentally with theists about the source of these positive tendencies in humanity, in the case of ISIS/Daesh, I think it is very important to set aside other differences and draw on our shared humanity and work together to end these atrocities.

On censorship

Up until now, I have been posting on this blog comments which I submitted to the ABC Religion and Ethics page in recent months, which did not get published. I've used them all up, so now I'm doing simultaneous posting of new comments, to this blog as well as the ABC site. Let's see what makes it, and continue to speculate on whether opaque moderation policies or technical issues are the cause of their non-publication. 

The following comment has been posted in response to the article "The Role of Censorship and the Defence of Public Culture", written by tame atheist Alain de Botton. 

The worst kind of censorship is that which seeks not just to regulate or organise speech, but to destroy it: to burn the books and punish those who propagate the ideas within them. Advertising should be organised - have it on a billboard near a motorway, but not on the side of a culturally significant museum. Sexually explicit material can be on TV late at night, or on the password-locked cable channels, but not during free-to-air kids' timeslots. The restrictions come with an arrangement which also provides a means for the expression of the ideas. That kind of thing is not really censorship, and I think Alain de Botton's thinking is a bit skewed here.

I think much of the criticism of Charlie Hebdo does fit into the category of destructive censorship. It appears that many of  those who condemn the murderers then go on to demand the destruction of the ideas... they have zero tolerance for those funny little drawings.

In defence of 1968

In the article The Message and the Medium: The People of God as Agents of Evangelisation, Tracey Rowland discussed the attitudes of the generation which took part in the 1968 protests. I am a big fan of sixties culture, and 1968 is a pretty special year. The influence of the situationists on punk rock, as well as the rise of Krautrock, not to mention the general spirit of protest and progress the sixties represents, is something I am passionate about. So I just HAD to comment on this article. But my comment seemed to disappear into the ether. So here it is.

I was only five, but somehow 1968 seemed to seep into my consciousness. After two world wars, a depression, a holocaust and signs of worse to come, no wonder there was an intergenerational uprising against the elders who had presided over such horrors. How inspiring that the popular culture of the 1960s was shaping an alternative.
While it was all going on, I was sitting in classrooms listening to nuns and priests attempting to drill unbelievable dogma into my brain... there's only one god, but there's also three. The wafer doesn't just represent the body of Christ, it actually IS the physical flesh.
Now I read that such nonsense is indispensable for Catholics trying to explain, among other things, why only men are allowed to become priests.  It just makes me even happier to have been in my own small way a member of the 1968 generation, and it reinforces the need for the best aspects of that liberating period to continue.
The author also displays woeful ignorance of genetics and natural selection in relation to materialism, to reduce it to "the drama of the survival of the fittest."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Urging the young to abandon religion

I posted a comment on the article "Ramadan has Ended, but the Struggle for Emancipation Continues". I suspect my attempts to encourage young Muslims to become apostates was deemed inappropriate, and the moderator did not allow it to appear. But here it is...

I remember as a child being surrounded by religious tradition. For me the greatest expression of freedom was to defy the requirements of religion. It was breaking the rules and breaking away which made me a complete person. My own experience is the opposite of what the author of this article says. For me, freedom of conscience and freedom of worship (or the freedom to choose NOT to worship) was established by defying the requirements of the religion. I have seen pictures from Iran of people being punished (including flogging) for eating during Ramadan. I am sure that in most places, including Australia the consequences are less severe. But I still like to think there are plenty of independent-minded young Muslims  expressing themselves by sneaking as much food and drink as they can during Ramadan. How exciting it sounds! For those young rebels, like all young people breaking away from religion, I am cheering.

Take your secularist medicine.

I am greatly surprised at the hostility to secularism, and the tolerance of theocracy on display on the ABC religion pages. Surely in a multi-faith environment, the state should give no favour to any religion, a position which is desirable for those of any faith, or none. Below is my unpublished comment from We Have Never Been Secular: Rethinking Religion and Secularity in Britain Today

My summary of this article: immigrant populations in Britain are bringing in a tiny bit of theocracy. The Christians want a piece of the action, a nostalgic revival of a little bit of their own religious tyranny, which, by the way, is a much nicer sort of religious tyranny than those nasty Muslims.

I heard the term "Iraqisation" used in a similar fashion to "Balkanisation" recently, meaning a sharpening of the cultural and religious divides at the expense of a coherent, unified nation-state. I see a form of Iraqisation being introduced in Britain if Mr Milbank's frankly bonkers idea of "legal self-government by religious groups" is instituted.

It also reminds me of Ireland, where the opposite has happened. There, we have seen the erosion of stifling and abusive Catholic power in the south, and the dilution of sectarian differences in the north ending decades of bloody conflict. It's the unfinished and continuing work of secularism and the enlightenment.

And once again, we have the old canard of secularism/atheism being a defacto religion. Here we see it combined with Christianity being "culturally constitutive". I think the truly diverse and creative culture that has thrived in a secular liberal environment, with its art, science, creativity and openness, might have confused the author. By contrast, the limiting, proscriptive, censorius nature of religion actually stifles culture.

After this comment failed to show up, I tried again with the following. Only the first paragraph appeared.

The secular approach outlined in his opening paragraphs is definitely a superior way to conduct government affairs. The arrival of immigrant populations who think differently doesn't reveal "historical particularity". Rather, it provides a framework to allow the new arrivals to enjoy the same rights and freedoms that others do. Most of the world's population lives under governments with secular principles. Greater diversity requires making more progress in applying those principles. Secularism should be seen in  a similar positive light as concepts like democracy and human rights.
Here ends my second attempt to comment on  this article, and defend our precious secularism. My first comment has disappeared in a cloud of technical smoke, or a fog of opaque moderation practices.

Makin' Shit Up (MSU) is not a good basis for determining facts

I had a lot of comments published in the very lively discussion of the article "Conflict or Mutual Enrichment? Why Science and Theology Need to Talk to Each Other". I'm not quite sure why my spiel on basic epistemology didn't make it.

The normal way we determine facts and truth indicates that religion is either extremely unlikely to be true, or at best it is unknowable. That isn't a scientific position, it's everyday life. Science just applies this thinking with a bit more rigour.

Playing meaningless word games, and saying that you have invented a new way of determining what facts and truth are is simply not valid. Some people say there are "other ways of knowing". But unless there's any evidence, these "other ways" are no different to a concept I like to call MSU - also referred to by commenter AG as "making stuff up" although I don't use the word "stuff" in my definition.

There has to be evidence. Nothing else counts. Wishful thinking certainly doesn't count. This article repeatedly talks about a human desire or a human need or a kind of hunger for god and religion. It's not a need that I feel, but if it were, me wanting it wouldn't be evidence it was true.

Saint Paul and Kim Jong Un - spot the difference!

I was trying to show off my biblical chops when I replied to the article Through a Glass Darkly: Social Media and the Paradox of Virtual Intimacy. It was a dreary piece worthy of an soporific sermon by an octogenarian vicar, so perhaps I shouldn't have bothered.

When I read articles like this they reinforce my distaste for Christianity. The absent Paul, writing to his followers at a time of theological battles for the control of the early church, warning “I will not be lenient” comes across as an authoritarian cult leader threatening punishment of wayward followers. Psalm 119 wouldn’t need much adaptation for it to become a song of loyalty to the Dear Leader of North Korea. There’s so much reinforcement of power, and indeed, that was how growing up in a Christian environment felt to me.

The blatant doublespeak of theology shows that the power wielded by clerics has not been earned. Here we have an article decrying the pitfalls of social media with its remoteness and depersonalisation. Then there’s a comparison to the writings of a Christian leader who never met Jesus, yet we hear of a “temporary” absence of Christ.  All of this is communicated to us by a so-called “friend” who hasn’t updated his status in 2,000 years. And in those 2,000 years, it’s pretty hard to justify calling the absence temporary.

Let me not be too curmudgeonly. 1 Corinthians gave us that beautiful phrase “through a glass darkly”, and also “when I was a child I spoke as a child”. But to see clearly and to grow up require leaving the nonsensical parts of the bible behind.

Good without god? Hell yes!

The article by Peter Hitchens "Good without God? Morality's Foundations Crumble in the Absence of Christianity" was a feeble effort compared to his late brother's work. To be fair, most writing is feeble next to Christopher Hitchens. This is an unpublished comment I wrote in response to Peter H.

I think the idea that there is an absolute moral code, and that the highest ideals humanity possesses all derive from God, leads religious believers to have very wrong ideas about atheists. "God is love" goes the saying. Or the corny billboard "Know God, know love. No God, no love". If might seem to follow that without God, we atheists are also without love, morality, selflessness, compassion, beauty and joy, and the other things that religious believers attribute to God. But this is not the case.

All those good things, those high ideals, are also held dear by atheists. We feel them strongly, we think they are of paramount importance. In fact I think these things are too important to be linked with a requirement to also believe in a whole lot of very strange supernatural claims. This to me that is the greatest flaw in Christianity. As I understand Christianity, the supernatural component - belief in Jesus as God, the miraculous event of the resurrection, the dualistic concept of a human soul whose well-being is dependent on acceptance of this mythology - these things are seen to be more important than the whole "love thy neighbour" bit. It's a flaw in Jesus' character that he established his cult on such nonsense, reducing him to the level of any other cult leader who claims to have a hotline to God and the power to perform miracles. There have been a few of them, these cult leaders, although in the modern world many of them seem to end up being accused of child sexual abuse, from Sai Baba all the way down to the appropriately named Wayne Bent.

There's science to explain altruism and even sacrifice. It's a mathematical, evolutionary truth that collaboration is a far far better strategy than individual action. This phenomenon  exists biologically, even in species with nothing like consciousness or a nervous system, and it's a wonderful, amazing, inspiring thing. Peter Hitchens' claim that these things are "not natural" is simply absurd. The neurological structures which allow these traits to be transferred from our genes to our brains, interacting with learned behaviour which is inspired by other individuals who share a common genetic heritage, are also mysterious and inspiring. It will be exciting to see the science of the brain reveal the way these things work.

Charlie Hebdo and Marine le Pen's nazi pubes

I joined the fray in the comments section of the article Je ne suis pas Charlie: Why 'Assholes' can't be Heroes, but it took a couple of goes. This is my first attempt at getting a comment published. Perhaps my reference to Marine le pen's pubes was a bit much!

The tedious, stultifying, ignorant, arrogant waffle of the outraged social conservative, the prude and the wowser is reborn. We could take an anti-pornography speech by Mary Whitehouse or Fred Nile from the 1970s and change a few words: "Ban this filth! I only glanced at it for a quarter of a second, but that was enough to know I don't like it. It's FILTH! Thank heavens I didn't have to think about it!"

Mr Wells admits his ignorance by revealing he hadn't come across Charlie Hebdo before last week, but then proceeds to write an article based on its REPUTATION.  To declare the Charlie Hebdo victims to be "assholes" on such a flimsy foundation is very poor form, a week after their murder.

To me, they ARE heroes.  

One of my favourite Charlie Hebdo cartoons has the heading "God does not exist". Underneath it, three heavily-armed clerical figures - one each from the big monotheistic faiths - reply "Oh yes he does". When I was young I wasn't forced to adhere to religion at the barrel of a gun, but there was an element of coercion involved, so symbolically this cartoon rings true. Sadly, it is literally true for many dissidents facing violence and persecution under theocratic regimes at the moment. Another commenter here on the ABC religion and Ethics page has mentioned Raif Badawi, the Saudi man whose sentence of a thousand lashes for "insulting" Islam began in the same week the Paris massacre took place. Seemingly every week brings depressing news of people being locked up, tortured, or sentenced to death for their unbelief. That's the abusive power that Charlie Hebdo stands against. To describe Charlie Hebdo as the bully in this transaction is another piece of doublespeak. But it's in keeping with Mr Wells's confused condemnation of sadistic slaughter, followed by what might as well be a jolly dance on the graves of the "assholes" at the receiving end of a Kalashnikov salvo.

The skewed perspective spelled out explicitly by Mr Wells is that jokes about Islam and Muslims are not equivalent to jokes about Judaism and Jews, or Catholicism and Catholics; no, they are actually in the same category as jokes about the holocaust.
By contrast, you don't have to do much googling to find the even-handedness of Charlie Hebdo's mockery. I just had a good chuckle at the cartoon of French far-right leader Marine le Pen, lifting her dress to shave off her pubic hair which is portrayed in the shape of Hitler's moustache. "Marine le Pen un-Demonises the National Front", goes the headline. "I'm shaving my moustache" she says in a speech bubble. The cartoonist behind that image was wounded in the attack. I find a sickening irony in the prospect that le Pen is poised to capitalise on this horror. I suppose brain-dead articles like this one by Mr Wells should be seen in proportion.

Pope Francis wants to punch me in the face

I submitted this comment in response to the article titled "The Only Road to Freedom: Martin Luther King Jr and Nonviolence". I wonder if it was rejected because I painted a word picture of being punched in the face by Pope Francis.

I wonder what Martin Luther King would have made of Pope Francis' comment, that someone who causes insult "can expect a punch?" I thought he was a nice Pope, but every time I see him now I can't help imagining his pontifical fist slamming into my face.

I thought Hitchens took it right to the edge in his arguments about MLK, who clearly was a Christian. Sam Harris also discusses this issue, tracing the idea of non-violence to Jainism and not Christianity. I read this article by Mr Hauerwas looking for strong evidence to the contrary, but it seemed to be telling a similar story to that told by Harris and Hitchens.

Somehow Martin Luther King managed to find that narrow path to reconciliation. We need that kind of ability today, with so many punches flying around.

Starting the blog...

It's been fun commenting on the ABC religion web site. You can see me there as "Declan". But the slow turnaround and moderation policies for comments can be frustrating. I started this blog so I could publish my reactions without having them filtered by the moderators.

I have posted many comments which have completely failed to appear on the site. The process is opaque to me. I can never be sure if the comment has been rejected for breaching the site's policies, or if there's been a technical error. Now I get to be my own moderator, and test the limits of my own transparency!