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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let "Mothers with Cancer" Know What You Think

I used to be a proud member of a communal blog for Mothers with Cancer. I was happy to share my experiences with a wider audience and, in that way, to help more young mothers who are coping with chronic cancer.

That was before I was attacked and penalized for writing something politically incorrect. My post was pulled and my status changed (details below). Future posts, by me, would be censored.

Occasionally, there have been political posts on the blog and that bothered me. I felt these posts to be divisive. I was particularly put off when, following a left-wing (pro-Obama) post, I posted a counter opinion, and my post was pulled. After I made an issue about the hypocrisy, the original post was pulled as well.

Recently, members of the blog wanted to discuss the new US health care reforms. I again objected, as I felt the issue could be divisive and alienate mothers. As there are plenty of forums for discussion the politics of cancer, I felt that our communal blog should be a place where we just stick to posting about mothering and cancer.

It was decided that as long as authors identified themselves, and wrote a disclaimer ("this post represents the sole opinion of its author"), then political posts were acceptable.

I disagreed, but I was outvoted (though there was no official vote).

So, recently, I posted according to the rules about the about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Middle East Conference on Breast Cancer, and the compliance of Komen for the Cure in the boycott of Israeli participants.

I received one comment "This is very disturbing news to hear. Thanks for letting us know."

Then my post was pulled.

I received this letter:

It is with deep regret that I must tell you that I have pulled your latest blog post, entitled "Some People Hate Jews More Than They Hate Cancer." The content is inappropriate for our blog, in that it can be viewed as confrontational, divisive, accusatory, not directly on topic of mothering through cancer, and contains statements defaming another cancer support organization that, in fact, have been refuted by the other organization. This post opens us up to being sued for libel, among other things, and that is something that I cannot risk. Since we are not an incorporated nonprofit body, any lawsuit could be brought against all the members of the blog, and I will not allow that to happen to the other 22 mothers with cancer that write for this blog.

As a result, your account status has been temporarily changed to a "contributor," which means that future posts must be approved by an administrator before they are posted.

I am truly sorry to have to take this action, but I must put the welfare of the group above all other considerations.

I was in shock.

First of all, I followed the guidelines: I identified myself and I qualified my post.

I can also verify my claims. I did my homework before writing the post. I have been in touch with the foundation, as well as several other sources. At this time, I have even more information (which I will post soon) confirming these facts.

To claim that I put the group at risk for “being sued for libel” is completely ridiculous. Not only is there no malicious intent (a necessary condition for a libel suit, along with false information), but I can verify my claims, which are all true.

The objection that the post is “not directly on topic of mothering through cancer” would equally apply to the US health care reform plan, but the latter is an acceptable topic for the blog.

Any political post is, by its nature, “divisive.” There are at least two sides to any controversial issue. Any view opposing an injustice, can be termed “confrontational” or “accusatory.”

It is only partially true that the post "contains statements defaming another cancer support organization that, in fact, have been refuted by the other organization." Komen for the Cure denied the statements, but did not refute (i.e. disprove) them. I can verify my claims, they cannot.

Check it out yourself. Several Israelis were initially invited and scheduled to attend. Ask Susan G. Komen for the Cure for the name of ONE participant from Israel. I have asked them for this information several times. They cannot name a single Israeli participant, because there were none.

Not only did Komen for the Cure enable the boycott, but they continue to blatantly deceive the public about this issue, both on their website and in response to email queries.

These issues, both the boycott and the deception, really bother me. They are so important, that I blogged several posts about them and plan to post more.

I thought the issues might interest/concern other moms with cancer. That's why I posted to our communal blog.

Apparently, this is information that the managers of the blog do not want people to know.

Clearly, only one type of political thinking is acceptable on the Mothers with Cancer blog.

Other opinions are a “danger.”

Well, no one need fear my dangerous opinions anymore. I won’t be posting them on that blog anymore. I suspect no one else will either.

After all, that’s what happens when free speech is curtailed. People who want to remain on the inside keep their mouths shut.

I posted a benign farewell post to the group, but the moderators of the group did not even have the courtesy to post it.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,


treppenwitz said...

The hell with them. In my experience everything is peachy keen and everyone is singing kumbaya... until the Jew shows up. Okay, that's not exactly true. The Jew showing up isn't the problem. The trouble starts when the Jew says or does something, well, Jewish... like complain about people hating the Jews. Then everyone starts looking at their watch and suddenly the party's over. :-)

Risa Tzohar said...

This is probably as much about the economics of cancer as the politics. From the little I know this organization represents a lot of fundraising and funding. The original ban on the Israelis as well as that blog's unreasonable reaction to your post is surely economically motivated. THere's a lot of money in the Arab world and they use it to defame and isolate Israel and by extension the Jews.
What do you think is the most constructive way to let "Mothers with cancer know what I think?

adena said...

I'm so sorry that this has happened. I enjoy...well, that's not the right word...but I do enjoy reading Mothers With Cancer. I think this is a big misunderstanding somehow.

Ilana said...

I'm disturbed but not too surprised. These rules aren't meant to apply to everyone or to ensure that people can speak and everyone can feel comfortable. They are there to provide a forum for certain kinds of views, without having to come out and say so.

michele said...

How do we post a message on Mothers With Cancer? I'm techno-challenged (and impatient!) and couldn't figure it out from the website.

Are you interested in having your piece as an Op-ed? I think it qualifies. Let me know and I'll make some inquiries.

Ilana said...

The title of your post is "Let Mothers with Cancer Know What You Think". Please add directions to the post on how to do that. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ditto to squarepeg613's request.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Trep -- that is EXACTLY what happened. But it never happened to me before. It makes me really sad.

Risa -- of course economics are involved. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the largest grassroots organization for Breast Cancer.

That said, the group blog did not receive money from them.

It's very simple: they believe in "free speech" as long as it is "politically correct speech." They do not want to hear any other speech.

I'm not sure how to answer your last question.

If you think of something, you can let *me* know....

Adena -- feel free to contact them and ask them about it

For my part, I am no longer visiting that blog. I feel betrayed by the hypocrasy and the disrespect.

I thought these women were my friends. I thought they valued my voice.

I was deluding myself.

These women, who would be outraged at any sign of racism, "do. not. care." about anti-semitism, even when it impedes progress towards a cure for breast cancer!

Square Peg -- they should be honest. they should call the blog "Democrat Mothers with Cancer." (right wing mothers need not apply... unless they are willing to keep their mouth shut)

Michele -- I would definitely be interested in having my piece as an op-ed.

There is more to include, which might appropriate for an op-ed (which is usually longer than a blog post).

Thanks for making the inquiries!

The only way, to post a message is to reply to a blog post.

Square Peg & Ariela -- I am not sure what is the best way. Any ideas???

Anonymous said...

Yes - we all should leave a link to this post in their comments section for the enxt two weeks.

arnie draiman said...

i will be leaving comments to various posts, tying it in somehow...for example:


Rahel Jaskow said...

RivkA, you might want to check the text below the quote of the letter you received from that site (on which I left a comment, by the way). It's significantly smaller than your usual text.

Sandi said...

Either the blog allows political commentary or it doesn't. They can't have it both ways. Well they can, but they shouldn't.

Naomi said...

I just went to the "Mothers with Cancer" web-site, and your plain good-bye letter was there. I read it and three comments on it. Let us know how the story develops.

Batya said...

RivkA, what salt on the wound, as the saying goes.

We love you, all aspects. It's so sad that their politics and prejudices prevent them from fully accepting you.

Refuah Shleimah!

Anonymous said...

I know that some of those who read your blog may not "get" or appreciate what i'm about to say, but think back to the myriad reasons why you (and many westerners)made aliya in the first place.
what happens out there (and here too i know) may be sad, maddening, demoralising, etc... but should not really be shocking (though,i admit to being surprised myself sometimes,as now,and then surprised at myself for being so..)

lots of love and a big bear-hug,
BW :^>

ps- very glad to hear that Moshe's home and doing better.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you all the way, RivkA! The admins of MWC are acting pompous, arrogant, self-righteous, and very intolerant of other opinions... all of these characteristics are common of people who have their mindset. So brush them from your feet & move on. I, for one probably out of many, will never go back there again. *bleh*

Alissa said...

Rivka, on this topic: I haven't gone back to check the comments on the "They hate the Jews" post, so maybe you already know this, but - you're even more famous :) The Forward wrote about this (and gave info I hadn't known, which makes Komen look even lamer) and quoted you:

I am sorry Mothers with Cancer treated you this way. It should be about support and love. The title of your post is very provocative, but the content warrants it. I'm sad that you lost a place where you felt safe to share.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Started a new group blog:
Mothers Living with Cancer


All women living with cancer are welcome to join.

Sophia said...

So sorry RivkA...such shame that as women, mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, etc we can't just support each other and open-mindedly listen/read with true and complete empathy...ugh....May I join your group and offer and receive support without prejudice?
Thank you for your enlightening blogs :)

Sophia said...

RivkA and family.....I'm so sorry
I didn't realize the post was from '09 just read ....oh I feel so stupid....chemo brain or just dumb? I would have loved to blog with you.....I didn't know :(
Now I know why I never checked out blogging before today....
No more pain...no more tears...only pure bliss...