Saturday, May 2, 2015


A funny word this, "redaction."  In French, a redacteur is an editor. In English, redaction means "editing,"although we do not use "redactor" at all.  However, increasingly this word has come to mean a particular form of editing, in particular a removal of text containing information that the editor does not want to publish.  Increasingly the reasons for such redaction is indefensible, immoral even.  I am tempted to  quote Steve Waldman of Baltimore, aka, Interfluidity, who, when talking about superficial commentators on the Baltimore riots said, "Fuck you, go to hell."

The term has been taken over by the US intelligence establishment.  You file a Freedom of Information Act request?  Well, if you hit the right topic or set of reports, good chance it will come back covered with black marks that cover up much of what you were looking for, in some cases including nearly everything on the requested report, essentially undoing the whole point of the FOIA, ha ha!  So much is so important to the national security, just like in Vladimir Putin's Russia.  You want the truth?  We have those Very Serious Black Marks of Redaction for You.

At a much lower level we have in scholarly research this problem also increasingly an issue.  There the problem is less frequently matters of national  security and big bad government agencies roaring in, although that does occur for sure,  but concerns over legal  vulnerability, that someone or other might sue the publisher if an inappropriate thing is published that might upset somebody.  Freedom of speech?  Academic freedom?  Naah.  The protection of worthless fucking assholes who are known to be litigious (or are suspected of being so)  is far more important than the truth.  We must keep our priorities straight.

So, let me make this both personal and professional.  I am the author of a chapter in Secrets of Economics Editors, MIT Press fairly recently, with a completely incompetent and stupid review by Robert Moffitt in the latest JEL  Several of the essays in there have  caused stirs to various degrees, with the one by William Barnett about the fracturing between the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, the Review of Economic Dynamics, and Macroeconomic Dynamics (which he edits and founded) being an example, which involves central disputes over macroeconomics, as well as problems in publishing and editing journals.

So, my chapter's short title is "Secrets from the Crypt," and one can find the unredacted unexpurgated version that has been used in various considerations that I cannot publicly reveal.  It has been around, and you can read it on my website at  However, that is not all that close to  what appears in the book.  The version in the book has a much shorter second half, also leading to a bibliography cut in half, redacted on advice of MIT Press attorneys to avoid possible lawsuits by "Professor X."  That Professor X is a completely worthless and disgusting piece of scum will be quite clear to anybody who reads even the redacted version in the book, although the unredacted version really hammers this fact in.

I shall add a bit more not in either version, which involves the econoblogosphere.  After Professor X sent out his mass messages, I replied to relevant parties about my position on the matter. One of those  on the receiving end of  my reply is a good friend of a major blogger  with NY Times connections.  He asked  me if  he could send all of it to this blogger and thus to the Times.  I replied that he should not as this was what Professor X wanted, to have his worthless claims put into a "He said, she said," framework, as in the old, "Professor A says the earth is round, but Professor B argues that it might be flat."  I knew that the victims of Professor X's scurrilous attacks did not want this situation to result, and I agreed, and I am grateful that the person who asked me this agreed, and this did not become more public.  As it is, Professor X, who really is a big fat zero, has all but disappeared in terms of academic or any other discourse, and those whom he tormented have been liberated from his baseless attacks.

OTOH, I  must  recognize that in this situation, I myself exercised redaction.  Who am I therefore to  raise questions about its possibly excessive use?

Barkley Rosser

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