Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Disturbing Phone Call For The Abraham Lincoln Blog

Last night my telephone rang.  Caller ID showed a number I was unfamiliar with, but I answered the phone anyway.  The caller was a person who wanted to discuss one of my blog posts and offer some "corrections" or "clarifications" to it.  

I was shocked by the call for several reasons.  First, I have an unlisted number.  When I questioned the caller about how he found out the number, he told me the method he went about in finding it.  It actually took some effort on his part, but he did indeed discover it.  Secondly, I was troubled that a reader of my blog would somehow think it was acceptable to call me.  It was unsettling at best and even slightly creepy.  I'm not a public figure such as an author or professor who can easily be tracked down via a publicist or book agent.  Third, this was an egregious violation of my privacy.  After the 30 or seconds or so of being dumbfounded, I immediately ended the call and told the person to never call again.

I appreciate the fact that the person in question took the time and effort to read an article here.  I earn no money from my writing with the exception of a rare lecture or two I give locally.  I write for the pleasure of it and I'm thrilled that so many visitors (more than 410,000 and counting) have dropped by.  But it is entirely unacceptable for this person or any other reader of this Lincoln blog to phone me, unless I request them to as happens when I am hired to lecture somewhere.  All readers can find my email address on my Blogger profile which can be accessed by clicking on the "About Me" link on the homepage of this blog.  Everyone is welcome to email me at any time.  Comments or questions can be added to the individual posts as well.

There are ways to reach me should anyone wish to do so.  But to violate my privacy in the way which this person did last night is unacceptable.  I know 99.99% of my readers wouldn't dream of doing so to begin with, but I was so bothered by this incident that I felt the need to write this article anyway.  I've taken some steps now to hopefully prevent such an incident in the future. 

OK.  Enough preaching.  We now return you to articles about Abraham Lincoln.   Thank you for your indulgence. 


John Ruberry said...

I got a call like that. While I don't want to get into the specifics of the situation, I ended up deleting a comment on the blog that offended the person. But the jackal kept calling about other posts that had nothing to do with what got the individual upset in the first place--often in the middle of the night. After several calls to two law enforcement agencies, and an email to another, the calls finally stopped.

Gus said...

Wow, that is kind of scary....but I guess that is the age we live in. Love your blog btw...I have been fascinated by Mr. Lincoln since my parents took me to his Tomb in Springfield, and to New Salem in 1964 when I was 9 years old.

Stuart said...

Ok, I am curious. What kind of person would go to such lengths to find a phone number and call instead of just posting a comment on the blog? I am going to guess a Neo-Confederate, Lincoln-hater, possibly a Ron Paul nut. Am I close?

Geoff Elliott said...

Stuart, I think the guy was simply a little overzealous. He wanted to discuss Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. He didn't strike me as a neo-Confederate, Lincoln-hater, or a supporter of Ron Paul. He did, however, launch into a rambling story about how she was supposedly related to this family and that family, without so much as apologizing for calling me.

I try to reply to my readers and commenters when they have a question or viewpoints. But as I wrote, I was very disturbed by his tracking me down. It made me highly uncomfortable.

As for Lincoln-haters and neo-Confederates, I do receive comments from them fairly often. In fact, I just received one yesterday from a guy calling himself a "pastor" railing away about the South's property rights and how Lincoln ignored them.

I guess the "pastor" believes it's fine to hold property which includes fellow human beings.

Those kind of comments are read, but most definitely not published here. I don't mind differing points of view, but I will not tolerate ignorance of history nor lack of human decency.

Thank you for dropping by!

Greg Taylor said...

We live in a free society. It has its plusses and minuses. As such I believe that anyone who has a telephone, listed or not should expect from time to time to receive unwanted calls. To my knowledge this individual broke no laws and through his personal effort was able to find your telephone number. If a telephone solicitor can call you why not an interested party who wants to discuss some aspect of your very visible and public blog? He may be rude in doing so or he may be completely polite and sincere. Either way I think that as a blogster who encourages open discussions before thousands of readers on sometimes controversial subjects a call like this can be expected. Saying that, you have the right to tell him not to call again and request that your readers not call under any circumstances. If they do call knowing your view on this matter then the onus is on them.

History Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory