State Dept’s Blog Roll Fail: The Nipples Have Landed and They’re Not Shy

Yesterday, we blogged about this — Breaking News: State Dept Does Not/Not Like Nipples Nor Damn ACLU Letter.

We can’t find anyone willing to talk on or off the record on what went on behind the blog roll snafu over there. So, below is how we imagined it went down during the brainstorming of some unnamed characters, obviously too smart to handle (adapted from  Behind ‘Charlie’s Angels’ 2004 TV Movie):

The issue is nipples.


Actually breasts and nipples.  She’s writing about nipples. Nipples come with breasts.  

We’re reading nipples. We can’t put a blog with nipple blog posts in our blog roll. Too personal.

You think? We counted seven blog posts and nineteen instances in which nipples were mentioned. Also, word association? Nipples = Protrude. Not good.

We must stop nipple talk and protrusion on FS blogs. Godsakes, our readers are future diplomats!

Yeah, who cares about nipples in a Foreign Service blog, anyway?

Just to be clear, we were not hiding behind the desk eavesdropping, this is just imagination not hard at work.  But we’re wondering if something similar transpired over there, and if we can now use this incident as an example of “groupthink.

Today, WaPo picked up the story: Foreign Service spouse finds her blog no longer has a home on State Department Web site.  Here is an excerpt:

Yesterday she received an e-mail explanation from a recruiting and marketing consultant for the agency.

“Hopefully, you can understand that some topics covered in your blog are very personal in nature, e.g. nipple cozies,” the employee wrote, “and wouldn’t necessarily resonate with the majority of potential candidates who are interested in learning about the FS [Foreign Service] life overseas.”

“Through our years of recruitment experience, we found that FS prospects want to learn more about the work that’s conducted, the people and cultures with whom they will interact, the travel experiences, and the individual stories our employees have to share.”
“It really shook me to the core,” she said in an interview from her home in Annandale, where her husband, Peter, is getting ready to move to Afghanistan for a year on an unaccompanied tour.

A State Department spokesman said Wednesday night he is looking into the issue but did not have enough information yet to comment.

Read the whole thing here.

Pleaasssee! Somebody please bring this up in the Daily Press Briefing!

Because they’ve done it now.  They’ve put it in black and white — only happy talk blogs are welcome!  They’re looking for the mini-versions of State Magazine’s Happy Post of the Month and mini-versions of DipNote.

Perhaps they should hire Foreign Service spouses and pay them to blog about their happy lives overseas instead of using them as “bait” for free. Then, State at least, can improve the job opportunities of diplomatic spouses, and the spouses will be too preoccupied with happy write ups, they won’t have time to think or blog about their real lives.

Yes, you may post this suggestion to the Secretary’s Sounding Board.

As I was posting this, one of our regular readers saw that Jen’s WaPo story is now in the Drudge Report. And there it is with the N-word.

Also these:

Jezebel | U.S. State Dept. Takes Issue With ‘Nipple Cozies’

The Raw Story | State Dept. boots breast cancer survivor from blogroll over ‘nipple cozies’

Folks will be on strategery meetings for the rest of the day.

In the meantime — it turns out a lot cares about nipples and much more in the Foreign Service, most especially the bloggers.

Blog pal Kolbi of  A Daring Adventure writes Too Little and Too Much (Regarding Blogging, the ACLU, and NIPPLES). She deserves special mention; she is the only FS blogger who had been clubbed twice by the Serial Blog Killer and survived to tell about it:

Being on The Official Blog List actually painted an even bigger bulls eye on my back. And not just on my back, but on the backs of other State bloggers on The List. To date, to my knowledge, at least three State bloggers (and perhaps even up to five) on The List have since been shut down. And there were probably, oh, I don’t know, only about a dozen or so blogs on that List when it began. So, you know, not the best odds of bloggy survival.

So, basically, to recap: The pro-blogging side of State puts The Official List together and encourages bloggers to write tons and tons of State-themed blog posts, and then the anti-blogging side of State goes and… shuts those blogs down because they’re writing about State-themed stuff.

And here are some more of them —

Tuk & Tam | What the Nipple?

Wanderings of a Cheerful Stoic | Nipples, Censorship, and Other Matters

Cyberbones | Nipples! Boobs!

Spectrummy Mummy | N is also for Nipples

We Meant Well | Mrs. Clinton, you have a problem.

Noble Glomads | Don’t tell us who is relevant to us

The Wandering Drays | “Nipped” in the Blog

Mom2Nomads | Nipplegate 2012

Four Globetrotters | Nipples, Nipples, Everywhere

We Meant Well | State Department Does Not Care for Breast Cancer Talk

Whale Ears and Other Wonderings | Not FS Enough

Sadie Abroad | Nippletastic: A Rant For FS Bloggers

Well That Was Different | It’s the Little Things

dp’s Blog | I Guess I’m Not As Important As I Once Assumed

Mom2Nomads | You’re Just Not Quite FS Enough…

Life After Jerusalem | What Makes a Blog an FS Blog?

Dinoia Family | Wanted: Stories of the ‘Real’ Foreign Service

Dinoia Family | Did you know?

And we hear that somebody is now trying to organize a “kick me off your official list” movement … and if successful, there won’t be anyone for show and tell on State’s “inclusive atmosphere and collaborative environment,” except maybe …. well, one of our alert readers write with a simple enough question:

…. and yet it’s okay to blog about strip clubs and how your nickname on the consular line is Visa Molester? somehow this one is still linked to the official blog roll. go figure.

Oh dear!  There are official standards employed here, but obviously it’s hard to figure out.

Domani Spero

8 responses

  1. “…. and yet it’s okay to blog about….. how your nickname on the consular line is Visa Molester?”

    A little closer reading of the post your commenter linked to might yield better reading comprehension than has heretofore occurred.

    Snippet: “you get your name after you set your first hash – and since I set my first hash yesterday, I was to be christened with my new hash name. In order to come up with your name, the groups asks you questions. During my interview session, someone brought out the story about how I made a 7 year old girl cry when I declined her for a visa. This led to my very unfortunate nickname of “Visa Molester.” (Note – I really debated about whether I wanted to actually put the nickname on the internet, but I decided the Hash is a part of what makes my life in Belize fun – both the good and the bad). ”

    So, while the nickname is pretty bad (in my limited experience, _all_ hash house harrier nicknames tend to be abominable, offensive, and atrocious), it’s _not_ what they call him at work, apparently.

    As for making a visa applicant cry, of whatever age, it’s hard not to do your job as a visa adjudicator without making people cry sometimes. And sometimes can, sometimes, mean _every_day_.


    • That’s a great image you got on writing only what you’re told that I had to have a dozen of it posted! I guess I’ll quit talking about blogging issues when State ditches its social media apron strings on the spouses, and when its regs are more rational for employees.

  2. I’m an admirer of Ms. Dinoia, and an (under the radar, low-volume) FSO blogger myself. Though I agree with much of the sentiment circulating on this issue, may I suggest that this particular tempest isn’t as indicative of a pervasive, system-wide issue as is being presented?

    First, I don’t get how “censorship” was introduces into Ms. Dinoia’s case. No one is telling her to stop talking. She was taken off a blog roll.

    Second, there’s no indication that this was a decision that was the result of some staffed, multi-party process. In fact, the indications are this is quite the opposite: a bad decision by one individual who had no idea of the potential import of said decision. Mr. Toner’s comments on the record to the Post suggest just that.

    I’m not defending the actions of the blogroll admin. However, people should be careful about the words being used. This is not an issue of censorship. There is no suggestion that the Department was seeking, in this case, to silence anyone. It’s far more likely one person made the bad decision to de-link Ms. Dinoia from a blog roll, compounded it by not staffing the decision up, and sparked the chorus of denouncement loud enough to reach the ears of someone in the Department hierarchy who had the sense and imprimatur to fix the problem.

    • Very well put, KG. The most shocking thing about this story to me is that State is spending good money employing putative “recruitment experts.” Why? Have we seen a sudden drop in the number of people taking the FS exam? Is there really nothing else in the world we could better spend our money on? And if the purpose of the “recruitment expert” is to enhance diversity at the Department, hasn’t today’s rather anti-woman chain of events set us back in that regard?

    • KG – Thanks for your thoughtful note. You make a good point about Jen’s delisting from the blog roll and I will have a follow up post addressing that. I see that her blog is back in the blog roll, however, while I’d grant that this incident may be the result of one person’s bad call, the State Dept has a history of clubbering bloggers, FSOs and spouses alike. If this generated a quick emotional reaction, this is because State or at least, some part of State has an awful record when dealing with some bloggers in the FS community; not only pressuring FSOs about their blogs, but threatening non-blogging FSOs about their spouses’ blogs.

  3. WhirledView suddenly disappeared from the Dipnote blog roll a couple of years ago shortly after we pointed out (with reason and facts to back the post up) the ridiculous antics of a senior officer at an unnamed post. One of our readers said recently that we should portray the delisting as a badge of honor – maybe even do a separate post to highlight it. Maybe we should. Meanwhile, glad too see the ACLU has taken on Van Buren’s case.

    • Patricia – thanks for the note. We remembered that disappearance, and we agree that it is a badge of honor. In Jen’s case, it’s just stupidity. I doubt if those screeners read beyond the word nipple. If State has real cojones in purporting inclusiveness, including diversity of ideas, as well as dissenting views, I’d like to see them put up Van Buren’s blog on top of their blog roll. Otherwise, it’s just exhibit A on hypocrisy.

      Our blog was once “invited” to be in one of those official rolls, we politely declined.