The flap over Paul Krugman’s pint-size essay on Sept. 11 is now entering its third stage.

Stage One Generalized, cowardly, and dumb outrage over the New York Times columnist’s contention that the memory of that tragic day has mixed with shame.

Stage Two The symbolic cancellation of a New York Times subscription.

Stage Three Backlash against Krugman for disallowing comments on his post. The columnist cited “obvious reasons” as the reason for shutting down the public.

Krugman’s stifling of dissent is:

One Cowardly. One of the bargains you make as a purveyor of opinions is that you have to listen to all the people who disagree with you. What Krugman did is tantamount to affixing your hand over the mouth of a friend who’s arguing with you. Or maybe the old fingers-in-the-ears-and-babble tactic. Take it from someone who’s shared an e-mail inbox with rude Ron Paul supporters for the past several days: You have to let others speak.

Two Bewildering. The Times actively moderates comments to its site to weed out abusive ones, and in any event, it’s not as if Krugman would have been required to read the comments of all the disaffected. He would merely have had to allow them to exist. Tyrant!

Three Smug and arrogant. With his comment about “obvious reasons,” it’s obvious that Krugman has a healthy opinion of himself. He sees himself as an expert provocateur, a seasoned pusher of intellectual buttons. Computers the world over could never handle the torrent of reaction to his brief and brilliant tracts!

(h/t Politico’s On Media Blog)