Comment Deletion, Comment Policy, etc.

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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372 Responses

  1. My e-mail, for those seeking to drop me a line:


  2. James Hanley says:

    From the comment policy:

    In general, a comment will be deemed uncivil or inappropriate if it accuses a contributor or commenter of an intent that the contributor or commenter has not expressly disclosed.

    Would this count?

    Poisoning the well with the usual slanders, I see.

    Or this?

    All I had to do is endure more of the usual slander and well-poisoning

    Or this?

    Yet the Tellarites couldn’t resist descending on it anyway and showing themselves for what they are. 

    All in response to people whose “improper” behavior was to disagree with the commenter or suggest that just perhaps he himself might sometimes be a bit impolite.Report

    • James:

      The comment policy that Erik originally linked to was very outdated, which is probably why it disappeared for about the last year or two.  I’ve edited it to reflect the (much more lenient) policy that has been repeatedly stated and enforced for the last year.Report

      • Mark,

        At the risk of being a d**k, I still think the quoted comments fall under the “non-germane” and “blanket [attack]” rules.  It’s far too easy to avoid responding substantively to a critique by simply calling it slander.

        E.g., “Hanley’s argument is simplistic and lacks any subtlety or depth of thought because X, Y, and Z.”  Me: “Calling me simplistic is just a personal attack–you’re slandering me!”

        And may I politely complain about the way ad hominem is used in the comment policy?  Not that ad hominems are to be encouraged, but I think what the comment policy really means is personal attacks, which is not the same as ad hominem.Report

        • James:

          Fair point about the use of “ad hominem” versus “personal attack.”  I will amend accordingly.

          As for the quoted comments, I don’t view them as personal attacks.  Overly-easy taking of offense, quite possibly, but not personal attack.  This may just be my interpretation since I try to take as lenient a position on this as possible, but I think there’s an important distinction between attacking a comment and attacking a commenter.

          The other thing is that in that particular thread, the whole point of the post is so meta that it’s difficult for me to see anything therein (including any critical and even nasty and personal responses) as being non-germane.

          IOW, in threads like that one, and for that matter, this one, where we’re placing our own personalities and decisionmaking at issue, we’re making those personalities, backgrounds, etc. germane in a way that we’re not when we write about most matters.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

      Let’s look at this case.

      Your first quotation, “Poisoning the well with the usual slanders, I see.” is Tom replying to this, by BSK:

      “While maybe not saying it quite so explictly, one blogger, TVD, is known to play the civility card when the tideof a conversation seems to be turning against him.”

      One can argue that this is (at worst) a double-technical; BSK’s comment was opinion, interpretive, and lacking in supporting references.

      (edited to add), by your last comment, BSK lacked the X, Y, and Z. (/edited)Report

      • But BSK’s comment was perfectly germane to the argument.  Author is objecting to uncivil discourse, and commenter notes that author’s own history casts doubt on his veracity.

        Look, I’m not arguing for banning this particular author, or even asking for his right to blog here to be withdrawn.  What I am saying is that several intelligent commenters (not counting myself among them), including, off the top of my head, BSK and Chris–who for my money are about as level-headed and fair as anyone on this site–have noted that this author plays the civility game to his advantage while actually being quite uncivil.  And he apparently gets a pass from the powers that be. (At least apparently–obviously I know nothing what goes on behind the scenes.)  He even gets excused, because he allegedly gets piled on more than other authors–but that excuse rings hollow because a) he repeatedly claims victimization over mere disagreement, so that he is himself creating simply the appearance of getting piled on, and b) he often gets piled on not because of his substantive arguments but precisely because of his pseudo-polite incivilities (such as blaming others for misrepresenting him, refusing to clarify himself, and insisting that others actually do understand him but are pretending to just so they can argue with him).

        I think the leadership here can and should call him on the carpet for that behavior and request that he stop doing it.  I think it’s far less offensive to call someone an a**hole than to play the type of games he does.Report

        • Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley says:

          James :

          I assume by part of what you are referencing above you are referring to me and my comments yesterday; if so, you would be very much mistaken to consider me to be “the powers that be,” or even someone who speaks for them.

          But I would bring back that point from yesterday, which is this: BSK (as an example) and Tom might get tangled up in long threads of grenade tossing (or valid points!) that go nowhere.  But that’s a choice that BSK and Tom both choose to make.  This seems, on both sides, fairly different from someone choosing to follow Tom around the site and yelling “RACIST FUCKTARD” at him over and over.

          Surely if nothing else we can agree that these aren’t really the same thing, even if we’re able to parse the commentary guidelines in a legalese fashion to make them look so?Report

          • James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly says:


            Please let me think of you as powerful? 😉  No, I wasn’t thinking of you specifically, just that nobody “in charge” ever seems to call out the person in question.  I agree that nothing he does rises to the level of calling someone a racist fishtard, which is why I would not call for banning him.  But he has repeatedly accused others of purposefully misrepresenting him just for the sole purpose of arguing with him, claiming that they know very well what he means.  That is, he repeatedly launches attacks on the integrity and character of those who disagree with him.  Is it really ok to attack someone’s character because you’re uncomfortable with their critique, just because you’re not using the word “fishtard?”

            Obviously I’m not a paragon of perfect civility (and I’ve been called out, fairly, a few times).  But there’s a persistent pattern noted by at least several of us.  I’m honestly puzzled that others seem not to have noticed.  But Chris and I have been observing this pattern for two-three years, at least, dating back to prior blogs.  If a modicum of civility is what we’re calling for, I think it includes not personally attacking, even if in non-vulgar terms, those who dare to critique your arguments.Report

            • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

              James, exactly. The person in question has a method for being as big a jerk as me (and I readily admit that I’m often a jerk), but doing so in a way that is less direct, shall we say, than my simply calling it like I see it. He’s the passive-aggressive version of me. And if he’s called on it, he either calls you a big meanie or, as of yesterday, deletes your comments. That his behavior is tolerated is perfectly fine with me (though giving him front page status says a lot), but that it is tolerated in the face of criticism of the less passive-aggressive version is annoying at best. What he does is no more, and in some ways even less conducive to discussion. It’s a shame that it’s not treated as such here. It was pretty much universally recognized prior to the PL-OG merger.Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to James Hanley says:

              James: Yeah, I get this – and I think early on in my own interactions with Tom I’d have agreed with you.  I think as I got to know him, though, I came to believe that he has his own rules of civility that he adheres to very strenuously.  After that, I began to notice that things I took as personal attacks weren’t, and changed my own responses.  Now I think Tom & I get along very, very well.  Which is not to say that he or I don’t ever find one another to be a pain in the ass at times.

              None of which is to say that you all have to have a Mr Rogers moment, change your opinion of Tom and sing What the World Needs Now holding hands on top of a grassy hill on a sunny Spring day.  (Although I would pay to see this.) But what I can’t figure out is why if you guys have such a problem with interacting with Tom as is that you choose to do it so often.Report

              • Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I have a problem with Tom because sophistry is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I don’t have a problem with him being a jerk. There aren’t that many Buddhist monks hanging out in blog comment sections, so I don’t expect them, nor do I feel the need to try to be one.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

                sophistry is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me

                This.  Especially when the sophist so loves to use that term against others.  A sort of meta-sophistry, if you will.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                For what it’s worth, that’s my experience, too.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly says:


                Call it weakness.  Call it his knack for bringing up subjects that are in fact interesting.

                But note also that whether Chris or I interact with him, he will act in the way he does toward others.  If the League is comfortable with that tone, then that’s that.  But it’s not the sincere approach that the League publicly claims is its goal.

                I’m happy that you have learned to get along with him, but for my part, no matter how sincerely and respectfully I ask him for clarification of a point all I get is at best a refusal and as often a claim that I’m not being honest about misunderstanding him.  I think that violates “the basic concept of civility” referred to in the League’s policy, and from my perspective seems rather equivalent to what E.D. above calls “stomping your feet like a damn baby.”  (You do so understand me, you big ol’ lying meanie!)


              • Stillwater in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’ve been trying to refrain from jumping into this mess, but on James K’s Burden of Proof post, I was – as a matter of fact – called a liar by the person in question.

                But to repeat my earlier (coupla threads ago) comment about TVD: my problem is that he doesn’t grant people the intellectual space to disagree with him, and the accusation is usually of the same form: if you knew what I know, you wouldn’t hold the beliefs you do. That’s not a very civil way to engage in discussions.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Tom Van Dyke and I have quarreled as viciously as any two people around here, at least since I’ve been here.  If he throws hard rocks at my head, he throws them accurately. This I find preferable to almost any other approach.Report

              • dexter in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Mr. Kelly, I took your advise immediately after TVD misconscrued what I said and called me a cancer.  From that point forward I try not to read anything that he says, though it is difficult  because sometimes he hijacks the threads.  I thought that was more than a little hypocritical of him since it  occured shortly after someone here called him an asshole and he went and hid behind  Jason’s big broad shoulders.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

              I’m kind of a fan of the individual call-out myself.;)

              In seriousness, James, that was a complete miscommunication  on the receiving end of the exchange (meaning mine).  My initial understanding of your point (on New Years Day I mean) was just so far afield from your actual point that your clarifications just couldn’t get me to see it. And I just didn’t feel like having my ability to understand prose, or even my willingness to read carefully questioned on that particular holiday.  (So why was I on responding to you, creating the possibility of becoming part of such a miscommunication if that was my preference for the day?).  So I let you know where I was at on that.  In retrospect I think I was too quick to be stung by your way of asking to be understood correctly.  But in any case, I went ahead and let my feelings be known.  And you very graciously acknowledged them, and   things were fine.

              So my point is, while I perhaps was a bit to quick about in that instance (I could have come around to an understanding of you without deciding to change my attention to the interaction itself), in general I think we underestimate our ability to police our own discussions ourselves.  That starts with policing one’s own submissions first, but then if you feel someone else has crossed a line you’d like him to observe, the first thing to one does does not have to be to bring the issue to management.  We can all address conduct we’d like to address by confronting it ourselves first.  Then, if those exchanges cross a line that the management is concerned about, they can step in where they see fit.  It’s one way to approach comment moderation.Report

              • Michael,  That’s nice of you to say, and I appreciate it.  At the risk of getting all kumbayahish here, you did make me pause to think about whether I was too quick to criticize others for not understanding when it very well could have been that I wasn’t expressing myself as clearly as possible (or sometimes the words are clear, but the tone obstructs), and I appreciate the occasional reminder that I should be more generous toward others.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to James Hanley says:

                Win-win-win. Cheers!Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

          But BSK’s comment was perfectly germane to the argument.  Author is objecting to uncivil discourse, and commenter notes that author’s own history casts doubt on his veracity.

          But the commenter, in this case, provides no context to support his contention that the author’s history does in fact cast doubt on his veracity.  Again, there is no X, Y, Z.  BSK makes a bald statement with no supporting references.

          That doesn’t make him wrong, it just makes it weak enough sauce to reply with weak sauce.

          What I am saying is that several intelligent commenters (not counting myself among them), including, off the top of my head, BSK and Chris–who for my money are about as level-headed and fair as anyone on this site–have noted that this author plays the civility game to his advantage while actually being quite uncivil.

          Let me throw out my $0.02 on Tom, to make myself clear.

          Tom used to bug the bejeezus out of me precisely because of the same reasons he currently bugs the beejeezus out of you.  In fact, here is the thread where I was about ready to strangle him through the Internet.  Interestingly, that’s the thread that ultimately wound up with me participating here as a blogger instead of just a commenter.

          Something happened in the two months following that thread; I realized that I had been subconsciously applying a lot of context to Tom that was not declared by him.  Whether he carries that context or not, that’s less important to the fact that I was often arguing with the Tom Van Dyke that was in my head instead of the Tom Van Dyke that was sitting at the other computer somewhere else in the world.

          Once I stripped out most of that context, I was able to read him much more charitably.  Some of that context he deserves, and some of it he doesn’t.  But very, very often since then I’ve correlated Tom’s retreat from a topic with how often people are arguing with the context they bring to Tom, instead of what Tom actually said on a particular thread.  When he participates the most is when people are engaging with what he’s saying, instead of what he isn’t.

          That isn’t to say that I agree much with Tom’s full context.  But much more often than not he makes good solid points that are worth engaging just on those merits, and inside the scope of that particular discussion.Report

          • For the record, I’m not saying he doesn’t often make good points. And he and I get along better than we once did, and we have both gone out of our way to stand up for each other at times.

            I am saying that if he were encouraged to normally behave in the way he does when he’s making good points, he would offer much greater value to the League, and when he doesn’t behave that way he degrades the value of the League in a way that no other author does.Report

          • But the commenter, in this case, provides no context to support his contention that the author’s history does in fact cast doubt on his veracity

            Well, there was a lot of assumed knowledge in BSK’s comment, to be sure.  But I think the assumption was valid–at any rate, I can say with confidence that I intuitively grasped that context without any difficulty, and I’d be surprised if no other commenter did, too.

            As I tell my students, you don’t have to cite common knowledge.Report

            • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

              Just to weigh in, my comment did lack evidence for a variety of reasons:

              1.)  I was typing on that dagnabbed iPad and I struggle with clumsy thumbs.

              2.)  As JH noted, I assumed that the criticism levied, even if wrong, was one understood by most of the big players in that conversation.

              3.)  I was a bit fired up and wasn’t sure what angle I wanted to come at the situation from and tried to split the difference and ended up with an undoubtedly weak sauce comment.

              Personally, there are few things I hate more than a conversation moving from the topic at hand to how the topic at hand is being conversed.  In only the most egregious circumstances do I think it appropriate to say, “We need to stop having this conversation/argument and start having another, separate conversation/argument about how we were having that first conversation/argument.”  There does seem to be a tendency toward doing this here which I find frustrating.  It is one thing to say, “Hey man.  Cool it.  We want to hear what you have to say but get with the program,” and quite another to say, “I consider your response short of my expectations of civility and, as such, will disengage until we have properly remedied your breach of etiquette.”  Especially when the latter is seemingly used to divert the conversation and is not an actual attempt to address a real incivility.  And this is not directed at any one commenter in particular, as it seems to be more widespread than just Tom.

              My relationship with Tom also spans several blogs.  Every time I think we reach a point of understanding and civility, it tips.  I find him to either be dismissive (often saying something along the lines of, “What happened to you?  You weren’t always this way.  I guess we can’t dialogue like we used to.”) or disingenuous (along the lines of what JH cited, responding with, “If you don’t understand my position I don’t know what more I can do,” to a yes/no question).  My issues with him are not with his politics.  As I mentioned elsewhere, I have had some major disagreements with Tim and have walked away from them wiser, because Tim was willing to honestly engage my points, support his own, and came to the table prepared to both learn and educate.

              Personally, I don’t mind a bit of uncivility.  I have no problem getting into the trenches.  What I do mind is someone being insincere.  And I feel that Tom is often that.  I do not doubt the strength of his convictions.  But I struggle with someone who engages in a medium deliberately intended to provoke conversation who he himself seems interested only in lecturing and not in conversing, only in teaching and not in learning, and who seeks these through passive-aggressiveness, clever turns of phrase, and other style-over-substance approaches.

              So, yea, that is an ugly muddled response and I apologize in advance for it being more cobbled together than thoughtful and concise.  But, eh, it’s the internet.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to BSK says:

                In only the most egregious circumstances do I think it appropriate to say, “We need to stop having this conversation/argument and start having another, separate conversation/argument about how we were having that first conversation/argument.”

                I get what you’re saying here, and without regard to your conversations with TVD, one of the reasons I am a bit of a Civility Hawk is that I get annoyed by “We need to stop having this conversation/argument about this issue and start having another separate conversation/argument about how we are the good guys and you are the bad guys.”

                For what it’s worth, I am uncomfortable with the degree to which TVD uses civility to make just that argument. So I’m not disagreeing. I just wanted to mention that for me, civility and even discussions of civility actually keep the conversation I want to be having on track. Now, if I’m wanting one conversation and they’re wanting another, then we won’t be having a conversation. I nonetheless consider it a high mark for this site that I can more frequently be having conversations that are less rotated around Good and Evil (or good guys and bad guys).Report

              • BSK in reply to Will Truman says:

                Arguing on behalf of civility to ensure a conversation remains productive and constructive is wise. Arguing on behalf of civility to ensure just the opposite is disingenuous. I assume you hawk for the former. It is those who do the latter that undermine the conversation here, which seems to be what a comment moderation policy ought to get at.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BSK says:

                My relationship with Tom also spans several blogs.

                That’s right; you were a PL commenter, too.  How the hell did I forget that?  We’ve been friends longer than I thought–I’m both amazed and pleased.Report

              • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’m hurt! There was actualy a big gap in there. When PL ended I floated to some other places, didn’t find a home that hit this side of my brain, and rememberd you and JK came over here. I then followed you to your blog. I also ended up at TheAgitator at JK’s urging, but that site is a little too angry and less geared towards conversing.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BSK says:

                I feel bad.  Even though I know you’re joking, I really feel kind of bad.

                And I miss PL. It was a pretty special place, and I was there such a short time before those mysterious technical problems caused it to implode.

                I wonder who else I’ve forgotten from there, and there are no archives to go back and look at.  God that sucks.Report

              • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

                Eh. It happens. It’s the internet. And some monikers (like semi-random, unpronouncable combinations of three letters) are more easily forgotten. Seriously, I’m not bothered. It’s never come through that you never made the connection, which means you’ve twiced made good overtures to someone you thought a stranger. I miss PL, too, even that dang D.A. Ridgley, who I see pop up from time to time. Just glad to be back in the fold.

                Now, if you REALLY feel bad and want to make itup, you can domwhat Tod did and spontaneously offer me “mother hen” treatment.Report

              • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                Where do you see that cantankerous old fart Ridgely pop up now and then? I’ve always wondered where the devil carried him off to.


              • Chris,

                On rare occasions he’s popped in to my blog to comment.  Always in classic DAR style.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

                It’s funny; you come to the League as an individual, you see it as a collection of individuals.

                I keep forgetting that this site has been around long enough to attract large chunks of mass from other celestial bodies, not just the occasional wandering elementary particle.  You guys have a context that predates this context.Report

              • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

                That must be it… Makes sense that DAR comes out of the woodwork for some Bawdy House time…Report

              • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                Patrick, I’ve been reading Jason’s blog since 2004. That’s a really fishin’ long time, when I think about it. I don’t remember exactly when he added Hanley, Rowe, or Ridgely, but I’ve been reading them since then (maybe 2007?).

                Well, I haven’t read Ridgely since he disappeared from here soon after the merger.


              • Awesome, BSK.  My only regret is DAR probably won’t see it.  I might have to email him.

                Chris: Late 2008 for my part.  But didn’t you sometimes comment at Ed Brayton’s blog, which I used to frequent?Report

              • DAR also has his own blog,

                He doesn’t add to it much anymore, but so much of what he has written there is excellent, and of course, classic DAR style.Report

              • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                I used to comment at Brayton’s blog now and then. I had a blog on Science Blogs on their second wave of additions (bringing it to like 17 blogs, or something), so we interacted now and then. God, what an awful experience Science Blogs was. Some of those people are… well, they’re not very nice people.Report

              • Tim Kowal in reply to BSK says:

                Thanks, BSK, and likewise.

                Though i’m not as present in the discussions around here, I will say in Tom’s defense that he is vigilantly on topic and demands the same of other discussants. I can see how that may seem obnoxious in a casual commenting format, but it’s generally welcome from a poster’s perspective. Of course, i’m generally in agreement with Tom, so take my defense for what it’s worth.Report

  3. DensityDuck says:

    Dude, there’s this one commentor who I totally don’t like.  And I mean, like, everything he says is totally in violation of this policy, I mean like totally in violation.  So can he please be banned in accordance with your policy?Report

  4. Sigh.

    As this seems to be a response to TVD’s recent post, which in turn made reference to a statement I’d made on my own sub-blog about deleting comments, I should probably concede that I was a bit too quick to make that statement.  (I should also point out that I actually deleted no comments from the thread in question.)  I just really hate being called a liar, which is what tipped me in that direction in the first place.  Unless I am gravely mistaken, there’s only one commenter whose contributions I’ve chronically deleted, and I believe I am in the company of most of the other sub-bloggers in doing so.

    Anyhow, consider this my public apology if I have deviated from the spirit of the community.Report

  5. Ryan Bonneville says:

    Apparently it’s Pile On Tom Van Dyke Day. Or is that every day?Report

    • This post is not meant as a TVD-pile on post at all. Several authors have deleted comments in ways I think we probably shouldn’t and clarification was needed. That is all. If anyone ever feels their comment was deleted unfairly they can contact Mark or myself.Report

      • David in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I for one think you went overboard, and that you ought to apologize and roll back what you did. I keep seeing comments pop up and be removed, and the salient point aside from the personal attacks on you seems to be that you chose one person you have some personal distaste for and banned them, despite the conduct indicated in your quoted policy being shared by a wide group of other posters.

        I don’t disagree with this point of view. A number of posters have pointed out the misbehavior of TVD, and there’s misbehavior by a number of other posters as well both now and in the past.

        I could say more but I’ll leave you my final point: your behavior, ED, has caused the integrity of the site to be in question. Jaybird’s behavior and his snarky, taunting comment above are just icing on the cake.


        • E.D.Kain in reply to David says:

          My behavior, eh? The fourth ban in three years calls into question the integrity of the site? I’m sure you’re privy to the whole story too.

          Honestly, I’m just a fascist asshole and I could frankly give a damn, Scarlet.Report

          • David in reply to E.D.Kain says:

            I wasn’t about to call you a fascist anything.

            You are behaving in a defensive manner, and you’re definitely showing that you were not even-handed with what you did. From the thread I saw, at least one person involved admitted to going over the line in a provocative manner, and the other involved is TVD, who posted a graphic that could reasonably be found both offensive and partisan, and who routinely breaks your site’s policy and gets off scot-free.

            The sum total of things being mentioned by you up above and the things I’ve seen on this site previously include a removal of comments, replacement of others, a willingness by site members to “edit” others’ comments, and a comment policy that you yourself admit was offline. That’s not exactly a good record to have for open dialogue.

            You proved by your behavior that you were willing to let a lot of things slide, by a lot of people. All of a sudden, you pop up brandishing the ban hammer and demand that one singular person not say the word “twit”, something that I don’t even see as being all that offensive in the grand scheme of things. And then the retcon “explanation” for it is based on a now-deleted comment that didn’t use any bad words unless a reference to brainwashing and echo chambers is naughty words.

            Do I really need to explain why this is looking very inconsistent and not just a little wrong on your part?Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to David says:

              Mike, FWIW I don’t believe you were banned for calling me a twit.  I said in that thread that it was I who said the first thing, and Mark (who was the person the used the ban hammer, not ED) agreed.  It was other stuff.

              Also, while I get that you don’t like RedState (and on this subject and – ironically – most others) we are in total agreement.  But telling someone they can’t post ideas from that site is not what this site is about, anymore than shutting down an idea the comes from ballon juice.  I wish you could see that.

              If you really think things are bad and want change, I would encourage you to email Mark – per his comment below – and do it in that fashion.Report

          • Robert Cheeks in reply to E.D.Kain says:

            E.D. you may have your faults, and they may even be legion, but a ‘banner?’ I don’t think so, and I should know…eh?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to David says:

          If I had a nickel for every time the integrity of this site was questioned…

          I mean, wait. What? I wasn’t even really doing anything above. What behavior are we talking about?


        • Ryan Bonneville in reply to David says:

          I think the behavior of the character who was banned since said banning has all but confirmed E.D. was correct to remove him.Report

        • Mark Thompson in reply to David says:

          A few things:

          1. The decision to use the banhammer was mine, not Erik’s.

          2. The banned person had a long history of warnings for extraordinary, substance free personal attacks on other commenters and posters, including a final warning that was given to him by me, of which Erik was perhaps not aware.

          3. Jaybird’s comment above was in reference to someone entirely different (a right-winger that was banned a year ago, mind you).

          4.  There have been exactly four commenters banned in the entire history of this site, the most recent nearly a year ago.

          5.  The reason this freshly banned person keeps appearing on the sidebar is because he keeps switching his IP address.  He’s now attempted to launch personal attacks from six or seven different IP addresses in the last few hours.  He has not once attempted to e-mail me personally to try to work out a solution.  Indeed, he has never once used a real e-mail address to comment on this site, so it is impossible to try to engage him off-site.

          [Comment updated: An attempt was apparently made to e-mail me a few minutes before I originally posted this comment, but still after the person in question had attempted to launch the aforementioned six or seven personal attacks from various IP addresses. The e-mail was essentially a regurgitation of the personal attacks, however.]

          • he has never once used a real e-mail address to comment on this site

            To be fair, we’re all tired of getting ads for penis enlargement from Mark Thompson Enterprises, Inc. in our in-box.  *grin*Report

          • Chris in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            In (sort of) defense of Heidi, who showed up just yesterday again, he has a severe mental illness, one that he has been candid about. He really can’t help it. That doesn’t mean he should be unbanned; he shouldn’t, because he really can’t help it. It’s just that I feel kind of bad for him. And I say this as the guy he’s been somewhat obsessed with for quite some time (he can’t help bringing me, and my religion, up in just about every thread).Report

            • Will Truman in reply to Chris says:

              Thanks for the explanation. I was unaware.Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

              I actually like the guy.  He’s the only person I’ve ever had to delete a comment from (on only one occasion, mind) in a post of mine, but I would be lying if I said he ever treated me with anything but kindness.Report

              • Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                He’s been quite hostile with me, saying essentially that I’m the spawn of satan, smothered in satan sauce, with a side of satan fries and a satan milkshake. But I know he can’t help it, so I don’t take offense. I’m not even offended by the really offensive stuff he says (he doesn’t like Muslims, if you’ll recall), because I know he can’t help it.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

                smothered in satan sauce, with a side of satan fries and a satan milkshake

                Intriguing, but not as enticing as Burt’s World Cuisine post.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Chris says:

                Yeah, I know.  The thing that kind of breaks my heart, though, is that I suspect that he might actually really want to be part of everything at the League more than just about anyone else here.Report

              • Chris in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                I suspect you’re right. I’m always kind of glad when he shows up again. As someone who has spent most of his adult life looking out for someone with a severe mental illness, I worry about him a bit.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

              Ditto this.  It took me a while to realize this about H., but it’s undoubtedly correct.  Albeit just too much to bear at times, he is not a bad guy, and I would ask everyone to be considerate towards him.  There but for the grace of God go we, and “as you do unto the least of me,” and so on.  Mental illness is hard for others to deal with, and easy to mock, but it’s a terrible and terrifying thing.Report

          • David in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            As I said before, as someone who lurks far more than he posts, the banned poster appears to have not been all that different from most of your other posters. TVD and Robert Cheeks have their favorite epithets that they spew just as readily, and they seem to get a pass for some reason, as do a number of your other regulars.

            I don’t have a whole history on what’s gone on, but I’m telling it as I see it. There’s an altercation, the banned poster (are we just allowed to say the name?) responds in-kind to something that, according to the policy ED Kain finally gets round to posting about is very much disallowed, and next thing I saw ED Kain is coming around being the 900 lb gorilla, throwing his weight around and threatening the banhammer.

            None of this was civil, and it behooves the people with abilities to delete posts, or edit, or to ban – ESPECIALLY to ban – to be as civil at all times as possible. ED Kain certainly failed in this regard.

            You’re quoting a long history of contrary-to-policy posting above. I think this thread has ably proven that you’ve a number of posters who do things like this, and regularly get away with it. Is the difference that the front-pagers are immune to the rules? Is the difference that it’s the “regulars” as opposed to the “new commenters”? Is the difference that ED Kain likes some of them, and not others? Or that you, yourself, like some of them and not others, and the not-others are the ones who get the short end of the stick when it comes to the rules?

            I’m telling you what I see. This situation isn’t good because to an outside observer, it was not remotely handled in a fair or level-headed manner, and if I were treated in that way, I’d probably be quite pissed off too. Maybe not enough to keep trying to comment, but having read the comments before they were deleted, it’s quite clear that the problem causing them to be that mad is your uneven application of hidden rules that they weren’t even given a chance to read.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to David says:

              David, I would ask you to dig something.

              Imagine the following two paragraphs as written from a right-wing perspective:

              A) “The democratic response to Bush being in office with regards to much of the war on terror should be compared to the democratic response to Obama’s leadership of that same war. The tone has changed from one demanding that we stand up for higher principles no matter the cost to one that patiently explains a pragmatic response, with pragmatic benefits in exchange for pragmatic costs and an emphasis upon political realism.”

              B) “The demoncraps are hypocrits who pretend to be angels until they get in power when they turn into Bush and the poor brown people they used to defend when Bush killed them magically turn into terrorists that Obama protects us from. They’re liars who should have defended Bush at least as much as they defend the Kenyan.”

              (apologies for that second paragraph not being spittle-flecked enough.)

              Now, I’d ask you this: which right-winger would you rather hold an extended conversation with?Report

          • David in reply to Mark Thompson says:

            I do believe you’ve confused me with someone else. Or one of your compatriots has, as my comments are either getting stuffed into spam-filter or deleted by a stealth ban.

            I’ve sent you an email from my yahoo account, which I ask you do not distribute, Mark.Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to David says:

              “I do believe you’ve confused me with someone else.”

              My bad.  Apologies.

              I have not seen anyone here delete your comments; I’ll check the spam filter.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Yup.  Spam filter.  I have set them free.Report

              • David in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                My earlier reply to Mark’s above post, alas, seems to have been stuffed into the memory hole somewhere.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to David says:

                Nope, it went down the competence hole.  There were the two I released, about five actual spam, and then the one you refer to.  I totally missed it.  It is also now free.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Not to pick on you here Tod, but this whole ‘I don’t know who’s banning your comments’ thing is getting to the level of parody.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                I don’t think this was an issue of comments getting mysteriously banned, but the spam filter for picking them up. David appears to be using an anonymizer and the three comments in question came from the same IP address, which is probably flagged for some reason (the other comments came through a different address).

                (This isn’t intended as a criticism of using such a service – as far as I know LoOG has no policy on it – but an explanation as to why some of his comments might have been flagged.)Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

                Is that what it was?  I was assuming it was because the email address was from a “[IP address containing the word “spam”].com” address and the “spam” part of it got picked up.

                On a tangential note, for those that are IT & IP savvy…

                In between David’s posts that got picked up, there are a whole bunch that seem to be from randomly generated gmail and hotmail addresses that don’t actually link to anything – but all have some sort of variation of the message:  “This is a terrific blog with great things to say!  I will defiantly bookmark it and visit again later!”

                Does anyone know what the hell that’s all about?Report

              • {I changed your comment to remove the actual site of the email address for David’s confidentiality – I hope you don’t mind.}

                He used that email address for all of his comments. The thing that changed between the comments that got through – and the ones that did not – was the IP address. So I assume it’s that.

                Regarding your question, is there anything in the linkback URL fields? We’ve been having spam problems lately with “Great job!” comments and no links except for the URL fields.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Will and Tod, I get that the spam filter was picking them up. But the fact that it’s an open question that David’s comments are being banned/deleted is verging on something hilarious. You guys (with the Power to Delete!) put up with Robert Cheeks, but ban Mike – on civility grounds. Rufus (I think) re-writes peoples comments, BlaiseP deletes somni’s comments because he considers them a personal affront, someone else wrote over one of Mike’s comments prior to his being banned.

                I agree with Mark’s position on this (and EDK, for that matter), but part of the problem here is that too many people use their editing-power to shape discourse along preferred lines rather than letting it run its course for better or worse.

                There’s a joke somewhere in there but I’m unable to find it.


              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                Still, I agree with everything you said – save perhaps whether or not banning Mike was a good move.

                But to be fair to management…

                Rufus rewrote someone’s comment, was told not to do it again and (to my knowledge) hasn’t.  Blaise deleted comments that he probably shouldn’t have, which I suspect (though I can’t say for sure) contributed to ED writing a front page post reminding everyone that has the ability to delete comments to knock it off.  All of this seems to me like proper responses taken to missteps.Report

              • Still – A few things on this.  I think Erik’s post here is in no small part an attempt to address that concern, which I very much share, at least outside of the concern about writing over of comments (I’m the one who does that, and I always leave a note that I’m doing it.  I find it more constructive than just deleting comments without explanation.  I apologize if I have a little fun in the process by providing that explanation in limerick form).Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                In my view, these kinds of judgment calls are inherently messy. Both in terms of disallowed content and in terms of process. I actually think it’s the latter thing we should be discussing more.

                I would propose:

                (1) Instead of deleting comments, we eliminate their content. Leave them in place so that everybody knows when a comment has been deleted and where. Alternately, instead of deleting comments we put them in “Pending” and go forward to #2.

                (2) Any time a comment is deleted or put in moderation) by someone who is not EDK or Mark, the content of the deleted comment be sent to them in the form of email.

                This will help with calibration, consistency, and transparency. If someone deletes a comment they shouldn’t have, it can be reinstated and the person knows why that comment shouldn’t have been deleted.

                Or something along these lines.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Shouldn’t have deleted?  Oh, I’ve learned my lesson.   I’ll never write anything about St. Ta-Nehisi of the Coates of Many Colors again.   Fishing trolls crap all over my diary and I shouldn’t delete ’em?   I stand by everything I said over there and more besides.   Silly bastards are still over there depositing little troll turds.

                May I have permission to delete crap off my own diaries?   Pretty please?   With a little sugar on top?


              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                “I wouldn’t have deleted” is better, and what I should have said.  Apologies.

                Your living room is your living room.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                Will, I like this idea.  I still suspect the deleting of comments is not as big as is being made out (but hey, I could be wrong), but your solution either fixes a problem that I didn’t even know we had, or gives a level of transparency to so that those that worry can see for themselves.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Not really, no it is not my living room.   It’s our living room.   I’m over here pounding away on an essay on Lincoln and his critics, between compiles and runs, trying to write up to the standards of this place, which are pretty high may I note in passing.

                I like knowing where I stand.   I’m not going to delete any more comments, not that I should have to in the first place.   But running off to some administrator is demeaning and inefficient.   I blew out comments I considered trollish in extremis, after I’d gone through explaining the rationale behind my complaints.

                I’ve never had one of my diaries attract a horde of trolls like that.   Came as something of a shock.  Next time that happens, it won’t be comments I delete.   It will be the diary itself.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                BP, I’m hoping that whatever else I add to a message about this, you will note that the most important part of it is my sincere apologies.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Mark, the comment-overwrite I was referring to was done by Tod, not you. I think you, as the site owner, have complete justification to write over any comments you want to as you see fit. Or to establish clear and strictly enforced rules for commenting. And also that limericks are a lovely way to signal that those rules have been violated. Same goes for EDK.

                Tod, unless it’s done by Mark or EDK, I think over-writing a comment in any way has to meet a very high burden which I don’t think can be subjectively determined. I’m not sure what the policy on that should be, but leaving it up to the discretion of FPers seems like a recipe for continued disaster.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:


                Was I being improper?  Then help me out here; and give me some feedback other than “that’s wrong.”  I respect you, so I’ll listen to whatever you say.

                The comment that I partially wrote over essentially covered two items.  One, which was a bizarre conspiracy theory about gravatars I didn’t touch.  The other part, though, was a lengthy personal attack on someone at the site – who was not part of the conversation, and who at that time hadn’t even appeared on the post threads, and were attacks that had zero to do with the actual post subject.  I wrote below the comment the general nature of what I had taken out, why it was not acceptable, and asked the commenter to refrain from doing so again in the future on my posts.

                I am assuming that you would have a better way of dealing with it, and since the way I did it seemed to help not one iota (and might have just made things worse by pissing him off) I am certainly open to hear what it might be so that I can use it in the future.

                (My one caveat – which I feel very strongly about – is this:  I feel very strongly that in one of my posts threads you can bang on me all you want, fair or unfair, ad hoc or not.  I’ll either ignore you or engage you, depending on my mood.  But I feel very differently about people making personal and obscene comments to other people on threads I am responsible for.  So if your suggestion is just ignore these comments, I’ll probably just agree to disagree.)Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Tod, you’re not the problem.   Apology accepted.  I put a lot of work into what I post here, as do many other posters here.   The quality of work here is outstanding as I’ve said before.

                I appreciate all the support I got in this foofaraw about Faulkner, not that I expected or deserved any.   TNC can write any old stupid thing he likes and he’s got more fans who will stop by for a drive-by shitflinging.   Which I suppose I should have expected, more fool me for daring to say something about the Wikiquote Wunderkind phenomenon.   I’m going through back issues of the New York Tribune for the last year of Lincoln’s first term, taking the measure of what was said then about an incumbent president faced with a photogenic hero and captain of industry, a guy he’s actually worked with and eventually for, George McClellan.   I do my homework if others do not.Report

              • Do you all have the ability to change the font color?  If so, one partial solution for disputable comments is to leave them, but change the font color to the background color so they can’t be read by the viewing public.  That way, if the “deletion” is deemed improper, the content is still there and easily made visible again.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                James – Actually, we can still replace the content at any time.  I get an email of the content of each comment.  So, for example, If Erik were to tell me to replace the part of the comment I’d deleted (or if Still were to make a compelling argument that I should), it would be pretty easy.

                The things I delete may be gone from sight, but I still have them.Report

              • Thanks, Tod.  I’d forgotten that bit of functionality because I eliminated it from my own blog–I hated all those emails, and I don’t even get that many comments.

                I like backup systems, though–I think there’s a latent engineer deep in my psyche–so even though I think it’s not often likely to be an important issue, and even when it is it’s really none of my business, I’m pleased to hear this.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Nah.   The ROEs are pretty simple.   Don’t delete comments without getting clearance from battalion HQ.

                Soooo…. the response seems obvious enough.  Surely diaries on bread baking or embroidery or the vocabulary of heraldry won’t attract trolls.   Of course, they won’t attract anyone else either, but them’s the breaks.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                James –

                I’d n ever throw the emails away.  For one thing, I had always assumed that someday someone would complain to management that I had deleted them because of a political argument – and so I never feel it wise to toss them.

                BP –


              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Tod, I don’t think there’s a clear answer to the questrion. My worry is that placing civility above honest expression has two downsides. One is that it’s arbitrary, and that pisses people off. The other is that deleting comments viewed as ‘uncivil’ breaks the normal feed-back loops which, if they were in place, might lead the commenter to become more civil by either being ignored or by receiving a ration of sh*t for making such uncivil comments. (And if they don’t learn, then banishment from the enclave is not merely welcomed but cheered.)

                And maybe there’s a third worry as well: if determining what constitutes incivility is left to an FPer with the power to delete, how do we ensure that the deletion-hammer isn’t being used simply to quash dissenting voices?

                In your case (as in everybody elses case) I’m quite confident that you (and others) feel/felt like you met the burden of justifying deletion. And I certainly won’t dispute your rationale for acting as you did. So – and I want to make this clear – I don’t dispute your reasons. Rather, my worries are more along the lines of using deletion to silence voices simply because they’re perceived to be uncivil. But on that score the current post and some others have been written precisely to establish a more objective and limited use of deletion. So it’s all much ado about nothin at this point.


              • Tod,

                Totally off-topic, but have you seen this?Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                Still –

                As always, very good points.  And it’s funny, because I think we have identical worst case scenarios in our heads – but coming from the opposite sides.

                I worry that if people become too uncivil and focus more on name calling and bashing people as “Commie Dems” or “Retardicans” or what have you, we eventually become a place where that’s all we are.  Because I feel confident that people who don’t want to put up with being treated like that just won’t bother to comment or engage (or even visit the site), and the people that enjoy that kind of engagement won’t care.  I love the guys  & gals that post at BJ and love reading their stuff, but I really don’t want our threads to become like theirs.

                Because here’s the thing: I agree with what you say about how civility should not trump honest expression – so long as it’s honest expression of the ideas, subjects and topics we focus on – and in this I include non-FPers bringing up their own ideas, topics and subjects in the threads.  But following people around and yelling RETARDICAN and RACIST and FISHTARD or whatever, for me falls into that area of being very honest, being quite full of expression, yet not quite meeting the standard of “honest expression.”

                And despite all of what I say, the concerns you bring up seem equally important.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to Stillwater says:

                Tod, I think part of the question is whether we should have more responsibility/discretion over our own posts. This is kind of an open question.

                Still, that is perhaps an argument to warn somebody before starting to curtail their commenting, but there comes a point where you are just being ignored and they have made it clear that they don’t give a flip what you think because they think it’s their civil right to speak their mind on your site. I would argue that Mike was past this point when Tod culled his comment.

                There comes a point where Person A speaking his mind causes Person B to leave.


              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                James – I had not.  Totally cool.

                And thanks for being off topic.  I will be very glad when we are past this and can go back to arguing about who’s really destroying America.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                Tod, maybe we are thinking of worst case scenarios. For my part, I think the core group here would be very resistant to altering their customary practices by descending to the levels of adhom and personal attack. So I tend to think the group – the community – has an identity which isn’t as fragile as perhaps you do.

                Will, yes, there definitely is a point where someone has to go (something we probably all agree on, not just EDK or Mark). Mike was an interesting case because he didn’t need to go adhom on the people he did, yet continued to do so. That counts as evidence that he wasn’t here to engage with us as much as throw-up on us.  Don’t misunderstand me about his banishment: I’m certainly not saying that those who thought his time was up are wrong.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                As I have said before, you are a wise man Mr. Stillwater.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                If I could, I’d delete that comment.Report

              •  I will be very glad when we are past this and can go back to arguing about who’s really destroying America.

                Yep, can’t get enough of those posts about the BCS!Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Stillwater says:

                Correction: One regrettable drunken evening I rewrote two comments in a fit of pique about their language (the usual “retard” bashing and dropping of SAT words like fuck and nigger). I replaced said terms with terms from Dr Suess and Winnie the Pooh books. My only defense, aside from being lit, is the Groucho Principle: Pranks become funnier in direct proportion to the initial rage-level of their target. At any rate, I was chastised by the other gentlemen and, before too long- probably within the hour- apologized and vowed not to do that again. I have not done that again. I think I also returned the comments to their original form with an addendum.

                Nevertheless, periodically, people will post here that the very integrity of the site is in serious question in those corners of the internet who take such things seriously because, after all, “we” “regularly” rewrite comments. They tend to remember those two comments and forget entirely the rest of that thread or the end to that story. Honestly, though, if people have lost faith in the integrity of the site, I will cancel their subscriptions free of charge.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                Still, if you are meaning what Will suggests you do, you are assuming that I hold waaaaay more power at this site than I do.  I do not have the freedom to ban people here, whether or not I feel that they should be.  I don’t even particularly like deleting comments.  Hell, I know Heidegger is banned and I let his comments stand on my posts.  (The one previously mentioned, which talked about rape & fetuses on the Christmas post being the singular exception.)

                On those occasions where someone oversteps the boundaries with offensive language, I still let the comments stand.  I just edit out the offensive word and ask the commenter to try using different language next time.

                How that comes across as parody you’ll have to explain to me…Report

      • Tom Van Dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Well, it was Pile on TVD Day, Erik, from the usual handful of persons.  I am put in a lose-lose situation responding to them as John Henry Newman realized.

        I object to this entire charade.  Fortunately, I was traveling yeaterday, and was not obliged to defend myself from charater assiniation from folks who unfailingly try—and fail—to get the better of me, down to points so petty it’s astonishing.

        In Couples Therapy, the “you always do X” argument is not Fair Fighting.  Someone doesn’t like the way I’m arguing, say it now, or if they’re going to play that cheap trick, substantiate when I have.  To play the “Tom always” card is a pissing contest, and even the winner of one still gets wet.

        My appreciation to the Gentlemen here who came through with some version of “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Anything else indeed does slip beloe my level of respect and personal code.  If I have only one regret in my tenure @LoOG, it’s not standing up often enough for this principle.


        This of course excludes the Tellarites, who by definition are not Gentlemen.  ;-P

        I quite agree with Sonmi’s philosophy that at least the target of their attacks [me, for instance] should have the liberty to dispatch them with ruthless regularity.  [See also Ben Franklin, The Liberty of the Cudgel.]  But mgmt hath spoke.

        A last note: If you must insult me, please, just make it witty.  I’m quite a fan of the Churchill-GBS school of engagement.  This, back in the day, was the height of civility and civilization.  Anyone can be a Tellarite.Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Tom –

          I was frankly surprised and quite bothered to hear that authors were deleting comments. Back in the day this was absolutely off limits. No comments were deleted by anyone ever save said management. Usually any comment deletion was first discussed. Obviously as the site grew things had to change. I understand this.

          But I looked at the deleted comments and think that it was a big mistake to delete them. I’m not even sure which threads they were from. I know several authors were making deletions. I think it was a poor judgment call. This is the internet and we need thicker skin even if we’re irritated.

          That does not extend to flat-out personal attacks. I think that if someone calls the author or other commenters blatantly insulting things (see e.g. Will’s comment about Mike above) then it’s fully deserved. If it’s a troll nobody’s seen before, delete away.

          But I’m seeing comments from regular commenters with no history to suggest they deserve it with comments deleted. I don’t know or care who happens to be doing this but it’s absolutely not okay.

          Personally I enjoy the commentary here from all our writers. I enjoy the comments from the vast majority of commenters. I hope nobody else packs their things. I hope you, Tom, stick around and give us your perspective on the world. I love the diversity.

          But we are not a censorial bunch. We let comments stand 99 times out of 100.Report

          • We let comments stand 99 times out of 100.

            This is in fact much closer to 999 out of 1000.Report

          • Tom Van Dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            Yes, I got the message, Erik, acknowledged infra, above.  A private email would have sufficed instead of…this. 

            There is no effective defense against character assassination.  You believe one should just bear it.  So be it.  But I assure you that if I returned measure for measure, this blog would soon become unreadable.

            Respectfully submitted.Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:


              Once again, I wrote this post directed to the group entire. I wrote this response to you to show that it was not directed solely at you. Why would a private email suffice when I was writing this as a response to more authors than just you?

              I fully understand how you might be on the defense after this thread. Of course, nobody knew you were traveling and could not defend yourself. Nor was the post intended to result in such a thread.

              Character assassination is a huge stretch, however. Come on. You are part of this community and people are here raising their issues with you, I imagine fully expecting you to respond. The pile on was absolutely unfortunate, and I was clear in my comment that this was not the intent whatsoever.

              I’m not sure how to read your comment. Is it threatening? Is it just pointing something out? I hope it’s the latter and not the former. Have I in any way acted unfairly toward you or anyone else?Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                Erik, an email to all the contributors would have sufficed, then.  And yr OP did result in one contributor [me] taking more of the same crap that started all this.  Regardless of yr intentions.  One size does not fit all, and yrs truly is in a particularly weak demographic position hereabouts.

                Again, my appreciation to the gentlepersons who took a stand. As for the Energizer Bunnies who buy ink by the cyberbarrel, peace, I’m out.  I’m visiting family and will try not to let this spoil the rest of my day.

                I do offer a clean slate for here on in to anyone who is willing to accept it.  Life is too short, eh?Report

              • J.L. Wall in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I want to second what Tom said about e-mailing front-pagers en masse about this — I, for one, had no idea what was going on that sparked all of this.  And if there are periods where we need to get commenting policy under control — from either or both ends — to foster a better community here, I don’t see the harm in a more coordinated effort.

                My usual policy is not to delete comments, because if someone wants to make a fool of themselves on the internet, so be it.  But then again, the Civil War is the only thing I write about that lends itself to outbursts, so I don’t have to deal with it that often.  On the other hand, we’ve got enough contributors now that we’re handling a diverse enough set of topics that might make each of us think our comment policy is best.  It had been, so far as I know, some time since we all made sure we were on the same page about this kind of thing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I think that making this stuff public was of benefit to the non-front pagey commenters (and I say that as someone who doesn’t really consider himself front page caliber but as a pretty good commenter).

                If I saw that comments were being deleted, I’d wonder why. It would freak me out. If I saw that people were being banned, I’d wonder why. It would freak me out.

                Making this stuff public lets the sun shine on the various thought processes that goes behind these decisions. The community consists far more of those of us who find ourselves in the comments than those of us who find ourselves with front page capability. It’s important that those of us who aren’t part of the “inner circle” see how stuff works. It helps establish and maintain trust.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

                +1, many times overReport

              • BSK in reply to Jaybird says:

                Agreed.  There was a lot of informal talk about what the policy was or wasn’t.  It was helpful to clarify it for the masses.  While authors and commenters are on different sides of the divide (one with the power to delete, one with the threat of being deleted, though I suppose authors are in that latter group when posting on another author’s post), it is good that all know the rules to hold them accountable.  If it seems that posts are being deleted in violation of the policy, the masses should uprise.  And we certainly want to avoid false cries for deletion of comments that do not violate the policy.Report

              • J.L. Wall in reply to Jaybird says:

                As someone who didn’t realize anything was going on until this post went up, I think I had a comparable reaction to the lack of context (from my end) that you all would have had without it to posts disappearing.  Not knowing what had prompted this post, I didn’t know what, exactly, to take away from it.

                I guess all I meant was that being told that Something Bad Happened and then trying to figure it out by having to wade through this comment thread (and the first day’s worth seemed, at times, rather nasty and disorienting) didn’t really help my understanding of what, from a contributor’s perspective, had happened and ought to happen in the future.  Parts of the discussion in this thread were productive — even when the tone got bitter, I’d say — but others portions did pretty quickly descend into unpleasant attacks on others.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                The pile-on is fully my responsibility, as I made the first comment and made it about him.  I stand by my words, but any blame or criticism is fairly directed at me, and I will accept it.Report

              • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:


                …shit…  How many mea culpas can one issue in a day?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to BSK says:

                I buy them by the bundle at Sam’s Club.  I’ll be happy to give you a few since you’re guilty of following my lead.Report

              • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

                Eh.  I’m my own man, responsible for my own actions, piling or otherwise.  I didn’t need much, if any help, to get on Tom.  I will say that I worry at times we appear to be in cahoots, because we so often agree on many matters and have an e-relationship (that you pretend to have forgotten to throw folks off our scent!).  I do try to be mindful of that, because being ganged up on is no fun.  At the same time, if you have multiple people lodging the same complaint, it is good to know that the complaint is not isolated.  Let’s pick a few things to fight about.  Like, what the hell is a Sam’s Club?  Is that another one of your backwoods, flyover state general stores?  Does it have electricity there?


              • we so often agree on many matters

                Which is funny, since if I parse you right you’re a goldurned librul.

                and have an e-relationship (that you pretend to have forgotten to throw folks off our scent!).

                Oh, way to go. That’s exactly the kind of blown cover op that got you kicked out of the [name of secret organization deleted].

                Like, what the hell is a Sam’s Club?  Is that another one of your backwoods, flyover state general stores?  Does it have electricity there?

                I honestly don’t know, but I have friends who claim to go there regularly.  I suspect it’s something very like [name of secret organization deleted].Report

              • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

                I don’t know how I define myself, to be honest, but “liberal” is probably the closest thing if we are going with “one word answers that most people can generate an instant visceral reaction to”.  What the hell are you?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:

                What the hell are you?

                In one word?  Jeez, I want to put labels on others, not on myself.  I’m going to cheat and use two words, drawing on a formulation coined by James K, and say “marginal libertarian.”  Or perhaps “polycentrist.”  Or maybe just “disgruntled.”  Crap, now I’m up to 4 words.Report

              • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

                I’m partly limited by not knowing what most of the words mean (what exactly does ‘progressive’ mean?).  And partly limited by frustration with ideologies I am sympathetic towards but I feel cannot be much advocated for without a complete upheaval of the social order (e.g., libertarianism, which I agree with on my grounds but feel that American society has been built upon so many unlibertarian principals that to suddenly advocate for them now is at least a tad bit irresponsible (e.g., how do we staunchly defend property rights and individual autonomy when much of our country rests on land taken forcfully from another group of people and build in part with slave labor, the legacies of both cirumstances which live with us today)).

                Having to choose between liberal and conservative, I choose the former and don’t look back, primarily because of social issues wherein I believe the former allows for the latter but not vice-versa.  What I mean is that, in a truly liberal society as I envision it, people can be as conservative as they want and rue against drugs or gays or whathaveyou but in a truly conservative society, people can’t be as gay or drug addicted as they want.

                On economic issues, I am admittedly a noob and generally refrain from comment, though lean towards the idea of all is fair in love and business so long as you don’t lie, cheat, or steal, allthewhile refusing to define “lying”, “cheating”, and “stealing”.

                So, I’m THAT!  Work for you?

                I sort of like the idea of choosing one word that can immediately engender a visceral reaction in another person.  If someone says, “Huh?” to your ideology, you are probably too weird/smart/extreme.  If someone says, “Fuck yea!” or “Fuck you!” then you are right in the thick of it!Report

              • Works for me!  It’s probably why we get along pretty well.

                As to choosing one word that causes a visceral reaction, you’ve inspired me.  I’m just going to go with “terrorist” from now on.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          TVD, I want to apologize for being part of the ‘pile on’. You undoubtedly read what I wrote, and know my particular grievance, and it was inappropriate for me to say those things anywhere except in a dialogue with you. Sorry about that.

          Also, I admit my comment lacked any wit whatsoever. It wasn’t even particularly well written. 🙁


        • I’ll take the bait.

          Note the words and tone here.  “this…charade.”  “the usual handful of persons.”  “character assassination.” “cheap trick.” “pissing contest.”

          Note the extensive use of emotion-laden terms.  Where is the evidence to substantiate these claims?  It is not there.  The force of the argument is in its vagueness and emotional appeal, rather than in its demonstration of a factual basis.

          And here’s the irony, in that he himself says others should “substantiate when I have” acted a certain way–the standard he demands of others while failing to observe it himself.  (For substantiation, I point to the Tebow thread–I did so in detail in an email to Mark, and I can do it publicly if necessary.)

          And this, ” Someone doesn’t like the way I’m arguing, say it now….”  But we do say it “now,” frequently, at the very time he’s doing it, which most often leads to a direct response from him–a tacit acknowledgement that we have said it “now”–yet here he implies that we don’t.

          And then there is the red herring: “My appreciation to the Gentlemen here who came through with some version of “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Nobody–No. Body.–has tried to deny him his right to make his claims.  We have criticized the validity of his claims, and we have criticized his manner of responding to critics, but we have not tried to suppress his freedom of speech.  If he wants to argue that we have, I’ll ask him to follow his own recommendation; substantiate it.

          It is this kind of dishonest, double-standard, victim-based response that is what we object to, and I am publicly calling him out on it.  He does not “always” do it, and quite probably that word has been used too carelessly by some of us critics (mea culpa, quite likely), but the distance between “always” and “never,” or even “rarely,” is vast, and includes “regularly,” frequently,” and “just too darned often.”Report

          • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

            I second this one. Tom is not a victim, no matter how often, and how well, he plays one. He gives as good as he gets, and in kind, often initiating, he just tends to do so much more passive-aggressively (though sometimes he’s outright aggressive), as he’s done in this thread. I’m not entirely convinced that he’s not my Italian mother.Report

          • BSK in reply to James Hanley says:

            I think this is a fair response, but want to throw something else into the fire (though I don’t know if this will make it bigger or smaller)…

            In teaching, we often talk about responding to actions and not people.  There is a difference between telling someone they did something wrong and telling them there is something inherently wrong about them as a human, between doing something bad and being a bad person.  While one’s actions do form the foundation of judging that person, it is only the rarest instance where a singular action is enough define a person.  I think it would be advisable for all of us to be mindful of responding to actions/words/thoughts/positions and not individuals/people/character.  The line is thin at some points, so it is also important that the person being assessed assume positive intent and give the person the benefit of the doubt unless they have demonstrated themselves undeserving of such benefit.  I will be the first to say I haven’t done this, on either side of the equation, to perfection, so I issue my own mea culpa and a pledge to try harder (insert mandatory “I can’t promise that I’ll try, but I can promise that I’ll try to try” quote).

            Tom, I know nothing about you beyond what you have written.  You could be my age or three times my age.  You could be a happily married father of ten or a lonely hermit.  I know none of this about you.  You might be a kind-hearted man who does tons for others and little for himself.  Or you might be a jerk.  Beyond what I feel are disingenuous argumentative tactics, I have no personal beef with you.  The extent to which I have communicated that, I take full responsibility and apologize.  I do not accept or admire the tact you often take in our discussions here, but I will work to take my own advise and avoid making greater assumptions about you as a man (You are a man, right?  I feel relatively certain making that assumption…) based on the character you assume here on the internet (and we all assume a character, whether we care to admit it or not; what varies is how much separation there is between our real-life selves and our internet personas).

            I hope that you respond to James’s comment openly and honestly.Report

          • wardsmith in reply to James Hanley says:

            James and Chris, I invite you to compare and contrast your missives with BSK’s below, which I find to be vastly superior. BSK talks TO Tom, while you two talk ABOUT Tom. If you wish to engage with someone, you need to engage them as individuals and not in the third person. Yes you’ve had history with Tom, you’ve even had it with me where we disagree. I’ve even stepped between you both and said as I recall that I admired you both and felt that you had gotten into ungentlemanly discourse. Tom has returned the favor when I was having a spat with someone I don’t recall at the moment, and his point was likewise well taken.

            I refer back to my post above. David (or Mavid as I prefer to think of him)  misconstrues my statements many ways. I don’t get offended when multiple liberals shout at me about Rush (not the band) and opinions he may have but I don’t share. The argument bothers me not in the slightest, I was a champion debater in high school and following Marquess of Queensbury debate rules with actual time limits and evidence and judges can stand up to anybody. No, the part I care about is the SHOUTING! When I have to spend all my time speaking progressively more loudly to the interlocutors doing said shouting that shouting is not the way to A) gain my respect and B) further their aims, the discussion has gone from debate, to argument to shouting match. Shouting matches may be fine at sporting events but should not happen in polite company.

            Other than the occasional atta boys that we may grace each others’ posts with there is no fishing pay in this. Like him or loathe him, Tom has written some sterling prose hereabouts and I for one am afraid the “pile on” will indeed drive him to greener pastures. If you think posts get deleted here, you should see the offal that occurs on Malkin’s site.

            What I said about liberals shouting down conservative speakers at universities is not fiction. It is a damning lesson for liberals, who claim the moral high ground and demand free speech and further rights for their pet causes and pet agendas, while denying even the opportunity for the other side to have a voice. If this isn’t hypocrisy I don’t know what is.


            • BSK in reply to wardsmith says:

              FWIW, I’d argue that BOTH of those guys look pretty conservative, though the one on the right certainly looks conservativer…

              Stillwater, there certainly is a tendency among SOME liberals to champion free speech that they find tolerable.  At my undergraduate, when there was a bunch of hustle and bustle over the Jesuit institution’s refusal to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause beyond what state law required (which was very little), a campaign called “Intolerance Will Not Be Tolerated” swept through the campus.  Few people saw the irony of this particular slogan, which was unfortunate, because it set the tone for the conversation.  And while I agreed with the goal of changing the NDC, I thought starting from a position where you not only assumed your opponents’ position was grounded in intolerence but also said in YOUR GODDAMN SLOGAN that you were not going to tolerate this presumed position was as good an example of shooting one self in the foot as there ever was.

              At the same time, let’s also not conflate every criticism of Tom with either an attempt to silence him OR as being blindly motivated by his politics.  I don’t know anyone here who sincerely called for his banning (though I have stated that I think his status as a FrontPager reflects poorly on the League, but there is a lot of room between those two positions).  And, while I think there is an extent to which his positions impact our response to him (and that this is unfair), I think James and Chris have made it clear that their objections go well beyond this.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to wardsmith says:


              I hear your argument and agree with it.  And indeed I have many times in the past , in our three year history, addressed him directly about the behavior, sometimes aggressively (admittedly a bad approach), sometimes working very hard to be non-confrontational while trying to show him how it looked from our perspective.  This was never successful, so my tactic here is to try to bring this infamous “inner circle’s” attention to the behavior in the hope that they will choose to try to exercise some influence and perhaps have more success than I. The fact that several others have noted that they observe this behavior as well, I hope, brings their attention to it, even if my complaints are dismissible.

              I reiterate that he does not behave this way all the time, and when he does not he is a valuable addition to the League.  I have at times defended him when others have directed personal attacks because it is clear to me that in general he is not a bad guy (and likewise he has at times defended me).  That makes this behavior on his part all the more baffling and frustrating.

              I don’t seek his banning, and–all appearances to the contrary–I do not get any satisfaction out of making this so public.  But I want him to understand that it is his actions that cause so much of the problem, that he plays a large role in determining whether he gets piled on, so that we can have the good discussions, of which he is so capable.  If it takes being a public ass to get the more influential folks to influence him, then I’ll do it (I’m under no illusions that I come across looking particularly good here).

              This isn’t directed at you, but I would like to stop addressing this now.  I’ve either successfully made my point with the secret cabal inner circle or I haven’t.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to James Hanley says:


                What I said about liberals shouting down conservative speakers at universities is not fiction.

                I agree.  But that is simply not the issue here.  None of us who have spoken up here are trying to shout him down for his conservatism.  I have many beefs with conservatives, but I am not trying to prevent conservative voices from being heard.  And I will stand in defense of BSK and Chris, my most prominent supporters on this issue, that they are not trying to do so, either.

                Hell, I argue ideology a lot more ferociously with the liberals on this site than I do the conservatives.  The implication of trying to censor conservatives comes across as pretty off-the-mark.


              • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                I should note that I’m not a liberal, and politically, I probably disagree with just about everyone here on just about every issue outside of a few social ones where libertarians and leftists overlap. So what is it about Tom’s views, I wonder, that would make me find his style so odious?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Chris says:

                Yeah, you’re a puzzle, Chris.  You sound like a liberal so often, but you claim not to be.  I take you at your word, but you sure are confusing in that, “I need the context to make sense of what this guy’s saying” kind of way. (Not that I’m asking you to change.)Report

              • I’m actually a bit taken back, myself. I will have to start reading Chris more closely.Report

              • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

                James, my political goals in our current system are consistent with a left liberal agenda. I want single payer health care, the abolition of the death penalty, an end to wars of choice, reproductive freedom, etc. I’m strongly pro-labor, pro-civil rights (including gay rights), and so on. So in the context of political discussions here, I probably do sound like a liberal. But this is largely because my own political views are not the least bit represented in our current system — less, even, than those of libertarians. While I see capitalism as requiring a strong central government, I hate both capitalism and strong central governments (or governments, period). My own political views are socialist and anarchist, broadly anti-materialist (not metaphysical materialism, economic and political materialism). My biggest influences have been the Frankfurt school and 19th century anarchists, and if you wanted to get an idea of my politics, those are the sources I’d point you to (Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse, Foucault, Bakunin, Jameson, even Habermas to an extent).Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to Chris says:

                Oh wow. Rare to actually see someone admit that Bakunin as an influence.Report

              • Chris in reply to Chris says:

                Nob, when I was younger, I read his speeches, especially to the Swiss, and was inspired. I would likely think very differently today if I hadn’t read them. In fact, I carry a copy with them in my bag just about everywhere, as a reminder. I read Marx and was like, yeah, this is cool, but I read Bakunin and I wanted to do something.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to Chris says:

                I can understand that his speeches were great stuff. I must admit I have a certain animus against him due to his general eurocentricity.Report

              • Chris in reply to Chris says:

                Oh, I can understand that. In his defense, Asia was either colony or mystery at that point, and Africa colony and disease, to Europeans. America was around, and often used as an example, but it was basically Europe with Natives and open land to them. It’s not until the 20th century that you get Europeans who actually realize that there might be other, non-European ideas.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to Chris says:

                Heh, the thing about Bakunin is that he actually spent a fair amount of 1861 in Japan, which makes me a bit curious why he wasn’t more interested. Especially since that was THE revolutionary hotspot at the time, really when the Shogunate was on the brink.

                Given that he kept company with the likes of Deco, it makes it even more inexplicable to me.Report

              • Christopher Carr in reply to Chris says:

                I prefer Kropotkin to Bakunin myself.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Chris says:


                Thanks for the explanation…I guess.  I won’t pretend I didn’t get a gloomy feeling reading that.

                I am wondering if there’s a relationship between all that and your antipathy to evolutionary psych.  That is to say, are you dismissive of the concept of an evolved human nature (whatever it might be) or are you solely dismissive off evo-psych on methodological grounds?  (I’m not looking for argument or debate on the merits, but trying to clarify something I’ve been curious about since our earlier exchanges on the subject.)Report

              • Kim in reply to Chris says:

                Evolutionary Psychology is a decent field, so long as we’re able to actually allow the crazy leftovers to exist.

                We know an awful lot about what humans consider “fit for mating” and what humans consider “to be avoided.”

                On the other hand, we also know about human’s instinctive understanding of Vore — which plays off really ancient instincts (including to reproduce after seeing others of your kind getting eaten alive. such ratlike instincts seem uncharacteristic of humans… but they’re there)Report

          • Chris in reply to James Hanley says:

            Ward, yup, BSK’s approach is different from mine. But I’m not trying to engage Tom. I didn’t write my comments here for him. That’s because I have no interest in engaging Tom, really. I’ve been in comment-section discussions with Tom for a long time now, and I know full well there’s no point to engaging him. I can pretty much write a Tom van Dyke post myself, at this point. I won’t get anything out of engaging him, and he won’t get anything out of it either. What’s more, I have no interest in changing his behavior. He’s not going to change his behavior anyway, because this is who his internet personality is, and who he’s been online for as long as I’ve been interacting with him, which, again, is for quite some time.

            The same is true of most of us, of course, including me. I know full well that I can be a Class A asshole online as well, but at least I’m aware of what I’m doing and how it comes off. Hell, I even know why I do it, for the most part. And unlike some, I don’t try to hide it.Report

        • Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          In the morning, I shall be sober, but you sir, will still be wearing those sunglasses.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Ryan Bonneville says:

      If not, it should be.

      ‘I know it’s very ignorant of me,’ Alice said, in so humble a tone that Humpty Dumpty relented.

      ‘It’s a cravat, child, and a beautiful one, as you say. It’s a present from the White King and Queen. There now!’

      ‘Is it really?’ said Alice, quite pleased to find that she had chosen a good subject after all.

      ‘They gave it me,’ Humpty Dumpty continued thoughtfully as he crossed one knee over the other and clasped his hands round it, ‘they gave it me — for an un-birthday present.’

      ‘I beg your pardon?’ Alice said with a puzzled air.

      ‘I’m not offended,’ said Humpty Dumpty.

      ‘I mean, what is an un-birthday present?’

      ‘A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.’

      Alice considered a little. ‘I like birthday presents best,’ she said at last.

      ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ cried Humpty Dumpty.


  6. Robert Cheeks says:

    To be honest, and as something of an outside observer, this thread sure reads as if younz guys don’t wanna tangle with a, somewhat snarky, moderate-conservative, who is something of a statistics junky. There’s nobody gets more beat up than TVD; sometimes politely, sometimes very impolitely and nobody threatens to ‘ban’ these folks?

    TVD’s become something of a fixture here, the site wouldn’t be the same without him.Report

    • No one’s talking about banning TVD.Report

    • Chris in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      Robert, there are other conservatives here who don’t get TVD’s treatment. I suspect conservative has much less to do with it that TVD does.Report

      • Murali in reply to Chris says:

        I think Robert has a point (dear God the heavens will fall!). About the only other conservative other than Mr Van Dyke is Tim Kowal.

        Here’s the thing, TVD has mellowed a lot since the positive liberty days.I’m not saying he’s perfect, but he is certainly not as bad as to deserve the way people pile on him. Sure, he has made mistakes, but I doubt it is that much more often than the rest of us.Report

        • BSK in reply to Murali says:

          But does Tim get that response? No. Do I think Tom’s ideology is a factor in the response he gets? Amost assuredly. But is it the sole reason? The facts don’t bear that out.

          Tim had a post a while back on Muslims and “branding”. I got on him about it for a variety of reasons amd he engaged me with a follow up post that accounted for what I had to offer. Did we agree in the end? No. Did we both learn something? Yes. Wasit heated at times? Perhaps. But everyone stayed genuine and sincere and the dialogue remained constructive for all.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Chris says:

        I’m in the dark on this.  What treatment of note does Tom Van Dyke get here?Report

        • greginak in reply to Michael Drew says:

          TVD has received a lot of negativity in the comments for a handful of reasons. Decrying partisanship then being relentlessly partisan, being fairly thin skinned, using one factoid to attempt to prove a major point and, often, preferring debate tricks to working through an idea. I know i’ve given him a hard time on some of those things.

          I don’t really think its Tom’s ideology although i gather he tends to feel it is and to wrap himself in the garb of the martyr at times. There have been peeps with farther out views ( including front pagers) who have been able to successfully engage in comments and work through ideas. Anybody who puts out intellectual effort at a place like this is going to get some serious pushback, partly because this is meant to be giant conversation and some people forget none of us have all the answers. There has been far more heat around here then that which has been directed at Tom.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to greginak says:

            There has been far more heat around here then that which has been directed at Tom.

            This was my impression too, which is why I wondered what, if anything, was of (particular) note about his “treatment.”Report

  7. BlaiseP says:

    I’ve been writing commentary in public spaces going back to the college bulletin board.  I’ve been through the era of letters to the editor, BBSes and now the Internet in its various incarnations.   I consider debate a vital part of life.   Herodotus said the untutored eye sees nothing.   Ol’ BlaiseP says the unchallenged assertion is invalid.   Facts do not take sides.

    It has been my observation the more meta- a discussion becomes, let this diary show the odds of intemperate remarks go up accordingly.   Like Alice in Wonderland, I give great advice and very seldom take it.   Hypocritical as the promulgator may be, here are my general rules.

    No personal attacks.   Attack my arguments or facts or unfair presumptions all you wish.   I won’t tolerate personal attacks nor will I tolerate attacks on others on my diaries.

    I don’t like threadjacking.  Sometimes it’s interesting.  Often it’s a form of Little Diary, an extension or riposte to the diary itself.   All this is tolerable in the abstract.   Threadjacking is irritating and generally contemptible.

    Insofar as I am new here, I must come to terms with the tenor of the place.   But what I write here I consider my territory and I will not tolerate trolls.   I hope to write substantive diaries and hope in equal measure for substantive responses.Report

    • The Pessimist in reply to BlaiseP says:

      I have a small comment to make regarding your statement BlaiseP.

      I, along with others, criticized your opinions on the Coates/Faulkner article. Your responses frequently included claims regarding your family’s involvement in the civil rights movement. From what I could tell, no one asked about your heritage and it certainly was not relevant to the discussion, as none of your ancestors wrote your article for you.

      While I understand that you don’t want to (and shouldn’t have to) deal with personal attacks, it seems hypocritical that you would consistently use your own personal anecdotes to deflect the questions and critiques presented in the comments.Report

      • BlaiseP in reply to The Pessimist says:

        I made myself clear enough, then.  Allow me to clarify matters somewhat.

        I did not put my personal history into my diary.  I put it into the comments, in response to some trolling, lumping me in with Bob Cheeks’ odious opinions about the Confederacy.

        Let us suppose you are right.  If I am to be taken to task for my history,  is your statement about being black any less personal and irrelevant?   Did I not admit my own bias and unfairness to you then?  Are you taking me to task for my subjectivity?   I stand guilty as charged.

        Have you read William Faulkner?  I will not be schoolmarmed on this subject by folks who haven’t.Report

        • dexter in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Mr. Blaise, It has been years since I read “As I lay dying” and while don’t remember all that much except that it was one of the funniest books I have ever read and those Snopeses are some of the most broke down dumbass crackers that have ever lived.

          Also, I may be dense, and it could be because I admire your writing ability so much, but did not find your piece racist.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to dexter says:

            Who can say?   To plenty of people, it was racist.   Therefore I failed to communicate effectively.    I’m going to steer clear of writing anything of its like again.  It’s back to trivia and history for me.   Fish any of my actual opinions about trivial scholarship and Wikiquote Wunderkinder.   They’re out there, with a larger audience than I’ll ever have.

            My chief failure was to think Faulkner would ever get a fair shake.   Nobody reads him, though he’s the truest picture we’re likely to get of what Reconstruction was like for the people who endured it.   It’s a part of American history we want to forget, like the Germans want to forget about their own Reconstruction after the Nazi era.   It’s all going to lapse into a big old pity party, as these things always do.   Embarrassing truths embodied in the Snopses and Lucas Beauchamp will stay on the library shelf and Faulkner will be forgotten in time.

            If TNC really wanted people of color to come to terms with the Civil War, he’d recommend Faulkner to his readers.   Faulkner really did think America’s first priority after the Civil War should have been the black man.   But Faulkner’s a white man.   Enough said.


  8. joey jo jo says:

    i am rending garments and clutching pearls at the same time because the comments are closed on the commenting policy post.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to joey jo jo says:

      I think that’s just the way all of the upper bar pages (masthead, about, contact, etc.) are set up.  I wouldn’t read too much into that.

      This, though:

      i am rending garments and clutching pearls at the same time 

      Well done.Report

  9. joey jo jo says:

    just a juvenile observation on my part.  now i will move onto other mysteries of the universe.Report

  10. Mary says:

    Now you play nice boys 😉Report

  11. wardsmith says:

    Dudes (and dudettes), let us not forget that this is a free site, with voluntary labor from an excellent crew of dedicated individuals who are keeping the quality to a standard that I often find extraordinary. There are few other places on the Internet where this is the case, and it should be encouraged, not discouraged.

    We are human beings after all, and while we may strive to uphold dialog with Aristotelian rigor, in point of fact we will all too often fail miserably, because of that little thing called emotion. I’ve only been on this site for months but have seen the kinds of pile-ons that people dismissively discard directed Tom’s way. I can’t blame the guy for getting miffed. Even when nominally engaged, I’ve seen dozens of posts pestering him for this and that enhancement or refinement of what he’s already said, repeatedly. The guy’s human, it is entirely possible he has better things to do than post ad nauseum the same responses to the same tired questions.

    I come from a very large family of liberals. I skew conservative strictly in response to what I perceive to be the hypocrisy of liberalism. I’ve been there in person, at a large party where I am the ONLY conservative in the room. I’ve literally been surrounded by shouting liberals who have always wanted to argue with Rush Limbaugh (who I decidedly am not) and have imputed to me opinions and stances I’ve never once had nor considered. It is by no means fun.My brother the archetypal liberal (and professor to boot) said, “It is because they’ve never really met a conservative in person”. Yup, the insularity that liberals find themselves in by virtue of their choices in careers, mates and friends is indeed real, with few exceptions granted. It is not by accident that liberals are accused of intolerance and the proof, with conservative speakers shouted off the stage in college campus after campus is not to be denied.

    I’ve directly invited multiple excellent bloggers to this site to join the conversations. They’ve all demurred, all for the same reason. While they often appreciate the signal to noise ratio, they do not appreciate the civility to malice ratio. Old timers here undoubtedly have enough invested in long past conversations to realize no harm intended, but newcomers don’t have that commonality of experience.

    I volunteered for the limerick defense force because I thought it was an excellent way to gently chide those pre-gentlepersons into polite behavior. Sometimes it even worked. 🙂Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

      Have the write a guest post and email it to E.D.  He can put it up as anonymous contributor.

      It would be interesting to see people respond to a post with *no* author context.Report

    • First of all, thanks for this comment.

      I was grateful to read it, because it helped clarify what makes me tempted to delete comments from time to time.  I love being a part of this community, and hope I never lose sight of what a tremendous privilege it is to have my sub-blog and be able to post on the front page.  Part of that is trying to post stuff that I feel is worthy of the privilege. Whether I succeed it a matter of opinion  But it is nevertheless something I take seriously.

      On those rare occasions (such as in my Tebow post recently) when I threaten to delete comments, it’s because the person commenting has just decided to be an ass.  And then it begins to feel like something I’ve worked relatively hard to maintain as a nice space has become a place where someone who doesn’t really know me feels free to call me a liar or other nasty things.  And as a result I get very tempted to start calling names in return and getting nasty and unpleasant, which is really not at all the kind of person I would choose to be.  So my choices seem to be 1) threaten to delete persistently unpleasant comments, 2) ignore them and hope the person stops (which is probably the most mature thing to do, but is often hard in practice) or 3) start being as asshole in return.

      This is, of course, what I signed up for when I accepted the privilege of posting here.  And Mr. Kain’s post is a good reminder of that, and I take it in the spirit in which it was offered.  But the impulse to exercise the power to delete is understandable, too.Report

      • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Russell Saunders says:

        I’ve gotten irritated at… hm… Michael, Blaise, Tom, Wardsmith, Jaybird, and Bob.  I’m ecumenical.  I think the only person I ever dished out a pile of crap on was Wardsmith (I was grumpier than I should have been for lots of reasons) and I’ll give him a bucket of credit, it took it with a lot more grace than I dished it out.  Which was, actually, plenty gentlemanly. Way overdue apology for that, Ward.

        There’s a couple topics I won’t engage with people on any more, but that’s because I don’t see it as productive either way, not because the person on the other side is a bad person.  I think that’s what pegs more than anything else: if someone gets their dander up about something that can just be a sign that they feel strongly about it.  There’s a couple of pairs around here that get into it occasionally not just when they’re at loggerheads but when they start by talking past each other and then go straight to the eye-thumbing, but it’s not terribly common and even when it is, it’s not like those guys don’t interact gracefully with lots of other people on the blog.

        Even gentlemen get drunk and tell each other to go hang every once in a while.Report

          • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michael Drew says:

            I can’t even remember what threads it was on; there was a period a few months ago where you and I went back-and-forth on like three threads simultaneously and we were also both responding to other people and it didn’t seem like we were really engaging productively.

            I figured I was grumpy about other things and you were probably bringing in some other sublimated context too and just backed off and the next week everything was back to the way it was two weeks prior and it hasn’t happened since.

            The fact that you don’t even remember it means I was probably irritated about a lot of things that weren’t you and doing a lot of transposing, so I made the right decision to take a break.

            Which I guess illustrates the meta point that goodwill is something you earn.  If you don’t make any attempt to earn any, that means you’re not really interested in being part of the community and really… doesn’t that mean you should expect someone to show you the door eventually?

            Oh, and Duck.  Duck bugs me every once in a while.  But I’ll give Duck this: when it’s clear that more than one person is just not getting what he’s saying, he does something about it; he speaks frankly and resets the conversation to get back to where he’s coming from, intellectually speaking.Report

        • Murali in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

          I’ve gotten irritated at… hm… Michael, Blaise, Tom, Wardsmith, Jaybird, and Bob.

          It appears that I should try harder. With the excpetion of Somni (and Tod Kelly every time I wax philosophical) I dont seem to be pissing anyone off. That must mean I’m a terrible writer.Report

  12. E.D. Kain says:

    I will try to address some of the issues but it’s a bit hard to sort through everything.

    1. Authors do currently have the right to delete comments from obvious trolls or people who are resorting solely to name-calling. When I say “civility” it is a narrow definition of the word. One can be rude, blunt, etc. without calling names, cussing, and so forth. Shit talking about other commenters and authors is also verboten. An author can be lenient or more strict. If this doesn’t work out we’ll have to think of something else. We’ve always been very, very loathe to delete comments or ban people but as the site grows the need for enforcement grows with it.

    2. Damnit now I’ve lost my train of thought. If you have questions about the guidelines or your role in comment deletion, moderation, etc. please respond to this comment. If something is unclear please ask away.

    3. I know that there has been an opinion expressed that the earlier ban was unfair. Similar opinions abound every time we do this. It’s only been four times, however, so I can deal with it. I disagree and think this was entirely fair and called for. The response, as Ryan noted above, only validates my belief. Robert Cheeks is brought up as an example of someone who people believe deserves a ban. I’ve tussled with Cheeks plenty and I’m quite persuadable on this point. He knows he walks a fine line, and if anyone sees him cross it by all means let me know. I will drop the banhammer as quick as Mark can write the fishing limerick.

    More than anything, thanks to all of you – commenters and FPers alike – for your feedback here and for the discussion. It’s important to hash these things out. I’m glad we can do it as a community.Report

    • BSK in reply to E.D. Kain says:


      I’ve spoken about this elsewhere recently, so forgive me for being redundant. I am no fan of Bob. I am quite bothered by many of his little phrases and nicknames. Yet, for some reason, I don’t know that I’d call to ban him. Nwhat makes him different? I’m not asking why you haven’t banned him. I’m wndering what is it that Bob does or doesn’t do that makes his often-egregious behavior more forgivable than others? Is it sheer force of personality? The fact that he doesn’t post very frequenty or with very long posts? Nhave we turned him into a bit of a mascot which allowsus to take him less seriously? What is it? It probably has more to do with us than with him.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to BSK says:

        Remember the birth certificate “debate”?

        How much better was it to have a real live person who said “seriously, we’ve never even *SEEN* more than the short form birth certificate!” sitting around?Report

      • Will Truman in reply to BSK says:

        Well, one thing is that there have been a couple of times where Bob has been told to cut it out (one time involving Confederacy nostalgia) and he has actually done so. There is some effort there that the banned commenters didn’t or couldn’t exert.

        The other thing is that he is more likely to leave you alone if you leave him alone. I made the decision to stop talking to Cheeks a long time ago. He hasn’t said anything to me since.

        To be honest, though, I don’t entirely get it myself. Some of it may be related to the fact that he’s been here so long, both in the sense that he’s “grandfathered in” and that people know precisely how seriously to take him (that, at the end of the day, he’s still a guy that will have a beer with you and not throw it in your face for saying something he disagrees with). Also, what Jaybird says.Report

        • Robert Cheeks in reply to Will Truman says:

          Yuz guys have made some good points on this thread. I’m not entirely sure why I pop up from time to time, either. I mean we are at odds on the inherent questions of truth, reality, and existence and given my belief in the ‘divine spark’ standing as it does against your singularly pernicious secular progressivism (Verweltlichung), well, I suppose there’s not much room for agreement.

          I think it is that having read some of your inner thoughts (see Bp’s admission re: his bi-polar difficulties) I have,over the years, learned to see you not as the ‘other’ (commie-Dems, derailed statists) but rather as fellow, flawed, mortal human beings in a difficult world. Hell, given different circumstances maybe I’d be a kool-aide drinking Obamacon too?

          The other reason lies in my hope to say something that might point in a direction that will provide the opportunity for a divine experience, redemption, salvation. And, maybe that arises from the fact they you guys are all young enough to be my sons and, like fathers and sons, we’ve participated in a myriad of arguments over the years, which in many instances acts to establish some sort of relationship.

          The final point may be that as a ‘traditionalist’ I serve as your last link to a world fast disappearing. A world that you have only limited knowledge of and most of that hearsay, but one, none-the-less, that deep in your psyche you yearn for. What lurks on the horizon of reality is, if not frightening, at least intimidating. Actually, I think we may, indeed, be in an apocalyptic age given the gnostic nature of the popular ideologies. We do appear to be moving toward a highly centralized state where the tyrannies of the fascist/communist regimes of the past may only be the beginnng. And, it does appear that any number of our fellow interlocutors here at the League  sense this particular movement quite clearly.

          As long as you demand that immanence exist as a ‘lauching point’ for a revolt against God, we will continue to participate in the disorders inherent in our kind until we have reached our eschatological destiny.Report

  13. Patrick Cahalan says:

    FWIW, my response to out of control crazy is just to lock the comments.  I’ve only done it once.

    This isn’t intuitive and maybe not all the contributors know how.Report

  14. Renee says:

    Not to be a brown noser, but this site continues to be interesting and educational to me.  I know the admins work hard to make it such a place and I thank them for their dedication.Report

  15. David says:

    I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this thread and I’m going to leave my final points here.

    First off, I believe that those with “power” have comported themselves badly in this instance. ED Kain and Mark both, whatever else was going on, failed to respond in a way that would lower the temperature of the debate. Instead, their actions were almost certain to raise the temperature of the debate, heighten emotions, and drive someone into a fit of wrath. Jaybird, who is part of the “inner circle”, has likewise spent his time raising rather than lowering the temperature of debate. I am sure there are others, but I’m simply too lazy to try to go down the entire list after staring at the entire thread and a few other threads for far too long.

    Second, there is a pattern at the League that I am severely disappointed in. Comments going missing, being deleted without explanation, being edited. You may feel snarky taking someone’s comment and replacing it with a limerick, but that’s the textual equivalent of first kicking someone’s feet out from under them and then spitting on them for good measure, and it’s even worse when it comes from someone who can reasonably be seen as a member of the “haves” versus the “have-nots”, something which clearly Mike was getting an impression of. Tod Kelly and Stillwater both noted that there is at least the appearance that admin powers are or have been used to shape the debate, and I’m entirely unwilling to disagree with that assessment.

    Third, I do believe the circumstances of the ban are fundamentally unfair. Wikipedia has an entire essay titled “don’t poke the bear.” While Wikipedians are far more fakely civil a lot than most of you are, taking fake civility to a fine art not seen since the days of the French aristocracy (you yourselves barely hold a candle to the fake civility consistent of the US Congress, wherein one “honorable gentleman” has beat another to death on the chamber floor) while simultaneously ignoring their own rules most of the time, I believe the sentiments of the essay are accurate. What I’ve seen in the threads has been a combination of expecting someone to follow a collection of un-posted, un-available rules and a general insistence of some right on the part of ED Kain, Mark, and others that they and their inner circle could ignore these rules with impunity while expecting others to comply. It’s at this point that I’d like to ask ED Kain: did you honestly think that you would get a positive response from someone who you were making baldly thuggish threats against? I’m not sure that were I ever to be put in the same situation, I wouldn’t have been tempted to throw a “Jawohl” your way myself.

    Down below in a thread I’m too lazy to hunt for, Mike wrote a very astute description of religious differences and similarities WRT the topic of atheism. I’ve seen many other posts by Mike that I felt where thoughtful and contained solid arguments, whether or not the post had epithets in it as well. I have noted a number of other posters who share characteristics with Mike, at varying points in the political spectrum, and who somehow are not given the same short shrift. In sum it seems to me, after long and thoughtful consideration, that this was nothing more than an opportunistic moment for someone at the League to get “rid” of someone whom they had a personal distaste for, and that the often-ignored “rules” being bandied about as a retconned justification are nothing more than that, a post-hoc cover story made to be more palatable than the real event.

    So, I believe the actions taken today were very wrong, were done with emotion rather than logic and sense, and should be re-thought.

    I’ve also noticed a note from Wardsmith above, who says that he is offended when people, knowing him to be a conservative, want to argue points against him that come from Rush Limbaugh or other radio or television conservative personalities. I feel this deserves response, and so here it is: if you lie with pigs, expect to get dirty. Like it or not, if you claim to be a “conservative”, then the primary public face of the movement with which you associate is currently one Rush Hudson Limbaugh the Third. If you claim to be a Republican, the face of the movement with which you associate is either Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, or one of the aforementioned media personalities. This, whether you like it or not, is the reality of associating yourself with a political party or political movement who get their marching orders by the day from morning talk show hosts and their talking points from a lazy fat guy behind a “golden microphone with talent on loan from gaw-d” as he prefers to portray himself.Report

    • James Hanley in reply to David says:

      the US Congress, wherein one “honorable gentleman” has beat another to death on the chamber floor)

      Not to death, although Sumner was severely injured.

      And may I say that your comment was fairly fair, as a personal opinion, until the last paragraph, when you departed from substantive argument to play guilt by association.Report

      • David in reply to James Hanley says:

        Where was I playing guilt by association? I am pointing out a fact. If you choose to identify as a “conservative”, then you are apt to be held to answer for the positions and arguments of the public face of your movement. Expecting otherwise is something like claiming to be a Libertarian while simultaneously claiming to oppose the freedom of speech, no?Report

        • James Hanley in reply to David says:

          No, it’s nothing like.  To be a libertarian who opposes free speech is to be a libertarian who opposes a fundamental precept of libertarianism.  To be a conservative who does not stand with Rush Limbaugh is not  being a conservative who opposes a fundamental precept of conservatism, because neither Limbaugh nor anything that he says is a fundamental precept of conservatism.

          I have frequently critiqued commenters on this blog for lumping every self-proclaimed libertarian adheres to the most extreme caricature of libertarianism (with some success, I think, and I appreciate those who have stopped writing that way).  I make the same critique of you, that you are lumping every self-proclaimed conservative with the most extreme caricature of conservatives.  The realm of conservatism is rather richer and deeper than what is represented by a Limbaugh, and your choice to link Wardsmith to him says a lot more about your unwillingness to consider that real world of conservative thought, with its 200 or so year history, and your lack of generosity in treating Wardsmith as an three-dimensional individual rather than a convenient cardboard cutout, than it says about Wardsmith himself.  You only make yourself look bad with that approach and you damage him not at all among those who have  engaged him in serious discussions.Report

          • David in reply to James Hanley says:

            If the realm of conservative is rather richer and deeper than what is represented by a Limbaugh, why is it that your entire conservative party’s movement is trying at present moment either to suck up to that embarrassing toad of a man, or to outdo him in the perceived ideological purity of their positions?

            Current American politics seem a bizarre caricature of the real world. I would be interested to know of what positions Wardsmith claims to make him different from Limbaugh, so that I may judge for myself whether the problem is his being conflated unfairly with such public blowhards, or a simple embarassment on Wardsmith’s part to admit to sharing opinions and arguments with a rather odious blowhard.Report

            • BlaiseP in reply to David says:

              They aren’t.   If they were, do you think I, a Liberal of long standing, would be defending them?   You’ve got the conservatives around here all wrong.   Read what they actually write.   These guys aren’t Dittoheads.

              Look, maybe you need to take a deep breath and think about this for a few minutes.   The benefit of participating in a blog like this is sorta like going to the Serengeti and watching these animals chasing each other around.   It’s a beautiful sight, constantly changing, an endless source of humor and insight into what Akshul Fackshul Self-Described Conservatives and Libertarians and Liberals and Assorted Weirdos have to say about life’s rich and ridiculous pageant going by.   And all for free!   I can dispense with all these cheap conflations about What Conservatives Believe and gosh, you just won’t ba-leeve-it, they’re aren’t crazy people.   And they dispense all sorts of insight into their positions.   It’s a goddamn education I tell you.Report

            • wardsmith in reply to David says:

              I will withhold judgement on whether I believe Mike and David to be one and the same under different nom de guerre’s. Mebbe he is and mebbe he isn’t, I have a neat little analysis program I could run their verbiage through and know for sure. That said, I find it amazing that an “innocent” lurker who remembers items concerning “mike” to the gnat’s eyebrow, somehow misses that James Hanley is not a conservative whatsoever.

              David, I never said I was offended, in fact MY emotions were never expressed. You’re such a sleuth, I recommend you re-read my post and prove me wrong, if you can. I’ve been trained to keep my cool in far more stressful situations than you can imagine. I suspect Blaise has too.

              Should you wish to engage and not just throw grenades, we could have another OP wherein Rush’s opinions were laid out and I could vote them up or down. Or we could use Michelle Malkin’s opinions. I thank everyone who came to my defense for stating what is obvious to them but lacking to you. There is no monolithic “thing” out there called liberalism, conservatism or libertarianism. It is more of a cafeteria where we go through with our trays and choose our dishes, some from here and some from there. I personally will gravitate towards the spicier foods and leave the bland pablum for the other customers. Be as spicy as you like, but be prepared for the heartburn that often follows. 🙂Report

              • David in reply to wardsmith says:

                I must express some confusion, and a belief that you are misreading my commentary. When did I ever say that I believed James Hanley to be a conservative? The closest that I can see that may have caused your confusion is when I refer to “your conservative party’s movement”, and I’m speaking of that in the sense of James as an American, not as a conservative.

                As for reading your post and believing you to be offended, you offered rather a litany of grievances on how your family members treat you and mistake you for holding the same views as Mr. Limbaugh. I read that as offense on your part, and I am certain other commenters did the same.

                I’ll ask you to explain what you mean about my throwing grenades. If you do, indeed, have a significant difference of opinion vis-a-vis that odious toad who claims to lead the so-called american conservative movement, then I am very interested to hear on what points, or to what extent, you disagree. In my opinion, much of the american conservative movement or party has gone far off the rails and ought be renamed the american reactionary movement instead, but I recognize that I come from a far more balanced background than most of you yanks do, and I definitely didn’t grow up in a country where any political position save for unabashed greed is met by accusations of communist association.


              • Tod Kelly in reply to David says:

                Dude, where are you from?Report

              • James Hanley in reply to David says:


                It’s indisputable that non-Americans tend to know a lot more about US politics than Americans generally know about other countries’ politics.  And I greatly appreciate having non-Americans chime in here with their perspective.  However I think there are still more limits on outside knowledge than inside knowledge, and I think you are unaware of the various strains of conservative thought in the U.S., and the real conflict within the Republican Party.  That the Republican Party has in some ways gone off the rails is something with which I agree, but I also know that it is not the whole of the party–it’s just the most noticeable part, because it’s the loudest.  But I have a whole slew of Republican friends who are looking on aghast, and saying, “that’s not my party; what happened to my party, and how can I get it back?”  They are standing around wondering where to go, because they’re not liberals, they’re not libertarians, and they’re not moralistic social-values conservatives.Report

              • Kim in reply to James Hanley says:

                if they’re in the party, they’re praying for a third party.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to James Hanley says:

                I think it’s this “wondering where to go” is the most dangerous part. They find the affinity to party identity so important that they need to stay in a toxic party that lends it a veneer of legitimacy. I don’t have a solution to this of course, but surely if they’re sufficiently numerous a part of that party, that they should be able to form a new one. It’s happened before in American politics.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

                I think of it slightly differently than this.  (And this is me, who distrusts political parties in general and has a special level of contempt for today’s GOP.)

                I think of it as owning a house with a bunch of other people, and one day you realize that a small number of those people are eating all the food and keeping the joint in disrepair and won’t bother to pick up their own s**t.  From an outsiders persecutive, you might wonder why they don’t just move.  But from the insider’s perspective, I think the tendency is to say “This is my fishing house!  How do I get these other people to clean up their crap?”

                At the end of the day, though, it is a problem that will self-correct.  People used to being in power want to stay used to being in power, and cozying up to the extremes is not the way to do that long term in a democracy.


              • Nob,

                But a viable third party hasn’t happened in over 150 years now, and that last one was a mere 70 years or so after the ratification of the Constitution.  I think the systemic structure back then was not as solidified as it is now, and there was a huge political issue driving the split from Whigs to Republicans the likes of which just doesn’t exist anymore. Today the whole structure of our system is predominantly geared toward ensuring the dominance of the two major parties.

                I think left-liberals/progressives in the Democratic Party have the same problem as non-social values conservatives have in the Republican Party; there is no real viability in creating a third party.  The only real potential–in my opinion, of course–is to fight to save one’s party. There’s no guarantee of success, of course; I just think the probability of achieving that, given time, is higher than the probability of building a viable third-party.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

                While I agree with you to a certain extent, James, I think the GOP has a serious problem going forward in that it’s become more and more of a regional party of white nationalists in an environment where that will cease to be a viable electoral strategy in the next 15-20 years. (I may be overstating a bit here)

                In my mind this prefigures a demise of the coalition that allowed the modern GOP to stay afloat since the 80s in a similar way as the old Democratic coalition from post-reconstruction onward collapsed, or the northern industrialist moderate GOP died out. There eventually won’t be a foundation to keep this current party going.

                Now either they can go the route of the Whig Party or Progressive Party and die out, or find some way of infusing a completely new brand which will still further alienate the currently alienated.Report

              • Nob, consider for a moment where the Democratic Party was in the 1940’s and where it is now. Partisan branding is susceptible to huge amounts of change. There is no reason to think, regardless of the possible inviability of the current GOP model, that it cannot and will not morph into something rather different than it is now – losing the parts that make it inviable.

                I would very much place my money on this before I would on it being supplanted by another party, Whig-style. The laws and landscape have changed to make it easier to redefine an existing party than to start a new one.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to David says:

              David is right here.  It is unfair to attribute all of Rush’s views to all who embrace the term conservative, but it is quite fair to ask where any given person who calls himself conservative departs from views epressed by Rush, or any other current or past leading light of conservatism, whether leading light be defined as one who made formidable and weighty contributions to the ideas of the movement at some point in its development, or as those who have the most most powerful megaphones who associate themselves with the label or movement today, however crude or laughable.  This obviously all goes for liberal, progressives, libertarians, or really any label or group someone chooses to identify himself with.

              What is important is that, once someone disavows an idea, that that be accepted even though the person may not be willing to separate himself from a particular label or movement or tradition the history or development of which we might not be convinced is not inextricably bound up with idea.

              For example, it is frequently suggested here that progressivism, for example, carries with it the burden of its early roots in the temperance, eugenic, and other social-betterment movements of the early Twentieth Century.  It is rather redundant because no one seriously thinks otherwise, these issues being rather archaic, but it would be strictly fair to ask someone who calls himself a progressive if they support the War on Drugs or for that matter eugenics…..  What is not fair is, upon doing this and receiving an answer in the negative, to insist that, nevertheless, by associating themselves with the progressive label, they thereby associate themselves with prohibition or eugenics.  If it’s fair to ask progressives about such archaic matters, surely it fair to ask a conservative about what prominent, self-proclaimed leaders of the conservative movement say the very week, though not after a categorical disassociation with the person in question.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Michael Drew says:

                Obviously the WoD is not archaic; meant to change that to prohibition of alcohol.  But it is also not kosher to claim that if a self-described progressive makes clear he is against today’s prohibition of drugs, that  his association with progressivism and thence to prohibition through history casts into doubt the sincerity or reality of his opposition to prohibition.  That is what we can’t do.  We must allow ourselves to speak for ourselves.  But to ask after the relation of a person’s ideas to the ideas of those with whom he shares associations is not to deny him the ability to speak for himself with respect to that relation.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Michael Drew says:

                To some extent, I’m sympathetic to this, but it depends on to how great of an extreme your expectation is.

                There are threads on the blog where I asked those of the Rightie persuasion to disavow Limbaugh.  I think this is a fair request to make regarding the *GOP*, but not so much *conservativism*.

                In any event, it would get pretty tiresome, if you were a conservative, to open every post with, “Stipulated: Rush and Hannity and Beck are not particularly well spoken, often bombastic, and wrong enough that I don’t consider them a standard-bearer for my side.

                That said, last night, by the infinite monkeys with infinite keyboards principle, Beck said (this) which was cogent and relevant to …”Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                I think but am not sure that Rush himself sees himself primarily as a force for conservatism (as he defines it), pushing on the GOP to move/stay guided in that direction.  That’s what the occasional apologies are all about, and when someone’s off track in the party by his lights, well, I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of his Golden Dildo.

                So no, I don’t think that’s the right distinction.  Obviously, Rush’s conservatism is not the conservatism of many others, and I’m not personally inclined to make him part of my conversations with them.  But the reality is that they and he are contending in public to make the meaning of that term, and he doesn’t have any less legitimate claim to make his entry into that discussion than anyone else.  Beyond being fair to ask others who claim the term whether they like what he’s doing with it, I would think if their differences were great or deep enough, that they’d welcome opportunities to make clear what their contrasting vision is, and that it contrasts with visions like Rush’s.Report

              • An Imprisoned Psychotic in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                Are you trying to say my Ph.D. from the Limbaugh Institute of Conservative Studies is worthless?

                What’s next–my M.D. from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is just another waste of cap and gown and Diploma paper? (sorry Tod, like Dr. Strangelove, once these things get entrenched in one’s brain, they never leave.)

                It’s just a damn shame the sacred art of Alchemy has disappeared, because therein, can be found the chemistry of God’s consciousness.

                I think it can fairly stated that everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen HAS TO HAPPEN! Why the hell does God have to behave and abide by our rules and logic?Report

              • An Imprisoned Psychotic in reply to An Imprisoned Psychotic says:

                Personally, I find Rush to be the funniest, most gregarious, insightful, talented, guy out there, and anyone who can listen to him and not burst out in hysterical laughter, often, over his devastating parodies is lacking a funny bone.

                Come on guys, lighten up, love and embrace life, the heavy questions about the purpose of our existence shall always and forever more be unknowable.

                If I can laugh at my failed attempt at suicide through hanging, then surely we can find humor in Mr. Limbaugh’s irreverent slighting and parodies!Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to An Imprisoned Psychotic says:

                Rush is absolutely formidable at times in his construction of arguments.  Whenever I listen, there are always at least a thing or two that I find I can’t just dismiss out of hand as patently ridiculous.Report

    • Tod Kelly in reply to David says:

      David –

      I am going to continue to take you at your word that you do not know Mike.  Know then, that you would have liked him had you shown up earlier.  Your grievances here are to a letter the exact same as Mike’s had been – down to having a thing about Jaybird being in the “inner circle.”

      You even correctly guessed that Mike repeatedly used “Jawohl” in those comments that were caught and not posted, which is uncanny.  And your last comment about all conservatives being pigs following the “fat man” suggest that should you guys ever meet elsewhere, you will have each found a brother.Report

      • David in reply to Tod Kelly says:


        I was reading the thread as items were posted. I shall link to the “Jawohl” comment I referred to, as it is right here. The full text of it is “Jawohl. Two-facedness acknowledged.” and it is a direct response to ED Kain’s rather thuggish threat.

        I also, as I have stated before, am a regular lurker. I normally enjoy reading the posts and threads on this blog, though I am only rarely tempted to insert my own commentary into the discussion.

        “If you lie with pigs, expect to get dirty” is an expression. Would you prefer I used the one you Yanks prefer, the one about dogs and fleas? For that matter if you are going to make any more snide insinuations about me, I shall thank you to do it openly. This false civility is unbecoming of true gentlemen.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to David says:


          The problem is that you claim that just because Wardsmith is a conservative he is lying down with Limbaugh.  That’s not reasoned debate; that’s cheap rhetoric.Report

          • David in reply to James Hanley says:

            I’d not have brought it up, save that Wardsmith complains of this association in comment number 143 above. In my experience, if one associates with a political movement or party, one is generally going to be called to defend the platform therein. For better or worse, it seems that Mr. Limbaugh is the face and platform of the party and movement Mr. Wardsmith claims to associate himself with, and so if there is a difference he claims, then I would very much like to know what the difference is and how he can claim to disagree with his party’s leadership to such a great degree while still claiming partnership with them.Report

          • David in reply to James Hanley says:

            Perhaps one day, the comment I previously responded with shall appear. In the meantime, it has vanished and I’ve not the heart to try to recall it to mind. How distressingly annoying.Report

    • Murali in reply to David says:

      Does that mean that if you identify yourself as a progressive you should face up to the fact that you associate yourself with the likes of Micheal moore and Naomi Klein?Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to David says:

      Quatsch.   When it comes to Poked Bears, this is Erik’s den.

      Do try to avoid putting words like Conservative in quotes.   Wardsmith speaks for himself.   We’ve had plenty of debate hereabouts on the undue influence of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News on the GOP.   Some of us feel the Conservatives are getting short shrift on what they actually believe.   The Republican Party is ill-served by the current crop of ass biters.  Some of us, heaven forfend, rather like Ron Paul’s sentiments in part, if not in toto.

      Though Rush is a dishonest blackguard and Fox News a collection of Jacobins, there are honest men in that party, whether or not you believe it.  Some of those honest men are here.   Those Jacobins will have their comeuppance, mark my words.

      A blind pig may find an acorn from time to time and Mike was not an unalloyed jackass.   But as you note, Pokin’ the Bear has consequences.   Life isn’t fair.  In point of fact, you’ve got your facts wrong:   Preston Brooks did not beat Charles Sumner to death, though it was a very near thing.   Charles Sumner served another 18 years in the Senate.

      I came here in search of debate with Libertarians.   They are the closest to classical liberalism as we will ever see in American politics in modern times.  Once they were far more numerous and their influence was widely felt.   I am a modern liberal but have found enough deficiencies in what has become of that branch of political thought to give me pause.

      We are imperfect men and women.   Facts will never square up with feelings.   This blog and its followers are fellow-travelers and he who wishes to have friends must show himself friendly.   We throw hard words and hard things at each other, but I am gently amused by your complaint of Fake Civility.   All civility is fake, if you must put a fine point on it.   The courtesy is genuine enough, though.   I find the League to be a fine troop of fighters, well seasoned and capable of admitting the truths in each others arguments.   If Erik says “these are the rules” I shall obey them in good order.   He’s a good writer and getting better and I am proud to know him.


    • Pat Cahalan in reply to David says:

      First off, I believe that those with “power” have comported themselves badly in this instance.

      I’m not going to pass judgment on E.D. and Mark, nor Blaise, because I’ve been a forum moderator before and it is the least thankful job on the Internet; all you can do is lose.  The decision to ban someone or remove a comment is fundamentally subjective, any way you slice it, so here it boils down to the same set of rules it boils down to anywhere else: it’s their site, and anyone who doesn’t like it is welcome to write their own blog elsewhere and link to posts here if they feel they’re not getting a fair shake in the comments.  I can’t see either Mark or E.D. removing a trackback unless it’s from some white supremacy site or something.

      In addition, I expect in any confrontation between a blogger and a commenter there is context that everyone else lacks.  Mark says that Mike had received warnings before, I have no reason to doubt that.

      Second, there is a pattern at the League that I am severely disappointed in. Comments going missing, being deleted without explanation, being edited.

      I think this has been more than adequately explained.  If you find this actually not explained to your satisfaction, I think your only possible conclusion is that the site is not only unfair or biased, but actually malicious (also, they’re hiding it from me, which isn’t impossible of course but now you’re also in conspiracy land).  On the face of it, that seems patently absurd just due to the variety of viewpoints around here, but I suppose everyone is entitled to reach their own conclusions.  In which case, the door is over there.  No substantive evidence will convince you otherwise, as any evidence of maliciousness can be manufactured either way.  Why come to a site you think is run by people who would manipulate the commentary that way?

      Third, I do believe the circumstances of the ban are fundamentally unfair.

      I could comment on Mike, but I don’t think I’m going to bother.  If you comment at someone’s blog, and they ask you to moderate your language, and you don’t, and they ask you again, and you still don’t… it’s not illegit to ban them.  If someone else does it and you don’t ban them, that’s nobody’s business except the other commenter and the blog admins.  Again, we have limited context here.  “Fairness” doesn’t apply; Mike’s voice is not stifled, he has the whole Internet to comment on.

      Like it or not, if you claim to be a “conservative”, then the primary public face of the movement with which you associate is currently one Rush Hudson Limbaugh the Third.

      That does make it awfully easy for you to avoid listening to anybody who has any actual conservative ideas that also happen to be good ones.  People with conservative ideas have won Nobel prizes for them.  Seems a pity to not argue with them on the basis of their actual ideas.  This is how you create the echo chamber for which you so roundly criticize the conservative!

      Also: can we please stop calling Rush fat as if body fat percentage is relevant to someone’s worth?  “A lazy fat guy” is cheap and seriously aren’t we big enough not to pick on people for their goddamn weight in this day and age?Report

      • Kim in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        I believe forum moderators win when they ban themselves.

        This has happened (…but only on 4chan)Report

      • David in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        I’ll admit to chuckling a bit at your unintended pun. Are we, indeed, not BIG enough to ignore the weight of a pompous man who could best be described as a very large tumour on the belly of society, contributing nothing of value while injecting vitriol and hate?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to David says:

      Wait, I’m in the inner circle?Report

    • Mark Thompson in reply to David says:

      David: If you wish to understand why Mike was on such a short leash, I recommend to you his behavior in this thread, which was prior to him being given his final warning.  Most of his comments in this thread were NOT deleted, if only because they were too numerous to delete by the time Jason or I became aware of them.  As longtime readers of this site are aware, the person Mike was abusing in that thread is probably the person with whom I have the most hostile relationship on this site.

      See also this thread, where he was warned-by-limerick of his increasingly short leash.  Again, most of his comments were permitted to stand, largely because it was not possible to delete them all.  This thread was followed the next day by this, where he was given his final warning.  That warning was not by limerick, either and was stated in no-uncertain terms that the next time he launched an ad hominem or accusation of dishonesty against someone else on the site, he would be permanently banned.  The pertinent comments in that thread were deleted.  You will also note that the person to whom the offending comment in that thread was directed was one of the more liberal commenters on this site.

      This is just a taste of the history here – it goes back quite a bit longer, and involves numerous racial and religious slurs to boot.

      It’s not his choice of words that was the problem – frankly, you’d be pretty amazed at some of the things we permitted him to write without threat of deletion – it’s the extraordinarily personal attacks on other commentersReport

      • When I go back and review the last two threads you linked to, what strikes me is how many quality comments from Mike there are to go along with the aspergers-esque ones.  Which makes it that much more sad that he couldn’t quite figure out (or didn’t care) how to engage.Report

      • David in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        And herein again, lies the problem.

        When I look at the Amazon thread, which I have just reviewed, I see a number of well thought-out comments from Mike. Then I see a few commenters insinuating that Mike is of deficient intellect, or that he does not understand a term he is using (in this case, “price gouging.”)

        When I look at the pepper spraying thread, I see commenters getting away with commenting such things as “What the hell are you even doing posting here? Go back to Free Republic or The New Effort or something.” I see some comments on the thread from Mike, mostly expressing a deep distrust of police forces, an opinion that from my experiences in America seems to be shared by at least a good sized minority of your population.

        In the “how Republican is that” thread, which I’ve just gone down and re-familiarised myself with, again there are good comments by Mike. The appearance of him calling others names doesn’t start until James Hanley posts a response that is derogatory and dismissive, accusing Mike of being a part of “liberal buzzword bingo.”

        My problem with this situation is that you are behaving in an inconsistent manner. Even when you provide the proof you claim that Mike needed to go, I re-scan the threads and it seems clear that his responses are often a response to veiled incivility by others, perceived incivility that may not have been intended by others, or the expression of deep-seated belief that was then taken as incivility by others. Meanwhile, most of what you claim to be opposed to, the “extraordinary personal attacks”, the accusations that other posters have ulterior motives that they are not sharing, are commonplace amongst your other commenters who get a free pass.

        And with that, I believe I shall take my leave, as I’m not sure this post will ever appear. My last two attempts have vanished into the aether, it seems.


        • Will Truman in reply to David says:

          I re-scan the threads and it seems clear that his responses are often a response to veiled incivility by others, perceived incivility that may not have been intended by others, or the expression of deep-seated belief that was then taken as incivility by others.

          This was Mike’s first comment on “How To Lose Sympathy”

          I just read all your commentary, and it’s nothing if not a great example of why fascist pieces of shit like you should NEVER be allowed onto a police force or anywhere else involved in “law enforcement” or “military.”

          This was his second:

          I’ve seen the entire 40 minute video.

          YOU, Scott, are a fascist, motherless, subhuman creep and a filthy liar.

          Mike had previously been mentioned in the thread, but only to be called a “keyboard commando.”

          Do you see a lack of proportionality here?

          Or in responding to “liberal buzzword lingo” with “What’s sad is that unrepentant, incorrigible, corrupt, subhuman assholes like you”

          The long and short of it is that Mike’s name was not picked out of a hat. He wasn’t picked because he was liberal (we have lots of liberals). He wasn’t picked because he was new (we have lots of new people, and we were all new at some point). He wasn’t picked because he had an incendiary name (we have lots of Mikes!). Whether you choose to see it or not, his behavior has been a cut apart from the behavior of most others. And he never established any sort of goodwill to be given any benefit of the doubt.

          “Some assholes just don’t want to participate in civilization. My request to you: LEAVE.” -Mike 12/24/11Report

          • David in reply to Will Truman says:

            Mike’s first response in the thread you point out is, indeed, over the top.

            However, the emotions are honest. Some of the things said in the thread by Scott, who he was responding to, are the sort of thing that I would find to indicate a deranged, narcissistic personality with a complete lack of empathy for any pain experienced by a fellow human being. From the commentary I have seen, Mike has a deep distrust of police forces. I do not know what the root cause for this is, but as I mentioned earlier, this attitude is not uncommon amongst you Americans, and it has varying sources from reports of police and government corruption to your propensity to hire as policemen a general subset of the population who probably are not the best individuals to present as the public face of the law.

            You claim he had never established any sort of goodwill. I submit that you, the longtime commenters, are much more clannish than you care to admit. As Stillwater notes below, many of you are much more interested in keeping your structure of limited participation intact than you are in actually growing the range of commentary. I further submit that there are plenty of good comments from Mike to be found, and that if his sin is to tend to escalate incivility when received, or to become caught up in the emotions of a highly heated issue, that is not reason enough for Mark, or ED Kain, or any other member of this blog to behave in a deliberately provocative manner in hopes of creating an excuse to do what they should not.Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to David says:

              David, with all due respect, I would submit that Erik and I have a right to try to assure certain minimal standards at this site.  On far too many occasions Mike failed to meet those standards, and failed to do so to an unprecedented degree.  If we were just looking to ban him all along, then we would have done it months ago, indeed well before the exchanges linked to above.  Yes, he had many substantive comments. Many of those, unfortunately, also included blanket accusations of dishonesty at his interlocutors.

              Anger at the police does not excuse or in any way justify personal attacks on another commenter, particularly where the personal attack is not accompanied by any substantive argument.  If he makes the comments listed above but then goes on to attack the other commenter’s actual argument, then I wouldn’t be concerned with it.

              While I’m here, it may be worth looking at how this individual chose to begin his interactions with this site.  Here he is accusing Andy Hall, a guest poster, of propaganda.  Here’s his very first thread on this site that same day, where it appears he had some comments deleted because they called for genocide of Muslims.  Then he appears to have disappeared for a few weeks and came back with this thread, calling all Muslims pedophiles and throwing no shortage of gratuitous insults at Rufus (yes, Rufus provides a dismissive response at one point, but there’s a difference between being dismissive and throwing personal attacks).

              I get your point about Mike having a number of substantive points to make and that it is wrong to get rid of those substantive points because he semi-frequently launches personal attacks on those with whom he disagrees on the site.  I also get your point that it would be better if the offensive comments were just deleted.  The problem is that at some point it becomes far more work to patrol that person’s comments than is warranted.  This site is a hobby for Erik and, especially, for me.  I do not get paid for it, and do it solely in my free time, of which it takes the great majority.  Patrolling the comments section for violations is by far my least enjoyable task. If a commenter is consistently going over the line or at least close to it even as he has other comments that are useful, at some point it becomes an unacceptable burden on my time and my personal enjoyment to have to monitor the site that much more closely because of a single commenter’s actions.Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to David says:

              David – a few things.

              Mark had already given Mike his “final” warning before I said anything to him at all. Ergo he was already gone prior to my arrival. The proverbial straw had broken the camel’s proverbial back. It was a done deal before my thuggish behavior.

              Second, I asked you for some sort of evidence that my prior interactions with Mike are the reason why he was banned. You say explicitly that this is so and yet you fail to dig up any instance whatsoever. If you are going to make accusations, provide evidence for them. Evidence of Mike’s behavior is littered throughout this thread. Please show me evidence that it is in fact my own history with Mike that is the problem. If you can’t provide that it’s either because it does not exist and you are make fatuous accusations or it is some other mysterious force at play.

              I’m curious also why you think that we should have a non-banning policy? You think we should spend time editing offensive comments but never ban a soul. Lots of blogs ban left and right. Is this a universal problem or unique to the League?

              You also say that the commentariat drives away commenters. Do you have links to show this happening? Don’t all blogs have a self-selected community to some degree, as Will argues below? What concrete steps could be taken, in your view, to have a more open community? Should we censor the commenters more? That seems to be the implication here, though oddly you are arguing that our fourth ban is a bridge too far. Indeed, I’m simply not finding the coherence in your arguments at all.

              But that must just be my total lack of reading comprehension.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to David says:

              David, I’m sure you’re long gone by now, but this

              As Stillwater notes below, many of you are much more interested in keeping your structure of limited participation intact than you are in actually growing the range of commentary.

              is a very disingenuous rendering of what I said. It makes me somewhat leery of your motives.Report

          • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

            Mike seemed angry. I get angry too, though my anger is less frequently directed at other commenters. (think I flamed someone about rape a while back…)

            Mike was providing enough good contributions that I’d have kept him. but that’s me.

            *little blue angel signing off*Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to Kim says:

              Kim: It’s the “directed at other commenters” part of the issue that was the problem.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but even where you’ve flamed someone, it was at least paired with a substantive point in the same comment.  By my standards, that passes muster.Report

          • E.D. Kain in reply to Will Truman says:

            After reading Will’s examples I’m even more pleased with the decision to ban. He got angry and he said truly inappropriate things to people. Lots of people get angry and can contain that anger enough to abide by a pretty loose commenting standard. Mike displayed a long pattern of overreacting to people. I agree that he wasn’t a troll – he had valuable contributions, too. He was warned, not flat-out removed from the site. He had every opportunity to change.

            Of course, it’s not that Mike called people liars and assholes and filthy and any number of other things. It’s because of me. And my personal malice toward him. Surely I should also ban people for implying things or thinly veiling their rudeness as well.

            Nor was it his cussing. I don’t fucking care about cussing. It’s the name calling that has to stop. People can even be rude to other commenters without devolving into angry, childish rants like this.Report

          • I was just about to make these same points.  FWIW, his third comment in that thread was no better:

            I bet you skin puppies alive for fun too, you sick, motherless, subhuman monster.

            Again, no attempt to address the substantive point made, just a personal attack.

            In the second thread, it should be mentioned that where it says “n_______,” it says that only because Jason (IIRC) edited out the remainder of that word. The original comment did not.

            The comments deleted by limerick were in response to Hanley doing his damnedest to gently disagree with the guy while actually agreeing with the guy in general.  Several of the comments not deleted at least attempted to make a substantive point (and thus were not deleted), but even those contain numerous accusations of outright dishonesty.

            On the last thread, the moment someone disagrees with him, he throws out accusations of dishonesty at those persons.  The comment that got deleted there was an unbelievable tirade against Chris of all people.Report

  16. J.L. Wall says:

    Why does all the excitement around here only happen on the days I either can’t use my computer or am on campus for 12 hours straight?

    The best part about Civil War blogging, Blaise, is that chaos ensues.  You’ll forgive me for being grateful that you got the trolls and I didn’t.Report

  17. Will Truman says:

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think that David is Mike. And truthfully, I am not sure I would care if he were. It would, if nothing else, demonstrate that Mike has learned to communicate in a way that won’t get him banned (unless he acted on the whole Jawhol thing).

    In the end, it comes down to this: Mike was under the mistaken impression that this site owed him something. That he could behave however he liked. That he could be told to stop doing something, by the proprietor of an establishment that he is a guest in, and be able to flip back the bird. And that it would take a fascist to have any sort of problem with this.

    You want to know why there is an inner circle? Because there are people paying for the site and there are people that are not paying for the site. There are people who are willing to back down when told to back down, and people that are not willing to do so. There are people that are making observations and comments that are appreciated, and there are people spitting on the floor.

    Mike’s perspective was not so valuable that his behavior needs to be tolerated. That’s what it comes down to. If Tod slips up and makes an accusation of partisanship that does not apply, he gets some slack cut because he has been a valuable commenter for a long while now. Mike never earned that goodwill. He apparently never thought he had to. He was wrong.Report

    • kenB in reply to Will Truman says:

      So is the norm now that we can feel free to complain about people whose commenting style we don’t like?  Because I’ve got a long list, including some of the people who’re complaining about others.

      Or would it be a better idea to either ignore the people you don’t want to deal with or, if you feel strongly about their participation here, to email Mark or E.D. privately?Report

      • kenB in reply to kenB says:

        Argh, that was supposed to be a top-level comment. Will’s just gets a +1.Report

      • Tod Kelly in reply to kenB says:

        Yes. That would be much better.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to kenB says:

        It depends on how you define “complain.” Requesting someone to cut something out is one thing (“I’d appreciate it if you stopped equating my views with Rush Limbaugh’s” or “Stop equating my disagreeing with you as an attack on your family’s honor.”), saying “HEY ADMINS! HEY ADMINS! Did you see that?! Ban him!!!” is another.

        Except in a thread like this when we are specifically talking about comment behavior. If anyone thinks I am a sanctimonious arse who needs to be taken to account, now is the place to mention it.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to Will Truman says:

          Are you soliciting opinions about the League in general, or just yourself?

          That Pat guy is a pedantic blowhard.  Did you read his early commentary?  He sounds like he’s so full of himself he’s fit to burst.Report

        • KenB in reply to Will Truman says:

          I had in mind the latter — addressing it head-on with the accused seems reasonable to me as long as it doesn’t become an obsession.  But asking “why is X allowed to post here” or having extended public discussions about X’s flaws seems undesirable (where X is a member of the posting or commenting community, of course).  It’s apt to be driven by personal or ideological characteristics as much as any supposedly objective standard, and it just seems impolite.Report

    • David in reply to Will Truman says:

      I must disagree with your assessment. I do not see a tremendously large difference between Mike’s behavior and the behavior of many of this site’s other commenters, save for a refusal to adopt the site-specific code words such as the replacement of the perfectly good ‘fucking’ with the word ‘fishing.’ I could probably utter the word ‘bloody’ here with little to no trouble, merely because you yanks are so damned prudish about sex and religion while roundly forgetting the meaning of many other curses. If length of commentary or having left reasonable and well thought out responses at other times is reason to suffer an occasional fit of emotion, then I have seen enough net contributory comments from Mike in reading this site that he ought to have been granted it.

      If your goal on the site is to create an insular atmosphere and an unwelcome zone for newcomers, then recent behavior has certainly done so. ED Kain obviously had some personal malice towards Mike, whether due to policy positions or some personal altercation in the past that I may have missed. As I say above, ED Kain’s response was not designed to lower the temperature of the debate. He came in sputtering and shouting, threatening the comment equivalent of the wrath of the holy sepulchre upon Mike. This is thuggish, brutish behavior and were I to be in a similar position, I believe my emotional response would lend itself towards a very similar response as was given. Mike’s whole response was the comment of the “Jawohl” along with an observation once more of ED Kain’s inconsistent handling of situations. I don’t disagree with the second part, and I’m willing to see the first as an expression of emotion towards what ED Kain was putting forth.

      So far, merely for putting forth my opinion, I’ve been accused of being someone else, and I’ve had my posts routinely shuffled into moderation. That in itself leaves me little regard for this site’s population and very little reason to trust in the abilities of those who have moderation powers to exercise them with restraint and even-handedness.Report

      • Stillwater in reply to David says:

        I’ll chime in here – again – to mention two things, David. One is that in my view EDK and Mark both were pretty even handed about the whole affair even tho your perspective on it might differ from mine. We can agree to disagree about that. I think Mike had pushed enough buttons around here that banning him wasn’t unjustified.

        The other is that your view of how welcoming the site is to new commenters and outsiders is something I’m sympathetic to. For my part – as only a lowly commenter here! – I don’t really care one way or the other about all that stuff, since I’m just walking thru a door and can just as easily walk back out. People acting uncivily seems like part of the terrain on the internets. The League, however, is by design a place where civility is valued very highly. I think the problem is that this can lead to a sorta self-reinforcing loop that might not be consistent with some of the other expressed desires of folks here.

        So I feel ya on the this. One thing that’s sorta ironic is that just a few days ago lots of virtual ink was spilled on the topic of how to attract new commenters and FPers. And the current episode and what you say about it surely points to a reason why our commenting section might be more closed-off than some people would like.

        And that gets another topic – a perhaps invisible form of tribalism that makes folks want to protect a particular conception of the League more than promote an active commentariat at the League. An active commentariat expressing a range of opinions will necessarily ruffle some feathers. And the degree to which those other voices will be tolerated – or actively excluded! – is maybe part of a larger and sorta paradoxical problem: lots of folks seem to want a broader range of opinions expressed at the league, but only by people who think and argue just like us!

        I’m just riffing here, and could very well be wrong about everything just written. So take it for what it’s worth.Report

        • E.D.Kain in reply to Stillwater says:

          Stillwater, maybe but these are two different questions. Mike had been commenting here for a while. Besides, no site is perfect. We try to maintain a certain level of civility but anyone who sticks around can become a regular.

          David, your focus on me specification is weird. Mark made the decision ultimately and you’ve been told as much. I am baffled by you insistence that you know the entire history of Mike’s participation and problems here, or the complaints we’ve received. I’m confused that you think you have the same birds eye view as we do. That you have the tenacity to presume to tell me what my motives are is absurd. And I’m getting tired of it. I don’t recall you engaging me on any other post or participating in any other meta discussion here. Yet you believe your opinion that I had some personal malice toward Mike is worth everyone’s time.

          I don’t recall really ever engaging or caring about Mike whatsoever. He was an angry guy, not very self aware, who was given several warnings including two final warnings. He made no effort to change. And yet it is my motives that are called into question.

          I am beginning to wonder about yours.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to E.D.Kain says:

            EDK, chalk it up to misguided navel gazing. For my part, I’m perfectly happy with how the League is rocking along.Report

            • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

              Personally speaking, I think having you standing aside and asking these kinds of questions is a good thing Still.  Especially times like yesterday, when things got so emotional on both the Mike and TVD centered threads – it was good for me to have you acting as a second set of eyes.

              (Not that being my second set of eyes was your intention, of course.  But I am still grateful that I was able to use you thus.)Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to Stillwater says:

              Even in spite of my horrible malice and deep attachment to fascism?  Even with my thuggish behavior and sputtering and shouting? That is very kind of you Stillwater. I mean, the site’s integrity has just been badly, badly damaged by our fourth ban.

              On a more serious note, I agree. Things are by and large going very well. And I appreciate you and most other commenters here. Y’all make this a really great community. I do think it would be nice to keep adding voices in the combox but I think we are. You don’t want to grow too quickly or things deteriorate.Report

          • David in reply to E.D.Kain says:

            Mr. Kain, I do not have deep, personal knowledge of anything. I know only what I have read on this site, and as I have stated, my perspective is that of an outsider looking in. My focus on you follows from the fact that it was you who came into the final discussion in an extremely angry manner, clearly designed in a provocative fashion. I cannot imagine that you were expecting someone who was angered to respond to you in kind.

            Let me repeat again, in case your reading comprehension skills are in need of a bit of brushing up: I am commonly what you might call a lurker. I read a lot, and I tend to say very little. I observe, and I observed your interactions with Mike over time. My observations lead me on the basis of your own words and actions to conclude that this was not some dispassionate decision, and neither was Mark’s some dispassionate nor fair decision.

            I’ve been struggling merely to place my own comments on this site without your misbehaving spam filter blocking them, and it is a continual source of frustration to do so. I really ought to follow my own advice and simply give up on the practice, since your response here indicates that you are so dazzlingly lacking in self-cognizance that you are not even willing to take a dispassionate look at your own actions in the context of whether you acted to raise, or lower, the temperature of the discussion. Indeed, your very comment seems designed to raise it further.

            You are very accomplished at what far better debators than yourself would point out to be selection bias, in your choices to crucify Mike for specific outbursts, some of which appear to my humble outsider’s eyes to be deliberately provoked, while simultaneously writing off the numerous well-written comments he produced. It is not an accomplishment that speaks well of you.Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to David says:

              David, please point to one single other interaction [I had] with Mike. Find just one single one where our interaction was anything at all like you’re talking about. Link to it. Prove your accusations or stop making them. I’m in no mood to be lied to.

              I know, you think I’m horribly un-self-ware. Fine then, please provide an example of it rather than just these long, boring tirades with no evidence whatsoever to back them up. My reading comprehension may indeed need to be brushed up by some condescending lurker. But my patience is plenty thin already.

              Now, if you want to continue down this road, bring exhibits A, B, and C. I think the common expression is put up or shut up.Report

          • Will Truman in reply to E.D.Kain says:

            It’s hard to truly discern David’s motives because we don’t know him. He could actually be Mike. He could be a long-time lurker who reads a lot and never chimed in until now with a sense of loyalty to someone he doesn’t know. I generally think it best to assume the better of motives.

            This goes, however, towards the reason behind the perception of double standards. People who have been here longer do get more of a benefit of the doubt. We all slip up. Tod made an unsubstantiated accusation, but he had years of goodwill for us to know that this wasn’t going to be an ongoing problem. And, when called on it, he backed down. A little while ago I was (I feel, though he didn’t care) excessively harsh to Ryan. But people know me, and know it’s not going to be an ongoing problem.

            Is this fair to newer people? Perhaps not. For my part, whenever I endeavor to start participating on a new blog, I try very much to get the lay of the land. I am a guest in their home. I do what I can to abide by their rules, whether I understand them or not*. For Mike’s part, as well as others who don’t end up sticking around anyway, there was little attempt to understand the rules or abide by them. The rules themselves were unacceptable. What, realistically, do you do with that?

            * – On Hit Coffee, I have a rule against discussing immigration in anything but the most abstract or neutral sense (that there are immigrants and a lot of them are from Latin America and speak Spanish). Racial issues in general are discouraged. A lot of people don’t understand why I have that rule, but they try to abide by it. So I don’t think I am unique or special in my attempts to conform to the norms of whomever’s site it is that I am participating.Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to Will Truman says:

              Will – you ask whether this is fair to newer people. I think the point really is that there is No Other Way. This is the fact of culture and familiarity. This applies to jobs, communities, and myriad other groups. It is simply the way of the world in every conceivable place or society or grouping I can imagine. The fact that we’ve only banned four people, I think, speaks to our attempt to not exclude newcomers. That they have not built up familiarity with the site, the writers, the commenters, etc. is not our fault or anyone’s. It is the curse of chronology.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                I agree. I do think, though, that we can acknowledge the unfairness with the unavoidability. And (this is what I was driving at) even if it is unfair, it is complete navigatable. Allow people to get to know you as something other than the person that is calling everyone names.

                (On a sidenote, this is something Mindless Diversions is *great* for. A place where you can say “Hey, this blank-wing nut has some interesting ideas on comic books. He is… a real person!” Viewing the people you are talking to as real people, and not subhuman, can take a lot of gasoline out of a flamewar.)Report

              • David in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                As a longtime lurker, I believe that the fact that you have only banned four people is far more a consequence of your site’s very small and very insulated comment community. Very few new people seem to arrive, and most seem to be driven off after a short while without your need to ban them.

                I myself have remained a lurker here at least in part because of this ongoing practice by your comment community, though I admit that I generally do not make it a practice to comment on most blogs that I read.

                As regards the rest of the discussion, I have been trying to get you to examine your actions dispassionately. Thus far you have responded by insulting me, you have accused me of lying, you have made veiled accusations of my having ulterior motives, and you have generally behaved in a hostile and defensive manner towards me that indicates you are either unwilling, or unable, to do so. I hold suspicions that it is by your hand that my comments seem to constantly be delayed in appearance. It seems to me at present time that your compatriots in comments are far better than you at examining what has gone on, and that there is at least an insubstantial group that are not willing to go along with your so one-sided argument tainted as it is by an attachment to highly severe selection bias.

                There really is nothing more to be said in this regard. You either will dispassionately and honestly examine your actions, or you won’t. The result of your decision will negatively impact the culture of the League further, by chilling or expanding debate, or it won’t. I yet hold hope you will come to your senses, but it is by your demonstration here a very faint hope.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to David says:


                If we are examining things dispassionately, may I ask you to comment on such statements as; “fascist pieces of shit like you,” “fascist, motherless, subhuman creep and a filthy liar,”  and “you sick, motherless, subhuman monster.”

                Is it detrimental to the League to exclude someone who makes such arguments, and if so, why?  What is the value to the League of allowing a person to make comments like that?

                You argument has a good deal of validity, but is quite abstract.  I’m curious how your argument applies to these specific facts of the case.Report

              • David in reply to James Hanley says:

                I believe that Will Truman’s suggestion was best. Strike the content of the comment, and leave a note there as to why the content was struck.

                I would also suggest that one examine why what was said, was said. In the context of the thread, it is still egregious and I would support the Will Truman solution, but it is from a high-emotion thread in which another commenter is saying some things that I too found to be highly offensive and indicative of a narcissistic personality extremely devoid of the common empathy found in most people. Even in that thread, Mike has other comments that recommend reading and thoughtful consideration.

                The situation, at present, gives the appearance that a person or a group were instead building up a list of excuses to ban someone because they merely wanted the person gone, despite good contributions.

                Also, it appears that Jaybird has made a veiled insinuation further down in this page that I am Mike. Not even being American, this is somewhat humourous, but it appears to be the sort of comment that the policy would forbid, correct?Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to David says:

                I assure you that Jaybird was making no such insinuation, veiled or otherwise.  He was in fact being quite sincere.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to David says:

                Would you like me to strike my comment out with a note saying “David asked that this comment be struck out according to his interpretation of our commenting policy”?

                (For the record, if I do think that you and Mike share the same typist, is it your opinion that I should be forbidden from saying that?)

                Edit: And to clarify, Mike is correct. I was (and remain) 100% sincere in my comment below.Report

              • David in reply to David says:

                To Mark, the phrase “…with the same voice he’s using now” certainly sounds to me as if Jaybird is insinuating that I and Mike are the same person.

                To Jaybird, I would have preferred you merely remained silent. I need no accolades from anyone to express my opinion, though I tend to do so infrequently. I also do not view with kindness the insinuation that I am some other person, as it is a very insulting way of insinuating that I have un-divulged motives and thus is contrary to the policy as stated.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to David says:

                Well, then. Allow me to ask again:

                Would you like me to strike out my comment with a note of your choosing? I would be more than happy enough to do so.

                Indeed, I’d be delighted to have you be the official Jaybird Comment Moderator and point out when one of my comments does not meet what you feel our blog standards should be and, upon your request, I will strike out my comments, in whole or in part, so long as you give me the note that you would like to include at the bottom of the comment with your explanation of why you feel my comment, in whole or in part, should have been struck out.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to David says:

                The other, far more likely and reasonable, interpretation of “with the same voice he’s using now” is of course “in the same tone as he’s using now.”Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to David says:

                The official Jaybird Comment Moderator

                That’s a loaded offer.Report

              • Kim in reply to David says:

                Some wisdom, to mike or whomever out there might read it. Because I’ve been there before.

                Been banned, came back with a new name. (Didn’t change conduct much, but that was because it was a one-time comment that got me banned). Changing conduct can mean that a ban is actually a good thing, so long as people don’t permaban you.

                Just my two cents, dripping with my own sweat.Report

              • BSK in reply to Kim says:

                Sounds like you weren’t really “banned” then.  Maybe a 5 minute major for fighting.  But far from a game misconduct.Report

              • Kim in reply to BSK says:

                it was a login site. the name got banned. so new name. and a wink to those who knew me.

                as a policy, such things seemed to work there.Report

              • BSK in reply to BSK says:

                I thought you meant here.  My apologies.

                I will say that I had a rather unceremonious start at PL.  I won’t go into the reasons why, since it will mostly sound like excuse making, but the fact is I didn’t fit the culture and had to either step-up or step-out.  I made a concerted effort to learn the culture, even going so far as reading old, contentious dialogues that remained within the bounds of the community.  I saw the value in being able to participate there and make the effort to allow myself to do that.  Now, I personally believe that a culture should be dynamic, and not static, and willing to change to accomodate newcomers without abandoning the core values of the institution, but that is a larger conversation for another day.  The fact is, one can use his/her own bungles to educate him/herself and become better for it.Report

              • Will Truman in reply to David says:

                As a longtime lurker, I believe that the fact that you have only banned four people is far more a consequence of your site’s very small and very insulated comment community.

                The site’s comment community is small in relation to the size of its overall traffic. The question is, if we’re a self-selected community (and I think that’s true), how is the selection occurring? It’s not occurring on the basis of politics. Rather, it’s based to an extent on how we discuss issues and public figures.

                Self-selection on this basis does not strike me as a bad thing at all. We have no shortage of commenters. No shortage of ideology.

                you have made veiled accusations of my having ulterior motives,

                You have been questioning the integrity of this site and its administrators ever since you showed up. This is, to some degree, a meta-discussion. We’re discussing who we are and who we think one another to be. As I said elsewhere:

                Except in a thread like this when we are specifically talking about comment behavior. If anyone thinks I am a sanctimonious arse who needs to be taken to account, [this] is the place to mention it.

                I suspect the reason that your comments are filter-prone has to do with the fact that you are using anonymous IP addresses. If you are of the mind that everyone here is acting in bad faith, though, you should go somewhere that you can assume people are acting in good faith. That’s what I would do.Report

              • if we’re a self-selected community…how is the selection occurring? It’s not occurring on the basis of politics. Rather, it’s based to an extent on how we discuss issues and public figures. Self-selection on this basis does not strike me as a bad thing at all.

                Well put. Insightful even. How many communities on the internet are there that are self-selected on tone/conduct rather than on ideology?

                I remember being viciously hounded off Pharyngula some years back for politely arguing a libertarian position against a libertarian claim.  “Fish off you fishing libertarian your kind isn’t fishing welcome here,” was the general response.  Their choice, of course, and I don’t think the blog-owner wasn’t inclined to disagree with them (or wouldn’t have been, if he even happened to notice), but I do think being directly opposite in approach is the League’s virtue.Report

              • Patrick Cahalan in reply to James Hanley says:

                Pharyngula has a really annoying combox.

                I respect PZ’s science writing to no end, and even a good amount of his non-science blogging, but the stuff of his I don’t like I don’t like specifically because it is… well, lots of abjectives!  REALLY NEGATIVE ADJECTIVES!

                Unfortunately, a significant portion of his combox is made up of the folk that really like those posts, in particular.Report

              • Agreed on P.Z.’s science writing.  No problems there.  I don’t even object to his militancy on atheism, although I find it over-the-top.  My objection to him is that he seems not to understand that other fields of study, say economics and politics, may require just as much diligent study to speak intelligently about as does biology.

                As for his commenters, although they and I would stand shoulder-to-shoulder on almost all civil liberties issues, they are among the most unpleasant folks on the intertoobz.  It’s a mob mentality.Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Will Truman says:

      David seems pleasant enough. Whatever points David raises will stand, or not, on their own merits. For now, my opinion is that he’s acted and posted entirely acceptably, so that’s good.

      I’d be irritated too if my identity were questioned as his has been. I think David has expressed that irritation appropriately. I, for one, will accept David for who he represents himself to be.Report

  18. sonmi451 says:

    Of course Mike was obviously banned for a lot more reasons than just using the word “twit” (to someone who obviously doesn’t deserve it, whether in the context of that discussion or in general), but if the objection is to the word “twit” itself …..

    These are honorable things to note and if I am the lesser son of greater sires, I will not be lumped in with Bob Cheeks by some ill-mannered twit with bad grammar and no facts.

    It doesn’t bother me as the target, especially since I was rude and intemperate in that particular exchange myself (but not to the extent of calling someone a twit), but it seems like you guys care a lot about this particular word. In general though, I think once you’ve given the key to the kingdom to someone (invite them to be a frontpager), you just have to trust that person to clean up his own house and delete whatever comments he feels necessary. Otherwise, it feels like renting a house to someone and then coming in with your landlord key either to kick out his guests or force him to keep the guests he doesn’t want. Of course that also means you have to be more careful about who you decide to rent the house to in future, make sure these are people you can trust to clean their own houses according to the standard of the blog.Report

  19. Nob Akimoto says:

    Some days I wonder if my comments are secretly being deleted, because I feel like no one wants to engage with me. *Sob*Report

    • sonmi451 in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

      FWIW (maybe not worth very much coming from me), I always enjoy reading your comments. Alas, I have an unhealthy tendency to mostly respond to things that fill me with rage and hate, so …..Report

      • Nob Akimoto in reply to sonmi451 says:

        I’ll try harder in the future.

        Maybe I’ll write a post about how horrible Cloud Atlas was.

        Or make fun of your gravatar. (Which really is quite hideous, by the way.)Report

        • sonmi451 in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

          Nahh, the Cloud Atlas thing won’t work, I only really like two of the stories. he gravatar is automatic, but I kinda like it. Hands off my gravatar!!Report

          • Nob Akimoto in reply to sonmi451 says:

            I’ll think of something to get engagement. I feel like I often am just talking to myself.Report

            • Be mean and make outlandish statements.  That’ll do the trick.Report

            • Nob – it may be best to think of it as “I’m not getting responses because I’m making people actually think rather than react.”  In retrospect, relatively few of the posts of which I remain most proud generated a lot of comment activity.  I know for me personally, I don’t usually respond to many of your comments precisely because I’m trying to absorb them.Report

              • Nob Akimoto in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Thank you, Mark. You and sonmi have made me feel a bit better about my contributions (small as they are) to the commentariat here. I guess I’m often used to the direct give and take I get on facebook walls or forum posts or mailing lists, so I get a little troubled when I notice there’s no responses to something I’d post.Report

              • I can’t say as I blame you for feeling that way – it’s very much how I always feel when I’ve written something I’m especially proud of and get almost no comments.  It took awhile for me to realize why that was happening, and even now there’s part of me that still gets a little unnerved when I don’t get a ton of response to something I know was good. I think with you, part of the issue is that you actually know more about a lot of the stuff on which you write than the rest of us, so even if  we wanted to argue with you, we wouldn’t know where to begin.   So, at least for me, rather than argue, I put your point in the back of my mind to figure out what it means for my worldview.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

              What Mark said, but I’d add this as well: I often don’t reply to a comment I completely agree with.Report

              • Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:


                Sometimes I read something in a comment or a post, and am just about to start typing a response and I note that someone has already said what I was going to say, sometimes better that what was swirling around in my head.  In those moments I tend to say “My work here is done!” and move on.Report

      • Murali in reply to sonmi451 says:

        Alas, I have an unhealthy tendency to mostly respond to things that fill me with rage and hate, so …..

        So I kind of tend to make your day???

        More outlandish stuff coming right up…Report

  20. Burt Likko says:

    Our commenting culture matters. Debatably, it matters even more than does the high quality of thought and writing that goes in to the posts. I think it’s healthy that our online community check itself from time to time and make an effort to preserve that culture. (Consider a parallel discussion going on at Volokh Conspiracy, one of the most well-trafficked blogs out there in no small part because of its commenting culture.)

    In a recent pointed-but-professional exchange I stated to Density Duck that rudeness could obscure the logical thrust of a valid argument, and stated, “I do not owe you a duty of unpacking your statements to weed out the valid from the rude.” I suggest this has to be the case, if we are to preserve a pleasant commenting culture, else we create a situation in which trolls are given license to be rude and the rest of us spend all our time picking apart emotionally-laden comments in an attempt to filter out the value from the invective. This generated some cheers.

    Partially in response to this and partially in an omnibus response to some other exchanges going on at about the same time, DD stated (among other things)…

    …”rudeness” is in the eye of the beholder. It’s subjective, it’s aesthetic, it’s emotional. … if you want to refuse communication for emotional reasons, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s an emotional judgement, not a logical one. But it’s important to understand what decision you are making, and why you are making it.

    …Which is a worthy point indeed, among several other worthy points in the same comment. A comment thought by many to be rude many indeed nevertheless contain a valid point, and that ought to be minimally acceptable. DD’s omnibus summary also generated cheers, and deservedly so.

    I don’t think we need to pick one philosophy over the other; both can coexist. We probably do need to tolerate things that are questionably rude in order to have a free forum in which to exchange ideas. At the same time, we should strive to write and comment in such a manner as to never raise the issue of rudeness in the first place. The difference is between “should” and “must,” between best practices and minimally acceptable practices.

    Best practices and minimally acceptable practice are not the same thing. Let the commenting policy reflect the minimally acceptable standard, and consistent with the ideas therein, let the consensus of those not directly involved in a troublesome exchange be the judge of whether minimal standards have been violated. But let us all nevertheless strive to achieve and exhibit best practices, and set the standard for argumentative excellence well above that which is minimally acceptable.Report

    • Kim in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Not that I’m here to bitch, but … yeah, I’m here to bitch.

      Being openly called a liar doesn’t make me want to comment here (wardsmith, this ain’t directed at you!). That might be the purest definition of an ad hominem, if perhaps not a fallacious one, certainly one that’s corrosive to discourse.Report

      • Mark Thompson in reply to Kim says:

        Kim: You are correct. Can you direct me to the thread in question?Report

        • Kim in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          It was about apples, a while ago, and Jason said that to me (well, not in so many words).

          I don’t mind if people say “I don’t believe your sources” or even “I don’t believe your “facts”” — a lot of things I cite come from people I know. But it’s a little different when I say … “I knew that” and get responded with a “no, you didn’t.”Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I think that sounds good to me.

      I will say that while rudeness may be in the eye of the beholder, it’s certainly true that someone who’s being intentionally provocative can’t really blame respondents for being provoked; and that it’s really easy to attempt “pithy” and merely achieve “provocative”.Report

  21. Jaybird says:

    For the record, I find David to be infinitely more pleasant than Mike and I hope he sticks around and disagrees on political issues with the same voice he’s using now.Report

  22. Patrick Cahalan says:

    If past experience is any guide, this conversation or another one like it will occur sometime in the next 18 months.  If we make it to 24, that’s a big success..  If we *don’t* make it to 6, that’s indicative of a culture shift that will likely result in another blogquake.

    The fact that this site hums along and only has to air out this stuff as often as it does is a pretty good explanation for why I’m here, personally.Report