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January 28, 2005

Comments

I can only speak for myself.

I do not lightly advocate banning. Indeed, my first response to another poster in the Torture thread--in which he grievously insulted me--was to call him out on it and demand that he retract and apologize.

Every can have a bad day. I've gone off at people before myself. I only tend to call for a banning in cases where someone exhibits a consistent, long-term pattern of behavior detrimental to the site.

Not a fan of banning. Also not a fan of frequent meta-commentary on the rules of discussion (ObWi seems to have more than its fair share of this). Threaded, karma-enabled web-board systems (such as http://www.plastic.com and http://www.slashdot.org (among many many others)) seem to eliminate the need for banning and seem to push the meta-commentary into easily avoided sub-threads.

I say we kill the Beast!
Either you're for me or you're against me!

Chorus:
We don't like
What we don't understand
In fact it scares us
And this monster is mysterious at least
Bring your guns
Bring your knives
Save your children and your wives
We'll save our village and our lives
We'll kill the Beast!

--Gaston

"But I am telling you my impressions and frustrations, and would ask that y'all give me yours in comments."

My impression is that making it yet another left vs right issue is counterproductive. I tend to agree that I've heard it more from self-described lefties. It's also true that there are substantially more lefties commenting. Regardless, a blanket request is going to cause less grief.

Personally, I'm in enthusiastic favor of the one-day ban, applied copiously and without remorse by drunken and fickle overlords, that we may all learn to cherish the few crumbs of happiness to which we are left clinging.

Also not a fan of frequent meta-commentary on the rules of discussion

Noted. I think ObWi is experiencing some growing pains, and I at least hope that we'll return to our standard, ill-informed posing in quick order.

Personally, I'm in enthusiastic favor of the one-day ban, applied copiously and without remorse by drunken and fickle overlords, that we may all learn to cherish the few crumbs of happiness to which we are left clinging.

Good point.

I agree with Von: ObWi ought to maintain its reputation as a homeblog of reasonable and civilized discussion: this week's contretemps should serve as an occasion for one of those necessary, periodic, reviews of comment policy (which new policy, FWIW, I think the collective have done quite well at devising). Some sort of free discourse (even if a bit raw at times) is vital to maintaining a truly "free" discussion forum - jumping up and down and yelling "ban the bastard!" every time a commenter posts something you don't like is a pretty poor way, IMO to keep any sort of dialogue going. The "hive-mind" here seems able to get finely focused on keeping things under control - more power to y'all.

(sarcasm on)
That said, if ObWi does ban anyone, they should ban Von: not because of his posts or anything, but just to show that there's no favoritism involved!
(sarcasm off)
;)

Jay C,

Totally agree with you :)

von ; )

Even bringing up banning is quite silly. I've been wanting to say that for a long time. You really can't ban people at all. IP's change, people can access the internet from anywhere. Just moving from one coffee shop today to another could defeat your ban.

Lately, I really have just been poking fun at people who say they are going to/recommend banning someone, when it would really be impossible to do.

I personally would get rid of the concept of banning, since it is impossible to truly enforce it on the internet. It would be more mature to just have a commentator say, "Everyone relax for a minute and then move on." Or just come in and say to tone it down a bit.

I've definitely noticed it, but since commenters don't have any actual power to carry it out, I see it as just another rhetorical device. I'd be much more concerned about an imbalance in warnings and bannings from the actual blogrunners.

But I agree that it can be kind of annoying, and I'd be in favor of going back to Moe's suggestion that if we spot a posting rules violation, we notify you folks by email and not call out the offender ourselves (although I do think that asking someone on the same "side" to moderate his/her tone is not such a bad thing).

I haven't actually seen that many "calls" to ban anyone. In fact, I have never seen anyone, left or right, offer "ban them" as a first reaction, in any of the flame threads that have been bursting out around here over the last couple of days. For example, in the "Pro-Torture Right" thread, the closest thing to what you describe is a single post opining that "you are going to have to ban [X] eventually," which isn't even a call to ban, and wasn't the poster's first reaction, anyway. Nobody else on the thread calls for anyone to be banned. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of bitching about and criticism of [X] on that thread, and if that's what's annoying you, fine, I understand. Whiny little flame wars are tedious, I agree, even if I get sucked in occasionally. But I just don't think that it's accurate to say that the lefties are running to teacher to ask for a ban every time a punch is thrown in their direction.

But, in general, if your post is motivated by a general feeling that all of this rules-lawyering is slowing down the debate around here, amen.

Just another reason why this is funny:

"I tend to agree that I've heard it more from self-described lefties."

No doubt!

This reminds me of how those leaning left utilize protests far more than those leaning right.

It's also why those on the left often are easy to tag as being a whiner or complainer.

I think that banning is useful in a sense, as it's the formalization of a disinvitation to comment any longer. Me, I've been banned from two sites, and took the hint. I never attempted to post to those sites again, even though I could do so under a pseudonym on my home system, which uses a floating IP address. True, the banning wasn't necessary, a simple "stop posting here" would have been enough, but a ban is more formal, like getting an engraved invitation.

**cough**posting rules**cough**

Smlook: It's also why those on the left often are easy to tag as being a whiner or complainer.

Ahem. Pot, kettle, black? For example...

This reminds me of how those leaning left utilize protests far more than those leaning right.

It's also why those on the left often are easy to tag as being a whiner or complainer.

It could just as easily be said that those on the left care enough about important issues--such as the environment or civilized debate--to publicly advocate for measures to protect them, while those on the right simply don't care.

But that would be a generalization, and one just as valid as yours--which is to say, not. And it would be appreciated by all and sundry if you would refrain from consistently tarring "the left" with a broad brush.

It's also why those on the left often are easy to tag as being a whiner or complainer.

Ah. Then the constant complaining about the liberal media only reports on the negative news from Iraq and how Michael Moore is unfair, shrill, and fat, and how Chomsky is an American-hating loon... must be coming from the left then.

This reminds me of how those leaning left utilize protests far more than those leaning right.

To the extent that it's true here, it may be because there are significantly more lefties than righties commenting here regularly, and so harsh comments directed at people on the left (a) tend to stand out more and (b) have a wider range of targets who might take offense.

But I am telling you my impressions and frustrations, and would ask that y'all give me yours in comments

i know my opinion here shouldn't (and likely doesn't) carry the same weight as others, just based on the kinds of posts i write (ahem), but... :)

there is a type of poster whose typical post is 1/3 argument and 2/3 sneer. the poster is not stupid, and often that 1/3 will be worth discussing; but because it's dripping with condescension, the reader is more irritated than stimulated. or: it generates more heat than light. and the poster his/herself knows this.

it's either a special kind of trolling, or an incredibly arrogant preemptive dismissal of further discussion.

it's the kind of thing that makes comment sections turn sour, quickly.

Catsy,

Are saying that the left isn't easily tagged as being whiners and complainers?

Double,

Are saying the the right has been tagged as being whiners and complainers?

Let's be honest here... whether true or not I really do think we can all agee on the labels. The heartless conservatives and the whimpy liberals.

Von,

I don't see any civil behavior until people quit calling Bush a liar. I know that he doesn't post here so he is free game to villify but, as long as others continue to villify him I will continue to identify their double standards... how they could easily be called a liar, how they could be making the war worse for their positions and so on.

I think if the left of ObWi would go on record that Bush is evil. Then those of us on the right would just leave and they could just sit around and talk about how bad Bush is alone.

Smlook: I don't see any civil behavior until people quit calling Bush a liar.

You're asking the posting rules to do too much, IMO. That people should be reasonably civil to those they are talking to is a reasonable request. To argue that people should be as civil about everyone in public life is unreasonable. In short (let me reverse politics): Tacitus gets to call Kerry a traitor but I should not then follow with a personal attack on Tacitus for uttering such an egregious slander: Kerry is fair game, Tacitus (banned or not) isn't.

but, as long as others continue to villify him I will continue to identify their double standards... how they could easily be called a liar, how they could be making the war worse for their positions and so on.

You're fully entitled to do that - why not, so long as you do it civilly. If you keep it in context with the discussion. You're just not allowed to vilify or insult other commenters.

I recommend just turning off the comments, however unlikely. I myself comment very little because I tend to stray to close to the edge sometimes, letting my feelings, or temporary outrage get the better of me. Someone once said you should never write with trembling fingers and this is true. OBWI is growing and it may be time to look into a new content mangament tool with a greater degree of control that would make it easier to ban people and keep them gone. Making someone register with a username and a valid email address is a good way to do this. You just delete the user account you want banned. Yes he can make another but will either get banned again or behave. If he keeps making new accounts and coming back and behaving the same he will get deleted everytime and eventually grow tired. It takes him longer to to make a new account than it does for you to delete his account.

Anyway...sorry for the length.

Talking about banning is not silly or useless. A discussion group such as this NEEDS to be moderated, and moderated well or it WILL go the way of tacitus.org when tacitus abandoned the moderator reigns and no one else had control. The site devolved, I'd hate to see this one do the same.

my 2 cents from the nosebleeds.

Oh, for heaven's sake. smlook: you are now in violation of the posting rules. Stop it. If nothing else, it's boring.

Smlook: I don't see any civil behavior until people quit calling Bush a liar.

But he IS a liar. Clinton was too.

I'm a liar too.

"You're asking the posting rules to do too much, IMO"

I think the posting rules are a bit silly also.

Jes,

I'm sorry that you supported Kerry, who really is just a big fat liar all the way from his Vietnam days, to his work in congress and thru the election.

Now let's have a civil discussion about why you would support such a liar.

-----

Get my point now?


to his voting for the war before he voted againstis lied about his service in Vietnam to make himself look better, who

Hilzoy,

Why am I not surprised to hear from you?

Get my point now?

I don't. I voted for Kerry, but I personally don't feel the least bit offended by your calling him a liar, as you seem to be by such accusations directed at Bush.

We should ban von.

ken,

I didn't say I was offended. I only said that it didn't promote civil discussion. It's quite distracting.

Saying that Bush is a liar as a general statemnet is not a very useful comment.

Pointing out to specific and documented lies by Bush is a different thing.

My, how easily we wander afield.

Smlook: is the topic at hand whether or not Kerry/Bush are liars? Both of us can muster significant evidence in support of our positions, and at the end of it neither of us will have convinced the other and will be scratching our heads about why we bothered. We are therefore fortunate that the topic of this thread is not, exempli gratia, Kerry or Bush's notional lies about their Vietnam service.

The extent to which this is any way germane is limited to your demand for posters to stop calling Bush a liar. You miss the point. Bush is a public figure, and like Kerry, his honesty is germane to any number of discussions about the United States of America, something about which both of us happen to give a rather significant shit.

Bush does not, however, currently post here. If and when he ever chooses to, I will extend him the same courtesy I would any other poster: viz, restricting my observations about his honesty to those which I can strongly support with evidence.

It would, again, be greatly appreciated if you would extend the same courtesy to the nebulous and chimeric organism you call "the left". Otherwise, with all due respect, I must request that you stuff a gym sock in it.

"Then the constant complaining about the liberal media only reports on the negative news from Iraq and how Michael Moore is unfair, shrill, and fat, and how Chomsky is an American-hating loon... must be coming from the left then."

Well, I do think MM is unfair, shrill, and fat; and I complain about Chomsky every chance I get; and I'd disparage the liberal media if there were one...

smlook,

So that means if Bush lied about something we shouldn't talk about it?

I'm sorry that you supported Kerry, who really is just a big fat liar all the way from his Vietnam days, to his work in congress and thru the election.

Well, not really, because this thread isn't a place to discuss Kerry, but were you to make such a charge, I would ask you to substantiate it by cites to instances where you believe Kerry lied. Then, if we were having a discussion about Kerry-as-a-liar v. Bush-as-a-liar, I would probably cite you instance for instance where Bush lied, and I could easily come up with so many more, far worse lies that Bush told than I think you ever could for Kerry. But that's how civil political discussion works: you don't get personally offended when someone disses the candidate you support.

Some humans and most junkyard dogs need to know that boundaries exist. I'm flip, sarcastic, cynical and sensitive and most greatful to have this forum. We all have visited other comment threads where the personal attacks are ridiculous. Keep the banning threat on the books, use it judiciously, but use it. I've rewritten a comment or two because of it, or wish I had. The only thing worse than being banned is hilzoy calling you boring.

As a constant lurker, and infrequent (mostly OT) commenter, I agree 100% with cleek. That is an informed comment, right there.

I also find agreement with the proposed liberal use of temp bans on anyone that starts to get prickly. We can just call them cooling off periods, or whatever if a temp-ban seems too prickly. I'm going to predict that there is going to be some high school drama from some when/if the policy is started, and lots of huffy "I'm never coming back HERE!" comments interspersed with cries of censorship, but hey, making omlets and everything.

Also, as a general rule, it would be best if the pressure to moderate one's tone came from the side you self-identify with. But I've tried that at other sites and suffice to say, I suck at it. So either the theory is flawed or, more likely, I'm lousy at cajoling/shaming my confederates into civil discourse.

I only said that it didn't promote civil discussion.

There's nothing about it that's uncivil IMO. It doesn't support a spirit of moderation and across-the-aisle rapport, but those goals not an official part of the posting rules here.

Rilkefan: Well, I do think MM is unfair, shrill, and fat; and I complain about Chomsky every chance I get; and I'd disparage the liberal media if there were one...

But are you part of a nebulous and chimeric organism called "the left"?

Blogbudsman: Keep the banning threat on the books, use it judiciously, but use it. I've rewritten a comment or two because of it, or wish I had. The only thing worse than being banned is hilzoy calling you boring.

Agree completely, on all three counts.

Also, I'd have to agree that the label "liar" is rarely useful, even though it may very well be accurate. Its easy to document where a person is wrong, or where a person has changed their minds (flip-flopped, if you prefer), and its easy to look at those and claim they are "lies". And sometimes you might even be right. But so what? The people who agree with you already agree with you, and the people who don't get turned off and immunized to the constant call of "liar".

Hilzoy,

Why am I not surprised to hear from you?

You won't be surprised to hear from me either, but please tone this sort of comment down. Really...it's provocative and you must know it is. No one here is being provocative to you as far as I can tell, so please stop it.

kenb: So you don't mind when people call you and or people you like and admire liars? I wish I could claim to have the same serenity. I think the problem is there is a transferrence that happens when a person is told Bush or Clinton "lied", and they hold or held those "lies" to be true. You are now calling them a liar by proxy, sort of, which can raise the hackles whether you realize it or not.

"But are you part of a nebulous and chimeric organism called "the left"?"

Hmm, I thought I was a rabid multilingual money-donating ACLU-card-carrying partisan Democrat, but maybe SH is getting to me. But if Queztacoatl had offered me a Kerry victory in exchange for my life, I would have had a hard time deciding - so yeah, think I'm part of the left.

Blogbudsman: ;)

"I only called for VON's banning because ...."

of course someone beat me to it allready... drat to my busy days.

GT,

"Pointing out to specific and documented lies by Bush is a different thing."

I recently told my wife that we would take a trip to L.A. I even bought tickets for the trip.

My work has now forced me to change my plans and we can't go.

Would it be accurate to say that I am a liar?

Accuse Bush of sailing in another direction, accuse him of making a bad decision and then changing his mind. Accuse him of being clueless. But, I just don't think you should call him a liar. You nor anyone else here knows if he is lieing or telling the truth. There could be so many factors at play...

Jes,

You miss the point. I don't care about Kerry I was only pointing out that calling anyone a liar over and over and over doesn't promote civil discussion.

Hilzoy,

Catsy says:
"Otherwise, with all due respect, I must request that you stuff a gym sock in it."

Now c'mon that's not very civil. I made a specific comment to Jes that gave an example of what can make it difficult to have civil discussions. But Catsy wants me to a gym sock in it. I'm not sure which orphice he thinks I should stuff a gym sock into, but I'm sure that's not the kind of post ObWi wants.

And this is okay
"worse than being banned is hilzoy calling you boring."

So you can attack me and call me boring, Catsy can have me stuff a gym sock and Blog can even say that Hilzoy calling you boring is about the worse.

I guess that's just all okay.

smlook, re that trip to LA, I'd say it would depend on whether you had told your wife, or you had a previous understanding, that the plans were contingent on getting leave from your work. But if you had told her that you would go to LA, come hell or high water because, say, her long lost sister was dying in an LA hospital ....

The context matters and the stakes matter, right?

kenb: So you don't mind when people call you and or people you like and admire liars?

Actually, I don't think I've ever really personally identified with a politician -- I agree with some more than others, but they've never been heroes to me. So I don't remember ever feeling anger from seeing vituperative comments levelled at a politician I support. I've certainly felt frustration that people couldn't see what I thought were obvious advantages to candidate A over candidate B, but I've never taken a political opinion personally.

If someone calls me personally a liar, then yes, I suspect that would upset me a little, even though it's true for some definitions of the term.

Accuse Bush of sailing in another direction, accuse him of making a bad decision and then changing his mind. Accuse him of being clueless. But, I just don't think you should call him a liar. You nor anyone else here knows if he is lieing or telling the truth. There could be so many factors at play.

Sure there could. He could be so incompetent and out of the loop as to render him completely unfit for office, that being the only other explanation for the frequent divergence between the facts and what comes out of his mouth.

But come on, think about this for a minute: are you sincerely telling me that you think it's more civil, more conducive to debate, for me to call Bush clueless than to call him a liar? Please. I don't think you're advancing an honest argument here. I think calling Bush a liar bothers you because it attacks the credibility of a president you support, and because you can't refute it. None of that has anything to do with whether or not they're supportable allegations, or civil to other posters.

Now c'mon that's not very civil. I made a specific comment to Jes that gave an example of what can make it difficult to have civil discussions. But Catsy wants me to a gym sock in it. I'm not sure which orphice he thinks I should stuff a gym sock into, but I'm sure that's not the kind of post ObWi wants.

Now you're being pedantic. Are you a native speaker of English? I ask in honest seriousness. Most native speakers would know that "stuff a sock in it" is a figure of speech for "be quiet/stop saying that/shut up". If you're not, then my apologies. If you are, then I suggest you examine the context of my suggestion and realize that I was referring not to what you said to Jes, but to your penchant for calumnies against "the left".

Well Jeez. I was going to call to ban Von, but it seems unanimous. Can we ban Moe Lane? Maybe he'd get peeved, un-ban himself, and come back!

"This reminds me of how those leaning left utilize protests far more than those leaning right."

This reminds me of those inappropriate and atopical sorts of comments that totally and apparently permanently derail a threat, a preponderance of which would suggest the commentor enjoys degrading the conversation. I'm sure you think 'the left' does it, too. But you know what they say about two wrongs.


I'm going to violate my own advice and talk about right/left, hopefully constructively. There's no doubt that the local commentariat predominantly leans liberal, in number of both comments and commentors, and this causes problems, not because the majority is left, but simply because there is a majority.

In that case, people of a disagreeing persuasion either have to tough it out, knowing that their comments are going to get a royal pile on and yet maintain some civility (and I'm not going to name any names, Slarti and Sebastian) or they can take the lazier guerilla route and just drop incendiary bombs in every thread, feeling in some way I suppose that they're defending their side without having to deal with being outnumbered, and without having to clean up the mess (and I'm not going to name any names, Messr Wonder Dog). Furthermore it leads people in the minority to bust out irritating abstractions a lot more (it seems like everyone here hates Bush and his dog!) because it's more difficult to deal with the large number of disagreeing individuals.

Given that, I think a couple of maturations need to happen. If you're in the minority, you need to recognize that you can't make up for it with volume or with rancor, and if you're in the majority you need to be aware of that fact and avoid the impulse to pile on.

smlook, just out of curiosity, which instances of people calling Bush a liar are you referring to?

If http://www.warholstars.org/filmch/sleep.html>Andy Warhol blogged the classic 200 comment thread would be me and Jes saying "Is so, Is not" a 100 times. Is not!

A suggestion to the ObWi collective:

Maybe a thread where everyone can post an introduction of themselves might promote familiarity and civility? Something like:

Hi, my name is ___ and I am an ObWi-aholic. I comment here because ___. The issues dearest to my heart are ___.
Something like that.
Whadya think?

Smlook,

You say Accuse Bush of sailing in another direction, accuse him of making a bad decision and then changing his mind. Accuse him of being clueless. But, I just don't think you should call him a liar. You nor anyone else here knows if he is lieing or telling the truth. There could be so many factors at play...

At some point this just doesn't hold. When the President says things that are factually incorrect (SS will go bankrupt to name just one) over and over, even after the lack of veracity has been explained I don't see what other word to use.

at this point, we really need to invite monty python


spam spam spam

[wait ... wrong skit.]

an argument is just a contradiction

no, it isn't . . .

cheers

Francis

Smlook: I was only pointing out that calling anyone a liar over and over and over doesn't promote civil discussion.

If I start calling you a liar, certainly if I do it over and over and over, that would not promote civil discussion. But when Rilkefan cites Quetzelcoatl to prove a point, and I point out that Quetzelcoatl has lied, we can still have a civil discussion - Rilkefan just have to explain how in fact Quetzelcoatl wasn't lying, even though what he said was clearly at variance with the truth. See?

Neolith: think the problem is there is a transferrence that happens when a person is told Bush or Clinton "lied", and they hold or held those "lies" to be true. You are now calling them a liar by proxy, sort of, which can raise the hackles whether you realize it or not.

Well, but, no. A person can believe that Quetzelcoatl spoke the truth when he said that the Spaniards would give the Aztecs flowers. A person may believe that Quetzelcoatl's ashes turned into birds and his heart became the morning star because it said so in the Quetzelcoatl Morning Report. However, other people may legitimately refer to actual historical accounts of what happened when the Spaniards met the Aztecs, or prefer to believe other sources that the Quetzelcoatl Morning Report. Did Quetzelcoatl lie? That's certainly a valid interpretation when he said something so wildly at variance from the truth. He may have been clueless, he may have been badly reported, he may have an aeon-long divinely cunning plan... or he may just be a very good liar.

Saying that Quetzelcoatl is a liar to a true believer may be risky, if they still have the power to tie you to the altar and cut your heart out: but it isn't at all the same thing as saying that the true believer is a liar.

I'm getting pretty damn sick of all the Quetzalcoatl-bashing around here. But anyway, I think Neolith was just trying to explain why people might take offense at the "Bush is a liar" comments, not saying that it's justified.

"O look, look in the mirror?
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

"O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart."

Sit, sit at the Windows might be more apt, but...

kenB: I think Neolith was just trying to explain why people might take offense at the "Bush is a liar" comments, not saying that it's justified.

And when people take unjustified offense at the things other people say, I don't think they should be indulged in their unjustified offense, but rather, told to cool it.

Hmm. If I don't ban myself, I guess I should give myself a warning under the posting rules.

Look, w/r/t this whole "liar/evil/bad man" business: It's nice to try to avoid it, but I'm can't even do it myself. I'm certainly not going to force others to. I mean, look at my posts on Michelle Malkin and Charles Johnson. I want to keep the freedom to call 'em like they are, and that means that I have to give y'all the freedom to do the same. Sometimes, of course, I'll disagree. But that's that.

Incidentally, I do recall folks calling Bush a "liar" (per Smlook). I don't have the time/inclination to track down the threads, but it did happen. And I'm fine with it happening -- just as I'm fine with folks calling Kerry a liar or whatnot.

My God, maybe someone should call of the dogs. This is a good example of why civil behavior has degenerated at this website.

Let's calculate my sins:

Sidereal says:
"I tend to agree that I've heard it more from self-described lefties."

Smlook says:
"This reminds me of how those leaning left utilize protests far more than those leaning right.

It's also why those on the left often are easy to tag as being a whiner or complainer."

And then of course Jes attacks me personally, but I have no problem admitting that I may choose to voice a complaint about something. I'm not insecure about that. Of course, his post really didn't mean anything, but whatever. Have we not been talking about banning being used at ObWi? All I said was that it reminded me of a fact that no one would argue. I never said it was true that Libs are whiners and complainers I just said it was easy to tag them that way. Sorry, but it is.

I guess everyone here thought it was really relevant to talk about Cheney's dress on the Aushwitz thread. But, since it was Katherine, Edward and Jes I guess it really was relevant to Edwards original points in his post.

And then I make a comment to Von about civil behavior and yes I wound it up with let's just admit that many here think that Bush administration is evil. Let's face it, most here think that the Bush admiistration is just about the worst thing to ever happen to our country. Bush is equal to Hitler, Bush is a fascist, Bush is a liar, Bush is a cokehead, Right?

And if they did just come out and say how they really feel about Bush that would drive most of the righties away, which actually according to the actual number posts that seems already to be happening. Really, how is anyone supposed to take Jes seriously with his history of "appointed administration" or Lily (?) and Dianne talking about how Bush voters have helped kill innocent Iraqis?

You would get more civil behavior cause those left would all agree with each other.

And then I point out to Jes, how calling someone a liar all the time doesn't really lead to civil discussion. Anyone want to argue that it does?

I say Uncle... call of the dogs. Keep up the hypocritical behavior, keep up the theatening of banning from the left. Good luck with that approach.


" And I'm fine with it happening -- just as I'm fine with folks calling Kerry a liar or whatnot."

And I'm find with it too, it just doesn't promote a more civil discussion.

Who in god's name is threatening to ban you, smlook? I swear to god, the only one whining and singing the victim song here is you.

Smlook: And then of course Jes attacks me personally

No, I didn't. What I said, and precisely what I said was:

Smlook: It's also why those on the left often are easy to tag as being a whiner or complainer.

Ahem. Pot, kettle, black? For example...

Posted by: Jesurgislac | January 28, 2005 03:04 PM

How on earth do you make this out to be a personal attack?

Really, how is anyone supposed to take Jes seriously with his history of "appointed administration" or Lily (?) and Dianne talking about how Bush voters have helped kill innocent Iraqis?

I should probably point out that I'm pretty sure Jes is female. You're 0 for 2 so far on the gender assumptions today.

Sie can feel free to correcet me.

And then I point out to Jes, how calling someone a liar all the time doesn't really lead to civil discussion. Anyone want to argue that it does?

I say that if you think someone is lying, and you can support this assertion with evidence, you should be free to make the argument. Particularly when you're discussing public figures, and /most/ particularly when the honesty of what those people say has a direct bearing on the good of the country in which you live.

If you can't call out a liar for what they are, then what's the point of discussing the subject at all?

smlook, all the "Bush Lied, People Died" chants, pseudo-clever bumper stickers about villages in Texas, clownish pictures of Bush with a circle around him and a line through it, &c &c worked so well for the Dems during the last election cycle that I think you're doing us righties a disservice by discouraging them %^)

fdl, can you help? I can't seem to say "Baimbridge".

AFA ban-ees (banshees?) popping up with new IP addresses, either they'll repeat their boorish behavior and get banned again, or they'll clean up their acts, in which case your purpose of maintaining a civil site is accomplished.

Speaking as someone who said that Bush lied, in a post cleverly titled Our President Lies, I would like to know what is wrong with saying this. When I said it, I backed it up, and explained why it was hard to credit the view that Bush was mistaken or ill-informed on the point in question. I also explained why I thought it mattered. Is there a problem with this that I'm not seeing?

st,

" I swear to god, the only one whining and singing the victim song here is you."

Now that's not really civil behavior is it?

Never said anyone was threatening to ban, but for the record Edward has and I'm pretty sure that Hilzoy has. Could be wrong about hilzoy. It's been a couple of times. Hilzoy said I was violating the posting rules on this very thread.

Wow, you guys get fired up real easily.

Now that's not really civil behavior is it?
No, I guess not. I henceforth and hereby ban myself from this thread. A salaam aleikum!
[*disappears in puff of smoke, accompanied by small crack of lightning*]

Hilzoy said I was violating the posting rules on this very thread.

Your reaction to this is telling: rather than consider whether or not you are, in fact, stepping over the line, you attack the messenger and complain that you're being singled out.

Has it occurred to you in all of this that rather than this being an unfair lefty dogpile, some of us might have a point?

Catsy: I should probably point out that I'm pretty sure Jes is female.

I'm pretty sure of that too. ;-)

Smlook:

I'd like to congratulate you. You've obviously put a lot of work into developing your thread-derailment and trolling skills.

I mean, in terms of "how cool is this achievement?" it's a bit like being the world's 97th greatest stamp collector, but everyone's got to have a hobby, right?

Also, as regards your self appointed victim status, I'd like you to know that I have here a very small violin and, while it's not playing the world's saddest tune, it is quite sad, and it's all for you.

There seems to be an inability to distinguish between partisan attacks on politicians - who are not part of our community, who do not take part in our conversation, and who we don't have to be polite to or polite about - and attacks on individuals who ARE part of our community, who DO take part in our conversation, and who we SHOULD be polite to and polite about.

Calling a Bush or Kerry a liar or coward or mass murderer or whatever is - to my mind - perfectly acceptable. If you don't like it, defend your guy, disprove the charge, whatever. But it's like libel laws in general: these are public figures.

But we can't call *one another* liars, cowards, mass murders, and so on. Because, one, we don't know whether that's true or not (imagine how embarrassing if one of us calls another one of us a "f*cking serial murderer" for angry effect and it turns out *not* to be hyperbole!) and, two, these are direct attacks on character.

Also IMO we *can* call each other fascists, commie-symps, lefties, righties, lefty-loosies, righty-tighties, and whatever other variation we can ring on partisan/political/philosophical labels. Because, hey, if the shoe fits... and anyway, whoever is being called Poltical Label X is free to disagree and argue back.

To sum up:

Personal and character attacks on famous strangers: OK
Personal and character attacks on one another: not OK

Critizing, mocking, and etc. one another's perceived or actual political labels: OK
Critizing, mocking, and etc. one another's personal lives or perceived racial/religious/gender characteristics: totally NOT OK

Does this seem reasonable?

I'm pretty sure of that too. ;-)

I'm sure volunteers could be summoned on a moment's notice to ascertain this for certain.

"I say Uncle... call of the dogs."

I think you're confused about how Uncle works. It means you give up, which in this context means you stop making the sort of insulting and off topic assertions you've been making. You can't say Uncle at the end of a 800 word post full of them. Also, calling people dogs isn't nice.

As a friendly gesture, and with the hope that maybe we won't have to do this anymore if the point successfully gets across, let me run through them:

"Sidereal says:, Smlook says:"
My comment was about the preponderance of people calling for or referring to banning, which is quite on topic. Yours is a sweeping generalization about 'the left' (hint, if you use this phrase, it's a warning sign that you're probably generalizing and being insulting).

"I guess everyone here thought it was really relevant to talk about Cheney's dress on the Aushwitz thread. But, since it was Katherine, Edward and Jes I guess it really was relevant to Edwards original points in his post."

If Katherine, Edward, or Jes had said that Cheney's dress was typical of 'the right' because they don't respect dead Jews, you might have a point. The difference is whether you choose to engage in generalizations or not.

"Let's face it, most here think that the Bush admiistration is just about the worst thing to ever happen to our country. Bush is equal to Hitler, Bush is a fascist, Bush is a liar, Bush is a cokehead, Right?"

1, you're mindreading, and 2, you're generalizing. See how these things lead to problems? Please give me a cite for 'Bush administration is the worst thing to happen to the country', 'Bush is equal to Hitler' and 'Bush is a cokehead' (present tense required. 'Bush was a cokehead 'is arguable, but mostly irrelevant).

"And then I point out to Jes, how calling someone a liar all the time doesn't really lead to civil discussion. Anyone want to argue that it does?"

It depends on whether you have any evidence. Saying someone is a liar is a factual assertion, so it's either true or false. For example, I can say 'Jayson Blair' is a liar without it degenerating the conversation. Saying 'the left are a bunch of whiny hippies' is not a factual assertion, it is an opinion. It is therefore not comparable and you can't use it to 'even out' the rhetoric.

See the common theme? If you stop trying to mind read people, tell them what they think, misquote them, and use every thread, regardless of the topic, as an opportunity to make sweeping generalizations about 150 million people, good things will happen. This is true whether you're a Communist or Rupert Murdoch. It isn't about ideology, it's about character.

Sidereal,

It's interesting that I am the one who derailed the thread... my few posts compared to the avalanche from the others.

This comment really shows why so many here are so entertianing:

You said:
Also, calling people dogs isn't nice.

blog said:
"Some humans and most junkyard dogs need to know that boundaries exist"

That's were the dog comment originally came from. So I guess you think it is polite for blog to make his point in that context. But, my comment isn't nice, right?

"Yours is a sweeping generalization about 'the left'"

Mine was a off-handed comment that found a similarity. Are you really trying to say those on the left don't protest more on the right?

"you're mindreading, and 2, you're generalizing. See how these things lead to problems?"

Wrong! I'm not mindreading. You've never heard Hilzoy, Edward, Katherine or Jes express their feelings about the Bush administration? Sorry, but I am not going to go back through all the posts just to prove to you what I have read here. Let's do a test... Katherine do you hate the Bush administration? Have you ever stated that you hate the Bush administration?

" It isn't about ideology, it's about character."

Wow, atlast we agree... sort of.

In all the ruckus over He Who Should Be Ignored, I would like to make sure votermom's suggestion doesn't get lost in the shuffle. It sounds like an excellent idea.

QFE:

Maybe a thread where everyone can post an introduction of themselves might promote familiarity and civility? Something like:

Hi, my name is ___ and I am an ObWi-aholic. I comment here because ___. The issues dearest to my heart are ___.
Something like that.
Whadya think?

Could be good, although it should probably come with the ground rule that debating political issues is verboten--otherwise at least one person's introduction will turn into a massive threadjack.

sidereal: if you're in the majority you need to be aware of that fact and avoid the impulse to pile on.

ITA. There have been several dozen times when I've been in the middle of composing a response to find that everyone and their kid brother beat me to it. [Another perk of the preview function, btw, is that it updates the thread so you can see what's been happening while composing your gem.] Sebastian, in particular, has been at the bottom of some fairly hefty piles that I've avoided, simply because his position wasn't so outré as to warrant it. I'd recommend my fellow lefties do the same; this goes double for any thread in which Katherine and hilzoy are posting, 'cause face it... they're gonna say what you were going to say, only better ;)

"It's interesting that I am the one who derailed the thread... my few posts compared to the avalanche from the others."

That is exactly how derailment works.

"You said:
Also, calling people dogs isn't nice."
Actually, I was just being tongue in cheek there. I see how a sense of humor doesn't carry well over text.

"Mine was a off-handed comment that found a similarity."
Yes, an off-handed and unrelated threadjack.

"Are you really trying to say those on the left don't protest more on the right?"
I think you're missing the point. I'm not addressing the question at all because this thread isn't about 'those on the left'. The closest you'll get is 'our lefty commentators'. If you want to know whether our lefty commentators protest more than our righty commentators, you'll really have to ask them. Besides being off-topic, it's a gross generalization. You're trying to apply a group property to individuals, which is almost always unsound.

"Wrong! I'm not mindreading. You've never heard Hilzoy, Edward, Katherine or Jes express their feelings about the Bush administration?"

Frequently. I have never heard any of them suggest Bush is a cokehead, that Bush is equivalent to Hitler, or that the Bush administration is the worst event to befall the US in history, all of which you claimed. The problem is you're not looking at these people as people, you're just throwing them into some box of 'lefties' and since *some* lefty probably said Bush is Hitler, well basically all lefties said it. Right?

"or that the Bush administration is the worst event to befall the US in history"

This is a very loose standard, given the civil war, reconstruction, the depression, Vietnam, ...

I'm concerned that a double standard is being applied by some (not all or even most) of our lefty commentators in calls to "ban" folks on the right. (I'm specifically not referring here to e-mails to the site, which have been very helpful, but to comments in threads.)

But I am telling you my impressions and frustrations, and would ask that y'all give me yours in comments.

OK, you asked for it...

I'm assuming that you are talking about the period from the Anti-Muslim thread to the present. I will leave out that thread and this thread. Now, it is possible to post on an earlier thread, but for the purposes of a dataset, I will confine myself to those 26 threads. Here's the results
title # the word ban appears
Torture Redux 0
Waiter 0
On a lighter 0
Britian's Muslims 0(!)
Fact-Check 0
Still More 0
Helping African-Americans 0
New Banning Rules 122
What the Military 0
Against The Confirmation 0
Unholy Alliance 0
Social Security (Remix) 0
The Beginning 0
Self-Esteem 2 0
The Right Question II 0
Auschwitz Open Thread 1
The Evil Principle 0
Viva L'Espana 0
Kos Theory 0
Why Blogs Are Essential 0
Full disclosure. Maybe. 0
"How Can I 0
The Pro-Toture 0
Frustrations With 1
I'm sorry, Jim 0
Wal-Mart Gets It 0

I'm going to stipulate that you aren't talking about the thread discussing the policy of banning (I'd also note that there seem to be no calls to ban anyone in that thread) So, using my super keen linguistic spidey sense, I guess you are talking about the Pro-toture thread. Here's the breakdown of which people used the word "ban" as of 8:33pm
hilzoy

What I do know is that if anyone accuses anyone on this site of supporting terrorists, or Saddam, or Stalin, or Hitler or Pol Pot, or mass murder, or anything of the kind, without being able to provide clear evidence in support of their claim, then I will temporarily ban them and ask the others whether they think a permanent ban is in order.

Seb

I was out playing bridge, but if hilzoy had banned I would have seconded it.

Jes

I've never been banned from LGF

GT

Trust me, it's a question of time before you will be forced to ban Timmy

Edward

Ignoring comments that offend you is a very practical constructive suggestion. Banning everyone that someone is offended by is not.

(ban used 3 more times)

Seb

And if I bothered to ban everyone who did that, some of our most prolific commenters would be banned.

In my opinion TimmytheWonderDog is playing a game. He is seeing how much he can get away with without getting banned.

(ban used 2 more times)

Josh

And please note that not only have I not suggested that anyone be banned, I've suggested alternative ways of dealing with the problem short of banning

smlook

This is sort of funny... let's ban Timmy from the site for doing what Catsy and Dianne do.

von

Moreover, CJ requires registration to comment (it's currently closed) and has, in the past, freely banned commentators. not ban commentators (he does).

Now, perhaps it is possible to call for someone to be banned and not use the word, but I think your thesis that
I'm concerned that a double standard is being applied by some (not all or even most) of our lefty commentators in calls to "ban" folks on the right.

is not supported by the evidence. I appreciate you trying to calm things down, but suggesting that the lefty commentators here are calling for mass bannings of anyone who disagrees with them when they are merely pointing to very uncivil behavior is not going to calm things down, IMHO. I agree strongly with Seb's point about games being played here, so it disappoints me that you feel that the nexus of the problem lies with the commentators on the left here.

smlook, if it offends your sense of fairness that the objection to your "whiners and complainers" post is heavily balanced to the left side of the political spectrum, let me balance things out a bit:

This sort of thing is not allowed. Please don't do it again.

Believe it or not, I began what was to be (for me) an epic post on this very topic (if I'm getting the gist of all of your posts, it's something to the effect that ad hominem seems to be perfectly acceptable here, provided it's used against people who'll in all probability never show up). Unfortunately, I wrote it on my new laptop, and I'm not used to the nifty features of the touchpad, among which are integrated Forward and Back functions if you happen to slide your finger across the top of the touchpad. I did, and it did, before I did the first "save". Needless to say, I now have a USB cordless mouse.

I'm going to try and reproduce it before I go to bed tonight. In the meantime, please refrain from making inaccurate generalizations. The Left are no more a bunch of whiners and complainers than the Right are greedy, money-grubbing baby-killers who are obsessed with the sexual rituals of others.

The impulse to ban is understandable: deliberate and egregious rudeness can derail an entire thread. But as much as I dig the impulse, on balance I'm not in favor of banning, because it doesn't bring out the best in people.

On two sites I used to visit - Tacitus and TableTalk - there were times when posters who got into slanging matches threatened to sic the moderator on one another. "I'll get you banned!" "No, I'll get you banned!" - and then other people would chime in, take sides, tell the offending parties to shut up... and that derailed the thread into a multiparty j'accuse whining match.

It strikes me that the same behavior patterns that theoretically make banning necessary are those that will make the threat of banning just another thing to fight over.

Maybe we should just ignore the derailers? I mean, we pretty much know who they are.

if I'm getting the gist of all of your posts, it's something to the effect that ad hominem seems to be perfectly acceptable here, provided it's used against people who'll in all probability never show up

Not quite--it's more that I'm far less concerned with taking care not to offend people who aren't going to be reading what I have to say or responding to my arguments. So while I have no problem saying that I think Rumsfeld is an incompetent fool, or that Scott McClellan is an dishonest spin whore, I would hesitate to say such a thing to someone who posts here.

Should Mr. Rumsfeld decide to start posting on Obsidian Wings, I will be happy to strike "fool" from that and present evidence to support my belief that he is incompetent at his job.

Catsy, by "you", I meant smlook, specifically. Just to clear things up.

Ah, okay. I took "all of your posts" to be a collective average of your observations of everyone's posting habits, so I thought I'd clarify. :>

I took "all of your posts" to be a collective average of your observations of everyone's posting habits...

...so, Slarti, does that mean I get to apply the CLT here? (:

Only if he means everyone literally.

Uhhh...or she. Damnit, I never really cared what sex most of the posters are, except for those pesky gendered pronouns.

Use Spivaks!

Also good for transexuals.

In case anyone's still out there...

Speaking as someone who said that Bush lied, in a post cleverly titled Our President Lies, I would like to know what is wrong with saying this

I think there's a difference between presenting a case that Bush has told lies and simply calling Bush a liar (or any number of other bad things). In the former case, people who're inclined to disagree can engage your arguments; in the latter, people who disagree will either roll their eyes or (apparently) feel that they're rather under attack. In a "mixed" community like the one we're trying to foster, comments with a connotation of "well, everybody knows he [is a liar][is an incompetent pampered frat boy][invaded Iraq for oil][etc.]" are more likely to start a fight than a conversation.

Trust me, it's a question of time before you will be forced to ban Timmy

Well that is probably the case and then the "wall of sound" will reverberate endlessly. I'm sure Catsy will feel better, maybe even hilzoy but Eddie will suffer. And soon the site will become a sister of DKOS.

Well that is probably the case and then the "wall of sound" will reverberate endlessly. I'm sure Catsy will feel better, maybe even hilzoy but Eddie will suffer. And soon the site will become a sister of DKOS.

That would've sounded a lot more convincing if narrated by Vincent Price, set to a background of a time-lapse photographed thunderstorm, with soundtrack done by Therion or Beethoven.

kenB: I think there's a difference between presenting a case that Bush has told lies and simply calling Bush a liar (or any number of other bad things). In the former case, people who're inclined to disagree can engage your arguments; in the latter, people who disagree will either roll their eyes or (apparently) feel that they're rather under attack.

I see your distinction, but in fact, that's not a distinction Smlook has ever made. Smlook complains that people keep calling Bush a liar: in point of fact, what happens is that people (including me, yes) keep pointing out that Bush has told lies, and giving specific examples of those lies. Smlook seems to object to this and to feel that this is effectively a personal attack. Why this should be I don't know: Smlook's obvious response ought to be, as you suggest, to point out that Bush didn't lie, and prove it by cites - rather than to complain that people keep calling Bush a liar.

Seriously, Timmy do you really want to get banned?
After reading through this whole thread (and, pari passu, the several other posting-rules and banning threads ObWi has posted all week), the take I have gotten (as per Von's original post) is that none of the ObWi editors seem particularly anxious to ban anybody (not even Tacitus!) unless it is a truly severe case of trollery, or undue personal nastiness - and that maintaining a civil and relatively coherent comments section is their principal goal in keeping up the site.
GT's tossoff comment about banning you was just that: a comment (and highly inaccurate IMO) - and unless you (or, I for that matter!) want to flame out in a noisy public blog-martyrdom - we'll (along with a great number of the ObWi regulars, I think) be here till we run out of electrons.
Besides, if you got banned, who would we have around to argue inaccurate interpretations of American history with? ;)

Uhh ... sorry: misstatement of fact above: Edward, at least, was anxious to ban Tacitus - (my opinion differed, but it's not my blog)- but the discussions among the hive-mind honchos have made their deliberations on that issue pretty clear. Sorry.

I've read through some, but not all, of the comments here. (/caveat)

This is a group blog, and as such posting and banning rules will be more difficult to figure out. Single-author blogs are understood to be more totalitarian; here, perhaps, there is more wiggle-room.

Still, as this blog is one of the only places I know where serious people from the left and the right come to debate, it's useful to try to maintain codes of civility. I agree that endless debates about civility are funny and that the temporary ban should cool down overactive heads.

By the way, I'd disagree with the way-above poster who claimed that people who overstepped the bounds of polite discourse were aware of it; so many commenters, in my experience, simply get caught up in the moment and argue themselves into offensiveness.

Clearly, for Obisidian Wings to survive its new popularity, some standard of conduct must be laid down, unless the commenting section is to be disabled--which would be a shame. The problem is that when the original poster (or one of the keyholders to the site) intervenes in the comments thread, he or she doesn't really seem to have the authority to shut down a strain of argument. (I've seen this done with banning, but also by judicious insulting.)

Anyway, the real purpose to my posting at all was to draw everyone's attention to the post at Making Light where Teresa lays out what she thinks she's learned about hosting a blog:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006036.html#006036

I do hope that link doesn't screw up the format, and a good evening to all.

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