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May 31, 2007

Comments

I mean, should not be taken as an endorsement of al-Zawraa.

"Sadr's paper was not calling for violence against American troops when it was shut down, just accused of inciting Iraqi's through false reporting."

Maybe I'm misremembering--they weren't calling for violence against American Troops but they were calling for a violent overthrow of the government. And Sadr actually attempted armed insurrection three times in two years.

Seb, most of that came after the paper closing. According to Bremer, the reason for the closing was due to false reports intenxded to incite Iraqi's against the Americans. One article he pointed to was saying an American missile killed Iraqis rather than a car bomb.

Charles's post is clearly about more than just this one TV network--he's saying that Chavez is a dictator or heading that way. Which is a fair point to make, but it's also one that cries out for context. Various commenters have provided that context.

Since 3:15pm EST I've been getting the message "You are not allowed to post comments" when I attempt to comment.
If I've been banned then the person doing it ought to say so. This would stop other people from continuing to talk to me, and would stop me wondering if this is just a technical glitch or if my ISP is too close to some comment spammer.

Ill refrain from commenting until I hear back one way or the other.

I banned you, Carleton.

You were abusive. I couldn't post anything at all myself, but I could log in, and so I banned you. I'm going to unban you now, but I want you to know that you really need to calm down a bit.

Normally I don' do things like ban frequent commenters unilaterally, but I thought things were getting out of hand. If you don't think so, appeal to the kitty. But please, please let's not get personal, here.

"I'm going to unban you now, but I want you to know that you really need to calm down a bit."

I don't want to make a big song and dance out of this -- and any discussion at all on this topic is all too apt to flare up into one, I'm afraid -- but while I hasten to emphasize that I have no say in any such decisions, and I'm perfectly well aware of that, but to simply speak as an 'umble commenter, I did miss seeing any comments by Carleton that seemed to me to warrant banning. It's perfectly possible I missed them. Could you please, for the sake of transparency, quote the specific passages, please, Slartibartfast?

Thanks.

Gary -

See first and last lines here. What I would consider abusive in an otherwise non-abusive comment (the whole "rat's butt" thing didn't bother me).

But, I am a humble commenter and obviously can't read Slarti's mind (which is good for both of us, methinks. ;-)).

Various accusations of bad faith, demands to STFU, and possibly a few other things that I don't care to detail, because this isn't a court of law. Pestering.

You seemed in need of a stepping-away-from-the-blog, too, Gary, but no longer.

Although I could be wrong about this as well.

Well, that was interesting. I think I'm going to sit on my sunny patio and have an ice cold gin and tonic.

Exactly. I think that very kind of thing, if not that exact thing, is sorely needed. Tempers seem to be even more frayed than usual.

Substitute tea or other beverage of choice for gin. Mine might be a martini, or a scotch, neat.

"Although I could be wrong about this as well."

No, I'm pretty relaxed at the moment, aside from the sporadic toothache flare-ups, which haven't happened in the last few hours.

I have varying standards as to how much effort I'll put into holding someone's feet to the fire on a given point, but, of course, how much spare time and energy I have, and other variables in my life, are just as significant, but there's always a point, however immediately, or late, I get to, where I'm content to let someone continue to hold to a point I find fantastic -- or even to have made an offensive remark -- and yet I'm somehow able to go on with life, and let them live, as well. I'm quite magnanimous about this, actually, and it's been years since I sent out the Jem H'adar ninja flying robot dolphin-monkeys with frickin' lasers to eliminate my enemies in a display of ruthless and lethal final condemnation.

Persistence is useful, but only within limits.

The frickin' lasers part sounds pretty final, Gary. Remind me not to get on your bad side.

Well, Im not a big fan of pretend-cluelessness. It's hard enough to get to a meeting of the minds without having a demonstrably smart person suddenly claim to not understand how anything is related to Africa or plants...

And he compared me to bril, fer chrissakes. bril. After all our time together I ask you, do I not deserve better than that? Isn't there something in the posting rules about comparing people to bril?


Ive wondered why I get in so many fights online- this very rarely happens to me in person. I think it's tone- like when I said STFU, that was really 'shut-the-f-up-about-the-photosynthesis-already', not 'Silence, pig-dog!' Imagine it with a sort of NYC mock-whining descending tone.
But that pretty much doesn't get conveyed, which is my fault. Id use genuine humor more often to illustrate my points (rather than mockery and sarcasm), if I had any laying around.

"The frickin' lasers part sounds pretty final, Gary. Remind me not to get on your bad side."

I'm sure you'll forgive me for getting technical.

I'm available for an MDA consultancy. The government might want to look into Jem H'adar ninja flying robot dolphin-monkeys with frickin' lasers possibilities.

Although I'm hesitant to put such dangerous technology into governmental hands, to be honest.

But if all else fails, I always have the armor I've made with my JHNFDDMWFL tech. It's awesome.

I don't think he compared you to bril, Carleton. Try reading it again.

Again, I could be wrong about that, so let me know if it still reads like you being compared to bril.

Speaking of bril, though:

Katherine and Hilzoy,

Thanks for all the posts about the Sunni's who were being held by AQ in a torture chamber in Iraq and recently freed by U.S. soldiers. I appreciate you both taking the time to keep us all informed about what "real" torture and torturers looks like.

I'd like to return an equally sincere thanks to bril for his rhetorical evisceration of John Kyl today. I got goosebumps, lemme tell ya.

Slart:

I don't think he compared you to bril, Carleton. Try reading it again.

Again, I could be wrong about that, so let me know if it still reads like you being compared to bril.

Sebastian certainly compared me to bril.

Sebastian:

I have yet to see any 'context' provided by anyone on this thread that makes Gary's charges [...] worthwhile as other than griping.

With the 'context' that has been provided, he sounds very much like bril when bril whines that [....]

Sebastian then went on to Carleton:
[...] So you think bril's tactic of attacking hilzoy and katherine's torture posts by attacking their motives or complaining about how evil Al Qaeda is represents in fact a GOOD argument.
I think that, in context, this clearly constitutes Sebastian comparing what bril does to what Carleton does, myself.

bril itself is just a troll, and best discussed as little as possible, because the sole goal of a troll is attention and comments, any sort of attention and any sort of comments. That's the thrill trolls live for, and it's all they live for. The only possible way to get rid of them is to ignore them, no matter how tempting it is to play with them by responding, because when finally totally starved of attention, they get bored and look for another place to get it.

To be sure, that takes stern self-discipline, and I give in to the temptation myself, from time to time. But it's still incredibly counter-productive, because that's what they live for.

Refutations are pretty much useless, because a troll doesn't respond logically, or care. They just want attention.

As to the general right wing conniption in the last week about al Qaeda torture, it's only in their fevered brains that anyone isn't aware of the barbarity and evil of al Qaeda's endeavors (say, did something happen in NYC at some point? I don't pay much attention to this stuff), so that the point needs to be ritually reiterated. That, too, really doesn't deserve to be dignified with an affirmation that, hey, al Qaeda torture and murder and beheading and so forth is disgusting evil. It's not actually a shocking revelation.

"I'm available for an MDA consultancy."

Probably a pile-on, Gary, but did you see that Kevin Drum&Co. are advertising for an editor?

Well, that was interesting. I think I'm going to sit on my sunny patio and have an ice cold gin and tonic.

Now the real question: what gin? And yes, there are wrong answers.

What's the right gin in a G&T? A cheap one, I'd guess.

I used to be a Bombay Sapphire kind of guy, back when I drank gin. I haven't had G&T for over a decade, though; possibly two.

It was Sapphire, and no you don't want to waste a premium gin on a mixed drink.

If I could take this moment to recommend South Gin, out of New Zealand.

The unanimous approval of Sapphire convinces me that I'm on the right blog.

By the by: I'm extraordinarily irked that one of our local liquor stores, that stocks something like 20 different kinds of gin, no longer offers free tastes. Most unfair.

I drink Sapphire in martinis, but I'm going to try other stuff after reading this.

Well I'd feel sorry for you except up here in Canuckistan you can't even buy a six-pack from your local 7-11. Except in Quebec. You can buy a bottle anywhere in Quebec. Even church.

Or so I'm told.

Just to add, to be all needlessly snooty and all: Plymouth gin - the style and/or, to cut to the chase, thebrand - is the gin for a G & T.

But you can't use it for anything else. Too sweet.

For one thing, I keep the Sapphire bottle in the freezer and thus don't shake with ice and skimp on the vermouth, and I think the alcohol content is just too high, at least for my advancing age.

Any suggestions on good easily-available martini olives? I never seem to find anything as good as what I get in the kind of bars where I order martinis.

The NYT article I linked to liked Plymouth best for martinis.

Plymouth is fantastic in blue cheese martinis; I'm not convinced of any other applications. Sapphire is excellent -- IMO, the best, actually -- for G&Ts but, like most gins, you need to water it down a little (with melting ice or tonic) to taste all the botanicals. Otherwise you just get the attack of the alcohol and some vague juniper fragrance, which misses the point.

rilkefan: depending on how you want them stuffed, try your local deli. I know mine stocks some reasonable ones. Failing that, next time you're at a bar, ask -- I suspect they're just your garden-variety bulk cocktail olive but one never knows. Not really much of a help since I almost never use cocktail olives in drinks.

spartikus,

"Well I'd feel sorry for you except up here in Canuckistan you can't even buy a six-pack from your local 7-11."

Don't get me started on Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board and its remarkably strange rules on alcoholic beverage sales. Short description on beer -- you can buy only by the case at beer distributors. You can buy six-packs only from bars or certain stores with licenses (at massively inflated prices). You cannot buy beer anywhere else, including supermarkets.

"bril itself is just a troll, and best discussed as little as possible, because the sole goal of a troll is attention and comments, any sort of attention and any sort of comments."

Gary,

Really? Then why don't I respond multiple times in threads? Wouldn't that create more comments? Why don't I try to engage people in a back and forth discussion? Wouldn't that also? How many times did I respond in the post the other day in order to create more comments? Perhaps you can point out the times in the last few months that I have actually engaged anyone in a discussion in order to increase comments, excluding this instance.

You and I both know there is no point. Your understanding of me is incorrect. I have previously posted the reason for the way I post here. I can't help that you don't remember or believe my stated reason.

Sebastian then went on to Carleton:

[...] So you think bril's tactic of attacking hilzoy and katherine's torture posts by attacking their motives or complaining about how evil Al Qaeda is represents in fact a GOOD argument.

Sebastian,

I'm not trying to make an argument only a single point. I was only pointing out that Katherine and Hilzoy find it far more important to criticize our government as opposed to AQ. Do you disagree?

Would Hilzoy are Katherine disagree? It appears Gary doesn't.

Everyone knows AQ is evil so there is no reason to talk about it. But certainly they believe it is their responsibility to criticize the US and hold them to a higher standard.

That in and of itself isn't a bad thing.

It is the degree to which they do it over the other that makes them appear to support the enemy and desire US defeat. That's my problem with them. If you ask them if they want the US to be defeated they will say no. When you look at their ongoing actions whose side benefits most from their actions? Read this site. They aren't anti-AQ. They are anti-Bush. They aren't even both.

Bush is the leader of the war. This is where they make an intellectual disconnect from the real world. They appear to believe that one can still support the US objectives, but not support the leader. I can only imagine how the head coach of a team would react and perform in that kind of an environment. Bush is not a legitimate leader in their eyes. They have never recognized him as such. Hence, another intellectual disconnect from the real world. They don't think their actions affect AQ, but somehow their actions affect Bush. However the reality is their actions have an impact on both.

Imagine the impact if all the women in the western world protested how women in Islamic countries are treated. The feminist aren’t interested in using this tactic to support their beliefs. In my town the "Women in Black" meet and protest the war, but not the people who are the major oppressors of women in the world. Katherine and Hilzoy are not much different.

I would say they are helping AQ to achieve victory the only way in which AQ can. The media. They will tell you they have no impact over AQ. I would respectfully disagree and say the exact opposite is true. Their actions and people like them lend support to AQ in the media. I would argue that people like Hilzoy and Katherine are AQ's target audience and its enablers in the media war. The more negative buzz created about the WOT by anyone the better. This site helps AQ meet their strategic objective.

If you could put a percentage on the different factors affecting the multiple battle spaces what would they be?

For example,

20% US military on the ground
20% US government
20% Actions of the enemy
20% MSM

I'm not claiming those are my numbers or a complete list, just a perspective of the war. But I will make the statement that if this war is lost it will primarily be Bush's fault. (Not because of his overall incompetence. Going to war with a country that hasn’t fought a ground war in 30 years is a learning process and I can accept that many mistakes will be made and that we must adapt.)

It will be due to his failure to recognize and accept this war is primarily a media war. It will be for his failure to realize and accept that in the MOST important way this war is like Vietnam. Not on the ground, but in the airwaves.

We have already fought it and lost it once. Millions of innocents paid the price.

Regardless of how incompetent the government or the military has been, eventually the military is smart enough to adapt. Historically they can and will, if given the time and space.

But, in the most important battle field, AQ couldn't ask for better partners than Katherine and Hilzoy!

Personally, I believe that when they take AQ personally they will change their ways and support the US. Due to their academic and intellectual disconnect from the realities of what it means on the ground if the US is defeated that allows them to act complicitly without feeling like they are doing so. When that gap is bridged they will most likely pony up. Until they are threatened with the "real" prospects of a burka it is just all theory and analysis to them. That's the challenge for academics in general.

I think they believe it is more important to hold our government accountable than the enemy. Can you imagine taking the time to figure out the "root" causes when some stranger has just broken into your house and is threatening you and your family. You have the means to defend yourself, but first you decide to analyze your own actions and try to figure out why the person has broken into your home. Your family is there with you, but you turn to your family and say, "Yes, he wants to rob and kill us but we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We need to understand him better before take action.

I admit that sounds reasonable on paper. Someone breaks into your home and you try to talk them down. But at the end point of a gun and your family threatened, the reality of that approach is absurd. “Honey, there is a guy breaking into our house. Let’s go see what he wants.” “Just leave the gun in the closet. I’m just going to try and talk to him first.” That's where it appears they mentally disconnect and the academic takes over. They stay on the academic path, not the "real" world path.

I find that belief and disconnect very disturbing. Can you imagine how previous generations would respond to that logic? "If our country is facing a ruthless enemy it is more important to focus on criticizing yourself and holding yourself to a higher standard rather than focusing on defeating the enemy." I can only imagine all the wars we would have one with that approach. The other intellectual disconnect is that people like Hilzoy and Katherine want to believe that we have evolved beyond the need for war. Odd that the same people who are proponents of evolution forget that means we are actually animals and often times must deal with the reality of our animalistic nature.

Their approach to Bush and AQ doesn’t lend itself to helping Bush win the strategic war against AQ. It helps AQ far more with respect to the media war, which is the one that we are truly losing.

On another note, a big problem with the conservative movement is that we are afraid to call a spade a spade. That has to stop. When their are people that are doing more to help the enemy achieve its goals rather than our own country, regarless of how bad our leader must be, we have to start calling them out.

Hilzoy and Katherine are doing more to help AQ win the war than they are to help Bush. That's just wrong and anti-American.

If they want to know how to criticize the President and still support the troops and the US their are many good examples. Joe Lieberman comes to mind, but I believe Hilzoy doesn't like him any more.

Gary, it is my hope that you will not be tempted to respond to any trollish tripe that may be posted here.

On another note, a big problem with the conservative movement is that we are afraid to call a spade a spade.

I think the conservative movement has a lot of big problems (too many to count!), but I wouldn't include the above among them.

Model62, actualy it is. They tend to call a spade a bulldozer.

Charles is not an advocate for free press in general.

The statement is a lie, Wu. Please find one example, excepting those where a media outlet expressly incites violence, where I do not support a free press. You will find no such example, so you should retract your statement and apologize. This is yet another incidence of bad faith from you.

As for al-Zawraa TV, you make unfounded projections that the only way to destroy a station is to "kill journalists", and further speculate that those at the station are journalists to begin with. Yet here is this very post is an example of a station destroyed without a shot fired. There is more than one way to end a station's broadcasts (and I prefer any method that will not take civilian lives), but if you're arguing in bad faith and trying to put your detractor in the worst possible light, those little details don't matter.

...because he hates Chavez.

Karnak Award. I hate what Chavez does. If he turned the ratchet the other way in terms freedoms and rights, then I would be in favor of his governance. Too bad that has never happened.

...to Charles, Chavez's *existence* is wrong, and anything that supports that existence is wrong.

Second Karnak Award. Chavez has been duly elected on multiple occasions. By all appearances, he is the legitimate president of Venezuela, so I may disapprove of his acts but accept his existence in office.

Seriously, folks, if bril is being labeled a troll from the right (and I agree with Sebastian's reprimand), why isn't Wu behaving like a troll from the left? Last I checked, "do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake" is a violation of the posting rules.

Sebastian,

Funny I actually take the time to make an actual argument here and see the response...

Gary, it is my hope that you will not be tempted to respond to any trollish tripe that may be posted here.

Maybe, Buckley has said it better.

In the currency of human deaths, it is unlikely that we would match in Iraq what we stood by for in Vietnam. The statistics aren't even there to count accurately the casualties of defeat in that theater. But the most graphic symbol is the picture of Vietnamese, young and old, clinging to a U.S. helicopter in the desperate, final hope to be taken away from those waiting to torture and kill them. As stated, the statistics are not final, but somewhere between a quarter-million and 2 million or even 3 million Vietnamese suffered from our flight from the burden we first had undertaken, and then abandoned.

Henry Kissinger has said that the use of the American fleet to contain the invasion of 1975 could have saved the day. What could save the day in Iraq? Nothing short of public revulsion toward those Democrats who are measuring these days the political value of honor. In the election ahead, all the world will be looking over our shoulders, including the ghosts of Vietnam.

People like Hilzoy and Katherine need to know that their moral relativism is repulsive.

What's the right gin in a G&T?

Sapphire

Tanqueray will do, but you have to pronounce it the way the dumb girl on Beavis and Butthead said it (it was the name of her friend): Tayyynka-raaaay.

Neither Hilzoy nor Katherine are relativists. If anything their harder-than-you-like non-relativism on torture is your main problem with them.

I am EXTREMELY reluctant to do this, and fully acknowledge the irony of doing so on a thread that is so interested in free speech. But bril, you repeatedly engage in extreme rhetorical bomb-throwing and very personal attacks. You occassionally make interesting points, but they are deeply shadowed by your unfair attacks. While I'm increasingly skeptical that we can maintain a good forum here, I am certain that you are making things very much worse.

If you would like to commit to toning things down and trying to engage in reasoned discussion, you may appeal the ban by writing to our general email address or emailing one of the other members. Over all I wish you well. But in this forum you are acting like poison.

I also see that you post from multiple IP addresses. I have banned your most popular ones, but you should understand that missing one is not an open invitation to return. If you wish to resume commenting here, please petition via email. You are a conservative, so I trust you will understand and respect limitations placed on invitations to private property.

" While I'm increasingly skeptical that we can maintain a good forum here,"

Things have gotten too personal, both here and in the von thread.

The basic reason that Republicans like to focus on Chavez and Venezuela--as opposed to any of the dozens of other noxious regimes in the world--is because Chavez is a leftist, a nominal socialist. His totalitarian tendencies make him an easy and convenient tool with which to tar Democrats and liberals.

It's not that they're wrong about Chavez, for the most part, it's just that the way they obsess over him rankles because it's such a transparent attempt at guilt by association. Chavez, on the scale of bad world leaders, is a little turd in a big bowl.

Chavez's move has provided a useful rallying point for the opposition.

Chavez, on the scale of bad world leaders, is a little turd in a big bowl.

So – push the handle… Swwooosh…

I don't think he compared you to bril, Carleton. Try reading it again.

See, no matter how hard I try to talk tongue-in-cheek on the net, it seems to come out as straight. I feel like such a failure...

(nb that last bit, Im kidding. I feel fine.)

Seriously, folks, if bril is being labeled a troll from the right (and I agree with Sebastian's reprimand), why isn't Wu behaving like a troll from the left?

Did you miss the part where Slarti temp-banned him?

Please find one example, excepting those where a media outlet expressly incites violence, where I do not support a free press.

Dan Rather and Eason Jordan. [Links available on request, though they really shouldn't be necessary.] Your calls for their firing, and copious failure to call for the firing of those who've made similar (or worse) errors in the past, belies any claim of neutrality you might have; whether it constitutes rejection of "the free press" depends on how one exactly interprets the notion.

...which is itself a very interesting question, but one I don't have time for.

The statement is a lie, Wu. Please find one example, excepting those where a media outlet expressly incites violence, where I do not support a free press. You will find no such example, so you should retract your statement and apologize. This is yet another incidence of bad faith from you.

Bad faith isn't me reading your writing and taking it as I see it. Which is what Im doing. I think you like to re-adjust your positions on the fly, and then hurl these sorts of accusations at those who don't play nice, who don't go along with your changing positions.

I offer an example of that behavior. Just now you wrote
As for al-Zawraa TV, you make unfounded projections that the only way to destroy a station is to "kill journalists", and further speculate that those at the station are journalists to begin with. Yet here is this very post is an example of a station destroyed without a shot fired. There is more than one way to end a station's broadcasts...

You're just playing semantic games. You weren't talking about "destroying" the station in Syria by revoking its license to operate- indeed, that would be a strange use of the word "destroy". You were talking about rendering it inoperable by force. Maybe not 'leave a crater' force, but you certainly weren't talking about a bureaucratic move when you said ...the Coalition has every right to find the damn studio and launch a military strike against the al-Zawraa station. You said the station should be snuffed out.

So why are you shifting the ground? You were saying that a military strike was justified, but when confront about this you suddenly go off on a tangent about revoking their license. And you present it as if I had misunderstood your original point.
But this new position is tangential (at best) to your original point, that we had the right physically destroy the station. That was the point you were being called on, and you now want to pretend (ie present as if I misunderstood) that you meant something very different.

That kind of semantic game allows you to make constructions as you did above: excepting those where a media outlet expressly incites violence. The whole game is hidden in those words- as long as Charles Bird gets to define the terms and Charles Bird gets to re-define his older positions, Charles Bird can continue to prove to his own satisfaction that he's never wrong. You even reserved the right to define who is a journalist ([you] speculate that those at the station are journalists to begin with). If past patterns continue, you'll use that power to defend ideologically friendly journalists, while removing that label from those who say things you don't like. Thus you could safely say that you've always defended the rights of journalists- bc you've got the power to assign the label.
_____
These two situations (Iraq and Venezuela) actually appear very similar to me. You've drawn the post-facto arbitrary line about "incites violence", but IMO a media outlet that calls for violence and a media outlet that outrageously misrepresents events in the middle of a coup are not very different. They are both functioning as the advocates for destabilizing criminal activity, without acting directly.
In a stable environment, those sorts of activities could be dealt with without infringing on speech freedoms. For example, we allow Ann Coulter to jokingly suggest murdering Supreme Court Justices (ie we respect the fiction that she's kidding), because our society is robust enough to handle it. Venezuela and Iraq may not be, so they (again IMO) have a reasonable argument for suppressing media that are disrupting an already unstable society. (nb I've already said I don't agree with Chavez's actions).
If your positions aren't ideologically driven, then they are just baffling: in the two cases that appear so similar to me, you think one justifies a military strike and the other creates righteous indignation against a license not being renewed. Even if you thought that they were different enough to require a different response, the radically different responses you suggest IMO defy logic.
Unless you are not really concerned with press freedom per se, but with actions that you see helping or hindering the interests of the US. You can call that bad faith- I call that a reasonable interpretation of your wildly varying responses.

Seriously, folks, if bril is being labeled a troll from the right (and I agree with Sebastian's reprimand), why isn't Wu behaving like a troll from the left? Last I checked, "do not consistently abuse or vilify other posters for its own sake" is a violation of the posting rules.
I'd prefer not to get back to bril, because it's somewhat unfair, giving the banning, though I find it ironic that bril was finally banned after bril made a quite substantive post, that wasn't terribly trollish.

But to answer your question, Charles, and to resist my urge to reply "I don't know, why isn't Wu behaving like a troll from the left?," the answer is that he's not acting like a troll. At all.

You may be unclear on what a troll is (as I recall, you have no Usenet experience), and what a troll is has nothing to do with ObWi's posting rules. Whether or not Carleton has violated the posting rules isn't in any way relevant to the question of why he isn't a troll.

Trolling is posting in an entirely off-topic way, with no intent whatever to do other than provoke as much outrage and annoyance as possible.

There's a rather rambling entry here, which I think underemphasizes that a key element of a troll is that they almost only do the above. Someone who regularly posts reasonable material, but is sometimes unreasonable, is not a troll. A troll is not merely "an annoying person," and it most certainly is not merely any abusive person.

There are all sorts of ways to be a jerk online without being a troll. And relatively few people who violate the ObWi posting rules are trolls.

As I said, bril's last message wasn't particularly a troll, by itself, I'd say, since it was responsive and substantive and on-topic to previous comments. But bril rarely does that, and instead almost always posts on an entirely off-topic point, in an attempt to disrupt conversation onto this other point, which bril feels needs addressing.

That's trolling, when it's done in a consistently disruptive or hostile way. If bril wanted to behave appropriately and post on those topics, bril would start a blog of bril's own, and confine responses on other blogs to whatever is appropriate to that blog.

You're perfectly free to criticize Carleton, hold him to the posting rules, argue with him, be bitchy back, or whatever, within the posting rules, Charles, and to find him as annoying as you like.

But while Carleton may have crossed the posting rules with a couple of words, perhaps, he's clearly not trolling. His replies are responsive, even if you don't like them, or even if they're unpleasant or uncalled for. They don't sail off onto some other topic entirely, which only Carleton thinks is appropriate. He's not trolling. Maybe he's being annoying, but that's not at all the same thing.

I hope this answers your question. If not, feel free to ask for clarification.

"...Charles Bird can continue to prove to his own satisfaction that he's never wrong."

In fairness, Charles admits he's wrong, from time to time.

It isn't easy to get him to do it, and it doesn't happen often, but it does happen far more often than "never."

OK, Gary, I take back my suggestion of Wu's trollishness.

Your calls for their firing, and copious failure to call for the firing of those who've made similar (or worse) errors in the past...

And yet CBS and CNN live on, Anarch, and the federal government has taken no action and made no threats concerning their broadcast licenses. You're trying to conflate two separate issues into one. If any major journalist commits malpractice on the scale of Rather or makes outrageously unsupportable statements such as Jordan, then I would question whether they should remain employed in their esteemed positions. Just trying to be consistent. My larger concern with both Rather and Jordan was their stonewalling and lack of corrective measures after the mistakes were made.

You've drawn the post-facto arbitrary line about "incites violence"...

Like those arbitrary lines set forth in our Constitution and Supreme Court? Please tell me how my views vary one iota from our own rule of law, because that's exactly what I'm going by. But hey, your mind's made up, and it seems I can't persuade you of the difference between an organization that exhorts its viewers to kill Americans and Shiites and an organization that covers one set of protesters but not another. If RCTV truly did incite violence, do you really think Chavez would hesitate one minute in arresting the TV executives? The real player of semantics is you trying to portray the two stations as somehow similar.

And yes, I did say "military strike" in my al-Zawraa post, but I didn't specify what kind. My preferred means is one that does not take civilian life under accepted rules of war. But if it can be destroyed without a military strike, then that would be my most preferred method. Those are my defaults for your information, but since you consistently favor attack over dialogue, you give no benefit of the doubt in that regard.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I wrote my Tough month post before I saw your comment that "Charles Bird can continue to prove to his own satisfaction that he's never wrong." So I hope you'll agree with me that that statement of yours is complete bullsh*t.

Charles: If RCTV truly did incite violence, do you really think Chavez would hesitate one minute in arresting the TV executives?

C, this makes it appear that you have not read my comment above. Chavez prosecuted very few of those involved in the coup in the succeeding two years, only a few of the senior, very public military partipants. (Also, in absentia, the dictator-for-a-day Pedro Carmona, now living in Colombia).

Like those arbitrary lines set forth in our Constitution and Supreme Court?

Perhaps you were unaware that neither Venezuela nor Iraq are parts of the United States. The legal distinction that allows Coulter's 'joking' suggestions to kill a USSC justice to pass while forbidding someone from actually recommending that action exists here- but that doesn't make it non-arbitrary. It certainly doesn't make it binding on the rest of the world.
If the offending station had properly (ie by American standards) hidden their suggestions as 'jokes', that wouldn't matter one bit to me. If they said "wouldn't it be funny to kill Americans with an IED?", would you conclude that they should get a pass bc they were adhering to American jurisprudence (for some bizarre reason)?

But hey, your mind's made up, and it seems I can't persuade you of the difference between an organization that exhorts its viewers to kill Americans and Shiites and an organization that covers one set of protesters but not another.

You know that's not the most serious thing the station has been accused of- it's been referenced on this very thread. Im not really interested in re-explaining it or hunting up links, since you aren't really interested in debating the issue.
Really, it wouldn't weaken your position to admit the existence of bad acts by the station. It would give you the opportunity to explain why you think they weren't that bad, or should be protected, or whatever.
Pretending they don't exist makes your case look weak, like the real facts are just too scary to deal with.

If RCTV truly did incite violence, do you really think Chavez would hesitate one minute in arresting the TV executives?

I have very little insight into Chavez, but at least what insight I have isn't dominated by ideology- whereas your ideology appears to have granted you mindreading powers. If you assume he's a bad actor, then reaching the conclusion he's a bad actor isn't much of a challenge, is it now?

And yes, I did say "military strike" in my al-Zawraa post, but I didn't specify what kind. My preferred means is one that does not take civilian life under accepted rules of war. But if it can be destroyed without a military strike, then that would be my most preferred method. Those are my defaults for your information, but since you consistently favor attack over dialog, you give no benefit of the doubt in that regard.

Im not arguing that you think the station should be blown up. Im presenting the irrefutable fact that you argued that we had the *right* to blow it up. That blowing it up was an acceptable response. Im not debating your preferences because I don't see that as being relevant.
Conflating what I said you felt was justified and what I said you *wanted* is just another way of avoiding genuine discussion.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I wrote my Tough month post before I saw your comment that "Charles Bird can continue to prove to his own satisfaction that he's never wrong." So I hope you'll agree with me that that statement of yours is complete bullsh*t.

My statement is generalized; I agree with Gary that you occasionally admit error, but usually we get the sort of obfuscation as above (moving goalposts, redefining terms, shifting positions, accusations, 'forgetting' facts). So, since it didn't depend on any particular statement of yours occurring at any particular time but on your general patterns of behavior, your hopes have been sadly dashed once again.

the federal government has taken no action and made no threats concerning their broadcast licenses.

Like I said, it depends on how one defines "free press". You're correct that there was no federal action to remove those journalists; there was, however, a concerted mass effort to remove those journalists from their posts, to drown out and ostracize anyone who said anything similar, and to prevent such criticisms from being raised in any wise in the future.

Further, the ostensible reason -- journalistic malpractice -- isn't credible by itself since there are other who have committed far more egregious sins (e.g. Judy Miller) who haven't been touched and who, in some cases (e.g. Ben Domenech, if he counts), were vociferously defended. IOW, it's all very well to say one is standing on principle... but then one actually has to stand on that principle in order to remain credible.

Please be aware that I'm deliberately speaking in a larger context than just you here as I don't particularly feel like rehashing the specifics of old battles and neither, I suspect, do you. However, in that larger context, it's not at all clear to me that a polity truly has a "free press" if the majority can eliminate certain viewpoints that aren't illegitimate, merely unfortunate. The precise drawing of the lines, or shading of the greys, is now left to the reader.

"The precise drawing of the lines, or shading of the greys, is now left to the reader."

I have absolutely no drawing/painting/sketching talent. I always color outside the lines.

This piece by Patrick McLemee of Just Foreign Policy questions the extent to which the non-renewal of RCTV's broadcast license (they can still reach viewers by satellite dish and cable) is a free speech issue. He explores the issues with reps of the human rights and press freedom groups who criticized the move.

It may not convince anyone reading here that the RCTV nonrenewal is not a concern, but at a minimum it provides enough further information about the Venezuelan media environment to counter Sebastian's overblown claims.

Sorry, that's Patrick McElwee. Off to bed.

"(they can still reach viewers by satellite dish and cable) is a free speech issue"

Before reading the piece, which I'm about to, I have to say that this parenthetical argument seems highly dubious: what would you say if the Bush administration decided to not renew CBS's license, and gave it to Rupert Murdoch, and the Bush defenders explained that this wasn't a free speech issue, because CBS was still going to be available on satellite dish and cable?

Hmm, this has a lot of interesting specifics, to be sure.

"...because he hates Chavez."

Karnak Award. I hate what Chavez does. If he turned the ratchet the other way in terms freedoms and rights, then I would be in favor of his governance.

So, you don't hate Chavez; you admit that you hate what he does, what he stands for, his entire political reason for existing- but you want to hand out a Karnak for me saying that you hate *him*.

Is there an actual distinction there? Seem to me like "I didn't say I hated chopper liver and onions, I just hate the way it *tastes*".

Just thought of an interesting example: let's say that a Syrian TV station is broadcasting documentary stuff, instead of inciting violence. "How to build an IED" and "Small Unit Ambush Tactics".
That sort of thing would justify shutting the station down. Id even understand using military force against it. But disseminating *that* sort of information would be protected in the US.
Point being, the rules are very different elsewhere- not just that they are, but that that's appropriate. Even here, you have a right to a jury trial- but they'll shoot looters on sight during a riot. And we all understand why.

C, this makes it appear that you have not read my comment above.

I did read it, Nell, as well as your ensuing comment of how Chavez jerry-rigged the judicial system after he didn't get what he wanted. The fact remains that he didn't arrest and jail RCTV executives, but he got plenty of political mileage in the aftermath, including an award-winning documentary film that worked in his favor.

As for, Wu, it's a waste of my time responding to you any further. You're just going to keep on keeping on with your jerkoff comments.

Funny, you seem so willing to engage when "engage" means obfuscate. Whenever we get to this point in the conversation, you suddenly decide it's not worth having. When you can't pretend you don't know what RCTV actually did, when you can't claim having someone quote your past comments is "predictably misleading", when you can't pretend you didn't suggest that blowing up unfriendly media was Ok...
Well, you just run out of gas.

But since you're on your way out, and since you're so fond of demanding apologies and retractions...
My first post here consisted of me calling you a defender of press freedom (with my tongue in my cheek) and then a big quote from you. I was, I think, careful to quote enough of the piece to both preserve context and to make it clear that bombing 1)wasn't your first option and 2)was generally distasteful to you on speech grounds. I felt that I bent over backwards to to fair to your viewpoint in the article as a whole.
Yet you called it misleading. I say- substantiate that, or take it back. And leave out the "jerkoff" comments- if Im going to be banned for incivility, then have the decency not to abuse your position.

I actually agree with Carleton, above, re: "jerkoff": front-pagers ought not to indulge in name-calling. If anything, front-pagers ought to hold themselves to a higher standard than the posting rules require. Calling anyone a troll who is manifestly not a troll (simply because they happen to be behaving in a way that comes off as unpleasant) is one of those things a front-pager should avoid doing. And certainly a front-pager ought to take the time to underscore someone's jerk-offiness without calling them a jerkoff. For lessons in how that's done, I recommend Scott Eric Kauffman or Gary Farber, when his teeth aren't bothering him.

Which isn't any point at all about Gary, other than I think he tends to write much more effectively (even crushingly, at times) when ungrumpy.

Which is not to excuse Carleton; I think he's getting a little vindictive, here, particularly as regards the bad-faith accusations. One can certainly accuse Charles of being inconsistent, but the accusation that he's deliberately making arguments that he doesn't actually agree with needs some substantiation, because in my view that is a serious charge. Just as accusing someone of being a liar, or telling a lie, needs substantiation.

And that's really all I have to say about that.

Carleton: For the foreseeable future, your future posts on this site will on the substance of the speech rather than the identity of the speaker. You've engaged in the ad hominem fallacy from the start; despite efforts to redirect you, you have persisted in it throughout. It is destroying the conversation, contrary to the spirit of the blog, and is wholly unfair to Charles.

I suggest that you're done on this thread, and that you redirect efforts in the future to responding to the substance of the post rather than attacking the speaker. You are very close to being banned.

End bold.

Erm, end bold? Now?

Fixed, von.

Thanks, Slarti.

You've engaged in the ad hominem fallacy from the start...

I don't think it's unreasonable to bring up someone's previous posts on a subject to demonstrate whether or not they're being consistent. This is not ad hominem, since my intent isn't to attack the speaker, but to bring into question one of his premises(ie press freedom should be rigorously defended even in unstable situations) by showing that he himself did not support that assumption.
That is, I didn't say "this isn't true because Charles is a bad person", I said "Charles is advocating this principle of press freedom against a regime he doesn't like, but radically changes his position when his feelings for the regime are different". Thus, we can compare the two examples, see where they are different, and decide whether or not the premise is correct or needs to be re-examined or re-stated. Or, perhaps his earlier argument was invalid & needs to be re-examined.
If you're going to accuse someone of ad hominem, please understand what it means first. For example, Charles immediately dismissed my quote of his with a classic ad hominen : Your attempt to provide "context" is predictably misleading, Wu. No surprise, because judging by your history of comments, you prefer attack over dialogue anyway- but for some reason this didn't offend you.

My bringing up of that former post, delivered with a tongue-in-cheek that is certainly within the normal tone of the board, was met with 1)an accusation of being misleading and 2)a gratuitously insulting ramble about context that served no purpose in the discussion. This by front-pagers, who are now complaining about the tone of the discussion.

Perhaps my offense is not relenting when pointing out the mistakes of posters. If bringing up Charles's previous posts when I think they're not consistent with his current views is out of bounds, I dont know that Id want to be here in any case. If front-pagers can practice unprovoked ad hominem and gratuitous insults but cannot even handle having their own words quoted back at them, then there are some beams that need to be cast out of some eyes.

One can certainly accuse Charles of being inconsistent, but the accusation that he's deliberately making arguments that he doesn't actually agree with needs some substantiation, because in my view that is a serious charge.

Fair enough; I think that bringing up the quote is how to do that. We sort of started down a discussion of the matter, but the front-pagers also started out by injecting accusations and other bad behavior, and the conversation went downhill. Ill accept responsibility for my actions there, but I can't make the debate reasonable & therefore attempt to substantiate things, I need a little cooperation from Charles. I won't both challenge his premise & defend it for him.

Broadly speaking, there are two main approaches to argument when there is disagreement: there's assuming bad faith by the other, and interpreting every comment in that light, and responding harshly and with hostility, and nothing but refutation and condemnation, and there's assuming good faith, and interpreting every comment in that light, and responding courteously, and seeking points of agreement.

Naturally, most commonly we employ some mix, depending on our perception of the Other, and upon our situation, mood, general style, and other factors.

But in general, hostility tends to provoke counter-hostility. Extending the courtesy of at least trying to act under a presumption of good faith, and that errors are misunderstandings, not lies, tends to leave far larger chances of reaching points of agreement.

But one has to look for those points of agreement, and actively try to find them, to get to them.

It's possible that both Carleton and Charles, and perhaps almost all of us, could do a somewhat better job, and make a somewhat better effort at that.

"I suggest that you're done on this thread"

This came across to me very much as bullying in tone, Von, which I'm sure is not how you meant it.

Personally, I find Carleton's style to be frequently very much "in your face," but that's largely fine with me, so long as he doesn't cross over into abuse, which he occasionally does. I'd like, myself, to see him be more careful about not going over that line, but otherwise I don't see him as in any way doing anything worth banning, or even that should bring the topic up.

But I see Carleton -- who has not hesitated to be equally sharp and vigorous in arguing with, or challenging, me and things I've said -- as providing plenty of good points in his arguments, as a rule, and plenty of good comments.

(Honestly, I see Carleton as, generally speaking, contributing a great deal more often, with quality comments, than von has in years, but Von's perfectly entitled to have other priorities, of course.)

And I don't see Carleton as particularly more out of control or abusive than many others, although, of course, there's a tremendous amount of subjectivity in these judgments, and naturally one is affected by how right or wrong one thinks the arguments being made are, and not just how offensive a given word or phrase is, which also adds great subjectivity to such judgments).

In any case, while I absolutely think it's the place of moderators to moderate, and for guidance to be given about appropriate language, I also think it's a very bad idea for moderators to use their position of power to further their partisan views, and to threaten commenters whose views they disagree with and dislike. I think that sort of interaction can be powerfully chilling, and damaging to many, and I strongly urge all the blog-owners with the power to ban to resist the urge to threaten to use that power against people they're arguing with. Let them try to restrain themselves to only bringing up such topics when they're less ideologically motivated to emotionally engage with people, please.

"I suggest that you're done on this thread" is not phrasing I'm inclined to think is appropriate: who is anyone to know what the next thing another person might say is, or what change of tack they might take? I'd hope not to see this particular phrase, or type of phrase, show up again, as opposed to other forms of guidelines, suggestions, or warnings.

My thanks to any blog-owner who considers this.

"And I don't see Carleton as particularly more out of control or abusive than many others"

I agree. And it is the fact that his is the level of the norm of the discussion that makes it pretty much not worth having. His comments don't devolve into attacks, they start there. That kind of game can be played at hundreds of place on the internet, we don't need it every moment here. Everyone, including me, has their bad moments. That is rather different from starting there and getting worse.

I may not have been clear in trying to communicate my view that a certain level of presumption of good faith in argument is necessary for argument to be in any way productive, and that I think we could do more of people at least acting as if they held that presumption, and looked for points of agreement to find, and noted them, rather than just monotonously attacking, which I agree is ultimately pointless if that's the only approach one takes.

It would probably also help if each of us would wear a silly hat when arguing furiously. The Hat Of Vehemence -- perhaps a nice frilly bonnet? -- could help temper one's self-righteousness.

Okay, maybe not, but others might have suggestions.

We could adopt the rules and style of Congress when we respectfully disagree with our honorable opponent, the distinguished lady/gentleman from Y. Does the honorable gentleman from San Diego have any thoughts on this matter?

We could adopt the rules and style of Congress

Wait… Are you trying to help or really push things over the edge here? ;)

It occasionally helps me to restrain myself when I remember that "winning" an argument in a blog comment thread probably does less good for the world than just being respectful to people one encounters.

Not that I live by this to any consistent degree.

Also, as ugly as things get around here, it's better than a great many blogs I visit, including some that I won't mention that pride themselves on their civility. Bright articulate people often know how to humiliate their opponents with malice aforethought while staying well within the supposed lines of civility. I don't mean taking someone's argument apart either.

I'd hold hilzoy up as the model of how we should argue. Not that I always agree with her, but one thing I don't ever recall seeing her do is insult someone in the comments thread in that oh-so-witty and clever way that people with the talent for that kind of thing like to do. Of course many of us (including me) sometimes like to see people cleverly eviscerated, so given that I don't expect the millenium to arrive at ObiWi any time soon.

I agree. And it is the fact that his is the level of the norm of the discussion that makes it pretty much not worth having.

Sebastian, would you be willing to explain this more concretely?

His comments don't devolve into attacks, they start there.

Would you be willing to enumerate some of these attacks? I see Carlton's writings as acerbic and aggressive, but often insightful. I'm beginning to suspect that different groups of people here mean very different things when they use the word "attack" and I'd like to verify that's not the case.

Also, might I make a suggestion? It doesn't look good when the right of center posters gang up on a commenter for bannings, threats of bannings, and general insults. At least it doesn't look good to me. Now, it is your blog and you can do whatever you want. But there are some things you can't do without losing other people's respect. Presumably, all my respect and $4.50 will buy you coffee at starbucks, so don't take this too seriously. On the other hand, the only reason readers come back is because they respect the people involved.

In the future, when you wish to ban someone like Carlton, you may wish to ask hilzoy or Katherine or someone else not involved to intervene. I would certainly look on a banning more charitably if I knew that you had convinced a neutral third party of its necessity.

Fair enough; I think that bringing up the quote is how to do that.

Perhaps I'm slow today; how does the bringing-up of that quote prove, indicate, suggest, or otherwise evidence that Charles is making an argument dishonestly?

Now, it just might suggest, etc that Charles is being inconsistent, but I don't think you're drawing a conclusion regarding bad faith that's supportable. What's worse, the conclusion is presented more or less as being foregone.

Possibly one of us is mistaken about what constitutes a bad faith argument, though. As always, it could be me.

Slarti did the banning, trying to cool things off a bit, and then he did the unbanning. He also criticized Charles's own use of language.

The ban was never supposed to accomplish anything more than interrupt what I perceived to be an escalation of angry exchanges. It was never intended to last any longer than a couple of hours, at the outside. Carleton wasn't the only guy who was pushing at the posting rules, just the one who made me sit up and take notice.

Possibly I committed some harm to Carleton, but I don't think very many points have ever been weakened by the requirement for more time to think them over before expressing them. Again: I could be only a little bit right about that.

I also suggest that Charles and/or Sebastian take a little time off from commenting, as it seems at least one of them simply doesn't see the point anymore. And hilzoy might be persuaded to change the password so I'm not tempted to take the wheel again, although the result in terms of today would mean roughly fifteen spambot tracks she'd have to have cleaned up herself. I hung up my cape voluntarily, but I've never been asked not to do some of the maintenance functions I do, even if sporadically.

I think it would be fairer to say that Slarti did the banning, for whatever reason, and kept it completely quiet until Carlton managed to evade the ban. Once the banning became public it was rescinded.

Silently disappearing commenters is somewhat disturbing. Ideally, when someone is forcibly removed from the conversation, that fact is widely known. I also find the paternalism inherent in "I think you need to relax but instead of saying that to your face directly, I'm going to cut you out of the conversation without explanation" charming but disturbing in its lack of transparency. Do lots of other people get silently banned? Are the silent banns imposed only on left wingers? Only on people that argue with Charles? I have no idea and that bothers me. I doubt this is a common occurrence, but who knows.

Again, as always, Slarti can do anything he wants at all. I just want to quietly point out that silent secret bannings don't give me the warm and fuzzies and I doubt I'm alone in that regard.

I think Slarti would be an excellent candidate to fill a permanent moderator role of some sort. From what I've observed, Slarti has displayed nothing but good faith in his interactions on ObWi, in an official capacity or otherwise. I trust his judgment, regardless of any ideological differences we may have (FWIW).

I think that I've already explained upthread that I was unable to comment, but able to ban. Short of editing one of Carleton's comments to advise him to consider backing off, then, I didn't have much of a choice. You're free to believe whatever you like, though.

Slarti,

I'm sorry, I had missed the bit about being unable to comment. That certainly changes things a bit.

Turbulence: I am confident--very confident--that Slarti would not hesitate to ban (temporary or otherwise) a disruptive right-leaning commenter. (TiO regulars probably know who I'm referring to *cough*).

And hilzoy might be persuaded to change the password so I'm not tempted to take the wheel again, although the result in terms of today would mean roughly fifteen spambot tracks she'd have to have cleaned up herself. I hung up my cape voluntarily, but I've never been asked not to do some of the maintenance functions I do, even if sporadically.

I hope Hil and Co. DON'T take the keys away from you, Slarti. Frankly, Seb and von are right - the tone of discourse at ObWi has devolved recently, taking on a more personal tenor that isn't healthy for informed discussion (and I don't mean to imply that I'm saintly in this regard). Sometimes a 'time out' is warranted, if only to let heated tempers cool down and save a thread from permanent derailment. The only thing I'd recommend is that any bannings/active moderation be enforced with complete transparency and across-the-board consistency.

"And hilzoy might be persuaded to change the password so I'm not tempted to take the wheel again, although the result in terms of today would mean roughly fifteen spambot tracks she'd have to have cleaned up herself."

So that means that the fifteen or so URLs I e-mailed to Hilzoy, over some 7-8 e-mails, to point out comment spam were a waste of time? Is there some way to know who one should e-mail, since there's no way of knowing who, if anyone, ever, will respond to e-mail to the kitty, beyond, when she's available, Hilzoy?

Don't get all mushy on me, matttbastard.

To wrap up a whole bunch of like comments into one messy generalization, you know things have gotten really off-kilter when I'm being the voice of reason.

Gary, I have no idea. The kitten doesn't forward email; in fact, I have no idea how to even access kittenmail. Maybe I'm using the wrong web bowser.

To wrap up a whole bunch of like comments into one messy generalization, you know things have gotten really off-kilter when I'm being the voice of reason.

Or if I'm backing up the 'wingnuts'.

/grin

"The only thing I'd recommend is that any bannings/active moderation be enforced with complete transparency and across-the-board consistency."

Although I continue to believe that posting rules should be kept as short as practical, and that one has to ignore the absolutely inevitable rules-lawyering one is presented with as rules grow more specific or detailed, I continue to believe what I've said since the rules were first declared, which is that they should be a lot clearer, and that there should be a clear and transparent mechanism for appeal, and that there should be a mechanism to ensure consistency, rather than just relying on a random spotting of a comment by a blog-owner, who then arbitrarily and unilaterally responds -- on random occasion. Thus resulting in constant rules violations, and occasional, random, utterly inconsistent, enforcement -- and big surprise, there are thus endless violations of the posting rules out of ignorance.

I'd also again point out that no one understands that the rule against profanity isn't understood by anyone to be generated by concern over software filters, rather than priggishness, because there's no such information written down in the rules, and apparently offenders are supposed to magically be aware of this.

But I've pointed this out dozens of times before, to no effect, so these are presumably all problematic suggestions, and things are as they should be, according to the desires of the blog-owners. (Sometimes I feel like ObWi suffers somewhat from a tragedy of the commons, but it's impossible to know, because of the utter opacity and level of mystery that the managment chooses to prefer.)

"Gary, I have no idea. The kitten doesn't forward email; in fact, I have no idea how to even access kittenmail."

Thus an example of what I mean about opacity. This isn't conducive to the idea that behind the scenes, it's a well-thought-out, effective, set of mechanisms dealing with problems and setting policy, and not just a series of random, uncoordinated, haphazard improvisations.

But that impression is probably wrong, and in fact there is a fair and effective, thought-out, system at work.

What Gary said.

To return to a point way, way, way upthread, my agreement with the comments of Sebastian and Charles to the effect that "ObWi may not be worth doing anymore" has little to do with the direction of this thread -- and nothing to do with Gary personally. It has to do with the fact that ObWi is no longer, by any stretch of the imagination, a place where left and right and meet on equal terms. Whether recognized by the left-leaning commentariat or not, the comment threads on this blog are hostile territory. It's not one person; it's not five; it's not ten. It's a tone that gets picked up and emphasized by different folks at different times.

It's also reflected on the front page: Our left-leaning frontpagers can essentially recite Democratic talking points or attack conservative ideas in quite extreme terms. A modest critique from the right, however, provokes outrage more often than not. (I recognize that some folks will view this as simply applying standards, in that most ideas from the left are brilliant whilst most ideas from the right are idiotic. I assure you that there are many on the right who hold the ideas of such folks in equal disdain.)

It is tiring for me -- a pretty moderate libertarian/classic liberal -- to post here and then read comment after comment that appear either to (i) determined to miss the point of the post, (ii) determined to make some point that may at best tangentially related to my post, or (iii) both. Worse, the standards to which folks on the right are held are unimaginably higher than those on the left: all the lefty assumptions that support a Hilzoy post, for instance, on subject X are shared by the vast majority of the commentariat and thus go unchallenged. The same grace is not applied to a rightward-leaning post. I can't imagine how must more tiring it is for Sebastian or Charles, who are decidedly to the right of me.

Simply put, it is difficult to be a righty, even a moderate one, on a blog of the left. To use an imperfect example, consider how many regulars feel when the post on RedState.com: the sense of being beseiged is similar (if not nearly as extreme.)

Cry no rivers for me, strum no violins; but please accept it as a fact, and a factor in my comment above.

As for banning policy: My personal perception is that ObWi has been far too lenient to improperities on the left, while quick to ban those on the right. This is in part because we are a left-wing blog.

In the past, when I have issues I need to raise, I've taken to emailing Hilzoy and the few other admins whose email addresses I possess directly. Since emails to the kitten inevitably end up with a response from one of them directly anyway, it seems sensible to cut out the middleman.

However, this is not exactly a practice that lends itself to being duplicated by the average commenter who has not, at some point, corresponded with one or more of them.

I continue to think ObWi should bring in another 2-3 conservative or libertarian bloggers, Von; I've consistently and repeatedly urged this, time and time and time again. (I imagine you won't have seen at least four-fifths of my comments on this.) I urged that this be done before any thought was given to bringing in another non-conservative or libertarian blogger. Over and over and over again.

Once again, I'll ask if you might not find a few conservative or libertarian bloggers, who otherwise write well, are knowledgeable, able to muster some courtesy and fair-mindedness, and give them a forum?

After all, it wasn't us commenters who have lacked for agitating for this, and it wasn't us commenters who haven't brought in new conservative or libertarian bloggers. The only people to blame for not doing this are the people with the ability to do this: you, Hilzoy, Andrew, Charles, and Sebastian. (I take Edward as having de facto retired, even though his name is still on the sidebar.)

Please take action to fix the situation, rather than complain to other people, who have no power to bring in new bloggers, if you'd be so kind.

At least you're around for this iteration of the discussion, unlike the last ten times.

I think the problem is that in transferring blog ownership from Moe, a number of difficulties have arisen that can only be dealt with by starting over. However, this would entail either losing everything or someone actually getting in up to their elbows and transferring all the files, etc. Email forwarding is probably one of those things. The fact that people are working hard at keeping the system going makes (at least to me) gary's sarcasm less a gentle jab and more like an accusation of laziness, though I am sure that gary had no such intent and was just trying to be humorous.

This is just an observation with no actual inside knowledge, but I have found that things are working reasonably well, people are quite happy with uncoordinated haphazard improvisations, and such a system shouldn't be held up as some sort of lack of moral fiber on the part of the powers that be.

This topic we've moved onto could perhaps use a housekeeping thread of its own.

A regular mechanism for triggering such housekeeping threads might also be a useful practice.

As might some regularization of keeping one open thread around on the front page at all time.

Just suggestions, of course. Many people might have suggestions, if they were given a regular place to air them.

My last comment refers to the moderation policies, not to the lack of a right leaning front pagers.

"more like an accusation of laziness,"

No, I wasn't accusing anyone of laziness. I am saying that there's a level of opacity about ObWi mechanisms that is perhaps beyond what is optimal or desirable.

Beyond that, due to the opacity, I can only speculate, which I'd prefer not to do. Which is a key part of my point.

Beyond that, yes, I have wondered how much thought anyone has put into ObWi's systems and practices since Moe left, but one can't discuss that without first piercing some of the opacity.

Obviously, if most people think things are jim-dandy, then I have no reasonable grounds for doubt or complaint or question.

Von,

I won't gainsay your perceptions of how things work here at ObWi, since I think they're largely correct in terms of the ideological mix and the differing receptions given the left-leaning commenters as compared with the right-leaning commenters. I disagree with some of the specifics, but that could also simply be a matter of perceptions.

However, aside from your comment about differing standards, I don't think you're giving enough consideration to /why/ things are the way they are.

I've been commenting at Obsidian Wings for over four years now, and in that time it has, undeniably, drifted leftward. But it hasn't done so through some mysterious deus ex machina, nor by any concerted effort by the nebulous and differentiated left to invade it and upset its ideological balance.

I submit that the balance has shifted because by and large, it's gotten much harder over these past four years to defend the Republican party in general, the Bush Administration in particular, and conservatism by association. At least, not with any kind of honesty or consistency.

That shouldn't be taken as any kind of blanket slur against Republicans or conservatives. I think we've all made more than enough disclaimers and caveats for one lifetime as to how we recognize that people like you and Sebastian are, no matter how we might disagree with you, decent and honest people.

Rather, it's simply an acknowledgement that we are right now governed by a truly malignant and corrupt administration who has caused and continues to cause real material harm to this country and others--and that this administration is still enthusiastically backed by the Republican party machine.

It's hard to defend them. If I were a Republican, I wouldn't want to, and even if I thought the Democrats would be worse when it comes to my ideological goals, I'd have a really hard time mounting a defense in blog comments with any enthusiasm. I'd like to think that I'd have the integrity and moral fiber to take stands on torture and lawlessness the way you and Sebastian have even when it brings me into conflict with my party--but for a lot of Republicans, I imagine it's easier just to stop commenting and fighting a battle they don't want to fight in defense of an administration and party they don't think currently deserves their loyalty.

Conversely, Democrats and liberals are, largely, still pretty fired up and angry about the state of the country. It's easy for us to muster righteous anger and dismay over the wrongs of the Bush administration and Republican party, and when we see someone writing what looks to us like a defense of the indefensible, we descend en masse.

It is, all in all, not the least bit hard to understand why ObWi has drifted left, as most conservatives either stop commenting or migrate to echo chambers like Redstate where they don't have to be rigorously challenged about things they don't have the energy or desire to defend.

I acknowledge that that makes it uncomfortable for people like you, Von. I'm sorry about that, and I do wish that we--and I include myself here--could ease off a bit sometimes if we care about preserving the unique mixture of opinions and viewpoints here at ObWi. But the ideological balance is what it is, and it's that way for completely organic reasons, and not out of any desire on the part of liberals to drive you out or make things hostile for you here.

What Catsy said.

Insert the favorite word of Rush Limbaugh fans here.

We could conceivably do a little less sahel, though.

PERHAPS no fact is more revealing about Iraq’s history than this: The Iraqis have a word that means to utterly defeat and humiliate someone by dragging his corpse through the streets.

The word is “sahel,” and it helps explain much of what I have seen in three and a half years of covering the war.

Perhaps Obsidian Wings can still stand for not engaging in sahel?

I've had two comments that I put a bit of effort into eaten by typepad, so pardon me if I seem short here:

@Gary: My reference to the cable and dish capacity wasn't meant to be an argument for the nonrenewal of broadcast license not being a free speech issue -- simply a clarification of facts. Especially since, from the post title down through the thread, including my own comments, what's happened to RCTV has been referred to with the inaccurate shorthand of "shut down". However, I can see that to avoid the impression that I was making that argument, I should not have inserted it parenthetically but made it its own sentence and introduced it as clarifying information rather than any kind of argument.

Nell,

I read the McElwee bit and I was less than impressed. I think AI's, HRW's, the IAPA and CPJ make compelling counter arguments.

Just for the record, with regard to this comment of yours, Venezuela has obligations under the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC) with regard to freedom of expression:

Transparency in government activities, probity, responsible public administration on the part of governments, respect for social rights, and freedom of expression and of the press are essential components of the exercise of democracy.

The IADC was used - and correctly so - by the Chavez government to rally support for his cause after the coup attempt in 2002. It's no less relevant now.

The EU also brings up an important point:

The European Union has noted with concern that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has decided to let the broadcasting license for Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) expire on 27 May without holding an open competition for the successor license. The European Union believes it is important to recall the promises made by the Venezuelan authorities regarding an open competition and a tender process for that same licence.

It's not merely the denial of renewal that should disturb advocates of free expression; it's the immediate conversion of the spectrum to a government channel.

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