Here comes the ban hammer

I recently accepted a blogalog with a commenter named cl.  It has proven frustrating due to the endless and superfluous minutia of just trying to get a conversation started (such as demands that I define “evidence”).

I recently received an email from Adam Lee over at Daylight Atheism.

OK, so here’s the deal with cl: What he loves, more than anything
else, is to hear himself talk. He was a regular on my blog for a
while, back in 2009, but I ultimately banned him for persistent and
incurable trolling.

In the beginning, he seems like a civil and somewhat reasonable
fellow, but if his past patterns hold up, he’ll soon begin hogging
comment threads. He loves to write filibuster-length comments that
rarely, if ever, say anything substantive, and he posts them with such
frequency that other commenters will get exasperated and start
dropping out of threads that he shows up in. He also loves to nitpick,
to quibble about definitions, and to constantly complain he’s being
misinterpreted without ever saying what his position actually is.
Judging by your comments on Twitter, I imagine he’s already making
some of these characteristics clear. What finally drove me to ban him
was when he started bragging about how he loves being the center of
attention, as well as posting petulant demands for me to pay attention
to him when I stopped writing personal responses to what he was
saying.

Adam also pointed me to the post where he banned cl.

I also heard from another high profile blogger who banned him as well.  I trust both of these people and have seen the predictions Adam made coming to pass.  So I am dropping this blogalog.

I am also about to haul out the ban hammer.  I hate doing this.  I believe in allowing even the woefully inane have their place in the comments.  It’s the only way they learn.  I’ve only banned one person in my life (Bryan Goodrich).  I tend to not mind insipid commenters.  They serve as a reminder that religion makes nobody better (or, in Bryan’s case, that atheism is no guarantee that someone will be kind and/or reasonable).  Kind of ironic that the only person I’ve ever banned was an atheist…

I am realizing that even though I seldom wade into the comments (though I do read them all) and though no comment no matter how silly or denigrating really bothers me, that commenters like cl and the Goldstein group (Moe and his ilk) are a liability to a blog.  Their crime is not just contributing nothing to the conversation, their crime is also disrupting it for others.  The people who are not a pain in the ass who leave a thread because of their inclusion are too high a price to pay for leaving the forum open for everyone.  For this reason, if cl shows up and keeps up with his past pattern, he’ll be banned.  Ditto with Moe and his bunch.

Cl will undoubtedly conclude that this is because I fear his overpowering intellect.  I’d ask him to consider the situation.  He’s been banned from other atheist blogs, blogs written by people who, like me, allow religious commenters and who have a history of conceding good points when they’re made.  What are the odds that cl is just so much better than all the rest that we fear him versus the odds that he’s getting repeatedly banned because he’s annoying as all hell?

If cl returns to the blog to claim victory, I’ll let that comment stand even after he gets the ban hammer.

Seriously, if the best god can do for wanting a personal relationship with me is to send some guy who beats his chest and uses so many unnecessary polysyllabic words that only barely register as English that it alienates me and most of their audience, then both god and his messenger are lousy communicators.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I imagine this is the same “cl” who commented at Common Sense Atheism before it closed down.

  • 98

    Sounds as if you are exiling him to a town in Iceland.

  • http://talkorigins.org jatheist

    Seems reasonable JT… It became obvious rather quickly that “cl” was not interested in actual debate/discussion – about 2-3 comments in on the blogathon post in fact!

    It will be interesting (not really) to see how he reacts to this on ~his~ blog. I think I can guess…

  • http://haphazardhermit.blogspot.com/ michaeld

    OOO hammer of bogardan I have one of those in with my old magic. Oh it brings me back.

  • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who suspects the reaction will be “I won because JT is so much not smarterer than I! He fears me because atheists are dumb-dumb!” I decided to head over to his website, just to check it out based on that ridiculous comment you and I both commented on on the therapy thread and could not believe how many logical fallacies and poor arguments were apparent on the front page.

    If he doesn’t come back, good riddance. If he does, at least you have a plan. Thanks for looking out for us commenters who don’t want to deal with trolls, JT!

  • http://twitter.com/#!/VeritasKnight VeritasKnight

    For someone who hates banning, JT sure has a lot of Banhammer images.

  • sqlrob

    You’re missing one of the apropos pictures, you should add it to the article.

    “My god has a hammer, yours was nailed to a cross. Any questions?”

  • joseph

    I think that the right to free speech (and free thinking) is worthy of defense.
    Maybe CL does piss everybody here off, doesn’t that:

    1. Provide opportunity to learn how to control one’s temper, and engage in cold logical, rational debate.

    2. Provide a witness of your genuine toleration of ideas that may be fundamentally opposed to your own.

    3. Allow you to criticise those regimes where free speech is not tolerated, without hypocrisy.

    4. Allow your readers to apply and develop their own critical faculties in judging CL for themselves.

    5. Prevent this forum from become any kind of echo-chamber, or at least prevent people from becoming nervous to freely express themselves, lest their ideas be to far from the status quo.

    I, myself, was raised in a religion where I feared to ask certain questions, even if I asked questions on the fringes of acceptability I would be told I was quibbling, or not to worry about that.
    Though you have made a defense of why such behaviour maybe pragmatically necessary, for a greater good, I do hate to see the machinations I have come to associate with religion being adopted by the irreligious.
    Please, consider it carefully.

    • sqlrob

      1) Free speech does not guarantee the platform of your choice. Property rights win.

      2) This is ban number 2. How is that turning this into an echo chamber? How many other theists are there here?

      • joseph

        1. Which do you, personally, prefer and why?

        2. Which was why I couched my language cautiously. I suppose I could say “Does not, to any degree, become any kind of echo-chamber” and I added a corollary about it possibly making people nervous to fully express themselves. However, yes I agree 2 bans is much better going than many sites, I suppose I am worrying about the principle.

        • sqlrob

          Chances are you prefer property rights as much as I do.

          Mind if I come spray paint a manifesto on the side of your house?

          • joseph

            It seems strange to equate a public forum with a private home, and stating one’s opinion with criminal property damage.

          • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

            A better analogy would be: If you owned a museum, would you be OK with people spray-painting messages on your walls? You own it, but it is open to the public. Much like this site is.

          • F

            Joseph, it is not a public forum. It isn’t the town square or commons. A blog’s comment section is a yard owned by someone who happens to allow the public into their space until someone starts annoying and interfering with the other guests. Freedom of speech is completely irrelevant. As a right, where such a right is enshrined in law, it only applies against governments and powers attempting to silence a person in the public sphere. Blogs, like yards open to the public, are merely publicly accessible.

            I do understand your sentiment and ideal, and apparently JT does as well, which is why he both generally does not ban commenters and clearly announces the issue when banning has become an option for him. You can always follow a banned commenter elsewhere if you are so interested. In fact, I highly suggest to banned commenters who enjoy writing at such great lengths as cl (who, yes, I’ve seen before) that they write their own blogs. But this is frequently anathema to those who attract few readers of their own and prefer to cavort in other people’s established spaces to satisfy their need for attention of whatever sort.

          • joseph

            The difference that seems relevant is in a yard I can’t easily ignore a loud mouth, here I can, I prefer to decide when I exercise that ability myself,rather than the decision being made for me, arguable on my behalf.

            No, I fully appreciate that a law isn’t being broken here, I am discussing the ideal, or the principle, of freedom of speech. I should have been clearer.

            The way I see it “a power is attempting to silence a person in this sphere (which is open to the public)”, the url seems to indicate a preference for free thought, so I’m guessing (might be wrong) a preference for expression of free thought. So I’m asking,wouldn’t you prefer more freedom, the reply is “no, this is a case where sacrificing this freedom serves a greater good”, that’s your opinion. Ok. Cool.

          • joseph

            “But this is frequently anathema to those who attract few readers of their own and prefer to cavort in other people’s established spaces to satisfy their need for attention of whatever sort.”

            Yes, I can understand that is frustrating.

      • joseph

        That is a better analogy, but there is still a comparison between expressing disagreeable views disagreeably and criminal damage to public (or private in the case of some collections) property, which I find difficult to unify with the spirit of free thought.

        • Matt Penfold

          You seem to confuse the right to free-speech with the right to demand others provide you with the platform with which to exercise that free speech.

          I am not sure why you should be surprised, since it is an issue that has essentially been resolved.

          • joseph

            Ok, I might be confusing a public forum with a private blog. I might be confusing the idea of free thought with the right to free speech. I’ve not tried to make any demands, I haven’t tried to say “JT Eberhard must not do this or he is stinky”, I’ve just asked for more careful consideration of the idea of not exercising the right to ban, or censor. I have tried to illustrate ways in which the blog might benefit.

            If you, and JT Eberhard, ultimately disagree with me that’s fine, you’re the regulars, you’re the ones who face the consequences (for better or worse) of those decisions.

            I’m basically going to shut up soon, as that seems to be prefered.

          • F

            Joseph, people offering reasoned disagreements to you suggestion != telling you to shut up. Speak your mind. If you find fault with a disagreement, provide better reasoning or explanation for your position.

            Your idea is generally admirable, but has its limits, which you may or may not have experienced. If you allow one or a few commenters to run freely, at length and repeatedly, through the threads, on whatever subject and/or repeating the same nonsense or vile trash, this is just letting someone shit on your living room floor. (I’m speaking of those who earn the epithet “troll” in general, not necessarily cl in particular here.) See PZ’s list of bannable offenses in his dungeons for examples.
            http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/plonk.php
            http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/08/01/pharyngula-standards-practices/
            http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/dungeon/

            You’ll generally find that many bloggers, however they start out, end up defining a set of rules to keep their spaces safe, clean, and accessible to members of their community. Because the trolls can overrun you if you let them. Yet most banning on the good blogs here and elsewhere that I read occurs as an extreme last resort, which I think may be a thing for you to keep in mind, as, in my experience, most bloggers I read share your outlook.

            I address you at length not because I think you should shut up, or because I think anyone else wants you to shut up, but because you have a perfectly valid ethic and pragmatic view here, but it simply has it’s limits, which I think are set quite far to the end of the troll spectrum at this blog.

          • joseph

            F sorry you’ve made many good points and I’ll try to address them, i apologise I missed them. It’s late here, I’ll get back to you.

          • joseph

            Ok so this post:

            smhlle says:

            April 20, 2012 at 9:46 am

            “I’ve been idly wishing that the FTB most active thread indicator could some how show the highest number of posts on a thread minus the troll activity. Sort of to point one over to threads that were long and fascinating, rather than just long because they are yeastily inflated with the outgassing of one or two people.”

            Made me a bit concerned I was pushing….whatever the limits are…I must have at least 15 posts on this site. I don’t want to be the centre of attention, or hog the board, or whatever.

            I understand there are pragmatic limits, and I have responded many times,if CL had access to rules that apply here, knew the game etc. then fair play, no harm,no foul.

            If there aren’t such rules I think they would be beneficial for the sake of fair play. Various posters disagree with me on this, fair enough. No sweat.

            I appreciate this is a pretty rare action, which means JT Eberhard must take it seriously, I am asking for extra consideration.

            You address me perfectly reasonably and I don’t feel under any pressure to shut up, thankyou, it was a pleasure considering what you had to say.

    • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

      1) We’re not talking about banning anyone who disagrees. We’re talking about shutting the valve on a large quantity of contentless comment barf. It’s a worst case scenario where there’s no point to the comments than to be annoying.

      2) Not all ideas should be tolerated.

      3) No one’s free speech is infringed. He has his own blog where can free speech until he’s blue in the face.

      • joseph

        1) Yes, but who decides what is “a large quantity of contentless comment barf”, should an individual be written off as only capable of producing barf? Should it be judged by the host, or the commenter’s peers, as barf?

        2) It doesn’t seem the commentator in particular is advocating something like baby rape, female circumcision or watching Cricket.

        3) I see your point. But you could for example say people in China have free speech, because they can go to Hong Kong where they have free speech.

      • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

        1) JT does. It’s also objectively observable when a person is simply babbling away, not addressing questions, dodging points, etc. There’s nothing wrong with having a limit to how much of that one is willing to endure. The host is the one who sets the limits.

        2) I suppose I mean in general, that not all ideas should be tolerated (I don’t think this item is terribly pertinent here, anyway).

        3) It’s more like going into a store that’s open to the public, screaming at the other customers, annoying and harassing them. You do not have a freedom of speech right to be there if the management decides you’re a disruption and you’re no longer welcome there.

        He is then thrown out of the store where he continues to have free speech, wanders around outside where he continues to have free speech, and goes home where he continues to have free speech.

        Your free speech right doesn’t nullify your trespassing.

        This is JT’s blog, and he decides when people are simply being disruptive and non-productive to the point of being detrimental to the scene.

        • joseph

          1) Ok, but he doesn’t seem like a dictatorial chap, I’d ask that he put some trust in his readers. If things like babbling away, not addressing questions, dodging points, etc. are definite no-nos, it would seem fair to draw up a code of conduct (I’ve only looked briefly, so I’d be glad to be shown incorrect).

          2) We seem to be thinking along similar enough lines.

          3) I am reminded of the objection of many muslims that free speech amounts to the right to offend (I fully appreciate JT’s reaction is no where near as ridiculous). The blog encourages free thinking, that seems somewhat different to a shop (which exists for selling). Is CL trespassing? To his credit JT Eberhard’s blog seems not to be “atheists only”. Yes CL would continue to enjoy free speech outside this blog, but how much free speech should participants enjoy within it? How would you view a self-pronounced free thinking theist blog, that practiced banning? If you would regard it similarly fair, then I have little more to add.

        • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

          1) We shouldn’t have to have drafted codes of conduct for basic human interaction. If I and talking with someone on the street, I don’t have to have him/her review my official code of conduct that I printed out and carry around with me, in order for people to recognize that he’s being and obnoxious ass.

          3) Do you really think you don’t have free speech, or that right is severely diminished if you can’t talk to me through a megaphone in middle of the night at my house? Because that seems to be what you’re saying – that if there’s a small sliver of anywhere in existence where your freedom of speech isn’t absolute, that therefore your right is greatly reduced – equivalent to having to flee as a refugee from a totalitarian government in order to say anything at all.

          Being banned here has zero effect on his free speech rights, because for one things, he never had that here. He had a privilege to post here, which has been revoked due to being a troll.

          And yet, he still has is normal span of freedom of speech.

          It’s not a question of offense. It’s a question of being intolerant of a troll – which we should be intolerant of. There’s enough noise from people who are trying to have serious discussions, who disagree with us – those people we actually want to talk to. That store management doesn’t bar people from their store because they’re insulted, but rather because the person is being disruptive, and as JT pointed out, if the threads get clogged with inane drivel, that’s going to have a negative effect on the purpose of the blog, since we need to clear the way for people who actually have something coherent to say.

          How much free speech should they have within the blog? As much as until the owner of the facility wants, especially if you never had the right to post here in the first place.

          I would view a theist blog banning based upon the legitimacy of the instances – just like here. If someone is being a useless troll, that person should be banned.

          Freedom of speech isn’t a blank check that allows you to bypass everyone else’s rights whenever and where ever you want, at any time you want.

          • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

            We shouldn’t have to have drafted codes of conduct for basic human interaction. If I and talking

            Wow, I need to proofread

        • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com Stephen R. Diamond

          “This is JT’s blog, and he decides when people are simply being disruptive and non-productive to the point of being detrimental to the scene.”

          Yes, but what self-respecting intellectual would long participate in a blog owner’s frantic assertion of status.

          You guys sure like to talk about property rights. What, are you Tea Party Members or something?

          • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

            Yes, but what self-respecting intellectual would long participate in a blog owner’s frantic assertion of status.

            Alright, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

            You guys sure like to talk about property rights. What, are you Tea Party Members or something?

            Yes, that bizarrely odd idea that the 1st amendment doesn’t allow one to override other peoples’ freedoms.

            If you don’t understand why your freedom of speech doesn’t let you force a newspaper to print whatever you want it to print, or why them denying that request isn’t a violation of your freedom of expression, then your understanding of that right is seriously fucked up.

            If my not allowing you to say something within my house, or post messages on my billboard, or articles on my newspaper, doesn’t actually stop you from saying what you want to say, then your 1st amendment right is still in 100% operational order.

          • joseph

            1) Well there are such laws in my country, for example restricting me from threatening them. Whilst I agree that it would be nice if such things weren’t needed, I think we’d both agree that if there are rules, which are enforced, it’s fairer to make everyone access to those rules so it is clear where any blame lays for their violation, and any enforcement can be shown to be without prejudice.

            3) I fail to clear how the two situations are analogous. The next claim seems to rest on level of coherence, this seems to judge that CL does not meet some standard, and will never attain that standard. As for trolls, I find that a highly subjective judgement. You are claiming to be sure (within reasonable doubt) that CL, in this case, does not hold his/her stated opinions, and is using a forum entirely to provoke a response?

            “I would view a theist blog banning based upon the legitimacy of the instances – just like here. If someone is being a useless troll, that person should be banned.”

            I respect your consistency. He he he, proofe raedingg is 4 lozers.

            Anyway, I’m in a different time zone, so I’ll be going to the land of nod now.

          • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

            1) Some bloggers do set such rules, but I don’t see how it’s necessary or needed. Normal people are capable of understanding when they’re crossing the line from discussion to a jerk. Even if that line varies from day to day based on the mood of the moderator – it doesn’t matter. JT isn’t the government. This blog is his, and when he’s tired of something, it goes. Your freedom of speech neither overrides that, nor is diminished by that.

            3) I’ve lost track of which two things I’ve compared at different times, so I’m afraid I can’t help you.

            You seemed to be comparing living in a country where you have the freedom of speech to basically say what you want, to start your own blog, start your own newspaper, etc, and having one place that you can’t go and exercise that right to being trapped in a country where you don’t have the freedom of speech period and having to go find some oasis to gain it.

            So the situation is like 99.9% of society you have freedom of speech, and that’s apparently equivalent to a scenario where there’s only 0.1% of the society where you have free speech.

            If JT banning a troll is a violation of his 1st amendment rights, then all the newspaper and television companies would be sued into oblivion for repeatedly violating peoples’ constitutional rights every time they rejected someone’s attempt to say something through them.

            The right doesn’t extend to overriding the newspapers’ rights to print what they like. And that’s the way it should be.

            Trolls typically are those who just say a bunch of stupid things to try to get a rise out of people. It is highly subjective to determine, but that’s up to the moderator’s judgement.

            I agree that, sure, it’d be really nice and courteous of people to let others have their say, no matter how dumb or irrational it is. That doesn’t mean that we can’t have our limits, though, and still retain being nice/courteous overall.

          • F

            I gotta ask what you’re smoking, because I’d like to stay away from it.

          • joseph

            F,if the smoking bit applies to me then yeah I’ve kind had a bit of a crazy week so yeah, sorry if some of my comments are a bit incoherent, let me know what I can improve on.

        • joseph

          Me go duh:
          I fail to clear how the two situations are analogous=I fail to clearly see how the two situations are analogous.

          Yeah…proof reading is not for losers.

          Anyway, night.

          • joseph

            1) It might not be 100% necessary, after all the fourth wheel of a car is not necessary, but is it useful. Please consider it. If no, then fine, I’ll not raise the issue further.

            3) Whether commenting on a forum in a thoroughly disagreeable fashion was akin to be woken up in the middle of the night by a neighbour shouting his/her views. I think not, as I am considerably more upset if my ability to sleep is affected (sleep deprivation is a form of torture) and it may effect my ability to perform my work the next day. If I read an idiot on a blog I think “tsshhhh…..idiot” and wonder off uneffected. Maybe I have thicker skin, maybe that’s a bad thing.

            Look, I find judging whether somebody is a troll is at best subjective. If that doesn’t worry you go ahead.

            I asked you to consider things. If you’ve done that, I’m satisfied.

          • http://talkingtotalk.wordpress.com t2tb

            It’s not about having a thicker skin, it’s about valuing productive discussion over discussion that is obviously not intended to be productive. Would you be saying, “Maybe I just have a thicker skin for spam”, if JT were banning spammers? No, presumably, you’d be with him, because the point is not to have a thick enough skin to allow productive discussion to be derailed. If you think that’s a valuable trait, then I suppose more power to you, but I think it’s a much more valuable trait to actually value productive discussion and to work to create a forum that encourages it. That includes removing people who derail discussion, and if you think it’s ever really possible for that to not involve an element of subjectivity, you haven’t thought it through. Banning without consideration for individual circumstances would never work. Banning with consideration for individual circumstances will always be subjective. Some people will do it for good reasons and some won’t, but to suggest that the subjectivity in and of itself is the problem is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the problem.

          • joseph

            Hi t2tb,
            I guess the “thick skin” part comes in regarding how much crap I’ll take for each stimulating comment I read, before I’ll use the label troll. We probably do have different standards, other commentators seem to at least agree that it’s somewhat subjective.

            With spam, I can 100% guarrantee spam is not what I want here. I don’t want advertisements on the board.

            With a commentator, who might only make 1 useful comment in say a hundred, who I can decide to ignore easily because they are using the same username over and over, I am 99% sure (in this example) that I don’t want to read what they have to say, and I appreciate being given the responsibility, and the trust, to decide that for myself.

            Whether thick skin is a valuable trait, I don’t know, I already conceded you might consider it a bad thing.

            On the subjectivity remark, I am sure your right. So, as with the Scientific method, can anything be done to reduce that subjectivity. Using general society as a model, I think a code of conduct would help, sure it would have to be intelligently applied, case by case, good point.

            And though many commentators seem to doubt this, I understand that this is a blog, not a country, I’m not suggesting JT Eberhard set up an independent judiciary, trial by peers etc. That’s why I’m just discussing it here, rather than going to sue, or whatever some people have suggested I do. If I am wrong fine, but I am glad you’re thinking about the issues,thankyou.

    • Nathair

      I think that the right to free speech (and free thinking) is worthy of defense.

      A legal right of free speech is almost always concerned with actually silencing people (generally by government action), with preventing them from publicly expressing themselves. You seem to have confused that with some imaginary right to go where you will and say what you like. You do not have the right to march into my living room (or onto my blog) and bellow for attention while I meekly look on. You do, generally, have the right to march into your own living room (or start your own blog) and there bellow to your heart’s content.

      As to free thinking… surely you’re not suggesting that right is being threatened here?

      • joseph

        Nathair,
        Sorry, I seem to be defending myself on many fronts, you I feel I’ve made an attempt to answer similar objections to yours, but basically I’m worried about limiting the expression of free thought.

        • JSC_ltd

          basically I’m worried about limiting the expression of free thought.

          Honestly, that’s not your concern, because it’s not your blog.

          • joseph

            Do you evaluate books you read? Why bother if the answer is “you didn’t create it”?

          • F

            joseph, do you have a problem with an author not revising their book to contain your thoughts you had when reading and evaluating it? Or do you write a review and submit it elsewhere and publish it yourself?

            Just because the medium and technology of a comments thread is different from that of a book (ease of public commentary is increased) does not obligate a blog owner to accept and print the commentary. There isn’t even a case for disruptive technology changing the landscape here, as comment moderation evolved along with commenting software and its use. (Not that this requires much in the way of development and evolution.)

      • joseph

        Well books are a bit more stubborn. I’ll certainly let my opinion be known,by telling friends,facebook updates, author’s websites. If it comes down to it, I’ll stop buying further books from an Author who I consider to be writing poor quality stories.

        I am taking part in the campaign to change/elaborate on Mass Effect 3′s ending.

        I suppose how concerned I am over whether my views are acted on or not depends on how big a problem, how big a flaw, I consider there to be.

        I appreciate your point,JT Eberhard could make this a closed blog, but I enjoy commentary, and, think overall our world is better with discussion.

    • JSC_ltd

      The “right of free speech” is the right of a person to speak with minimum interference from the government. JT isn’t the government, so references to some kind of “right of free speech” on this blog are misguided. The rights at issue here are property rights, which are clearly established in JT’s favor. He can ban whomsoever he chooses, for any reason or for no reason.

      Now the question becomes whether JT–or, really, anyone in his position–should do a thing that they can do. For an answer, I submit that we should look to the rules of ordinary discourse. It is apparent that one who contributes nothing to a conversation but noise is being only a bother to the rest of the participants. If something like that happened in a meatworld conversation, either the conversants would walk away from the bothersome person, or they would ask that person to leave. Online, banning a poster is how a host escorts a disruptive, bothersome guest out the front door and admonishes the guest against returning.

      If you see something oppressive about disinviting an unwelcome person from one’s own property, why, in some ways I almost envy your naive socialistic anarchism.

  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com Stephen R. Diamond

    From what he reports on his site, CL’s already banned. Banning a commenter based on an e-mail smacks of a blacklist. If you can’t tolerate his drivel, advise your readers to ignore him. If your readers lack the self-control, get better readers. Free speech in the legal sense isn’t involved, but principles of free discussion are, as well as a healthy, anti-totalitarian hatred of blacklists. More than anything, banning him is an assertion of the importance of your property rights, which triumph over free discussion at a time when property rights are the battle cry of political reaction (including the Christian Right, which CL reflects).

    • sqlrob

      His dodging in the thread makes him worthy of being warned, at the very least.

    • Andrew B.

      Commenting on someone’s private website is a privilege. Cl has abused his.

      Also, your “advice” about “getting better readers” is useless and nonsensical, and your overly-wordy assertion that containing yammering trolls is “authoritarian” is hyperbolic noise.

      • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com Stephen R. Diamond

        Andrew B.: Since you’re a literary critic. could you rewrite my sentence so it’s verbally economical? I’d appreciate the help, although I don’t recall asking for it, and I don’t understand why the moderator tolerates your tone, in light of the posted policy. Could it possibly be enforced in a biased fashion?

        But the reason I argued wasn’t the best. The main reason the practice of banning is anti-intellectual is that it creates a destructive dependence on the moderator. It fuels any community’s primitive cultist urges by creating a subtle fear of the moderator and vesting unnecessary authority in that position. In short, it infantilizes participants and makes the forum insipid.

        When you say, “Posting is a privilege,” Andrew B., you remind me of some cop telling a driver that’s motoring is privilege. And when you criticize my style (when I’m _obviously_ a far better writer than you!) you remind me of a (very bad) teacher. You are obviously a person who worships authority figures. That’s why you long for censorship.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

          Driving IS a privilege, Stephen. Abuse it enough, and you lose your license. This blog is a space set up by JT for us to read his stuff, as well as interact with him. If he wants to censor it, that’s his right. We have no say over it. Why does he have to bend to your will, that he not censor anybody?

          • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com Stephen R. Diamond

            Unbelievable, the degree to which you all love to talk about property rights and privileges. Don’t you realize that the ruse that driving is a “privilege,”–although everyone must do it–is exactly the device used by the authoritarians to subject drivers to warrantless searches and other invasions of their *personal* and *political* rights?

            What makes you think I want him to bend to my will? I’m not for forcing him to run his blog the way I want. I’m saying I have a lot of trouble respecting someone who brags about his banhammer and respects black lists, and any self-respecting intellectual should flee.

          • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

            What is the connection between “intellectuals” and deciding that there’s limits to the bullshit they’ll allow?

            Being an intellectual doesn’t mean that one must allow anyone to walk all over one’s self, or that one doesn’t have property rights.

            You’re smelling like another troll; it’s that way of pestering people with incoherent absurdities.

        • Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

          So, if, say, I come and troll the crap out of your personal blog with irrelevant nonsense you won’t want to stop me? Is that what you’re saying? In fact, you can’t even complain?

          Riiiight. I’d like to see how that works out for you if it actually happens.

          On the other hand it looks like this cl character is already talking crap over there so, well, good luck with that.

    • penn

      You should really tone down the self-righteousness and actually pay attention to the situation. Trolls like cl have no real interest in actual intellectual interaction. They hinder the interactions of others. To say that JT’s loyal and invested readers and commenters should just ignore trolls is ridiculous. There is a community here and trolls that seek to disrupt the exchange of ideas between good faith commenters should be banned. All the rights issues others have said are true, but your real mistake is to think trolls have something to add to honest discussion.

  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com Stephen R. Diamond

    “You’re smelling like another troll; it’s that way of pestering people with incoherent absurdities.”

    Well, that’s what my mean by the consequences of banning. You already have a witchhunt going. Your understanding contracts, so you’re even stupider than you were before.

    Don’t worry: I’m out of here. This is a stupid, stifling mileu. CL is crazy, but at least he doesn’t indulge in obnoxious status grabs by playing gatekeeper.

    • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

      Seriously, what is this word salad?

      • karmakin

        As someone who USED (please note that term) to feel in a similar fashion, let me run it down for you, hopefully with less word salad.

        If I support freedom of speech, just to put it right out there, then I have a responsibility to “pass it on” by doing my best to give others the same freedom. Banning people from your blog, if they’re not being absolutely disruptive (which to be frank is a very tough judgement call a lot of the time), it’s hypocritical.

        I don’t believe that anymore, because I believe the best way to change people’s minds is to present a strong united, but friendly front (with the emphasis on strong) that makes people want to join your group/cause. As such, hitting twirps with the proverbial rolled up newspaper does more benefit than harm.

      • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

        Part of the problem is communication. Liberals get bashed, for instance, because they will say that they’re against intolerance, while not tolerating other things. What’s not articulated well is that there are things that are valid to be intolerant towards, and things that are not valid to be intolerant for – such as murder versus dissent respectively, for instance.

        Likewise, you’d be hard pressed to find many people who believe in free speech who also thing that it should be absolute beyond all else – no matter whose rights are being trampled in the process.

        We’re for maximizing free speech, but with practical limits.

        It’s like saying that you’re for citizens to have freedom to make their own decisions, but then calling you a hypocrite for wanting to block these very same people from randomly killing people.

        Within that scope, there’s zero hypocrisy involved, if the goal is to maximize something within practical limits.

        …especially when JT would fully support cl’s right to go and make his own blog and say what he likes. There’s no requirement, to dodge hypocrisy, that JT must allow ANY amount of drivel TO ANY EXTENT on HIS forum, just because he’s generally in favor of people speaking their minds.

    • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

      JT decides to take a rare action and ban an extreme case of a troll, and someone starts flipping out over property rights and contracts, while someone else equates it to so demolishing someone’s freedom of speech that they may as well be in China trying to escape so they have the possibility of saying what they want without being imprisoned?

      Seriously?

      • joseph

        To escape China? Hong Kong is in China.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

          Not quite. It is connected to China, and currently run by China (until 2012 or 2029 IIRC, when control returns to the United Kingdom), but it is not a part of China. :)

          • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

            2019, not 2012.

          • jph

            Citation needed.

          • joseph

            “when control returns to the United Kingdom”

            We get it back! Yippee ;-)

      • joseph

        Well, it gets quibbly here, but it’s a Chinese Special Administerative Region , diplomatically represented by China and defended by China’s military.
        I’ll leave it for anybody reading to decide how much I meant “escape” China, given those facts.

        • http://www.atheist-faq.com JT (Generic)

          Details which are irrelevant to the point.

          You were the one who was equating JT’s banning a troll on his forum to someone having to leave an oppressive government just for the sake of being able to speak his/her mind.

          It’s an absurd comparison.

          • joseph

            Ok I should clarify:

            No, I am not comparing JT Eberhard to Mao,or the CCCP, or whoever,that’s laughable, as you know.

            I am not talking about some poor dissident fleeing in terror etc etc that’s over dramatic and ridiculous.

            Someone mentioned it’s ok not to have freedom of speech here, because there is freedom of speech elsewhere.

            It is difficult for me to think of a small region with no freedom of speech, within a bigger region with freedom of speech.

            China and Hong Kong seemed an easily understood metaphor. A Chinese person have little freedom of speech in China, but he/she can quite easily join a tour group, visit Hong Kong, (which may or may not be part of China) and enjoy freedom of speech.

            Does that mean China would be worse off with more freedom of speech?

            Sorry to produce so many imaginative interpretations and somuch confusion.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com TerranRich

      Get off your high horse.

      Oh, and regarding driving: no it is NOT a necessity. There is public transportation. There are bicycles for shorter distances, and walking for even shorter ones. There are trains, buses, etc. Driving a vehicle on publicly owned roads and highways is a privilege granted to you after you can prove to the state that you’re not a reckless threat on the road and can see (with or without eyewear). It is a privilege that can be taken away if you drink or are drunk while doing it, hit another person while doing it, and so on.

      Please, explain how it is anything other than a privilege. Is it a right? Hardly, because then there would be no restrictions (or at least far fewer than there currently are), and you wouldn’t need a license in order to be able to do it.

      • Laurence

        In some places (like where I grew up), driving is absolutely a necessity. It is incredibly difficult to survive without being able to drive as there is no public transportation.

        • JSC_ltd

          Necessity =!= a right.

    • F

      It’s a stupid, stifling milieu which is printing your ridiculous drivel. How’s that for stifling? A milieu which has warned one person of potential banning.

      • joseph

        Did he honestly use any vocabulary that Hitchens wouldn’t? And didn’t the words all make sense when the definitions were checked.

        At worst you could accuse him of using unnecessarily complex words, I think.

  • MattDonald

    The atheists call people names and swear at them how is that not trolling? All I saw was CL trying to hold ground against like 10 atheists. (I can’t remember the name) complimented him as rational. Marshall and CL were on the way to good talk. There were apologies and kind words IIRC. That hardly ever happens.

    Why not let the debate go on? What’s the real problem? Why invite CL to debate then just bail?

    • Marshall

      We WERE on the way to some sort of a talk. Yeah, I will admit, in that other thread there was some interesting conversation, and it definitely forced me to think more about things, and all of that was entirely beneficial on my end. I learned a lot.

      Then cl got an invitation to debate JT, saw his chance to receive more attention than he was receiving there, and then ruined it by being a complete ass all over the thread announcing the debate, as well as in his emails. He tried to dodge the burden of proof (he can deny it all he wants, he tried to do the same thing in the other thread and I almost missed it entirely until the end). He made these grandiose statements about how he was going to defend the God of the Bible, but he started on dishonest ground right from the beginning by trying to get JT to take a positive position. He made several statements about how condescending atheists are, and how much of a superiority complex atheists have, when he was basically the ONLY person in the thread that could have been described in those terms. He twisted my words more than once in more than one thread, and he did so in a way that was both dishonest AND disparaging. He DEMANDED that people follow rules during conversations that he himself would not follow. In short, he acted in such an obnoxious and off-putting manner that when it came right down to the last few comments he posted in the thread announcing his exchange with JT, he’d finished burning the last few bits of a bridge that he had with me, and I imagine others as well. Maybe he’s the greatest philosopher the world has ever known, maybe he had the evidence that nobody else has ever been able to show that proves once and for all that the God of the Bible exists. But he had every opportunity to provide it, and he chose instead to be dismissive and boastful, and to act like he was just plain BETTER than everyone else, and I’m willing to bet he didn’t have anything that would have been worth putting up with all of that for anyway.

    • Marshall

      We WERE on the way to some sort of a talk. Yeah, I will admit, in that other thread there was some interesting conversation, and it definitely forced me to think more about things, and all of that was entirely beneficial on my end. I learned a lot.

      Then cl got an invitation to debate JT, saw his chance to receive more attention than he was receiving there, and then ruined it by being a complete ass all over the thread announcing the debate, as well as in his emails. He tried to dodge the burden of proof (he can deny it all he wants, he tried to do the same thing in the other thread and I almost missed it entirely until the end). He made these grandiose statements about how he was going to defend the God of the Bible, but he started on dishonest ground right from the beginning by trying to get JT to take a positive position. He made several statements about how condescending atheists are, and how much of a superiority complex atheists have, when he was basically the ONLY person in the thread that could have been described in those terms. He twisted my words more than once in more than one thread, and he did so in a way that was both dishonest AND disparaging. He DEMANDED that people follow rules during conversations that he himself would not follow. In short, he acted in such an obnoxious and off-putting manner that when it came right down to the last few comments he posted in the thread announcing his exchange with JT, he’d finished burning the last few bits of the bridge that he had with me, so I’m really not going to lose any sleep over him leaving. Maybe he’s the greatest philosopher the world has ever known, maybe he had the evidence that nobody else has ever been able to show that proves once and for all that the God of the Bible exists. But he had every opportunity to provide it, and he chose instead to be dismissive and boastful, and to act like he was just plain BETTER than everyone else, and I’m willing to bet he didn’t have anything that would have been worth putting up with all of that for anyway.

      • Marshall

        Dammit, sorry about the double post. I don’t think there is much difference between them, so feel free to remove either of them.

        • F

          It was worth posting twice.

    • http://talkorigins.org jatheist

      MattDonald wrote: “Why not let the debate go on?”

      What “debate”?? There was no “debate”, just distractions and avoidance on cl’s part. The only thing he ever seemed to offer was:

      “Withhold your judgment, sit back, and enjoy the show.”

      He kept repeating this over and over and NEVER actually got around to saying anything of substance. Oh – and he was a dick to boot…

  • stubby

    Please banhammer don’t hurt ‘em!

    • Rory

      +1

  • Konradius

    It seems strange to equate a public forum with a private home, and stating one’s opinion with criminal property damage.

    (and others)

    Joseph, those are idiotic statements.
    The is NOT a public forum, it is a private forum that specific people pay for and that makes money by selling addspace.

    In here you abide by the rules. And those rules can easily be arbitrary! Now actually the rules are known, published and explained when they are enforced. And that is why lots of us frequent specifically these blogs and ‘sell’ our audience for the prime content these blogs provide.

    Feel free to choose where you want to put your attention and webhits. Feel free to post and criticize anything. But please, do understand the above facts if you want the impression you leave with your fellow audience members to be favorable.

    • joseph

      Sorry to be idiotic. Public in the sense of freely open to the public, without membership fees, without an express code of conduct.

      “Now actually the rules are known, published and explained when they are enforced.”

      I am glad to be told this is the case. If CL has violated rules that are known and published, then it seems fair that those rules are enforced. Whether the rules themselves benefit the blog,I am not sure, but if CL knew the rules of the game,fair is fair.

      “….if you want the impression you leave with your fellow audience members to be favorable”

      I don’t wish to offend in general but I’m not sure I want everybody to like me either, I’d be happy just to encourage discussion.

      • joseph

        …..”I’d be happy just to encourage discussion.”

        Crap did I just label myself as a troll?

  • NotAProphet

    Unless JT can correct me, I understood that cl had not in fact been banned, just that it was a course of action under consideration.

    With this in mind, I would suggest that announcing he is banned on his blog is likely a way for him to weasel out of having to address all the issues that he cannot, and yet claim he is not dodging, across the various threads he has inserted himself into, not to mention evading having to deal with his disingenuous behaviour on the science/religion incompatibility thread.

    • joseph

      That seems a possibility.

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com Ubi Dubium

    I remember cl from back on Daylight Atheism, and Adam was more than patient. There was a huge amount of trolling from cl and I probably would have lowered the banhammer long before Adam did. With cl, as in Wargames, the only way to win is not to play.

  • Matt Penfold

    Joseph seems to confuse the right to free-speech with a right to demand that anyone who operates a forum in which public discussions take place provide a platform for anyone.

    • joseph

      I am probably confusing what supporting free thought entails with this…I will think on it more.

  • smhlle

    I’ve been idly wishing that the FTB most active thread indicator could some how show the highest number of posts on a thread minus the troll activity. Sort of to point one over to threads that were long and fascinating, rather than just long because they are yeastily inflated with the outgassing of one or two people.

  • Anri

    Joseph:
    can we assume you’re granting your blog space to cl for his use?
    If not, why not?

    Moving along…

    Unbelievable, the degree to which you all love to talk about property rights and privileges.

    Um, given that this is an issue of property rights and priviliges, it doesn’t seem farfetched to me.

    Don’t you realize that the ruse that driving is a “privilege,”–although everyone must do it–is exactly the device used by the authoritarians to subject drivers to warrantless searches and other invasions of their *personal* and *political* rights?

    Do you consider not issuing a driver’s license a violation of civil rights? If someone fails their driving test, may they insist on being granted a license as their personal right?

    And if you believe that everyone drives because everyone ‘must’, you really should look around and learn something about people.

    What makes you think I want him to bend to my will?

    The fact that you’re publicly berating him for something.
    If you’re not trying to change his mind, what are you doing?

    I’m not for forcing him to run his blog the way I want. I’m saying I have a lot of trouble respecting someone who brags about his banhammer and respects black lists, and any self-respecting intellectual should flee.

    And you are, of course, free to respect or not respect anyone you see fit. However, if you believe this post is ‘bragging’ about banning someone, I suspect you will be thought of as kinda slow on the uptake by people who’ve actually read it. That might involve a certain loss of respect as well.

    Lastly, do you believe that ‘fleeing’, rather than substantially arguing your position (you will notice, of course, that you were allowed to do so with no threat of banning either stated or implied), is in some way impressively intellectual? Do you picture the posters here sitting slumped at their keyboards, helplessly shaking their heads, bitterly muttering “Wow, he ran off without making a cogent argument. I feel so small and stupid by comparison…” ?
    Protip: That’s not what’s happening.

    • joseph

      Anri,
      The answer is I don’t blog. I don’t program either, or write books, or play music, and I am a terrible at football,I criticise video games (me3′s endings suck), novels (found Peter F.Hamilton’s final part’s of the Night’s Dawn Trilogy less exciting than the first book), pop songs (Bieber needs to be dealt with), and footballers (Wayne Rooney is an overpaid, sex maniac who keeps letting us down). I’ll gladly tell you of things I love as well.

  • baal

    I really don’t get Joseph’s and Steven’s points.

    Let’s say I host a neighborhood meet and eat every Saturday from 2pm to 5pm. Most folks bring something to share but not everyone and not everyone comes every Sat. Let’s say there is one guy who shows up every time. He brings music – his headphones which he plays loud enough for everyone to hear. He then proceeds to eat a lot and spouts off on the most recent political issue at length. Other folks stop showing up because being near the guy is trying.

    Host asks the guy to not show up again. The free-speech angle is totally irrelevant. If you want to not show up because the host keeps the lout from showing up that’s ok but don’t expect everyone to think like you do or think that your views on free speech change the rest of the dynamic and context.

    • joseph

      We seem to have a difference in opinion over whether a blog like this is like a private home,or a public forum.

      Also if a guy shows up in your home it’s pretty hard not to listen to him, here, where names are displayed before comments, it seems somewhat easier.

      • Makoto

        Why would you consider this to be a public forum? It’s hosted by a person (and group), not by the government or any public entity that generally runs such things – and even those have rules about conduct. You can’t go nude in a public park just because it’s public. And a park can ban a person from returning for multiple breakings of rules as well.

        • joseph

          I guess because it seems to exist for the purpose of free discussion of ideas. I had not realised that there were explicit rules here, if there are, fair play.

          Also I find it relevant that a naked person is difficult not to see, whereas it is easy to mot read a post.

          • Makoto

            Why is it harder to avert one’s eyes from a naked person than from forum posts?

          • joseph

            Dammit.

            Sorry Makoto, your reply is number 20.

  • joseph

    Because of the wobbly bits.

    No, because I can read the name of the commentator before the comment, if I have decided for myself, I don’t want to read what they have to say, I can simply scroll ahead. Maybe I am alone in this regard, or other people prefer someone else to decide for them. Maybe I’m monumentally egotistical for holding on to this power (mwah ha ha ha ha….evil laugh, stroking a white cat, surrounded by women in silver futuristic space bikinis displaying all sorts of wobbly).

    • Makoto

      Well, I’ve got a general issue with the prohibition on nudity in culture anyway (after all, most people see another naked person at some point in their lives, while most people will never shoot another person.. yet which shows up on nighttime cable shows?). But that’s a separate rant.

      Anyway, yes, I use the same power you do in many circumstances – I think it’s up to each of us to determine which usernames are not worth replying to.

      But I also can see why JT can use his powers to say when a user is harmful to the community as a whole – same reason why I hope and assume he uses spam filters to make sure we’re not inundated with “BUY V1aGrA PILLS HERE CHEAP” every 3 posts. Every host gets these powers when they start hosting things. I think that was the point of one of the earlier replies to you – if you want to give a platform to anyone and everyone with no rules, or whatever rules you want, you have that right and most blogging software makes it as easy as commenting on someone else’s site these days.

      He isn’t saying “no free thought”, nor is he saying “agree with me or I ban you”. He’s saying that in very, very specific circumstances he will tell specific people not to return. And the viagra thing, I hope. Those messages are really annoying.

      • http://talkorigins.org jatheist

        Makoto wrote: “He’s saying that in very, very specific circumstances he will tell specific people not to return.”

        Not only “specific circumstances”, but also incredibly rare ones!! JT has a lot of patience having only banned one user in the history of his blog.

        • joseph

          You know where I can get cheap viagra?

          Yeah, look I am urging caution and consideration. This case seems to have occurred a little suddenly, from what I’ve read so far it’s gone from “I hoped to debate Jayman or you” to “arrggghhhhh you such a quibbly loser!”.

          “He isn’t saying “no free thought”, nor is he saying “agree with me or I ban you”. He’s saying that in very, very specific circumstances he will tell specific people not to return”

          Ok so perhaps I am more worried than the average reader over the message sent.

          @jatheist

          I think the less he banhammers the better it speaks of him, and I commend him on his low record.

          • Makoto

            “You know where I can get cheap viagra?” – sure. Start a personal blog, they’ll find you. I set one up to communicate with friends and family, and I get at least a dozen viagra messages a night in my spam folder.

            I can see your worry, but given the commenting policies on other blogs or news comment sections where they silently delete most or any dissenting opinions, the extremely rare “I’m announcing that I’ve banned this person” post like this is actually a breath of fresh air to me.

          • joseph

            Thank you, for at least seeing my concern. Yes, it does seem like a fairly nice place, I think that’s worth protecting, as do you, as do many readers. I confess my viewpoint is that censorship (in this case) is a bigger threat than a potential troll, my viewpoint seems to be in the minority. Fair enough.

          • Makoto

            To be fair, I still disagree with calling it censorship. JT isn’t denying CL the ability to say what he wants. He’s just preventing CL from saying it here. There’s a big difference there, at least in my mind. JT isn’t a big publishing house that is blacklisting an author. He’s not a movie studio preventing a director from working on movies. He’s a blogger saying “this specific person can’t comment here anymore”.

            CL can comment elsewhere, start their own blog, wear a sandwichboard on a street corner, buy ad space in the local paper, put up a billboard, make a movie, sing a song, etc. JT isn’t blocking any of that, and if he was, or if he was advocating for those types of things against CL, or a group of people in general (“no Christians can comment here” or something), then I would say it’s censorship and wrong, too. But blocking a specific person for specific reasons outlined? That’s rather nice and straightforward. Not censorship.

          • joseph

            Yeah I’m crap at this, or my computer is tricking me….22, sigh,

  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com Stephen R. Diamond

    Final Statement: also posted to CL’s blog.

    1. Banning cl (or even its threat) based on an e-mail was a despicable act of blacklisting.

    2. The Daylight Atheism’s blogger’s criticism of cl consisted of worthless pre-cached cliches that don’t apply (polysyllabic, likes to hear himself talk)

    3. CL’s claim that “intelligent” dissent is involved is conceited and treacherous in its implication that “unintelligent” dissent doesn’t deserve protection.

    4. At least one comment on the generally worthless “BanHammer” thread gets CL correct. – http://tinyurl.com/7cy4qhn

    5. CL is somewhat inclined to so-called trolling, but he doesn’t disrupt a blog enough that he can’t be ignored, the preferred solution. An example of pure trolling activity is CL’s posting on my blog at http://tinyurl.com/7tdyedd

    6. Censorship for “over-participation,” the most common charge against CL, is destructive to free discussion and is usually motivated by a drive of the “owner” to assert status. The most important reason to avoid bans, as I say here http://tinyurl.com/7c78aex, is: “It creates a destructive dependence on the moderator. It fuels any community’s primitive cultist urges by creating a subtle fear of the moderator and vesting unnecessary authority in that position. In short, it infantilizes participants and makes the forum insipid.”

    7. The owner of the JT blog is a power-greedy asshole as he found it necessary to libel a former poster, thus:

    “I’ve only banned one person in my life (Bryan Goodrich). I tend to not mind insipid commenters. They serve as a reminder that religion makes nobody better (or, in Bryan’s case, that atheism is no guarantee that someone will be kind and/or reasonable). Kind of ironic that the only person I’ve ever banned was an atheist.”

    This gratuitous personal denunciation of Goodrich is spiteful and petty.

    • http://blogingproject.blogspot.com/ Ing: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream So I Comment Instead

      Oh grow the fuck up

  • http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com Stephen R. Diamond

    Final Statement: also posted to CL’s blog. (One link removed, in case 2 is the limit.)

    1. Banning cl (or even its threat) based on an e-mail was a despicable act of blacklisting.

    2. The Daylight Atheism’s blogger’s criticism of cl consisted of worthless pre-cached cliches that don’t apply (polysyllabic, likes to hear himself talk)

    3. CL’s claim that “intelligent” dissent is involved is conceited and treacherous in its implication that “unintelligent” dissent doesn’t deserve protection.

    4. At least one comment on the generally worthless “BanHammer” thread gets CL correct. – http://tinyurl.com/7cy4qhn

    5. CL is somewhat inclined to so-called trolling, but he doesn’t disrupt a blog enough that he can’t be ignored, the preferred solution. An example of pure trolling activity is CL’s posting on my blog at http://tinyurl.com/7tdyedd

    6. Censorship for “over-participation,” the most common charge against CL, is destructive to free discussion and is usually motivated by a drive of the “owner” to assert status. The most important reason to avoid bans is: “It creates a destructive dependence on the moderator. It fuels any community’s primitive cultist urges by creating a subtle fear of the moderator and vesting unnecessary authority in that position. In short, it infantilizes participants and makes the forum insipid.”

    7. The owner of the JT blog is a power-greedy asshole as he found it necessary to libel a former poster, thus:

    “I’ve only banned one person in my life (Bryan Goodrich). I tend to not mind insipid commenters. They serve as a reminder that religion makes nobody better (or, in Bryan’s case, that atheism is no guarantee that someone will be kind and/or reasonable). Kind of ironic that the only person I’ve ever banned was an atheist.”

    This gratuitous personal denunciation of Goodrich is spiteful and petty.

  • joseph

    Sorry if I picked my words badly.
    Potential Censorship in terms of potential suppression of CL’s speech, here only.
    The idea of CL singing a song made me laugh.
    I have said it a few times, but if there were rules, that CL had access to,fair play, no harm, no foul.
    Possibly I’m oversensitive, but if it comes down to “people who are annoying, will be labelled trolls, and banned” I object. Possibly I have thicker skin than most and prefer to decide who I read myself, and dislike the option being taken away from me. But, it’s not my blog, so I’m just raising issues for consideration, no more,no less.

    • Makoto

      It happens to everyone. I say always blame the browser, it’s easier that way. And I wish I’d thought to mention CL doing an interpretive dance of their thoughts instead of just going with singing…

      Really, it’s always a balance – who is a blocked, and why? Is it a dissenting opinion? Is it someone who distracts from the “real” conversation (whatever that means?). Is it someone who posts links to repeatedly debunked claims which clog up the commenting stream with “yes, we know you said that, and it’s still wrong”? Someone who posts hateful comments to a person or group? There are lots of options here.

      I have to put some trust in the host to put their foot down sometimes, while still fighting for the right in general for people to disagree and such. If the host seems to abuse that right, then I’ll call them on it, and if they don’t change, I’ll leave for greener pastures. If they use it sparingly and with consideration, I’ll read what they said and try to judge if they have a point in that case.

      • joseph

        I can wholeheartedly agree with so much of what you’ve said that I guess our main difference is over exactly where we draw the line.

        • Makoto

          Fair enough. That’s why I go case-by-case, rather than setting a line.

          • joseph

            hmmm…I’d agree that case by case judgement is required, but shouldn’t the criteria (by which we judge) be standardised to avoid any complaints of bias?

            Like his hypothetical interpretative dance ability probably shouldn’t be included (unless he were to use Jazz hands).

          • Makoto

            Standards are hard. We can all agree that death threats are bad, and hopefully one doesn’t need to explicitly state those for every forum. We can all agree that statements of fact with citations to back them up are good. But there’s a huge range inbetween, and I’d say hard and fast rules can hurt the conversation more than they help. Someone can use racial slurs in a post about how they’re bad, but they shouldn’t be banned, probably. Someone can say how churches do good work, yet also have problems, and probably shouldn’t be banned, either. But I can imagine someone using racial slurs over and over where the host can say “based on my opinion, you contribute nothing and hurt others, therefore you can’t post here anymore”. Or use “homosexuality is wrong because of the bible” over and over, yet never respond to “why isn’t mixed cloth bad, then?”, and be a problem.

            My personal criteria? Be nice to others. Respect opinions, even if you disagree. Present facts to refute points rather than use personal or group attacks. Respect the host, and if they warn you about your behavior, consider what you’re doing. Kind of the general stuff I’d consider when doing anything, in any location, not just in an online blog.

            I don’t care about CL’s interpretive dance, it was supposed to be included in a long list of things that he can still do even while he can’t comment here. I’d even consider going to see said dance if he was putting it on, just because it’s weird and possibly fun. Or his singing. Or his other blog. Or his sandwichboard. Or his use of the Ouija Board to prove his point. Or tossing of bones. Or.. hopefully you get the point.

            Bias is impossible to counter. Everyone has bias. The best you can do is look for the bias and account for it in the reporting or accept it as part of the reporting. I’m socially progressive and financially centrist, in my own terms. Whether others agree with that is up to them, but so far it’s the bias I see in myself.

          • joseph

            Yes, I must agree standards require a degree of intelligence to enforce in the intended way, I’d disagree that that means we should abandon the idea of standards. I know there will always be some subjectivity, but I’d like to take what steps I can, where possible, to reduce subjectivity, this seems to be the idea behind the scientific method. It ain’t perfect, but what can we do to improve the way our meatbag brains process the world.

            I like your personal criteria,

            Sorry you didn’t care for the interpretative dance reference, when I read it I felt the overwhelming urge to shoehorn in the word “jazz hands”.

            “Bias is impossible to counter.” I am more hopeful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.mckaskle jmckaskle

    To those who feel that cl’s Right to Free Speech was violated, you can take it up with the courts. I’m sure the ACLU will be all over this.

  • Mark

    I think asking for your definition of “evidence” is a fair request. If evidence is to be your standard of truth in a debate, it is important to quantify it. One of Goodrich’s points is that you never give a definition of what’s “reasonable.” Again, an unknown quantity. Considering your criteria for banning, it would appear that attempting to nail down your core belief is the catalyst.

  • Rabidtreeweasel

    I own a car. You, as licesensed adult, have the right to drive a car. It is not implied that you have a right to then drive my car. You can certainly ask to borrow it, and I may lend it to you, but if you are harassing others while driving my car or invoking traffic tickets then I will likely revoke the privilege.

    Your right to drive has not been diminished. The privilege to drive my car has simply been revoked. You can get your own car and muck about all you like.

  • left0ver1under

    Ban Hammer? Didn’t he used to work with Jeff Beck?

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3U1QXIxHoM?rel=0&w=560&h=315

  • scotlyn

    Good call.

    CL is a walking derail, can only subtract, not add to a thread.

    I’ve always wondered why he can’t figure out his true calling is as a politician since his major gift is the ability to say nothing of any substance at all using 1000′s and 1000′s of words.

  • Drakk

    Personally, I don’t see how he was worse that the likes of Icy Cantu, or those guys who seem to think every post is an opportunity to comment on JT’s penis size/mental health/what have you.

    Banning him, and not those guys, strikes me as odd.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      See the part in the post where I also say I’m banning Moe and his ilk.

      • joseph

        JT Eberhard,
        Where I stand on this is pretty obvious, I don’t expect a response, to that, but would you mind quickly confirming (as I understand from your post):

        CL (and Moe and his ilk) are not banned right now, but are under threat of being banned.

        Thankyou for your time in advance.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          Yup. If their behavior remains consistent with their past examples, they will be banned for the reasons I’ve outlined

          As it stands, the only person banned from this site is an atheist (who greatly resembles cl). I anticipate that will soon change, but it hasn’t as of yet.

          • joseph

            Much obliged

      • Drakk

        I apparently can’t words. Apologies.

        Will you be posting the full email record between the two of you? I for one am curious to see the “debate”, such as it was.

        • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

          On posting the emails. Sure.

  • cl

    Sorry about the fiasco, everybody, I’m not going to challenge anything anybody said about it, and this will be my only post to this thread. In addition, I want you all to know that I waited for permission from JT before I continued commenting here. I thought I was banned Thursday because my comment attempt was withheld—apparently it still is—and JT told me I wasn’t even allowed to post a link to my critiques of his arguments! I took that as a ban, but JT has clarified: I can comment here, I just can’t link back to my site. Okay, seems odd, but it’s his show, so…

    Regardless, this isn’t about attention, this is about truth. All I want is the debate! Is there anybody here who still wants to see the debate? If so, please consider trying to persuade JT. I’m going to post my criticisms on my own blog either way, but I think it would be more productive if JT actually engaged in the manner he originally offered. I’ve already got a whopper of an opening piece demonstrating several false and/or inaccurate claims JT has made, and I want to hold his feet to the fire.

    Take care.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

    More chest-beating and poisoning the well.

    I informed cl I would not allow links back to his site because he would be receiving no more attention from me or my blog. His failure to include that is an implication that I’m ducking him for other reasons (as he said outright in email to me, that I’m afraid).

    This is the same bullshit I was talking about and it just got him banned.

    • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

      Just noticed this post, JT. In case you’re counting, I also banned CL, last year, from my blog. Primarily for using sockpuppets, but also generally being an obnoxious troll. He starts off real friendly to suck you in with positive stuff, encouraging legitimate debate, then eventually drops the facade to show his real purpose – trolling. In the end, a total waste of time.

  • http://youmademesayit.com PhillyChief

    The man is a narcissistic jackass of epic proportions, and the embodiment of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Although I don’t condone banning, I understand and sympathize with those who feel they have no other recourse.

  • srdiamond

    I have to correct any misperceptions that might have resulted from my (Stephen R. Diamond’s) defense of cl (Christian Loon) on “free speech” grounds. If I gave the impression that cl himself practiced tolerance of dissent on his blog, as he claims bombastically, that would have been misleading. cl is entirely pleased to ban atheists on his blog if they “dissent” too strongly. (See http://thewarfareismentalfanboy.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/preamble-8-2/comment-page-1/#comment-505) You might also enjoy the blog (not mine).