[public domain / Pixabay]
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Once again, an atheist came onto my page, guns blazing, was banned, and now he is crying in his beer and gathering all his like-minded cronies about him, group hugging, with lots of warm fuzzies, singing of Kumbaya (oops! atheists don’t sing that, do they?), and whining and crying about how nasty all the wicked Christians are (me foremost of all, of course), who deign to ban a person who violates their blog rules. This is the second time in the last ten days that an entire atheist “feeding frenzy” thread was devoted to how nasty, terrible and all-around unsavory and stinky I am. I’m Attila the Hun and Vlad the Impaler, all wrapped into one hideous beast.
All joking and fun aside, the main reason I wanted to respond was to this remark he made (my bolding): “And, of course, he never actually said what the rules were that qualifies a person for banning.”
Now, take note, ALL who comment on my blog (especially those who take it upon themselves to be my vocal critics): Look at the top, under my top header. There are two lines of links up there, mostly for my topical index pages (there are nearly 50 of those). On the bottom line of the two, in the middle of my page left to right, is found, “Discussion Policy.” That tells anyone everything they need to know.
I have a zero tolerance policy towards insults. It has served me very well, here and elsewhere. I think I have managed to achieve on my blog, for the most part (with a lot of hard work, sweat and toil), pretty good atheist-Christian discussion (kudos and many thanks to my atheist friends who have “behaved” and shared their thoughts); especially considering the rock-bottom level of most of it to be found online these days. Both sides are very hard-hitting on ideas, and everyone knows I am a bulldog in argument (though always with a soft “voice” and a half-smile — if only I could be seen), but all in all we are civil and at least listening to each other, before both sides fire back with more contrary opinions.
Now, in order to achieve that, I had to ban several people (a tiny tiny number out of the whole) over the past 2 1/2 months since I arrived here: those who only wanted to insult, preach, or troll. This is what it takes to develop a congenial atmosphere, where real discussion and dialogue can take place. This guy who is now whining, came by and almost immediately stated that he had read one of my posts and it would be his last. So of course I commented on the inanity and closed-mindedness of that, and it went from bad to worse.
Of course, it is fashionable and chic and trendy for atheists (and not just them) who have been banned to get together and pretend that they were banned, not because they acted like incorrigible asses, but because I am arrogant, wicked, power-hungry, scared of opposition, hate atheists, am the typical judgmental Christian, and all the rest. Well, folks, look around at some of the monster atheist-topic threads on my blog lately (one has 392 comments, another, 161 comments, etc.), and you’ll see plenty of atheists — scores of ’em — , free to comment and criticize all they like, safe as they can be, as long as they stay civil and keep it on the ideas.
It’s obvious that I’m not running in abject fear from the atheists, fleeing to the hills, deathly afraid of how they’ll make me look, because (like all theists and Christians, right?), I have no answers to their charges (so we are told). Practically every day I am wrangling with 10 or 12 of them at any given time (with 553 comments up on just those two posts alone), putting up new dialogues where I take on five or six at once. But I’m scared, huh? Right; makes perfect sense (in some alternate goofy universe in Stephen Hawking’s multiverse scenario).
Moreover, I am just as tough on fellow Christians who violate my rules. Today I deleted a number of comments from someone who is a friend of mine, that I have known for years, and issued several warnings, that if he persisted in calling atheists names, he, too, would be banned. Just ten hours ago I pinned a comment at the top of one atheist-Christian thread, asking for those on both sides to cease with the personal attacks:
Please abide by my discussion rules (linked at the top of this blog). I’ve already banned one atheist who came in here, guns blazing, calling all theists “idiots,” etc. [present note: NOT the person referred to above] I’m close to banning a Catholic who has reciprocated. And I’ve deleted several worthless and unedifying exchanges.
Insults are not tolerated. I don’t care WHO makes them. If the POPE came here and started calling all atheists idiots and morons, I would ban him! LOL
Strong words against ideas are permitted (I do a lot of that myself). Direct attacks on people or their motivations or intelligence or character, etc. are not.
A word to the wise is sufficient.
Here are my three comments directed towards my Catholic friend:
Please refrain from personal attacks (“I was calling anti-Philosophy Atheists morons”). I’ve worked hard to create an atmosphere of relative congeniality here. [link]
I will indeed ban you if you can’t control yourself and abide by my discussion rules. [atheists: note that X is a Catholic and online friend of mine, but he must follow the rules, too, lest I be guilty of unfair moderation. I do usually give a few warnings.] [link]
Gratuitous insults are a stupid thing, whether typically “Scottish” or not. Horse thievery and rabid anti-Catholicism were also traditionally Scottish. Does that make them good? [link] [we are both Scottish-Americans; that’s where that came from]
To his credit, he issued an apology. But this shows that my moderation has nothing whatsoever to do with affiliation. It’s all about the discussion and fostering a warm, inviting atmosphere for dialogue and people actually getting to know each other as human beings and maybe even developing mutual respect and friendship. I feel that I have made some new friends. I hope and trust that some atheists think kindly towards me, too. It takes time. It’s tough. Our two groups aren’t known for our warmth and affection towards each other.
I was even complimented by an atheist today (Gandolf) who commended me for leaving my comboxes open for discussion, whereas so many other venues do not do so. And another atheist (TheMarsCydonia) made note to the offending Catholic that I had strict rules: “Perhaps you didn’t know but the author of this blog bans commenters leaving this type of comments. Look at his comment policy.” A third atheist has been posting some highly offensive comments about the Catholic Church supposedly being in bed with Hitler and Hitler being a Catholic all through the Holocaust. He’s still here. I haven’t banned him. I did tell him I thought his remarks were “bigoted” because I believe that to be literally true; as I think what he is saying is demonstrably false.
So, back to today’s complainer. I have explained myself thoroughly. Now, knowing what I have just written and documented, look how this guy describes me:
. . . reading a rather asinine post from some guy named Dave Armstrong. . . . It really burns me that people like this#%$@head can get away with that kind of thing; they have totalitarian control over their little chunk of the internet, and they can just ban people and delete their comments. . . . I guess I just need to stop getting into arguments with Christians when they’re also the mods (this isn’t the first time one has pulled this kind of thing on me), but I guess maybe next time I’ll just have to start screencapping the discussion so I can still have a copy of it when these douchebags pull their scorched-earth bit.
And of course this atheist forum (like all forums) has a discussion policy that it apparently (as usual, online) does not enforce, since it states:
No trolling, keep things civil. Avoid fighting words and personal attacks. This includes the repeated use of slurs to incite or instigate (i.e. trolling) and applies to all forms of user content, including the user’s name.
Harassment and bigotry are strictly prohibited, . . .
Enforcement of ostensible discussion policy is so ultra-rare anymore, that everyone is flabbergasted to see someone (me) actually do it. But it’s the only way to have good discussion. Believe me, I know. I’ve been online for 19 years and have been in innumerable discussions.
One fair-minded guy even in this mostly cheerleading group-cry-in-the-beer discussion made a great point that I think is exactly right:
If you want a website to run by your rules, you need to get your own website. And if you allow anyone else to post there, and you ever delete a post, then I guarantee someone will claim that you treated them unfairly and you are an #%$@&+%. And if you never delete anything, your website will turn to &$@#.
Dead-on. This is precisely why I strictly moderate; I don’t want my blog to turn to &$@#. It ain’t a power-trip; it’s love of dialogue. Now, if some don’t like that and think that I am an #%$@&+% because of it, they can lump it and go jump in the lake (to put it very mildly). No one can please everybody (least of all, us lowly, despised apologists).
Regarding deleted posts: yes, absolutely: if someone comes here and violates my rules, I may remove a lot of their junk comments after they are banned, since I don’t want ’em polluting my page and giving others the impression that that is what typically takes place here. This is the whole point of a strict policy. People come to read. I want them to read good stuff, so they’ll hang out and discuss issues; not garbage, causing them, more than likely, to go away, muttering dejectedly, “the same old crap again . . .” No one has a supposed absolute “right” to contaminate my blog with insults and epithets and [what I believe to be] falsehoods (as the case may be).
If a person abides by the rules, I can put up with tons of stuff, but if they clearly violate the rules, I’m not obligated to keep up an exhaustive record of their bloviations under the guise of some ridiculous notion of what “free speech” entails. They can moan and groan and agonize all they like over that. I don’t care. It’s my venue. They come here as my guest. I’m a gracious host. I’m a nice guy (even though I debate ideas in a very aggressive and “hard-hitting” way). But if someone comes into my “house” and insults me or my other guests, they’re out the door.
Ironically, in another post in an atheist venue, partially about me, from three days ago, this guy actually acknowledged that I was fair:
It’s been almost a day (with a lot of good zingers thrown his way), and based on the continuing dialogues, it doesn’t look like anyone has been banned. He even made a “featured comment” saying…
I want to highly commend all the participants in this thread. As of this writing (and over 200 comments) I haven’t seen any personal insults or nonsense: that are sadly typical of atheist-Christian discussions. And I HAVE seen a great deal of good, constructive discussion that actually gets down to premises and brass tacks and bottom lines.
Maybe he was bad in the past, I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem to be the case in this instance.
The line he added later after I banned him was not quite as kind (fair warning to those who don’t like “bad words”).
All in a day’s work. Like I said, the main reason I posted this was to inform folks again that I have a Discussion Policy, permanently posted at the top at all times. These guys with their petty grievances can devote 101 threads to what an all-around jerk I supposedly am. It won’t stop me from my goal. Good discussion is taking place, and I will do all I can to foster that goal all the more, going forward. The folks who chose to descend to the mud pit and to hurl the horse manure pies have removed themselves from the good discussion. They’re out ‘o the game. Is that my fault? Nope; they made the choice. If they now think I’m such a scumbag, why not then, ignore me altogether? But the back-slapping and rah-rahing with the cronies is too tempting, I reckon.