The droning drumbeat of personal insults sent my way continues over at atheist Jonathan MS Pearce‘s blog, A Tippling Philosopher. By now the routine is old and tired: Pearce writes a post about me, then his minions of followers start in on the attacks in his combox. This has now occurred five times (one / two / three / four / five). I’ve documented what was written, from the first two threads.
He does virtually nothing about it, under the guise of being (unlike, allegedly, myself) in favor of free exchange of ideas and free speech. Anything goes. Out of many hundreds of purely insulting comments, I have seen him make a mild rebuke of one person (the most vulgar and idiotic one of all). He seems very reluctant to tell his friends to tone it down and to exercise the most basic, rudimentary amount of charity towards a Christian critic. I guess if he did, the sky would fall down. The oceans would rise. It would be the end of western civilization as we know it.
Most of the ad hominem attacks have to do with my blog discussion policy. I don’t allow personal insults on my blog. Consequently, many atheists have been banned, because they couldn’t refrain from that. The fact that they cannot (and that there are legions and legions of “angry atheists” online) is not my problem; it’s theirs. But if I dare ban an atheist because he or she can’t stop acting like a condescending, slanderous, bigoted ass, I have to catch hell from scores of loudmouthed atheists on Jonathan’s blog, because I am an uppity Christian, who simply desires (novelty of novelties!) a congenial and constructive atmosphere for the serious and amiable discussion of any and all viewpoints.
Here’s a sampling of some of the recent attacks along these lines (I could easily find fifty more of this nature):
Raging Bee “Patronization” is a standard and necessary tactic for apologists; almost a reflex, in fact. They almost literally CANNOT deal with an atheist without pretending he/she is just an overgrown baby squalling because he didn’t get everything his way. The minute an apologist admits you’re his equal, and equally deserving of respect, 90% of his arguments and talking-points suddenly lose their power. [7-28-17]
Your entire schtick is a fraud, and you obviously can’t handle statements of fact that don’t fit your official doctrine. And then, of course, when other people see you banning dissenting views on your own blog, you have to come to other blogs to pretend you’re engaging in grownup debate; and then, when we all see through your ham-handed act and you can’t handle our responses, you fall back on pretending you’re the victim of some horrible unfair gang-up, bravely bearing your cross and comforted by the pretense that you’re secretly right all along.
As far as I’m concerned, whatever “debate” you’re pretending to engage in is over: your contribution has been shown to be nothing but sophistry, diversion, gaslighting, and bad-faith debate tactics. I, for one, can never expect anything more from you in the future. [7-30-17]
Gandalf: I’m quietly enjoying the ongoing exposure of seeing Dave Armstrong put in a position where by he at least needs to try and “be seen” to enter into the ring with all kind of people
This kind of situation is not what he has “been in training” for. Because usually (on his own blog) he can decide to just block or delete and wipe-out voices he feel he isn’t going to be bothered with being interested in
And throughout much of past history it’s “been able” to be a Christian™ too, to have been able to just “block out” any conflicting views/voices of people that Christian folk had felt that they didn’t want to even “deal with” [7-29-17]
Now, what I’d like to point out in this post is that it’s not simply a “Christian” thing to have moderation on a blog, to actually enforce it fairly, or even to block and ban inveterate violators of a given policy. We’re not the only ones who object to trolls, idiots, and fools coming into our venues and trying to shipwreck intelligent discussion. Plenty of atheists do the same thing, and for the same reason: fostering of good discussion, minus all the juvenile, brain-dead nonsense of insultfests and mudbaths.
In order to maintain a high quality of discussion in the comments box, I have made the executive decision to moderate all comments on all posts. This decision is effective immediately.
The following policies are in effect. . . .
 Personal attacks of any kind are not tolerated. Along the same lines, comments which are only or mostly about another person, rather than arguments, will be blocked.
 This blog has a philosophical focus; the editors and authors aren’t interested in debating with readers who think philosophy is worthless or cannot understand the value of clearly defined terms. Comments along those lines will be blocked.
Neil Carter (Godless in Dixie) also monitors his comboxes for excrement and sewer bilge. Like me, he has a linked “Comment Policy” at the top of his blog. It warns [his bolding, as with all the citations below]:
Rule 1: It’s my blog; I can do what I want. This blog space isn’t a democracy. It’s a personal blog, not a government entity. You can whine all you like about free speech, but in here bigotry and verbal abuse will not be tolerated, and in here it is up to me and the other moderators to determine when that is happening. I’m a patient person, but if you verbally mistreat me or my readers, I will remove you from this space and not lose a second of sleep over it. This is called the Divine Command Theory of blog moderation.*
Rule 2: Refrain from personal insults or you will be banned.
What began as a personal blog has become an active online community. I have created the following guidelines in an effort to facilitate positive discussion.
1. No personal insults.
Comments are moderated. Please be respectful: no insults, name-calling, or proselytizing. Comments which merely quote religious texts or attempt to preach a sermon will be deleted.
I expect the comments on my blog to follow common standards of politeness and decency. I reserve the right to delete posts which fail to meet these standards, and subject to moderation users who repeatedly submit such comments.
In order to facilitate discussion and keep No Longer Quivering recovery-friendly we do insist that all comments and commenters do not personally attack anyone else. Disagree politely, attack the ideas, not the authors and other commenters. Calling someone names, impugning they are not ‘normal’ or rude words will not be tolerated as they do create a hostile environment. . . .
Comments that do not conform to this standard will be removed and if the poster continues to post inappropriate commentary they will be banned by IP address.
Attempts to fight with a moderator is an automatic ban. . . .
Ad Hominem responses aren’t acceptable.
I think it’s time to put some comment policy on this weblog, because the arguments are getting heated and angry and I think it is good to make sure there are some rules in place.
Why have rules at all?
I don’t think having rules is an impediment to free speech. I don’t think all internet communities and weblogs needs to have rules. I can understand that someone might say “this is a forum where everything is allowed, attack each other mercilessly”. This blog is not such a place though. The ultimate aim of this blog is to create for the readers an opportunity to contrast my views with yours, and to decide for him/herself what is the truth.
To have such a place, we need to have some rules for the debate, the same way that we need traffic rules for transportation to happen.
So, these are the rules:
1) You may never attack other commenters personally. You can criticize their ideas, as vehemently as you want, you can use humor if you like, but, their personality is off-limits. Don’t make assumptions about what people know, on people’s intelligence, on their morals, or their personality. You don’t know them. Even if you did know them, this is not the place to use that knowledge. . . .
If you do this, first I will ask you to refrain, then I will delete your comment, then I will ban you.
0. Be excellent to each other.
Don’t be gratuitously mean. Don’t snipe at people who aren’t causing you grief. Don’t attack people personally. Don’t tone troll or sincerity troll anybody. Don’t make assumptions about people, accuse them of lying or stupidity, or talk over them. . . .
5. Do not question anybody’s sincerity or concern-troll anybody’s emotional state. . . .
6. Silencing tactics will likewise not be tolerated.
My comment policy is simple: if you’re being an ass, I may or may not take action. This largely depends on my mood and how big of an ass you are. I may just delete your comment and give you a slap on the wrist. I may edit your comment (and will say that this has happened so nobody is confused) to say ridiculous and (hopefully) funny things. Or I may just apply the ban hammer with extreme prejudice.
In short… I Am the Law.
If I think you’re being a big enough jerk to draw fire from Mount JT, then that’s how you will be treated.
You may shriek that I am biased or unfair. This may be, but you can note that I’ve banned atheists and believers alike (and plenty of believers remain free to post on my blog, and do so regularly). I do not ban for posting opposing arguments or for negative assessments of my own.
There you have it, folks: nine examples of atheist blogs (“Nonreligious” section of Patheos) that have policies virtually identical to my own. And they do because this is something all Christians and atheists ought to be able to agree on: civility and charity in discourse, and prohibition of insults and nonsense. Atheist sites will tend to draw obnoxious, ignorant Christians, who then might be banned. Conversely, Christian sites draw the angry, loudmouthed atheists who seem unable to make a rational argument and can only insult. And we ban them. Both have the same goal: intelligent, amiable discussion and rudimentary civility and courtesy.
It’s not rocket science. It’s not opposition to free speech. It’s not being against free exchange of ideas. It’s not done because the moderators / blogmasters are paranoid, power-hungry intellectual cowards, or thin-skinned wimps. It’s done to foster good discussion in a congenial atmosphere: just as anyone would enforce in their own house at a gathering. I say the exact same stuff. Here are two of the most succinct sections of my “Discussion Policy”:
FREE SPEECH, RESPECT, AND COURTESY
This is a free speech forum, and people will not be banned, except under the most extreme insulting / trolling scenarios. I seek (and will enforce if necessary) charitable, amiable discussion carried out with respect and consideration of others at all times. Non-Catholics and Non-Christians (of any stripe) are most welcome, provided that they conduct themselves courteously, have a genuine curiosity about trinitarian Christianity, and do not try to overwhelm this forum with their particular agendas. I take an extremely dim view of trolls and loudmouthed one-track-mind preachers and irrational zealots. I foster an atmosphere of congenial respect for folks of all different worldviews and belief-systems, and will defend a non-Catholic being attacked here every bit as quickly and vigorously as Catholics being savaged. I utterly detest the “feeding frenzy” mentality that sadly characterizes so many venues: where, if someone dares to disagree with the “status quo” they are attacked by groups of cliques who wish to isolate and embarrass them. It will never happen here! You have my word on that. I know I have to prove it, because everyone says this. You’ll see.
[ . . . ]
AD HOMINEM NONSENSE VS. CONVERSATION (ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY)
Personal attacks will not be tolerated at all on my page. I’ve learned in my 21 very active years online that these things must be immediately nipped in the bud. They get out of hand as quickly as fire in a barn filled with hay, during a drought. If people don’t behave and act like adults, they’ll be banned from this site as soon as that is apparent. Be civil and respectful and you can express any opinion you like. But you have to act in that fashion. I’m one of relatively few people who actually had a paid job as a forum moderator. I did this for the online forum at The Coming Home Network (Marcus Grodi) from 2007-2010. We had a policy of zero tolerance towards personal insults, and we enforced it fairly, firmly, across-the-board. I will do that here also (and on my Facebook page).
My policy has been very successful for over 20 years now on my blog and on my Facebook page for over six years. It achieves my aim and my goals. If the “price” to be paid for that is to be called a bunch of names by the usual suspects, fire away! It won’t change a thing around here. Those of you who do this are just making fools of yourselves, and I will help broadcast your folly for all to see, if you persist (maybe embarrassment or shame will eventually kick in). I’m out for good discussion and have usually achieved that goal for myself and my many visitors.
I’m very thankful for and grateful to those atheists who are capable of good discussion and able and willing to refrain from the unsavory attitudes of so many of their comrades. I’ve met many, and the debates on my site are posted for all to see. You’ll always be welcome on my sites. And we can show all these nitwits on both sides of the aisle how it’s done.