Another Entry in the Annals of “People Who Haven’t the Slightest Idea What They’re Saying”

Awww, look. Someone’s trying to lecture me on speech and the Internet!

(claps happily)

Background: In the comment thread to this entry yesterday, someone named Gretchen came in and acted in a manner I thought was inappropriate, and I told her so. She maintains I misunderstood her intent, to which I said fine, then I beg your pardon (which, to be fair, she might not have seen). She goes back to the LiveJournal community from whence she came and complains about her treatment here, which inspired another member to write me a letter lecturing me about some “facts” of the Internet, among them:

Internets 101: When you publish something on a public blog and neglect to disable the comment function, you have already given readers your permission to reply. This little slice of Internet magic is also known as the First Amendment.

Well, okay then.

First irony: The person lecturing me on the First Amendment of the Internet is apparently located in Australia, home of absolutely no First Amendment protections. Rumor has it Australia is its own country. I’d need to check an almanac to confirm, but off the top of my head I’m pretty sure about that. I’m also pretty sure that the Australian constitution is not just a complete lift of the US Constitution, and that the right to free speech in Australia isn’t even explicitly in it.

Second irony: The person lecturing me on the inherent right to comment online is doing so in a moderated LiveJournal community, into which the right to comment is strictly limited.

Third irony: There’s no third irony, this person is just absolutely, completely, ice-pick-to the-eyeballs wrong in their understanding of the First Amendment, how it applies to my site, and how it applies to the Internet. Reading this person’s understanding of how the First Amendment applies in these instances is like being slathered in a thick coat of ignorant, and then being put out into the sun to dry out before a second coat is applied, which itself will be topped off by a sealant of complete and utter stupid, and lightly drizzled with a glistening varnish of epic fail.

Because it apparently needs to be pointed out to some, let’s review some essential facts:

1. Your First Amendment rights do not apply to this blog. Why? Because, as it happens, I am not the United States government, nor one of its several subordinate state or local governments, nor is this blog an arm of any of those several governments. Je ne suis pas l’état. I am a private citizen of the United States and this blog is understood to be my private property. I am no more obliged to let any person exercise their First Amendment rights on it than I am obliged to allow people to assemble on my lawn against my will. When people come onto my site, they are obliged to play by my rules (and keep off my lawn!). Likewise, I reserve the right (noted in my site and comment rules, which are posted in a clear and obvious fashion and linked to on every page of the site generated by the WordPress install) to moderate and edit if I see fit. If I decide, in pure Yossiarian fashion, that I wish death to all gerunds in the comment threads, I am perfectly free to root them out. Editing! Gerunds! Death!

Occasionally people — usually the trolls — will tell me I can’t stop them from posting what they please on my site. Then once they’re dropped into the ban queue, I read their increasingly foamy, otherwise unseen messages, saying that I’m just another censoring tool or whatever. My general response to this is (or what would be, if I were to respond, which I don’t) is to say: Yup, sure am. Because the people I ban are generally assholes, you see. I don’t feel in the slightest bit bad not letting them play in my virtual yard. Likewise, I don’t feel in the least bit bad in telling people a) to behave when they aren’t, in my estimation, behaving in my site, and b) to cram it when they appear to be under the impression they have any right to tell me how to express myself on my own site. If people don’t like it, of course, they have the right to leave.

2. The First Amendment does not apply to the whole Internet. What? You say the whole Internet is covered by the First Amendment? Excellent! Won’t those bloggers in China and Iran be relieved. Not to mention Charlie Stross, who very carefully moderates his blog because, as he notes, “the server this blog is based on is sited in London, and is therefore subject to the English law on defamation and libel, which is entirely batshit crazy.” And hey, anyone accessing the Internet in Australia, home of some of the most stringent online laws in the Western world, is no doubt relieved that those laws will never be enforced, because the Internet is covered by the First Amendment!

Oh, wait.

Now, as it happens, I wish the whole of the Internet were covered by First Amendment law, because you know what? I would like an Iranian or Chinese blogger not to worry that posting his thoughts online might mean that he spends time in prison, or ends up with a bullet in his head. Call me crazy that way. But you know, wishing doesn’t make it so, and out here in the real world, the First Amendment’s legal force stops at the US border. Would be nice if it didn’t but it does. And while, yes, theoretically an Iranian blogger who could send his words to a server based in the US would thus have those words protected, when the thugs come to stomp down the door of his house in the Tehran suburbs, that’ll be a cold comfort.

(Mind you, even if the First Amendment applied everywhere online, I could still do what I wanted on my own blog; see point one, above.)

3. Not disabling comments does not give people permission to comment. See, watch:

Hey everyone! I’ve not disabled my comments, but I expressly and explicitly deny you permission to post comments here! Don’t do it!

Wow, that was easy.

Yes, yes, you can post comments here — you have the ability, since I did not disable comments — but you do not have my consent to do so. And that’s what permission is: my consent to your actions. My leaving the ability to post comments on the site no more inherently offers my consent for you to comment than my not locking my house inherently offers my consent for you to enter my house and plop down on the couch. Certainly disabling my comments would reinforce my lack of consent for you to post comments, just as locking my door reinforces my lack of consent for you to step into my front hall. It does not mean, however, that the permission is otherwise there if I do not do these things. Likewise, one might assume not disabling comments on a blog implies permission to post, since that’s how most people do things. But your assumption, in fact, does not equal actual consent.

Okay, I now give you express and explicit permission to post comments again, under the rules noted in the comment policy — if, in fact, I’ve not already banned you. And if I’ve previously told you not to post in a specific comment thread, you still can’t, in those threads.

Because that’s the other thing, isn’t it? I might want to leave my comments open to most people and ban or restrict one or two people. The blogging software might allow me mechanically to ban someone — take away their simple ability to respond on the site — but if I don’t use that mechanism, it does not mean that those I have banned have permission to post. And also to the point, even if you do have permission to post, I still have the right to moderate, censor and even delete your comments, if in my opinion you’ve crossed some line I don’t want crossed.

So, let’s recap: You don’t inherently have permission to post comments to a blog, even if the blog owner doesn’t disable the commenting function. You don’t have First Amendment rights on this blog. And the First Amendment doesn’t apply to the whole Internet. Basically, every single assertion this person makes is completely wrong.

Which is impressive, in its way, but not something I suspect this person was aiming for when they decided they were going to try to offer me a snark-laden lecture about how the Internet works. Snark only works if in the process of offering it, you don’t do the factual equivalent of faceplanting into the concrete.

Fourth irony: Over in the LiveJournal community where this person has just embarrassed themselves by being entirely wrong about just about everything, Gretchen is thanking them for their post.

231 Comments on “Another Entry in the Annals of “People Who Haven’t the Slightest Idea What They’re Saying””

  1. Wait, so can we make comments here, even though you denied us permission? Score!

  2. No, no, no, he gave us permission again a few paragraphs later. (Although if you haven’t read that far, maybe you don’t have permission?)

  3. You’re having a helluva good time here, John. Isn’t there anything in the Constitution to prevent this? Establishment of religion? Due process? A well-regulated militia?

  4. I’m impressed. It seems that they’re actively foaming at the mouth without, you know, actually reading the original entries. I wonder what would happen if someone poked that blog-hive with a stick?

  5. I always enjoy when people claim First Amendment rights about anything other than the government. I work at a newspaper, and saying that people have the right to post whatever they want on your blog is like saying we have to print any letter we receive, just because we print letters. Which I’ve heard people say. Didn’t help get their insaneness in the paper.

  6. Nice post. I’ve had to patiently explain this whole “free speech” to folks in the past. I don’t think it sticks.

    I recently cooked up a response to people who feel that the tacit approval and requests for contribution to collaborative, social sites does not equal free speech, either.

    In a nutshell, on my site, just as in my house, no one has any freedom of expression because I have used it all up.

  7. Bryan:

    I do not endorse blog-hive poking. Any more than I have done already.

  8. Does it not occur to these people that they could just ignore you? No one is forcing them to read this blog. I find the whole discussion highly amusing and really appreciate that it is out where I can see it.

    A pity that I can’t get worked up over the term “childfree” which one *could* assume implies that having children is a bad thing.

  9. I am constantly surprised at the depth, number, and fanaticism of groups that form on the internet. With most of them it just seems like they’re together to have someone else affirm their beliefs. Then they’ll label themselves with a name. So….. I wouldn’t even bother to try and talk to such people. Their support will gather and will only reaffirm that they are in the right no matter what you say. and be loud about it to anyone that offends them.

    And “Childfree”? Sooooo sorry if I offend, but that’s one of the lamest labels ever. It doesn’t even really make sense unless you have it explained to you or go look it up like I just did. Why not “People Against Making People”? (PAMP for short) Or maybe more to the seriousness that they view their philosophy: “Association of People Opposed to Procreation.” (APOP)

  10. Phew! I thought I could be shot for posting on a Chinese website… Thanks for clearing that issue up.

  11. Brian@#6

    When I worked at a paper I maintained the strictest adherence to protecting people’s God-given Constitutional right to look like idiots in print.

  12. The person that mentioned the First Amendment seems to be 16 years old. I think we should cut them a little slack. I was dumb when I was 16.

    Though it’s slight ironic for a child to be posting on in child-free community…

  13. “this person is just absolutely, completely, ice-pick-to the-eyeballs wrong in their understanding of the First Amendment, how it applies to my site, and how it applies to the Internet. Reading this person’s understanding of how the First Amendment applies in these instances is like being slathered in a thick coat of ignorant, and then being put out into the sun to dry out before a second coat is applied, which itself will be topped off a sealant of complete and utter stupid, and lightly drizzled with a glistening varnish of epic fail.”

    This is made of yes and win, as the saying goes.

    kino @ #11: Yes, “childfree” does need to be explained very often, and some (but not all) of those who claim that label are, for lack of a better term, batshit insane (though not as insane as those who started the cf_hardcore community). Of course, some (but not all) of most communities are batshit insane, so take that as you will.

    However, I’ve found it rather interesting that (in my experience) for the most part the complaints the childfree have aren’t actually about the children, but about parents who refuse to parent their children, which is a very different thing.

  14. If, in case you’re looking for a fifth irony, I was listening to A-HA’s “Take On Me” while reading this post! Coincidence? (and for those wondering what the hell am I doing listening to A-HA? It’s a stream on the internet and I have no say what I listen to, except that it’s 80’s stuff!)

  15. This post is made of win. Having done my share of forum moderating in my day, I’ve also had to deal with the idiots who think that their rights are being trampled when we edit or delete their posts. I prefer the Heinleinian formulation (paraphrased): “No one’s stopping you from hiring your own hall and speaking THERE. But we have paid for this one, and you are not invited to speak HERE.”

  16. For clarification:

    (please note that although I do not want children of my own I do not consider myself “childfree.” I do occasionally read the community, however, usually when it shows up elsenet as it did today.)

  17. Well, kino, maybe because not all of us childfree folks are (a) crazy, or (b) against *everyone* producing children. The sane ones of us (and i’d argue that that’s the majority) really just want to not face derision from our friends, families, and total fucking strangers.

    I’m not going to say that “childfree” is a great coinage — i’m not terribly fond of it myself. But it did get coined because of a genuine perception problem, which is that if you say “i’m childless” or “i don’t have children”, there’s a large portion of the population that will treat this as a tragedy or a condition to be remedied — and proceed to tell you so, at *great length*. Those of us who are childless by choice would prefer not to be treated in these ways. And no, obviously just using a different word to refer to ourselves isn’t going to magically make that happen in all circumstances, but it does go some small way toward making at least the saner and less annoying people leave us alone about the issue.

    And by no means are all of us nutbags. Nor do we all call people with children “breeders” or other nasty names. Further, i know that Mr. Scalzi knows this, and i did not read his post to be saying that we’re all nutbags. (Not to mention that in any case i would be really disinclined to get into a snarkfest with The Scalzi. I am *way* out of my league there!) The LJ comm cf_hardcore, where Gretchen came from, is, however, a shining bastion of the nutbag-childfree set. I avoid it like the plague, myself.

  18. A pefectly eloquent post/reply on this subject. I just wish that the amount of “ink” you spilled did not probably make these people feel validated as part of a real discourse. You have to have a plausibly true position to make that grade.

    Child-free is just one of the many tiny fragments of modern life that makes me feel gemeinschaft needs to make a little bit of a comeback in the public sphere, certainly not in a radical way, but just enough to shut this kind of **** down. My family is not an anomized set of variably positioned actors operating in mutually agreed and revocable habitual transactions which must be reaffirmated every quarter-moon. (And even if we are, I don’t want anybody to be so vulgar as to say that about us in public.)

  19. Dude, Scalzi. You overreacted in the beginning, and you went right on with it. You snapped at her and went over the top, and when she responded you went over the top again. At least, that’s how it looks without benefit of hearing how it would actually sound using tones of voice. What I see is a “you are childfree so DON’T TELL ME HOW TO TALK!!!” being countered with “That’s not what I said” being countered with “YOU ARE SO RUDE!!!” Overreaction city, and this entry continues in that vein. Which is, of course, your right, but maaaan…surely that can’t be any good for your blood pressure.

    I don’t really care how you moderate, as I’ve been snippy multiple times here on your blog and iirc you haven’t done too much about it. I’m just wondering why one childfree nutbag was worth so much effort, both in the beginning and now. But then again, the Internet is serious business, I suppose.

  20. I guess it’s watching too many made-for-TV movies that makes me want to see the subject of this post come by and acknowledge that they actually learned something by this exchange.

    Or rage incoherently at Scalzi for his impenetrable logic. That would be cool too.

  21. John, thank you for making my day a little brighter. Nothing like well-aimed snark to pick me up.

  22. Bryan @4: Don’t. I was banned from there, despite my childfree status, for telling someone that perhaps they might want to actually assume my friend, who was being slagged on for “breeding”, was a good parent. I was called a “moo” and all kinds of stuff. They actually *trumpet* that I was banned on their userinfo page. Fastest I’ve ever been banned from anywhere…one comment and BAM!

    …there is a very good reason I don’t associate with childfree Internet communities anymore. They tend to be dens of batshit, and I don’t have to sit there and insult people and their parenting abilities to feel confident in my own decision to not have children. I don’t get that aspect…I mean, I was all about it when I was younger, but then I…you know…grew up.

  23. Little clarification. My post at #21 consisted of two different points: “these people” are the nutbags, not the sane people who don’t want to be hassled about their choice/condition of not having children. “Childfree” on the other hand grates on my nerves as a term; it sounds inherently hostile, dismissive and/or grimacingly saccharine to me.

  24. @ Adrienne Travis #20

    If your friends are deriding you for choosing not to have children I’d say get new friends. But i know it’s not necessarily that simple, and that probably wouldn’t help against family and strangers so I’ll just say that that’s unfortunate. I’d also like to say it surprises me but it doesn’t really because people like deriding other people.

    @ both Adrienne Travis and SisterCoyote

    I’ll take your word for it that that specific community is crazy or whatever but I think that having specific communities is weird in itself for an issue like this. It makes sense if there is a lot of derision (and probably more so in certain cases), but I think it would be more constructive if it was addressed in a more general way as a symptom of a larger social problem concerning discrimination(within limits) than the “breeder/non-breeder” thing or “children are evil.” Not that it will ever go away in every form… but whatever.

  25. Fun is good. John, you seem to be having a lot of fun with this, and this much fun … is very good. Some people need to have their collars yanked back.

  26. I checked the rules on commenting and don’t see anything about this, but thought I’d better check before I do it: May we correct your grammar in a comment?

  27. Grammar follows Scalzi’s rules, not the other way around! Haven’t you read any of his books?

  28. They do earn points for calling you a “douchecracker,” though, right?

  29. Julia@22,

    I was startled by Scalzi’s vehemence until he pointed out the “kindly” part (I didn’t actually, like, *read* the entire comment).

    I had a boss who did that “kindly” thing all the time, genuinely didn’t have a clue that it was beyond rude, and was totally baffled by all the people who thought she was a major bitch. I heard her tell one of the Powers That Be “I instruct you to…” and just about fell over. One guy got an e-mail from her his first day on the job and nearly quit on the spot…but in her view, she was being perfectly reasonable and simply trying to make things clear.

    I think Gretchen may not have known that using that phrase is going to set people off. Ah, well….

  30. “kindly” is rude?
    Is that one of these geographical-specific things? Curse this international internet thingy!

  31. Not to dump on Australian speech law, but its ‘modern’ definition of libel merely requires “[a] statement about the plaintiff of a kind likely to lead the recipient as an ordinary person to think less of him.” Mirror Newspapers v. World Hosts (1979) 141 CLR 632, at 638.

    The US definition, of course, has a truth component built in… you were right, our First Amendment truly has no Australian analogue.

    And you were nicer than most would/could be in those circumstances.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to listening to my old Erasure albums.

  32. 26 # PrivateIron

    “… inherently hostile, dismissive and/or grimacingly saccharine to me.” Nice characterization. I can see some vapid yuppie first coining this term at a wine tasting in a failed attempt to be cute when questioned about her lack of progeny by her fertile sorority alumnae ‘friends’, only to have it catch on completely out of context with the bitter loveless wallfowers lurking by the mini-weiners and crab dip.

  33. #18: excellent. The local pseudo-christian hate cult is always incensed that they can’t stroll into the gay pride festival (without paying of course) and harass the hell out of everyone, claiming free speech. I’ll have to remember that Heinlein quote. “Hire your own hall. We paid for this one.”

  34. I had a similar argument with someone on this very topic. It lasted until I asked what the first word of the First Amendment is, and she didn’t know. “It’s ‘Congress,’ and I ain’t it!”

    I don’t think she’s forgiven me yet.

  35. This is where I wish I had something eloquent to say, but don’t. So I’ll just applaud the beauty that is a Scalzi smack-down. Very nicely done sir.

  36. Nobody cares about your insipid “using this word implies that blah blah blah” conversation, I have no idea why this was on stumbleupon, and I’m never coming back to this blog because of it.

  37. Kino @ #27:

    All I have to say about community (in general) is this: Clearly, you have never been told by a relative or friend that you’ll change your mind about something of critical importance to you. (will a smile get me beaten?)

    It’s just nice to occasionally talk with other people who understand that no, when one says one does not want children, one does not want children and this is a firm thing.

    Unfortunately, much like with religion, people see the noisy froot loops and not the rest of us.

    (Now, I can be a noisy froot loop myself, but not on this topic.)

  38. All that occurs to me is that a) I didn’t know that there were people who took offense from other people choosing to have children, and b) that “childfree” would be a loaded term. To follow up on the Heinlein vein, I’m sure the cult of “childfree” will take care of itself.

  39. Mr. Scalzi. Your wonderful 1st amendment rant reminded me of an Ugly American I saw in Victoria, British Columbia. The ferry from Washington state had just docked, and the customs gentlemen were asking questions of the people in each car before allowing admittance to the country at large. One UA stated that yes, he had a pistol.
    CG You can’t bring it into Canada. We can ship it to your home, at your expense, or hold it for you here.
    CG Canada is not part of the US; we are a completely separate country. Your constitution means nothing here; Canadian law means everything. You can’t bring in the pistol.
    UA I am an American Citizen. The US constitution protects me everywhere in the world.
    CG No it doesn’t
    [about 10 minutes of fruitless argument deleted]
    Finally I saw the RCMP taking UA away in handcuffs. His wife and family were put in line to get on the next ferry to Washington. I suspect that by now he is clear on the fact that there are many countries in the world, of which the US is just one.

    Not that you need my permission, but feel free to shorten this if you think it needs it.

  40. Julia @22 – I didn’t click the link that John offered, I jsut read through the entire post, and only noticed that the LJ community in question was a childfree one once I read the comments.

    You know what? At no point did I wonder which community he was posting about, or see it as having any relevance to what he was talking about. This isn’t about a right to not have children, this is Scalzi correcting FACTS. Whilst poking fun at the internet. And being slightly pedantic. These points are generally why his regular readers love him and keep coming back.

    In reponse to the original post, I moderate on internet forums. I’m English, yet already knew the terms of the first amendment and the ways in which it DIDN’T apply to an internet forum and its predominantly British users. Seems to be a fairly common misconception.

  41. PrivateIron, I wanted to thank you for jogging my memory about gemeinschaft and gesellschaft – terms I haven’t used since college, and very much needed to remember!

  42. Julia, +1 on everything you said in your comment(s) above. I also used to participate on a childfree usenet group. Unfortunately, the most extreme of the childfree folks have a way of drumming off everyone with a more moderate opinion. The unfortunate result is that the rest of the world thinks that “they” speak for all of us.

    John, the way you wrote “one of those nutbag childfree folks” it did look like you were including me, and Julia, in that group. Compare with writing “one of those nutbag Rush Limbaugh listeners” “one of those nutbag Obama supporters” or “one of those nutbag PETA members” or “one of those nutbag parachutists” or “one of those nutbag LGBTs in SF”. These phrases imply that the writer thinks that all Rush Limbaugh listeners, all LGBTs in SF, all parachutists, all PETA members, and all Obama supporters are nutbags.

    As a skilled professional writer I’m sure you could rewrite the phrase in a way to make it clear that you don’t think *all* childfree people are nutbags, and I’m sure you would have done so if it mattered to you. I’m guessing that you don’t have any close friends or relatives who are childfree, and because of this you are perhaps not quite as sensitive to our situation as you might be otherwise. You might want to get to know some of the more moderate childfree people up close and personal. We are human too.

    In your comment discussion yesterday, it seems like you were spoiling for a fight, and that comment just gave you an opening. Do you really feel better for it? Is that what gives you great joy in life? If so, how sad.

    BTW, I agree with ALL your points in rebuttal to the “Internets 101” post. And if you want to moderate this reply, or ban me from your site, that’s your right. I hope that instead you will engage in friendly discussion.

  43. Angele @ 14

    Well, looking stupid is one thing. Many such letters are published. I meant more of the outright untrue/racist/libelous variety of letter.

  44. Chris@33: Yes, “kindly” is rude, at least when used the way Gretchen was. In the sentence “Kindly stop doing that thing which I dislike.”, “Kindly” basically serves as an excuse for the person to delude hirself into believing that sie isn’t being a rude and overly-entitled jerk.

    (This may or may not apply in the case where the person has a legitimate case to ask the other person to stop doing the given thing, but even then there are much more polite ways to say the same thing.)

  45. El @ 32: Got any more examples of the old boss’s obliviousness? Construction of a checklist for the cautious could be good.
    I don’t believe I’m oblivious in the way your boss was, but then, if I were oblivious, I wouldn’t know, would I?

  46. John, can we have your permission to apply the 2nd Amendment to comments here? I’m not sure how, but I’ll try to figure out a way.

  47. I don’t even understand why there’s any controversy over this whole ‘childfree’ thing. I’ve been eating only childfree tuna ever since I heard about it! Jeez, who would even buy a can of tuna that might have bits of children in it? That’s sick! What’s WRONG with these people?

  48. It’s only an issue if you buy your Soylent Green from a disreputable seller. :D

  49. It’s not just the fact/legal requirement that it must be the government infringing on speech that confuses some people.

    In law school, I spent a semester working at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts as part of my school’s clinical program. I dealt with a number of callers who would insist that their artworks’ First Amendment rights had been violated. They would get quite incensed when I explained that a two foot tall sculpture made of wood was not a person under the Constitution and therefore did not have any First Amendment rights but it was certainly possible their constitutional rights had been violated.

  50. To be clear on something:

    The problem with the person I’m bagging on here is not that they are “childfree” but that they’re basically wrong on every thing about the Internet they tried to lecture me about. Their childfree-ness (or the childfree-ness of other folks in the comment thread in that LJ community) impinges on this particular topic almost not at all.

  51. Good point, Cathy. I remember during the “uproar” over the Dixie Chicks there were many who said the DC’s had their 1st Amendment rights violated by the critics. The 1st does not insulate someone from criticism and certainly doesn’t apply to non-state actors.

  52. ::::::standing ovation:::::

    My husband moderates the comments over on CuteOverload, which gets enormous traffic and a proportional number of trolls. They are regularly astonished to learn that the First Amendment does not, in fact, give them the right to verbally vomit on someone else’s blog. They get all blubbery and outraged when he censors them or gives them the boot.

  53. You know, it’d be fun if everyone watching fireworks lurked to do so. Skulking about the fairgrounds, making eye contact with no one….

  54. Hi John,

    I was introduced to your books through Joe Mallozzi so pop by every now and then to see what’s happening in your world. When I read this, I felt an overwhelming need to comment. So thanks for keeping it activated!

    I’m finding increasingly in Australia that the youth of this country are embracing the unrealistic ideal that they are in fact, the centre of the universe.

    There is an attitude of “Don’t you try and tell me what to do, but I sure as hell have the right to tell you what to do”.

    I’m certainly at no age of ultimate wisdom (30) but I am old enough to understand when to put a sock in it and to respect another person’s opinion.

    You learn so much more by listening as opposed to clapping your hands over ears and yelling ‘lalalalalalalala’ until the person has finished speaking so you can then bombard them with your opinion.

    Open up those ears kids and start listening to people that have been around a lot longer than you.
    You may not agree with what they have to say, but you never know, you just might learn something.
    **Steps off soapbox**

  55. Sister Coyote:

    “However, I’ve found it rather interesting that (in my experience) for the most part the complaints the childfree have aren’t actually about the children, but about parents who refuse to parent their children, which is a very different thing.”

    Yes, and one thing I agree with them totally about. Bad parents suck, and make things harder for the rest of us.


    “Dude, Scalzi. You overreacted in the beginning, and you went right on with it.”

    Well, no. I was rude to her, but that’s a different thing. Gretchen phrased something in a way I found offensive, and I responded in a manner I found appropriate. It’s in fact my standard response to anyone I see telling me how to do things on my site. You can look around the site for confirmation of that. I wasn’t mad at Gretchen, nor did she send me into paroxysms of rage; I just wanted her to be clear that her apparent attitude wasn’t appreciated, nor would it be tolerated. As noted, she maintains she was not intending to be rude, so I accepted that at face value and apologized for stomping on her.

    Ruth Ellen:

    “May we correct your grammar in a comment?”

    Yes, since I make grammar errors with regularity. Usually I fix them when they’re spotted. Occasionally if someone notes the grammar error in an obnoxious way, I may be snippy.


    “I think Gretchen may not have known that using that phrase is going to set people off.”

    Yes, I think it’s the crux of the issue. I pretty much only encounter “kindly do/don’t [whatever]” when the person using the phrase has the full expectation that the thing will be done; i.e., it’s not actually a request. And naturally I look askance at people telling me how to write on my own site.

    JC Dill@47:

    I don’t argue that people may choose to see “one of those childfree nutbags” as inclusive of all childfree people, but on the other hand lots of people don’t read it as inclusive of all childfree people, and I didn’t feel it was necessary to change the phrasing. That said, you will note that I did clarify in the first comment to Gretchen that I don’t think all childfree folks are nutbags, and pointed to evidence on the site that I had addressed this specific issue before, in detail.

    My issue with Gretchen’s comment was not specifically about her objection to the wording, which I think is fine, even if I don’t see it being as much an issue as she did. My issue was how I saw her communicating her objection. In my opinion, she did it rather poorly. That said, she says I misinterpreted her comment, and I think she misinterpreted mine. So I guess we’re even on that score.

    As for spoiling for a fight, nope, I wasn’t, but on the other hand I don’t let people be rude to me on my own site (unless they’ve earned leeway by being a longtime commenter). The site gets between 30k and 40k visitors a day, so I feel pretty strongly about making it clear to the rude very quickly that that’s not how we roll here.

  56. Oh, damn 60 & 61 snuck right in there, rendering my addendum in 62 much more inane than I expected.

  57. As has been said, there’s nothing wrong with the word “kindly” in and of itself. It’s just that inserting it in front of a demand doesn’t make the demand polite, it just makes it passive-aggressive- which some, myself and apparently Mr. Scalzi included, find extremely aggravating. Perhaps some people aren’t conscious of their own dressed-up pushiness. It doesn’t make it less rude.

    “Those childfree nutbags” does carry a certain amount of potential to offend nontargets, but… this is one individual’s paid soapbox for broadcast. If you want to rant, excessive pussyfooting around who might take offense as another individual isn’t the best practice or mindset for it. Generally, when reading others’ blogs, when someone makes a reference to “those nutbag…” and then names a group of which I am a member, but is known for having a lot of strident assholes as representatives, I automatically assume I am not included unless the author goes on to make it explicitly clear that he has a problem with all individuals of the whole group regardless of nutbagginess.

    It lets me do crazy mixed-up stuff like regularly read blogs from people whose point of view is radically different than mine without feeling like I’m walking through a briar patch.

  58. Thanks John for pointing out that they are from Australia and Australia laws.

    As everyone knows, Australia is entirely peopled with criminals, and criminals are not to be trusted.

  59. I checked out that LJ post you quoted from and you left out the funniest quote:

    “In summation, writers should know better. Don’t quit your day job, Mr. Scalzi. ”

    Do you even have a day job? Other than writing that is?


  60. I liked the way all the people in cf_h who never read any of Scalzi’s books were threatening never to read any of Scalzi’s book. Yeah, that’ll teach him a lesson sure enough.

  61. (I am reminded of the days — the middle 1960s — when I used to regularly go to Canada to shoot competitive pistol, importing both handguns and ammo, and bringing them back. Our Canadian friends did the same. The only hassle anyone had in either direction was the Americans, and then only when they were coming home. Canadian Customs checked serial numbers, sometimes counted loose rounds, that was all. They’d ask how we did, congratulating good performance and encouraging practice for not-so-good. American customs … I should get a blog, rather than clutter John’s.)

  62. arcadiagt5:

    “Do you even have a day job? Other than writing that is?”

    Nope. Never had, either. Been writing professionally for 18 years now, since before I left college.

    The reason I didn’t put that in is that after this person being so wrong about everything else, thumping on them for this would have just seemed anti-climactic. After someone’s run into a whirling propeller blade, there’s not much sport laughing at the bloody chunks.

  63. I have similar wording I use on my Second Life blog:

    Comments on posts on this site are allowed at my discretion, and my discretion only. This is not a democracy. The First Amendment applies to the government, not to me. I operate on a different principle, which may be summed up as follows: “There may be free speech, but there is no free lunch. You want to make a speech, get your own blog; I run this one.” I reserve the right at all times to delete any comment if I choose not to want it here.

  64. My leaving the ability to post comments on the site no more inherently offers my consent for you to comment than my not locking my house inherently offers my consent for you to enter my house and plop down on the couch.

    It’s a small point, but as long as we’re correcting legal errors, that’s probably not an apt metaphor. Consent can be implied by what a reasonable person would assume, as well as express. For example, a reasonable person wouldn’t assume that your closed front door meant “come in,” but a reasonable person might assume that a big sign in your lawn saying “traveling circus” was an invitation to come onto your lawn and ride the merry go round.

    In this case, the comment form at the bottom of your page saying “Leave a Reply” would almost certainly make a reasonable person conclude that you had given permission to post a comment. Of course, it’s just a license, and as such is freely revocable, which is your main point.

  65. How fun! This whole thread was very entertaining. Thank you for letting us in on the whole “nutbag” issue. Your explanation of the first admendment and how it pertains to the “Intranets” is spot on. I love being let in on a good dressing down so thanks again.

  66. PNH @64: I *tried* to gin up some anti-quartering rage for your amusement, to no avail. Honestly, I tried.

    I feel that I have failed you in this. I am sorry.


  67. So, wait. I’m baffled.

    There are people who don’t have children who gather as a community to talk about not having children?

    That thought to gather would never occur to me…


    I am giraffe free. BY CHOICE! Would anyone like to form a community with me? Seriously! I boycott Toys ‘r’ Us! Let’s get together and talk.

  68. Jack@77:

    I think the issue is also complicated by the idea that there are people who have blogs who might not want comments but don’t know how to turn them off. When I was working for AOL Journals, I had a fair number of bloggers there who knew how to post an entry and that was pretty much it; you had to walk them through how to deal with comments. Not everyone who uses technology is entirely techno-savvy.

    Patrick M (et al):

    Eh. I see nothing wrong with the childfree forming groups; as it happens there is a lot of pressure to have kids, and those who don’t want them might be happy to see there are others of the same mind. There are a few nutbags in the mix, too, but you can say that about any group.

    That said, your giraffe-free views interest me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  69. Jaye@57:

    Who in the high holy hells would troll Cute Overload?!? Were these people mauled by Pomeranians as children?

  70. What do you bastards have against giraffes? I have three! And I dare you to get upset just because I might sometimes clog up the SF aisle at the bookstore when they’re with me. Damned Giraffephobes!

  71. I’m giraffeless, but not giraffe-free as such. I may choose to have a giraffe at some point in the future, but I haven’t so chosen thus far.

    I understand that in Australia if you don’t have a giraffe on Election Day you can be fined.

  72. Nathan, I like other people’s giraffes just fine. In fact I’d be happy to giraffe-sit while you go to the bookstore, if that would convenience you.

  73. someone was wrong on the internet!

    I get highly amused by how people try to make one thing about another thing entirely and then try to call that their argument. The LJ comment thread is a great example of that.

    Also, isn’t it “Your first amendment right ‘does’ not apply to this blog”? Or perhaps “Your first amendment ‘rights’ do not apply to this blog”?

    (just in case you haven’t had enough of stupid for the day, here is another example to um, cheer?, you up: )

  74. You had me at “epic fail”.

    People will take offense at all sorts of things, especially by declaring what the intent obviously was of someone else. (grin)

    While I myself have no children, am not intending to have children, don’t expect to have children, I find the phrases “nutbag childfree” or “childfree nutbags” to refer to those childfree who are nutbags. I would be hard pressed to assume that our host Herr Scalzi would automatically use such a phrase to condemn all childfree, unless there was some Childfree(TM) label. In which case he wouldn’t likely use a generic “childfree”. Much like that part of the childed who are or might be construed by some as nutbags would be “nutbag childeds”. (double-jeopardy-grin) Because, like, Scalzi uses words for a living and most of the time does a pretty good job.

    The Firefox spellchecker is having a lot of trouble with this comment…

    Dr. Phil

  75. Consider adoption, then.

    I’m telling you, chicks go nuts about a guy carrying around a juvenile even-toed ungulate.

  76. They’ve fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But only slightly less well known is this: “Never go in against a Scalzi when writing is on the line.”

    You know, I think I’m going to coin a corollary to Godwin’s Law. Call it “Goldman’s Law”: As a blog comment thread grows longer, the probability of someone throwing in one or more Princess Bride quotes approaches one.

    Contrary to Godwin’s Law, however, this is a good thing.

  77. Why not “People Against Making People”? (PAMP for short)

    Tempting as it would be to be able to say “Look at all the PAMPers,” I think it might be a little disrespectful to all the non-nutbag childfree folk.

    Of course, some (but not all) of most communities are batshit insane, so take that as you will.

    There’s already an equivalent of Sturgeon’s Law for this, right?

    These phrases imply that the writer thinks that all Rush Limbaugh listeners, all LGBTs in SF, all parachutists, all PETA members, and all Obama supporters are nutbags.

    Well, if I were in SF, and I met Obama-supporting LGBTs who were in PETA and listened to Rush Limbaugh while enthusiastically jumping out of airplanes, I’d probably think they were nutbags, yes. But then, I’m overly judgmental.

    I *tried* to gin up some anti-quartering rage for your amusement, to no avail. Honestly, I tried.

    I don’t dare, or the soldiers living in my apartment would beat me up again. In fact, they’re in the 82nd Airborne, and they listen to Rush Limbaugh, so I’m already in trouble.

  78. I see all this Scalzi-typing. I think it isn’t sf. I’m sad.

    Jack Tingle

  79. “Hey everyone! I’ve not disabled my comments, but I expressly and explicitly deny you permission to post comments here! Don’t do it!”

    But you did not disable the comments, so I spite thee, John Scalzi. I spite thee for your non-comment disabling shortsightedness and your gerund bigotry.

    Ha! Ha, I say! And again, ha!

    That said, to our Australian friend…

    Um… Sweetie, a blog is the property of the blogger or his employer if the blogger is being employed to blog.

    The comment sections are the blogger’s front lawn, and so the owner and/or operator of said blog is perfectly free to morph into an angry old man and kick you off his front lawn.

  80. Umm. Summer vacay, right? Four/five posts today! Yay, I love me some Scalzi Snarkage. “Epic fail”: I wish I could spew so eloquently at work. In fact, I think I’ll use that tomorrow instead of my usual cuss-fest.

  81. 100 comments, all on a Friday night. The Internets: We have nothing better to do!

  82. @96 MDS
    “Why not “People Against Making People”? (PAMP for short)

    Tempting as it would be to be able to say “Look at all the PAMPers,” I think it might be a little disrespectful to all the non-nutbag childfree folk.”

    When I made up the name that did not occur to me, but I find the irony of that acronym delightful and will use it to describe the nutbag childfree folks.

  83. Why, oh why, have we not yet had bacon on a giraffe? Won’t someone *please* think of the children?

  84. 95
    # DG Lewison said
    They’ve fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But only slightly less well known is this: “Never go in against a Scalzi when writing is on the line.”

    You know, I think I’m going to coin a corollary to Godwin’s Law. Call it “Goldman’s Law”: As a blog comment thread grows longer, the probability of someone throwing in one or more Princess Bride quotes approaches one.

    Contrary to Godwin’s Law, however, this is a good thing.

    How fast can we get this onto wiki?

  85. As a “childfree” person, who also happens to be “childless” (thanks to insurance-paid birth control), I just had to make a comment. Frankly, I’ve known many people who are only “childfree” because their parents are rearing their offspring. So I really hold such labels in nothing but contempt.

    And I find it amazing how many people (in the USA even!) who think the 1st Amendment applies to everything. They think it’s okay to walk around spewing racial slurs because it’s their “right.” They never understand that they may have the right (though not Constitutionally guaranteed) to say what they want, but that right comes with the right for anyone offended by their speech to kick their asses. Rights come with responsibilities. And comments come with moderation and banning. Fact of life on the internet.

    And just so you know, Mr. Scalzi, I’d never heard of you before Krissy got all badass and incurred the wrath of Mrs. Dr. Perfessor (suprise! it wasn’t Bacon-Cat that brought me here.) I decided to read your books, because of your writing on Whatever.

    Yeah, maybe I’m a suck up. Doesn’t mean I’m not sincere.

  86. Well I have to say, my first thoughts when reading the posts and comments that led up to this (including the original one about childfree) was “What side of the bed did John Scalzi wake up on today?” And since I read that original post yesterday, I wonder if you perhaps purchased a new mattress or something.

    However, you are certainly correct you can do whatever you want to do on your own site, perhaps the reason you named the site whatever.

  87. 100 comments, all on a Friday night. The Internets: We have nothing better to do!

    Speak for yourself, it is Saturday afternoon where I am. :)

  88. Fantastic rant Mr. Scalzi. I applaude your disembowling of that ingoranus’ who post. Now…how can I get banned? Wait, I know.


  89. Ok. Here it is:
    Whence = “from where,” just as whither = “to where.” Therefore “from whence” is a redundancy.

  90. Ruth Ellen:

    Actually, that’s a matter of some debate:

    And even a brief look at historical sources shows that from whence has been common since the thirteenth century. It has been used by Shakespeare, Defoe (in the opening of Robinson Crusoe: “He got a good estate by merchandise, and leaving off his trade, lived afterwards at York; from whence he had married my mother”), Smollett, Dickens (in A Christmas Carol: “He began to think that the source and secret of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room, from whence, on further tracing it, it seemed to shine”), Dryden, Gibbon, Twain (in Innocents Abroad: “He traveled all around, till at last he came to the place from whence he started”), and Trollope, and it appears 27 times in the King James Bible (including Psalm 121: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help”).

    I’ve used “when” both with and without “from,” and tend to put in “from” when to me the sentence sounds hinky without it.

  91. After posting the comment regarding “whence,” I wondered what Fowler had to say about whence and whither. He bemoans their substitution with “where… from” and “where… to.” Then he ends with “They should be allowed to stand on their own feet: not even the examples that can be found in the Psalms and the Apostles’ Creed justify the use today of the tautology ‘from whence.'” I love Fowler.

  92. FWIW, our comments crossed. I posted the Fowler part before I saw your response. It wasn’t intended as a reply to your reply.

  93. Also, why not just use “from where” or “from which” instead? Okay. That’s all. I’m done.

  94. Scalzi-
    Your last post made me curious – do you watch NCIS? My friend got me watching it a few days ago, and it’s the only place I’ve heard someone say ‘hinky’ before.

  95. Oh whither? Oh whither has my little giraffe gone? Oh whither oh whither can she beeeeeeeee? (The youngest is only 7 feet tall. They’re so cute at that age, don’t you think?)

  96. How about giraffes who don’t want kids? Where do they meet? Are they even allowed to meet? Should they be allowed to meet? Would you want to meet them? Would they demand their first admendment right to be ridiculed over the interweb?
    just wondering.

  97. I could say that those who label themselves as “childfree” are a bunch of evolutionary deadenders with DNA the species is better off not passing on to another generation, but then I’d be just as bad as the extreme “childfree” nutters who call the rest of us “breeders” and “moos” and the like. So I won’t.

    But here’s a little quote from one of their forums:

    “Ok so it’s not bad enough that we have to be forced at gunpoint to support the breeders with taxes, there are also private companies that do the same thing, pass the breeder costs on to you.

    Our electric monopoly has a special breeder program, and they include all the breeders, including the illegal alien ones of course.

    Basically what it is, if you are a mega breeder having more brats than you can afford, you can get a discount on your electric bill!!! This is all based of course on the “number of people in your home” and your monthly income. So in theory, a single elderly person would probably make too much to qualify, even on social security. “

    They are a piece of work.

    As to the issue of free speech and blogosphere, there’s nothing like getting lectured on proper etiquette on your own blog, is there? People think they have the right to say any damn thing they like any time any place and no one has the right to deny them or disagree.


    It makes a mockery out of the whole concept.

  98. My wife and I have no plans to have children, for assorted reasons, the largest of which is that children are better raised by communities than by couples (for the good health of both the parents and the children), and that the brief (I hope) period of history in which children are raised by only two parents (or one) is an unhealthy anomaly.

    That said, every person I have known who has made a point of describing themself as “childfree” has ranged from irrationally defensive (often, no doubt, with good reason) to sincerely child-hating, which is creepy and sociopathic, no matter how much they justify it with handwaving about how oppressed they are by society’s supposed worship of children (which is in any case a Big Lie that society tells itself to cover its perpetual suspicion of and abuse of children until they reach the point where they can defend themselves).

    No one should have to defend their choice to not have children. That’s still a far cry from “I hate kids”, which one hears so regularly in America that it passes without comment — children being the one group that you can say you hate and meet with the laughter and approval of supposedly progressive people.

  99. I have absolutely nothing against couples and individuals who have decided not to have children on principle — more power to them. They shouldn’t have children if they don’t want them. I wish more parents who really didn’t want children could have made a decision like that and stuck to it rather than being sloppy and bringing children into the world they didn’t want. I’ve seen the results first hand when working with abused and neglected children. It ain’t pretty and the children are the ones who suffer. These “childfree” people who complain about brats misbehaving? I see those children and I see parenting problems, not bad kids. I see how difficult it is to raise children well in this society.

    The hatred towards both children and parents I see and read of from some of the exrtreme “childlfree” nutters really is breathtaking.

    “Brats” “breeders” “Moos” “cows” — those terms speak more of some kind of antisocial pathology than anything based on a principle or ethic. I suspect that some of the more radical “childfree” who use those terms were themselves abused or neglected as children. Better they don’t have children in that case so they don’t pass on their illness to the next generation.

  100. Holy Crap, Mr. Scalzi:

    Practically 120 comments in seven hours!

    I am an occasional reader of your blog, and a consistent reader of your books. I did not take the time yet to read all the comments; reading your post made me want to say two things, right away, so sorry if I’m repeating:

    1) Thank you for setting an example of rational discussion and logical rhetoric, which is (as the topic itself shows) often lacking out her in the electronic frontier.

    2) The other sort-of-example that I kept thinking of as you methodically brought down the rationalization of the “but I want to do this, so if you don’t like it that’s your fault,” and it is a rationalization, not an explanation, is the old defense that because of where someone was or what they were wearing (i.e. by NOT choosing to be somewhere else or wear something else) they were “asking for it.” This is such a huge problem in the world today, the idea that you only have to be polite, kind, and considerate to people you know or people like you.

    Thank you!

  101. I must confess I’ve found the whole “childfree” thing baffling, and seemingly one of those faux-movements that the intarweebs have created by giving every wackjob with a PC and a grievance the ability to meet and pool their petulance.

    I’m a committed bachelor and loving it, but I’ve just always thought of myself in terms of my childless status, when I’ve thought of it at all, as “childless”. That’s it. And that’s just due to a lack of desire to be a parent, not any out and out contempt for the pre-pubescent or those who decide to cart around a few. The only time parents and noisy kids piss me off is in movie theaters, and I’ve pretty much solved that by waiting for everything to hit DVD.

    I find it odd to make some sort of manifesto out of the fact you don’t want kids. It’s like those hardcore right-wing Christians who’ve decided to become career virgins and use that fact as a platform to spout all kinds of pompous “see how morally superior we are” rhetoric in the general direction of adults who, like most adults, have sex now and then. Seriously, do you really think I care about your self-aggrandizing (and, dare I say, inadequacy-compensating?) blather while I’m getting laid?

  102. John, it’s your house and if folks cannot abide by your rules, screw ’em. I may be restating the already stated, but I’m late to this post.

    I think some people have misunderstood the childfree rule, just saying. Children usually have no place commenting on blogs, and so it should be.

  103. Patrick M. @ 83:

    The best part of that picture is the one little deer, looking like some sort of adoptee to the giraffe family!

  104. Emily @ 113

    Hinky is a midwestern/Chicago-ish term, for a brief example (other than NCIS) watch the movie version of The Fugitive.

  105. Huh. I’m momentarily childfree (they’re upstairs asleep, the happy little boogers) and I happen to have a small bag of nuts here to munch on while I surf before going to bed myself. So that makes me, at least right now, one of the nutbagged childfree — does that mean I’m under some obligation to attempt to tell you what to write? (Um, another Old Man’s War book, please? Or really anything at all, because you haven’t done me wrong yet…)

    Seriously though, some of those people are truly foaming-at-the-mouth rabid. I got into a stupendous argument some years back with some barely literate troll who kept referring to children as “crotchfruit” (when not pushing her scam-vanity-press-published fantasy novel, but that’s another tale of hilarity all on its own.)

    Dammitall, I finished my nuts. Must be bedtime.

  106. John:

    Call me silly, but I get the feeling you ENJOY these little pieces of conflict & drama…..

  107. Then once they’re dropped into the ban queue, I read their increasingly foamy, otherwise unseen messages, saying that I’m just another censoring tool or whatever.

    It might only be me, but when I read the above I immediately pictured General Zod banging his fists and screaming silently from inside his rotating, 2-D prison.

  108. Any reaction to this from Gretchen or the Australian yet? (Sorry, I didn’t read the entire threat, but I skimmed it a bit.)

  109. There are good reasons why the childfree coms wind up on JF wank reports so damn often.

  110. Mr. Scalzi, you have made my morning with this post. I’m going to be muttering “Editing! Gerunds! Death!” to myself and giggling all day, now.

  111. Yet another internet community to read and wonder over, as the joys of tech makes connecting like minded people all the more easy. I stumbled on a fundamentalist Christian movie review site the other day, which gave me a scary insight into how they see some of the films – the rating system included a ‘moral’ setting.

    I’d never heard of the childfree communities, but don’t think I’ll be going back.

  112. There you go, spouting facts when all you really need is belief; belief that you are not only the centre of the universe, you created it. You are, in fact, God, and everyone should worship and obey you for fear of what will happen if they don’t.

    Oh. Right. Whatever. You are. We do. We don’t. You do. Fair enough.

    And what’s this with giraffes? Giraffes are so yesterday. Oliphaunts are where it’s at today. It is Saturday morning where I am.

  113. I’m coming in awfully late, but I still don’t understand why saying “one of those nutjob GROUP Xers” is offensive. It seemed perfectly clear to me that there are members of Group X who are not nutjobs, and there are members who are, and this person is the latter.

    I also find that many people who cry foul about the First Amendment in inappropriate situations seem to think that the right to free speech ALSO guarantees them the freedom to speak with no consequences. See: Don Imus and his getting fired for acting like an asshole.

    Feel free to say things, but you also get to deal with the consequences of your actions. And unless one of those consequences is imprisonment by the US Government, your First Amendment rights haven’t fucking been violated.

    Also, I really liked the huffy LJers over there who “certainly” won’t read any of your novels. Well, good for them. I’m sure you’re weeping.

  114. Emily@113:

    I have watched a couple episodes of NCIS, but that’s not where I get it from. As someone else noted, it’s a Chicago/Midwest thing. I picked it up when I was at school in Chicago.


    “Call me silly, but I get the feeling you ENJOY these little pieces of conflict & drama…”

    They do have an obvious entertainment aspect. I wouldn’t claim that my enjoyment of hammerating ignorami on the Tubes is an attractive part of my mental make-up, but you know, I don’t feel the need to be attractive all the time.

    Raphael @ 127:

    No, nor do I expect there will be. It’s not really for their edification anyway; its instructional nature is for others (i.e., “don’t you do this stupid thing.”)

  115. Eh, they came for LJ. that discounts a lot.

    I see in the comments thread here they came from the childfree community. Which pretty much nails then as batshit crazy.

  116. I stumbled on a fundamentalist Christian movie review site the other day, which gave me a scary insight into how they see some of the films – the rating system included a ‘moral’ setting.

    You are scared that there are people that see things differently than you?

  117. Andrea:

    Now, now. We don’t have to hate LJ. Some of us here actually have LJ accounts.

  118. John, can we have your permission to apply the 2nd Amendment to comments here? I’m not sure how, but I’ll try to figure out a way.

    I suspect our host has no objections to you shooting your own computer if you dislike the comments. As long as you’re not endangering anyone else, or are at least doing so in self-defense. :-)

  119. “I don’t feel the need to be attractive all the time. ”

    I don’t feel that need either. It just happens to be that I AM attractive all the time. Oh well.

  120. Truly excellent.

    (Also, not all LJers are nutbars, but most of the reactionary twits in cf_hardcore are nutbars dipped in chunky peanut butter and sprinkled with added nuts. There are worse communities on LJ, but scarcely louder, sillier ones. If you really want to watch them foam, say you breastfed your toddler in McDonald’s or something and watch them go. From behind a sheet of plexiglas, to avoid the foaming.)

  121. When my uncle came home on leave from Korea my Grandma gave him dad’s room and made dad sleep on the couch. The Third Amendment argument availed him not.

  122. #141: Your dad should have contacted his local chapter of NAQA. They would have sorted out that problem!

  123. I would have commented sooner, but I’m still reeling from the shock revelation that Scalzi is not, in fact the US Goverment. Why not?

  124. I’ve often asked that myself, Marjorie. Something about needing to get elected, I suppose.

  125. Picky, picky. I’d vote for you (y’know, if I happened to be a US citizen…)

    Or for the giraffe-free candidate, maybe.

  126. Well, I’d vote for you. Especially with the right of same-sex families to own brocolli. Or something.

  127. @Ruth (#112): Uh, because language is so much fun to use and abuse, and stringing words together for effect is a singularly enjoyable thing to do?

    Or are you (wait for it) telling Scalzi how to write on his own blog? I’m just asking, here.

    And then sitting back to watch the fireworks.

    I kid, of course. But, honestly, the facility for language we humans share is one of our best toys. You get it early and you can never break it no matter haow hard to twist it. It is completely free, and yet can sometimes be used to make a living. Combined with most of the other toys in the human consciousness toybox it works even better.

    The only downside is that you have to use it, or you tend to lose (most of ) it.

  128. I see that the giraffephobic comments have survived the night and continue into the morning. Somehow, somewhere, I know that my rights are being trampled. Kindly, cease your offensive behavior.

    BTW, xopher, I’d like to see a movie this afternoon. Are you available to sit between 2 and 5?

  129. Freedom of the press means you’re allowed to acquire a press and use it. It does not mean you’re allowed to use mine.

    There’s an ancient comment on attitudes like this. Furrfu!

  130. Nathan – I will NOT KINDLY cease my anti-giraffe behavior. I will do it with malice, though.

    Because Nathan is a ‘tard who I would set wild hyenas (because I don’t have any domesticated hyenas) upon, I have nothing bad left to say about giraffes.

  131. Tully @141: When my uncle came home on leave from Korea my Grandma gave him dad’s room and made dad sleep on the couch. The Third Amendment argument availed him not.

    This just goes to Scalzi’s point that the Bill of Rights are generally a constraint on the government, not individuals. The Third Amendment only says the government can’t kick your Dad out of his room — nothing in it says that Grandma can’t.

  132. Patrick M – I just want to give you fair notice that while my giraffes and their giraffey friends are pacifist in nature, they have made common cause with another species who are decidedly less so.

    Once again, I entreat you to kindly desist forthwith. If you persevere in this ugly behavior, I can’t be held responsible for the consequences.

  133. If his grandmother is a Senator, then she must act in her private persona to kick him out of his room, and not try to get a special bill through Congress to do it.

    Any grandmother who’s made it to Senator can probably clear one offspring out of a room and onto the couch without needing to bring in reinforcements.

  134. I know I’m late to this party, but I just have to say the frother’s closing statement positively rocked my world.

    “Don’t quit your day job, Mr. Scalzi.”

    The implication, of course, is that Scalzi should not forsake whatever it is that pays the bills in order to further pursue this whole writing thing.

    And that is just too precious for words.

  135. When I was in law school, we attempted to fashion a Third Amendment problem for Moot Court argument. We thought we’d write one of those could-go-either-way fact patterns, say the President declaring a state of emergency and some business owner required to put National Guard members up in his attic overnight. Then we went to go look up what law there was on the subject.

    There isn’t any. None. Nope. Not even from the Civil War, and we looked HARD. Apparently the issue of quartering soldiers has just never come up, or at least never to the point where some indignant citizen brought it to the attention of a court.

  136. When I go on the internets, I tend to go to sites I like. For some strange reason, not everybody does this. Some people, mostly the crazy extreme, troll the internets for any negative mention of their beloved obsession. They then have the stones to get pissed off when they are either corrected, or opposed by people with — GASP!! — different opinions. Which seems strange, because after all, the jackalopes SOUGHT OUT those opposing viewpoints.

    I can’t think of one time when this worked out in their favor. So then they go slavering back to their nest of crazy, where their crackpotted-ness is bolstered by their like-minded pals. Then they all get in a snit about how awful and stupid the Real World is.

    The other variety is the “stalk and descend” group, in which one of them finds effrontery and tells their friends. These brawls can be totally fun when the idiots invade a writer’s board.

    What IS it about the internets that makes people search for angry??

  137. I’m kind of tardy to the party here, but just wanted to give you props on the “Catch 22” reference – the arbitrary censorship policy in action in the beginning of the novel always cracks me up.

  138. Kay @160: I do the same thing, but we also then run the risk of entering our own echo chambers, in that we only go to sites we like. These sites are generally populated or hosted by people with similar opinions to our own; for example, I do not go to news sites (I use this as a broad term) whose editorial staff write things I don’t generally agree with. But I really should; how can a real debate ocur if neither side is willing to listen to the other?

    It seems to me that that’s generally a symptom or problem of modern society; debates happen to argue, not to change opinion of the opposing party (not ness. political party).

    Uh oh… hope I’m not getting too OT for our host… uh… giraffes! MLTs! Nutbags!

  139. What if his Grandmother is a Senator?

    Nope. Nebraska German. And an Army nurse in WW2. Took no guff from anyone, ever. She could make a DI blush, cower and stutter. Seriously.

    Hugh57 @ 152: That was kind of the (oblique) point. But I see you already know about the super-powers of grandmothers. ;-D

  140. Gods, I’ve been listening to the slack-jawed yammer about First Amendment Rights on line since the days I paid through the nose for a 300 baud connection. Patiently explaining why Freedom of Speech didn’t apply on Compuserve became an almost weekly thing back in the 80s. It’s the Ignorance That Will Not Die.

    I love the Fourth Irony. Gretchen skedaddles back to the Echo Chamber!

  141. John, you wrote:

    My issue with Gretchen’s comment was not specifically about her objection to the wording, which I think is fine, even if I don’t see it being as much an issue as she did. My issue was how I saw her communicating her objection. In my opinion, she did it rather poorly. That said, she says I misinterpreted her comment, and I think she misinterpreted mine. So I guess we’re even on that score.

    You each took issue with how the other worded something. Perhaps if you were more sensitive to her point of view (and perhaps if she were more sensitive to yours) you could have smoothed this over. But you didn’t, which brings me back to my concern that you appear to have been spoiling for a fight.

    (quote again)
    As for spoiling for a fight, nope, I wasn’t, but on the other hand I don’t let people be rude to me on my own site (unless they’ve earned leeway by being a longtime commenter). The site gets between 30k and 40k visitors a day, so I feel pretty strongly about making it clear to the rude very quickly that that’s not how we roll here.

    But there you go, repeating your assertion that she was rude! See how one-sided this is? You want her (and the rest of us who agree with her points) to give you the benefit of the doubt that your wording wasn’t as harsh as she (and I) read it, but you won’t give her the same benefit of the doubt. You continue to insist that you were “right” to claim she was rude (and you can’t “let her” get away with that on your site) and that you were “right” to use the phrases the way you used them. No admission that perhaps you could have reworded it and would try to avoid that type of usage in the future. No sign that you took anything positive away from your discussion with her.

    Of course, it’s your site, and “you can get away with this” as much as you want. But to others, reading from the outside (perhaps new to your blog, as I am), it looks like you just can’t take honest criticism. It appears you think feeling you were right (even if you weren’t) and claiming “of course I’m right, it’s my site!” is more important than being fair, or honest.

    Is that really the legacy you want to leave?

  142. Could you share some of increasingly foamy missives with us? Pretty please? It sounds as though you could get a couple of really funny entries out of these rabid screeds — and the rest of us would have a chance to point and laugh at the writers.

  143. JC Dill:

    “You want her (and the rest of us who agree with her points) to give you the benefit of the doubt that your wording wasn’t as harsh as she (and I) read it, but you won’t give her the same benefit of the doubt.”

    Well, you know, except for the part where I wrote:

    That said, if you seriously wish to suggest that your “kindly avoid” was not meant as a passive-aggressive imperative, then okay. I will take your word for it, and humbly ask your pardon for an aggressive response to your request. We’ll chalk it up to a misunderstanding and move forward, if that’s all right with you.

    And the several times afterward in various threads where I noted that she maintained I had misinterpreted her comment, and I said, well, okay, in which case I beg your pardon. Which means, actually, that I’ve quite explicitly given her the benefit of the doubt, after my initial assessment that she was being rude.

    Further discussions from that point should be understood to be discussing my initial reaction to her posting, not a continued point of view. You may have missed this, since it appears despite several instances of me discussing it, including in the actual post to which you are currently responding, you did not see that I offered her an apology.

    That said, I really couldn’t possibly care less if anyone else feels that I am being arbitrary or unfair here, or if they think I can’t take “honest criticism,” whatever that is supposed to mean in this context. This is also covered in the site disclaimer and comment policy. I really do wish people would read them.

  144. Emily@132:

    I’m coming in awfully late, but I still don’t understand why saying “one of those nutjob GROUP Xers” is offensive. It seemed perfectly clear to me that there are members of Group X who are not nutjobs, and there are members who are, and this person is the latter.

    The problem occurs when there are many people who feel that all members of Group X are nutjobs, even without adding the adjective phrase.

    If you are in a meat-and-potatoes loving part of the world, it would be easy to equate “one of those vegetarians who don’t eat meat” with “one of those nutjob vegetarians who don’t eat meat”. Or if you are in a conservative and christian community, it would be easy to equate “one of those gay lovers in SF” with “one of those nutbag gay lovers in SF”. Etc. In these cases, nutbag isn’t really an adjective, it’s used to emphasize what the speaker or writer already thinks of the Group X. Compare with “that grove of redwood trees” and “that grove of tall redwood trees”. The trees aren’t any taller due to the wording in the second phrase – they were already tall redwood trees.

    So coming back to “those nutjob childfree folks” – there are many people who can’t imagine why someone chooses to be childfree by choice. They never thought to consider and choose if they should have children or not – it was expected of them from birth, and they have gone on with the program that was laid out for them without stopping to give it consideration and choose (to have children, or to not have children). At best, they might have chosen to “wait” to have children until later in life, or chose to have a smaller or larger number of children, but they never gave it serious thought to just not have children at all. To them, this choice is unthinkable – quite literally.

    To many (most?) of those people, the idea that someone would consider and then choose to not have children, seems like a “nutjob” decision. They see no difference in the phrases “those childfree folks” and “those nutjob childfree folks” because in their minds, we are all nutjobs to have chosen this path.

    This is why I feel it was an inappropriate way to word the sentiment – it appears to reinforce and feed that closed-mind approach to the choice to have children or not.

    Those of us who are moderate childfree folks don’t have many places to discuss our feelings. If we try to discuss them on most of the childfree forums, we are shouted down by the “nutjobs” who have made the forums their personal playing fields. If we can withstand the heat, we can hang out and say our piece, but then we risk being branded as “one of the nutjobs” solely by virtue of hanging out in forum where the nutjobs have the majority voice. So we can be a bit testy about this. Given where Gretchen comes from, I thought her comment was actually quite moderate. If you think carefully about the situation from her point of view, you might come to the same conclusion.

  145. Except the snarky posts, this topic is beginning to bore me. I don’t think it’s popular because it deals with people who choose to have children vs those who choose not to, but more about acceptable behavior when speaking to a host.

    I had a friend of my wife over at my house a few years ago who firmly believed that home schooling was the best option for children. My kids go to public school for many very good reasons that don’t belong in this post. At one point in the conversation she dropped the line, “I guess some parents love their kids enough to home school.” She may have not realized how condescending and rude that was at the time but I made it very clear that I was offended and told her to get the hell out of my house. I wasn’t about to let some other parent insult me in my living room, I wasn’t at work, I didn’t have to play nice.

    Admittedly, I may have over reacted. At least Scalzi didn’t just burn and ban her, he engaged in a dialog and when things got most of the way straightened out he offered an apology for his part in the misunderstanding.

    BTW: If the people over in childless/childfree forums want to quote my previous comments out of context could I at least get some credit? Maybe a chance to defend or at least talk about my views?

  146. Why would they want that, Michael P?

    And of course, it’s easy to criticize someone else’s comment from a place where you know you don’t have to worry about them ever commenting.

  147. I’m blissfully child-free, by the way. I’m cheerfully child-free, and gh0d knows when various pressures get to me, I’m quite a nutjob. *shrugs* But hey! At least I ain’t boring. Most of the time. Except when I keep repeating myself. Mainly.

    There was a point to this post, but I saw a shiny thing.

    Ooh, shiny.

  148. Michael P @170: Sadly, some parents confuse what’s best for their children with what’s best for all children.

  149. The Law of Unintended Consequences — or The Wrath of the Internets:

    Found this when I happened to lookup the Community Info on LJ of the group in question here. Check out the Advertisement that LJ included on their info page…

    Some things you just can’t make up.

    Dr. Phil

  150. Now, that’s amusing.

    This is why we don’t need to worry about our computer overlords quite yet.

  151. Dr. Phil, put out a Beverage Alert next time, OK? I just sluiced out my sinuses.

  152. Just about the only third amendment situation I’ve ever heard is in the traditional Irish ballad “The Highwayman”. Stories of this ilk may have inspired the Founding Fathers to enshrine this as one of our rights.

  153. I was thinking about Slashdot dot org’s way of doing things in regards to comments; they have a disclaimer on their site that every comment belongs to the commenter. Reading between the lines, this is to cover them in case someone sues them for something some … nutbag … may have commented.

    Now you say the website is yours and as such may delete any comment as pleases your fancy. But. If you have legal authority to delete the comment, aren’t you in fact retaining ownership of the comment in deletion? So then the commenter cannot be held legally or morally accountable for, well, your comments.

  154. AB:

    I’m not entirely sure how I can retain ownership in something that no longer exists, since if I delete a comment, it’s gone.

    I do generally maintain that my commenter retain copyright to their words posted here. But I also maintain that I reserve the right to moderate and edit when I see fit. This means, in effect, the copyright holder gives me a license to the words s/he writes when s/he writes them here. If I delete them, the commenter is free to write them up again somewhere else; I make no claim of ownership.

  155. Aw. This takes me back to my years-ago blogwar with Little Green Footballs, back in the olden days before it was easy to turn off comments or put them on moderation. The argument made by someof the “lizardoid” aggressors amounted essentially to You have this orifice, I have this Big Thing here, so I have the right to stick it in. Needless to say, I didn’t put up with that.

  156. Nathan – I am frightened and wish to end our conflict over the G-creatures. I sincerely apologize for wishing wild hyenas upon you. Might I spend some time with you and the G-creatures to understand your point of view better?

  157. There probably haven’t been any third amendment cases, it’s pretty obvious. I did hear of one. fourth or fifth hand, but it didn’t get to court. Young man was transfered and to be stationed at a base in his parent’s hometown. He asked for off-base housing allowance, and was told he could live with his parents. He reported this to his father, along with his intention to move into BOQ. His father told him to wait, called the young man’s C.O., and asked if the Col. had heard of the Third Amendment? Allowance granted that afternoon.

  158. Some time ago (after the bacon, before last Thursday) I dropped your RSS feed because quite honestly, I didn’t have the time to read all the feeds I wanted to and you were too prolific for me to keep up with. I also realised that your best posts got linked to all over teh Interwebz and so I’d see the best of the best anyway.

    Which I do.

    The downside of this is because I’m not a “regular reader” I don’t really think to comment. But at this moment I’d like to take advantage of my first amendment rights and your explicit consent.

    This post made my evening; I’ll stop grinning soon ;)

  159. Patrick M – I’m so glad you’ve seen the light. See that everybody? Internet skirmishes can end in amity. Especially if you stop arguing with me.

    And to show that I’m willing to give a little too, I’ll have Petunia (she’s the small one), bathed and scrubbed and leave the other two out in the yard the first time you come over for beers.

  160. i just finished reading this whole string of comments and have decided that some people are entirely too sensitive and should get over themselves. must everything be personal?

    that said, i am now going to take my children for a walk so they can chase their ball, play in the river and tire themselves out so i don’t have to crate them to get a little shut eye.

    honestly, i had no idea that “childfree” was even a description and now i just might have to procreate to disassociate myself from the group… how horrifying

  161. I’m totally offended by this term, “childfree.” I prefer to be called a “stay at home non-dad.”

    I am now going to take a pixel-poop on Scalzi’s digital front doorstep in honor of my 1st Amendment Rights.

    (turn your back on the interwebs for 32 hours and you miss all the fun…)

  162. I strongly suspect that Twain’s use of “from whence” in The Innocents Abroad is humorous, since (a) the most famous use of that phrase is from the King James Bible and it still has a Biblical sound, and (b) Twain was a humorist, and The Innocents Abroad is a funny book, and (c) A lot of the book is very specifically making fun of pompous pseudo-Biblical language.

  163. @Matt (#192): Surely this is how Our Ever-Patient and Glorious Host intended with the the by using the same phrase? Maybe with less satire and more snark, but satire is fattening anyway.

    One of my favourite word dudes on the net has thoughts on this particular construction:

    I don’t think anyone uses this phrase (completely) irony free anymore, but maybe I’m just being an idiomatic.

  164. (Hrm. The preview button would help in those cases where I change the sentence in mid-stream. Live and learn.)

  165. I hate Ozzies… and I lived there for years. They Luuurv to jump on the moral superiority horse with a ferocity that has them drooling in anticipation with everything they read or see. Ignore Ozzies. They’re treated like lepers here in Japan as well by 90% of the foreign community.

  166. I think this particular case has rather less to do with this person being Australian than simply not having a clue about things. And also, some of my best friends are Australian, and they’re perfectly lovely people.

  167. I had to go look up what Gerunds are! So thank you for teaching me a new word ;)

    As to the rest, I can only shake my head in bafflement at the weirdness of people.

    Reading blog posts like this I do realize that where I live, South Africa, is on an entirely different planet where we don’t seem to have any of the terrible social problems that so upset the blogosphere. Of course we have other problems but they’re not relevant. Life seems to be so simple, realizing that.

    I have met a few giraffes, though. I hope that helps.

  168. Reading JC Dill’s comment at #169 provides us a picture into why she misread John’s comment, but it also is a little sad, because it highlights even more irony.

    John’s modifer “nutbag” was actually separating out the nutbag childfree from the sanely childfree. If he just used “childfree” as an epithet alone, it would have implied a negative connotation on all people adopting that descriptor. Obviously he did not because he does not feel so (re: a heck of a lot of comments above). He was, in fact, being more discerning than JC Dill is giving credit for. She (and Gretchen) took offense on a modifier that acknowledged variations in their group.

    Sometimes you see offensiveness because you expect it and all the PC modifiers in the world won’t change that.

  169. Way late in the game here, but just wanted to make a silly observation. Those who have children, perhaps “Childed” or maybe contracted to “chilled,” although I suspect the process and daily undertakings make them somewhat less than chilled, owe a great debt of gratitude to the “child-free” since the child-free pay taxes that support schools and other social benefits that, as child-free people, they do not get to use themselves. Moreover, the chilled will eventually prevail over the child-free since one is a reproducing and continuing trait, while the other is not. The child-free are thus paying the chilled to assure the eventual victory of the chilled.

    Shockingly akin to the foreign and domestic policy of the United States, is it not?

  170. Scalzi, your position on consent makes me uneasy. It brings to mind silly accusations of “hacking” for accessing pages that were erroneously left on a publicly accessible web site.

    If you put up a website on a routable IP address, that’s consent to access it, even if you are screaming from the rooftops that you expressly deny giving that consent. The same for goes for a comment box. Your port 80 is not anything like an unlocked door to your house. It’s like an unlocked door to a retail establishment. Anyone can walk right in, they probably will, and you knew that when you put a server on the internet and therefore implicitly granted consent.

    I am entirely within my rights to type whatever I feel like into your box and press “submit”, with the proviso that the comment I sent you is not intended to exploit a bug in your software or pointlessly waste your bandwidth or cycles. Of course you are also perfectly within your rights to delete the comment or ban me. But you couldn’t accuse me of trespass.

  171. Anne C –

    I understand John didn’t intend to paint every childfree person with the “nutbag” adjective but feel he wasn’t as successful at this as he might have been. John is a better wordsmith than that, with some effort he could have reworded the phrase in a way that made it clear that he was not painting all childfree folk with the term “nutbag”.

    That’s all.

    Someday someone will use a term in a way that inadvertently denigrates you by association with a “nutbag” subset of your group. When that happens, I hope you remember this conversation, and maybe then you will understand.

  172. Larry D’Anna:

    “If you put up a website on a routable IP address, that’s consent to access it, even if you are screaming from the rooftops that you expressly deny giving that consent. The same for goes for a comment box. ”

    Wrong on both cases. In both cases, you’re making an equivalence between the technical ability of anyone to access or comment and the consent of the owner to have you do so. I can’t recall the number of personal sites I’ve visited where the owner has put up a note like “If you’re someone I know, you do not have permission to read this site,” especially back in the day, when blocking or denying visits from specific IP addresses was more difficult than it is today.

    And even today, it’s not a given that people operating blogs have the technical expertise to make their blog private and/or turn off comments to some or all commenters. The fact you say “Your port 80 is not anything like an unlocked door to your house” establishes you as a member of the less than 1% of the online population that even knows what a port 80 is. This is what I call the “Computer Manual Problem” — the people writing the manual for how to use the computer are the people who designed it, not the poor schmuck at home who hardly knows what cable to stick into where. The people with knowledge and competence forget others don’t have that same knowledge/competence.

    And in any event, this is irrelevant. Fact is, if I say, “you, Larry D’Anna, are forbidden to comment on my site,” then I’ve withdrawn my consent for you to comment, regardless of whether the comment box is still there, and regardless of whether I use any technical means to keep you from commenting. If I use no technical means to stop you, does it imply continued consent? Absolutely not. If you continue to comment, are you trespassing? Morally, yes. Legally, I’m not entirely sure, but I’d bet if we looked there are examples of people getting restraining orders against others which include them being forbidden to comment on the aggrieved’s blog or Web site.

    Basically, consent is not a matter of technical ability to do a thing. It’s a matter of one person agreeing that another can do a thing, to that first person or something in their nominal control.

  173. JC Dill @ #201, I already am in that situation. I am an architect and there are plenty of nutbag architects out there. When I run into one of them, I roll my eyes and think, “Great. A nutbag architect who makes it look like all the rest of us don’t know diddly squat about how things get put together.” When someone else qualifies their story by saying “I was talking to this nutbag architect,” I give a sigh of relief. Thank God they don’t think all of us are like that.

    To be honest, it seems to me that almost every group has an extremist “nugbag” subset. Everything from nutbag Liberals to nutbag Christians to nutbag coin collectors to nutbag science-fiction writers.

    You forget that writing is also about economy. John differentiated with a single word. No muss, no fuss. (Well, not “no fuss.” Clearly.) As I said before, people who want to be offended will be. I could be offended by what might be interpreted as a condescending attitude in your comment. But I won’t, because I’m not looking to be offended and I understand that I am responsible for my own interpretation. In that spirit I say sincerely, “thanks for your comment!”

  174. I’d like to start a non-nutbag for the inadvertantly denigrated rant group(Since I have learned the error of my giraffe-free ways).

    This is for those of us who KNOW everyone is out to get us. Hey, that article said crazy guy wearing sunglasses and a blue shirt. I am a guy. I wear sunglasses and a blue shirt. How dare he call me crazy! I should tell him so. Wait. That might make me look crazy. IF ONLY I HAS A PRIVATE RANT GROUP!!!!

  175. Truly enjoyable way to waste my lunch hour. I came to this particular party really late and so had to do some reading to understand the context of the whole thing. I went over to the LJ posting and the final one was the following:


    “I never denied that the childfree party was host to its fair share of crazy people, but it’s not difficult to see how the line “one of those childfree nutbags” could be interpreted as “All childfree people are nutbags”.
    BAM! You said it far better then I could. Fuck you Scalzi. ”


    You can agree with her or not. However the picture she has next to her name is a picture of Hitler super-imposed on a german military cross with the wording “My Mom chose life”.

    It is to laugh.


    Sorry for the shouting.


  176. Waitwaitwait…’breeders’ means “heterosexuals”!!!! It’s a term gay people use to deride straight people. (It’s not very nice, but…when it comes to not-nice terms, we gay people have wayyy more terms for us than you straight folks have for you, so suck it up! :-)

    I like the juxtaposition, though. Like Teresa and her Jewish friend calling each other Gentiles, I’ll call the childfree Breeders and watch the smoke come out of their ears!

    Bwah-hah, I must say, hah.

    Hey…isn’t ‘editing’ a gerund?

    Scraps 117: I think anyone who genuinely hates children genuinely hates people, period.

    Michael 170: Bravo for you for throwing that jerk out! I have friends who homeschool and friends who send their kids to public school, and none of them would EVER say what that person said.

  177. “Childfree, nutbag flavor” is somewhat more cumbersome, but deliciously unambiguous. Doing something drastic like learning lojban is unnecessary.

  178. Dear John:

    Thank you very, very much for this. Those “The First Amendment Protects My Right To Say Whatever I Want Wherever I Want Without Criticism, Ridicule or Repercussion From Anyone” nutbags drive me bat-shit.

    Regards, PRHM

  179. Scalzi: I haven’t confused technical ability with consent. My point is that in certain contexts, technical ability *implies* consent. Lets go back to the storefront analogy. By your reasoning simply walking into a store is trespass because I don’t have permission. But walking into a store *isn’t* trespass, because by-custom the act of setting up a storefront on a public street and leaving the door unlocked is an invitation to anyone and everyone to walk into the store. Now if you were to put a lock on the door, even a very bad, easy to pick one, that would be a clear signal that the public does not have consent to walk into your store.

    To continue the analogy, if I walk into your store and start acting like an asshole, you can ask me to leave. If I stay after I’ve heard you ask me to leave, *then* it’s trespass. Similarly you could say tell me I’m forbidden to comment on your site, and I’d have to stop commenting. But only if I’ve actually read your prohibition, or reasonable could have been expected to have read it.

    When you put things out for the public to play with, consent is the *default*. You can take it away, but the taking-away has to be clear and explicit.

  180. As soon as you call your community Hardcore you have effectively branded yourselves as pretentious jerks trying too hard to be awesome cool and edgy rebellion with your obsession. The only thing that would market the com as being more pathetic would be to add Xtreme to the title.

  181. Won’t someone please think of us nutbags with children?

    Actually, this entire episode has made me realize that I need a set of house rules for my itty, bitty blog. Thank you, John.

  182. You do realize this spitzandeyeball person is only 16, right? That is, if the date of birth listed on hir profile is correct. Perhaps the ignorance can at least be understood. I know many Americans who are much older who do not understand how the First Amendment works, let alone a teen from across the world.

  183. Freddie:

    I certainly agree that being 16 is the explanation of quite a lot of ignorance. But on the bright side, now this person knows more about the First Amendment, and about attempting to lecture people about things they are in fact ignorant about.

  184. Is it just me, or is “Editing! Gerunds! Death!” a great
    name for a song? (yeah, I fell on my head a lot as a


  185. Larry @ 209:

    You are wrong.

    It is like setting up a storefront. But it is like a storefront and putting up a sign that says No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service. Yes you’re opening up your store to the general public but you’re also making qualifiers to who is gets the full benefits of that store. The Comment Policy that I’m staring at as I’m writing this is as accessible as that No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service sign, but some people choose to ignore it and thus are subject to whatever the owner of that storefront has denoted they will mete out. In the case of the store, they will not get any service. In the case of this website, they will get verbally abused.

  186. Peter L:

    “In the case of this website, they will get verbally abused.”

    I prefer to think of it as “lovingly corrected.”

  187. John Scalzi:

    You say “potato”, I say “potato”.

    Hmm…I don’t think this translates so well on the interweb.

  188. good god, look what you’ve started. It looks like there are many comment starved people on this internet thing with nothing better to do than agree with the blindingly….




  189. *applauds*

    You have NO IDEA with how many people I’ve had to have this exact conversation.

    During the whole Livejournal obscenity smackdown where they deleted a bunch of communities and such, every other person yelling OH NO FREE SPEECH was making me twitch like mad.

  190. Oh, the nutbag writers with blogs who think they have the right to restrict who can leave comments… Wait, I have that backwards, the nutbag writers with blogs are the ones who don’t think they can edit gerunds out of ungrammatical commentary without violating the first amendment. And think it’s polite to ask for things kindly. Most sane writers with blogs realize it’s completely appropriate to suggest that commenters should die in a fire when they opine in a comment about a character’s seeming rude to try to get another character to eat something she doesn’t want. That’s ever so much better than someone asking for something “kindly” ….. (well, that’s what got me to stop reading a novel series after enjoying the first 3 books in it very much, the writer saying she wished I’d die in a fire. Completely unrelated to present company, just brought it to mind, the whole trying to distinguish the nutbags effort you know)

  191. The first amendment to the Australian constitution (which wouldn’t usually be referred to by that name in any case) would probably be related to the 1906 referendum, which moved the beginning of the term of federal senators to 1 July (from 1 January).

    Thanks to this bold move on the part of the Australian people, anyone can say whatever they like in your blog. Sorry.

  192. When you put things out for the public to play with, consent is the *default*. You can take it away, but the taking-away has to be clear and explicit.

    Larry, if you want your blog to be that way, you’re free to do so. But there is not Great Moral Order that says if you start a blog, you must put up with whatever crap commenters wish to dish out, and you are not allowed to stop them unless you are ‘clear and explicit’.

    Although, you know, John *has* been clear and explicit. If you click on “About”, there at the top of that blog, you’ll see there is–a comments policy! Wow! It’s like there is a clear and explicit taking-away of your imaginary right to march in here and say whatever you want.

    Using your store analogy, you’re arguing that it’s OK to barge in to John’s grocery store and start playing splatball with the avocados without buying them first (“hey! you opened this place up to the public!”) and then lighting up a cigarette in violation of the huge No Smoking policy that is prominently signposted (“you can’t take away my right to smoke unless you do so clearly and explicitly – no, MORE clearly and explicitly than THAT!”).

  193. Gammarad – Did you go on an author’s blog and trash their characters and become surprised when they told you to die in fire? And because they told you to die, you stopped reading their books? Are you wondering who the nutbag is in that scenario?

  194. “I read their increasingly foamy, otherwise unseen messages, saying that I’m just another censoring tool or whatever.”

    Reading comments in the banned queue would seem to indicate you have rather a lot of time on your hands. I ask you, sir, are there no cats? Is there no bacon? Has tape become unknown in the wildes of Ohio?

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