Comment Thoughts, 9/13/13

Pasting from Twitter, where I just posted:




And who decides you’re being an asshole? Well, obviously, I do. It’s entirely possible that my standards on this score are higher than other people’s. This is both fine, and not my problem if other people disagree with where I draw that line. They can draw it where they want on their own sites.

84 Comments on “Comment Thoughts, 9/13/13”

  1. My favorite complaint is “But… but… but… FREE SPEECH!!!!”. Which tells me that a) you’re an entitled asshole and 2) that you don’t actually understand the concept of free speech as it pertains to the Constitution of the United States of America. Last I checked Mr Scalzi was not, unfortunately, the government.

  2. This is what happens when you don’t mallet assholes: That site used to be a vibrant community and full of intelligent discussion. It died because the owner wasn’t willing to ban assholes.

  3. Also, because I hit enter but then failed to stop thinking, the whole argument of “information wants to be free on the internet” that often comes up when I point out that the entire internet isn’t subject to the rights and restrictions of solely the US of A is equally absurd. Information doesn’t “want” anything. Don’t anthropomorphize your desire to be giving free reign to say what you want without any consequences.

  4. I left what was otherwise my favorite MMO, ever, because they simply would not ban the assholes. They would issue “suspensions” for abusive behavior. Over. And. Over. And the same users would come back a week later and go right back to being assholes to everyone. And ultimately, no matter how much I liked the game as such, the community became too toxic for me to enjoy logging in.

  5. Two things. Your blog, your rules. Absolute. Don’t like it, there’s the door, person knows the rest.

    Second, for all those who scream “free speech” –it’s the government’s interference in free speech that is constitutionally contraindicated. It’s not anyone’s obligation to provide a platform or microphone for anyone else.

    I’m around reading (and I subscribe) for the intelligence, the fun, and the discourse–and yeah, while I’m not above being an asshole on my own wall or blog or whatever, polite works better in most cases. John, you rock. (And besides. Feminist.)

  6. Exactly – your malleting assholes doesn’t deny their Right to BE Assholes, just their Right to BE Assholes in your online home, Scalzi!

    As your Secret Crush Dudebro proves every time he shows his deeply closeted nature – because while it’s Okay 2B Gay, it’s not okay to hide in the closet while being a public homophobic jerk!

    Speaking of Censorship – apparently my new Macbook Air doesn’t like me using the portmanteau term “Jerk”+”Ass”…. :/

  7. John, if it’s the same thread that I’ve posted on recently, you’re contemptable for editing comments to ‘make people look worse’. By kittening them. I mean, if you were adding racial slurs or something, that would be terrible. But kittening?

    Also, your moderation policy is not designed to keep things civil, but to maintain a cult of synchophants. Apparently.

  8. @Rev Matt: You say “unfortunately”, but I fear that if John were, in fact, the government, he would have to spend an awful lot of time doing things that don’t involve writing for my enjoyment. So I consider it fortunate he is not, in fact, the government. :)

  9. I love your rules. They seem pretty clear to me. A few times I’ve been concerned I was right on the line but my feeling is your blog your rules. If I get hit by the mallet its my fault. Your blog has better discussions because of the well thought out comment policy.

  10. twitter doesn’t really work too well when you have a statement this long. putting it in this many tweets is probably better off right on the blog, then reference it with a link. then the 1 tweet with the link can get re-tweeted.

    tweet: complaints about my deletion policy, then a link.

    not commenting on the policy. i really can’t read that many responses, so I don’t care either way.

  11. I’m missing a link to the disagreement you are referring to. Link please?

    (Or is it a Friday the 13th thing?)

  12. Can’t believe that I arrived 21 comments late to the thread and was still able to make the first Spaceballs quote. My work here is done.

  13. This may be a sidebar and tangential issue, but since it’s come up on the site before I figured I’d roll it out and see if Scalzi tells me to shut or not. :) Specifically I’ve seen more and more the comment that “free speech” is limited only to the federal government and to a lesser degree state governments, and that people who make “free speech” arguments are completely ignorant of this.

    This is probably true in most cases but it isn’t universally true. And it’s dangerous, in my view, to promote the idea that free speech must be locked into a context of governments rather than put into a context of how a society ought to work. It is, I admit, a very satisfying way of shouting down morons, but the argument has unintended consequences.

    DISCLAIMER: This isn’t meant to be a sly way of arguing that Whatever needs a different moderation policy. I like this moderation policy and find it more than fair. This is more about my discomfort with one of the arguments used to defend this policy. It makes me uncomfortable because it’s right in enough specifics that it can ultimately lead to some unfortunate conclusions about how Constitutional protections ought to work.

    First, the idea of “free speech,” and of all the other rights protected by the Bill of Rights, existed before there was a Constitutional amendment preventing the government from interfering with it. The protections in the constitution are a specific and narrow implementation of a larger concept. This is even acknowledged explicitly in the 9th amendment, where it states that the Constitution can’t be used to *restrict* rights simply because they’re not in the Constitution. But the legal issues aside, the Bill of Rights came to be because people had opinions about what was worth protecting in a society and what values were worth upholding in a society, and there were discussions and moral arguments made in defense or in opposition to those values for a long time.

    It’s not illegitimate to argue based on those broader values. It may not sway a moderator but arguing from a perceived good is not an inherent misunderstanding of the Constitution.

    Also, insisting that the values in the Constitution be resticted only to the government is positively dangerous in an age where more and more of what we perceive as the “public grounds” are actually owned by private entities. The Internet has been mostly privatized. Every place on the Internet where you can argue or put forward a political belief is private. Even your own personal site is, at least nine times out of ten, leased from a provider.

    If I posted something on this site that violated its terms (which I hope I won’t do) you might think I’d be on firmer ground posting it on my own site. Certainly that’s the social expectation. But my website is hosted space on a private company’s servers, and if the owner really wanted to he could yank my hosting and force me to go somewhere else, for any reason at all. It would be bad publicity if he did that whenever he wanted to, simply for disagreeing with speech, but he could — and it’s not inconceivable that, at some point in the not-so-distant future, that such activity becomes more common. It’s *certainly* a possible outcome if the general public decides that freedom of speech applies only to transactions that occur directly between the citizenry and the government.

    That’s why it’s important to think about whether there are situations when private entities need to take a caretaker or proxy role (both of those words suck but I can’t think of the word I’m searching for) in situations where speech and interaction are commonplace. Again, this doesn’t mean Whatever must permit jackassery on the site in the name of FREEDOM, but it does mean we need to think about how society works in the context of large private entities controlling big blocks of resources society is using as a foundation for the next part of society, and why blanket dismissals of more universal comments about free speech make me uncomfortable.

    OK, this is already too long. I’m done now.

  14. I really don’t understand what the “Whatever is a bastion of sycophants” crowd wants out of a comment thread. I suspect it’s some combination of:

    1. If an internet discussion doesn’t become a shouting match, it isn’t a real discussion.
    2. If Scalzi cuts me off, then I can’t win by being the last person to post.
    3. I’ve only read like two threads, and in both of those, no one would agree with my position.

  15. The discussion to which Mr. Scalzi refers to is in the comments of one of Clark’s pieces on Popehat, and Clark has since posted a follow-up discussion as well. I’ll let Mr. Scalzi do the linking if he so desires; otherwise a Google search will point interested parties in the right direction.

  16. @mattmarovich: No, Rift. LoL’s problems were bad enough that I never even considered going there. Rift has a fair number of decent folks, but they’ve been just plain unwilling to do anything about the abusers, and I eventually just couldn’t take it anymore.

  17. is posting your twitter comments on your blog site something like talking to yourself or bi-polar in some way?

  18. Clark’s all right. He’s crazy as a loon and politically off his rocker, but he is consistent and entertaining. Definitely one of the better reads on the interwebs.

  19. Back in ’94 I owned several IRC channels and I had MY rules. I used to get the old “freedom of speech” spiel…and I used to say.. “If you don’t like my rules, start your own channel.”

    John, it’s your sand, toys and sandbox; we just play in it. Keep it up.

  20. Also, even though he relies uncritically on information from people who like to talk non-ironically about things like gamma rabbits and the socio-sexual hierarchy, I’ve never seen Clark engage in that nonsense himself. So that’s to the good.

  21. Required:

    Well, only to the extent that writing on a blog at all is talking to yourself.


    I don’t have any problem with Clark. In general he’d benefit from some better sources for his information, however.

  22. I don’t have a problem with Clark as long as he never holds a position of power. The cop-hating, anarchist types are entertaining as long as they are limited from actually enacting any of the plans they imagine will create a utopia.

  23. OK, this is now *completely* tangential but I never noticed this before and it freaked me out.

    I was *just thinking* a few minutes ago that it as time to get some cleaner for my laptop screen, because it was getting pretty smudgy in the upper left corner. Then I just happened to be glancing at the smudges when I scrolled over the Official-Green-Background-John-Scalzi-Comment-Box…


    I’m glad I’m lazy. That would have been a Lady MacBeth scenario right there.

  24. Synchophants. Elephants that can coordinate themselves. Pachyderm Borg.

    I worry about people who can’t distinguish a discussion from an argument, or an opinion from being an asshole. They must have had a bad childhood, or a severe trauma later on.

  25. And VD appears to launch an I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours challenge. Guess the only way to settle this is going to be a walk-off. Anyone know where we can find David Bowe?

  26. Kilroy:

    However, I don’t care about his site stats. I do believe he maintains he gets more visitors than I do. It’s entirely possible. Good for him.

  27. You mean all he ever had to do was turn left?

    Almost 4:30 on a Friday, all I’ve got left are movie references.

  28. “Don’t start an argument with somebody who has a microphone when you don’t. They’ll make you look like chopped liver.” Ellison.

    Hint: online, microphone = mallet.

    Follow-up: the duration of making you look like chopped liver is proportional to the degree to which you violated the “don’t be…” rule and can go on for YEARS.

  29. I think that about 95% of RSHD’s traffic is me trolling him. I know that it’s wrong; it’s just funny to see his frantic rebuttals when I note that he has an obvious man-crush on Our Gracious Host.

  30. I am still trying to learn the trick of not apologizing for moderating jerks, and those who don’t seem to think the comment policy applies to them.

    I think the transparent way you delete comments is also a big help–not because you owe a reason to the person who didn’t follow the rules, but because it’s a record that a thing was there, and that you removed it. It feels more direct than just deleting the thing and leaving others to wonder where it went.

    Commenting here does mess up my own moderating mojo, though. I have, on more that one occasion, approved a comment I shouldn’t have, because it would have been within-bounds here. I wonder if other moderators experience code-switching problems like that.

  31. I used to ‘belong’ to a discussion forum that was pretty wonderful. A group of interesting, intelligent individuals who could and did talk intelligently and constructively on a wide range of subjects – from local bands to international politics. It was great. Our moderator and board host was a decent guy.
    Then we had an influx of frothy RHDS from a different board. They took it upon themselves to disrupt any discussion, usually with a wide range of extreme right wingnut talking points and lots of shouting into the wind. Ad hominem was their favorite tactic. They would come in and disrupt a conversation, then head back to their board and gleefully post about what they had done.
    Our host/moderator was far too interested in being viewed as one of the boys to actually do anything about it. The women who had been posting for a long time began to drift away, tired of being called names, threatened, berated and belittled.
    A number of the men on the board who had been decent and thoughtful in discussions now saw this lack of moderation as a sort of carte blanche to become RHD-like as well. In the end the board pretty much died as the women left, then the moderate and left leaning men abandoned it (becoming the targets of choice thereafter). Some of these people had been friends of mine in real life. They are no longer. Which is sad. I saw a side of them that was just far too ugly to reconcile.
    So in my view active and vigorous moderation is not just a good idea,it should be required. I have learned a lot from the comment threads here. I have had my viewpoints challenged, and sometimes even changed. Which is, after all, the point of civil discourse. I like that our host isn’t afraid to jump in muck out when need be. It can’t be a very rewarding thing to do (as a former zookeeper I have to say that even when you are mucking out after an exotic animal, it is still muck.)
    Which is all to say, thanks, Mr. Scalzi. Congratulations on your milestone and please keep up the good work!

  32. Floored: if that makes you happy, go for it, although there are so many more constructive hobbies you could take up. Have you looked into needlepoint?

  33. Pro Tip: Just because you HAVE an asshole, doesn’t mean you have to BE an asshole.

    Reminds me of the saying from the 80’s “Think outside the box, don’t be the box”

  34. I think John is far too kind and doesn’t swing the Mallet enough, frankly. More smiting would be good. Like, almost as much as the dudebros think he does.

  35. What’s the problem? If I invite people to my house and one of them drops a stinking growler on the kitchen floor, they’ll be asked to leave and not come back. Why should websites be any different?

    Your property, your rules. It’s not that damned difficult.

  36. Yeah, I like extreme birdwatching. Best sport in the world.


  37. Required, talking to yourself is something a great many people do. Being bipolar has nothing to do with it. You may have been intending to be funny, in which you failed, at least in my book.

  38. Go fertilize some other website with your assholery. Assholitry? SCALZI RULEZZ!! with a Loving Mallet….

  39. Every time some assgasket insists on badgering me for “debate” and implies that I’m chickening out and/or stifling dissent if I don’t pick up their smelly gauntlet, I assume s/he’s acting like an attention-seeking toddler and act accordingly.

    The amount of time I waste on pointless flamewars has decreased drastically since I instituted that policy.

  40. I think synchophants are actually people who not only agree with everything The Boss* says, but try to say it at the same time The Boss says it.

    *Generically, not Sprinsteen

  41. *sits on hands to avoid getting into a discussion about free speech* I fully support your use of the Mallet. I am a huge fan of malleting. I wield my own mallet with impunity. Way to go. :) Also, I totally want to start a band now, just so we can be The Synchophants.

  42. In my 20s on Oahu I’d learned a far better term for ‘asshole’ from a teammate. I forget his name, unfortunately, but he was a good center back or fullback on our futbol team. Little guy who liked surfing 20 foot waves. He used the term ‘anus.’ I never forgot that. Anus. Perfect.

  43. John, between this and other posts, it seems that lately you’ve been assaulted by underwear gnomes (decided not to use the m-word). Is the Hugo just irresistible to them?

  44. Being of the perverse curiosity ilk, I think you should consider firing up a honeypot thread. Pick a suitably inflammatory topic, get your anti-fans really riled up and let them go to town. Let folks see just how ugly it can get, perhaps annotate, could be a public service as a handy source for others without your stamina to harvest a ban-list a priori.

  45. In an aside that has practically nothing to do with the topic and yet, abstractly, does — this is one of the few blogs anywhere that I come to not only read the content, but where I look forward to (and recommend) reading the comments! I opine that this is much due to that Mallet and The Kittening and the sort of people who chose to comment on the blog.

    It’s like a double feature!

  46. I strongly second murphyjacobs’ comment!

    My ongoing New Year’s Resolution has been to NOT read comments on news articles, blogs etc as I have realised just how pointless, depressing and blood-pressure raising an activity it generally is. Whatever is exempt given that, frog-in-a-frypan style, I had come to simply expect all comment threads to be a steaming, smelly mess and hadn’t really wrapped my head around how bad most of them are until I stumbled across this site and a had a blinding epiphany of The World As It Should Be. In terms of comment moderation anyway… :)

  47. Dear Rev Matt,

    My general response to “information wants to be free” is:

    “So does fire. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea.”

    pax / Ctein

    (PS feel free to steal and file the serial numbers off if it amuses)

  48. Hey ublockhead, Kuro5hin is nothing like the social clique your jerks got at Husi If I remember correctly Kuro5hin had offered to settle the differences with Husi in a friendly game of Tradewars TW2002 on Dell Griffin’s Telnet BBS. In fact Husi had rejected the offer and refused our peace treaty and continued the social cyber bullying of Kuro5hin members who reached out to Husi members to settle our differences without the bullying.

    If I remember correctly you told me and many others to “go kill yourself” many times at Kuro5hin and became the very assholes you speak out against. Then after driving everyone away from Kuro5hin that didn’t have a thick skin to take your abuse, you and your social clique of social cyber bullies went to Husi and abandoned Kuro5hin. There were many Kuro5hin members you and your social clique had forced into suicide like Signal11, Mindpixel, and almost forced me into suicide. You stressed out THurler so much he died on a hike, and I remember you gloating over his death.

    So if Kuro5hin is full of assholes and you want to find out who is responsible, just look in the mirror. Delete this too because it is the truth.

  49. If the founding fathers thought not interfering with free speech was a good idea, why shouldn’t it be a good idea for private citizens too? The point is, the best defense against bad speech is more speech. When you censor you create worse problems. As superdrugs create superbugs, censorship creates much worse memes than those you should have dealt with reasonably and unemotionally when they first surfaced.

  50. I spoke out against the abuses at Husi, and for my trouble I got censored for it. I spoke out against their child porn links, I spoke out against their hatred of the mentally ill and GLBTT people, I spoke out against their support of terrorist networks and wanting to see people die and laugh about it, I spoke out against their support of NAMBLA and the NAZI Party of America, I spoke out against their support of genocide of Jewish people and other groups. For my troubles they censored my posts and then edited them. But I suppose Hulver can do whatever he wants as it is his website. I tried to reason with them but they just couldn’t be rational and have an honest discussion.

    As a result Husi had hidden their user comments, stories, and diaries to anonymous users, and restricted new user access, and decided to hide any evidence of any of these activities I spoke out against. There is a section of Husi called ‘The Hole’ that is hidden from Google and anonymous users.

    Yet according to ublockhead, it is Kuro5hin that are the site of assholes and not Husi? I invite you all to decide, visit each site see what you think. Try to become a new user at Husi and see how they treat you. Kuro5hin had to charge $5 for new user accounts to activate because Husi users had abused the new user creation to spam the site with hateful links. Yes it is true that Kuro5hin didn’t mallet the abusive users Rusty Foster gave that job to his two friends Aphrael and of course Peter Whysall. They both let Rusty down, took some of the CMF money without asking, allowed the Husi and IWETHEY users to run rampant on Kuro5hin because they were ‘pals’ with them. After Rusty put up the $5 paywall to keep the dupes and spammers away, Aphrael moved to Husi, and Peter Whysall moved to IWETHEY. Aphrael and Peter Whysall are both into photography with kiddie porn, or so I have heard. They used to link to it and decided to make it and then sell it for a profit.

  51. Banning something because of the personality of the poster is pure ad hominem. It’s like trying to excuse the Pope’s treatment of Galileo, because (it is said) Galileo was an “asshole”. But whether he was an asshole or not doesn’t affect whether the earth moves around the sun. Concentrate on the message, don’t get distracted by characteristics of the messenger.

  52. Banning something because of the personality of the poster is pure ad hominem.

    And? If someone comes into your house and makes a truthful point, but is swearing, yelling, and breaking things, asking that person to leave seems to me perfectly reasonable.

  53. Edmund Blackadder:

    “Concentrate on the message, don’t get distracted by characteristics of the messenger.”

    Strangely enough, when the messenger is an asshole, the message that he sends is “I’m an asshole.” The messenger may also believe he has other information to impart, but it gets drowned out by the fact he’s an asshole. Requiring people to tolerate someone being an asshole simply because he may have a relevant point or two is like making people wade through a ton of shit to find a single nickel: Something of value might be in that huge pile of crap, but wading through to get to it is hardly worth the effort.

    Beyond that, mind you, most of the assholes who come here aren’t exactly Galileo, nor is what they’re asserting on the order of heliocentric theory. I feel pretty comfortable with that assessment; indeed, much of the time, not only are these dudes assholes, what they are asserting is also odious and completely full of shit. So it’s a win-win malleting (and incidentally, for future reference, if you are going to assert that banning people is akin to making a logical fallacy, it’s at the very least ironic to then offer up a logical fallacy of your own, i.e., argument from authority).

    Beyond that, of course, I will mallet or ban people from commenting here for whatever reason I damn well please, as noted in the site comment policy, which I assume everyone who comments here has read and understood. This site is my home, and just like in my physical home, I don’t tolerate people who are rude or obnoxious; out the door they go. They are quite capable of being assholes anywhere else that will tolerate them. But quite obviously: My house, my rules.

  54. David: is a virtual house like a physical house? In a virtual world, we can use technology to filter speech we don’t want to see at the client, without impacting anyone else’s freedom so speak or to read that speech.

    Likening the virtual world to the physical world is to miss out on the incredible possibilities and freedom that virtual technology offers.

  55. Scalzi: you’re free to make mistakes of course. I’m not trying to require you to do anything; I want to suggest a better way. Technology provides the means to filter speech at the client instead of at the server, so that you can see the picture of a forum you want to see, while simultaneously I can see the picture I choose to see. You don’t have to see me and I don’t have to see you, unless we choose to. Do you see how liberating and exalted that can be? A forum can be all things to all people.

    On a completely different note, I started reading “The God Engines”. But I can’t get past the third sentence, which I’ve read over and over again trying to parse:

    “He found blood on the deck, an acolyte spurting one and lying shivering on the other, and the god prostrate in its iron circle, its chains shortened into the circle floor.”

    The best I can do is assume an elided “two pools of” before “blood” in the first clause. This would explain the referent of “one” after “an acolyte spurting”: he’s spurting one of the pools of blood, he’s spurting some blood, he’s spurting some of the blood the Captain saw when he entered. But I expect “one” to go with “the other”; however “the other” appears to refer to an acolyte, not a pool of blood. So there’s maybe another elided “and the other pool of blood” before “lying shivering on the other”? So the “one…the other” seems to be connected but really isn’t in the sense that they refer to completely different things (one refers to blood, the other refers to an[other] acolyte)?

    There’s another interpretation of “an acolyte spurting one” which would make “one” the head phrase and the other words adjectival modifiers. That’s as far as I can get with that interpretation.

    Am I missing something obvious? Or is this sentence designed to be misleading in the sense that I read “one” and then when I see “the other” I expect “the other” to refer back to something similar to what “one” referred to; but it doesn’t?

  56. Edmund Blackadder:

    “I want to suggest a better way.”

    Well, you want to suggest a different way; I’m not sure I see it as better. Shit I can’t see is still shit that is in my house, so to speak. If it’s something I don’t want to see, then it’s something I don’t want in my house. I feel fine making that judgment call.

    Also, as a practical matter, suggesting that such a system is implementable in a general sense doesn’t mean it’s implementable in the particular sense of here at this blog. I use the WordPress client-side comment system for a reason and I’m constrained by what the VIP service allows in terms of widgets, etc. They do allow other commenting systems to be implemented, but for various reasons I’ve decided those commenting systems aren’t what I want here.

    Re: The God Engines: It’s a poorly constructed sentence, alas. Dude was bleeding and lying in the pool of blood.

  57. Following The God Engines tangent: That third sentence seems to give a lot of people headaches. When I read it, I didn’t think it was poorly constructed so much as it made me giggle because I thought it was intended to require thought/catch people off guard (while also showing the observer to have attention divided by all the pieces of information). Bottom-up processing of the scene by the character, experienced on the page by the reader. Does it help to parse it as “He found blood and the deck” as opposed to “on the deck”?

    Regarding the commenting policy, I’ll echo what I’ve seen upthread…I certainly read this site for the comments almost as much as for the original posts. When things go too far off topic or people cross my line from snarky to assholish, I tend to bow out of the thread and look for a new topic. I’m glad for the mallet and the encouragement from the host for people to rein it back in. I was reading here well before I left my first comment and the general conversational style in comment threads is what made me comfortable enough to make my first post. Still not sure if I “belong” yet, but my toe is in the pool because of the commenting policy and the mallet.

  58. Nope it is more like this:

    “2 + 2 = 5.” -ublockhead

    “Sorry ublockhead but 2 + 2 = 4. It says so in this math book.” -orion

    “You asshole Orion! Go kill yourself you miserable failf*ck!” -ublockhead

    “We don’t allow that type of thing here Orion, you are hereby banned!” -hulver

    “Thank you Hulver, Orion was cussing up a storm, wrecking the place, and of course coasing a lot of trouble here.” -ublockhead

  59. For heavens’ sakes, blackadder and CWilliams, the “one” is the blood and the “other” is the deck. He was spurting blood and lying on the deck.

    Don’t even try to read Dhalgren, OK? You won’t like it.

  60. @Xopher: I’m sorry to hear that I wasn’t as clear as I intended to be with my comment. What I meant to imply by the fact that I giggled as I read it was that I understood the sentence and thought it was cleverly done to imply the confusion caused by walking in to a scene of chaos. The parsing suggestion was for someone who didn’t get it the way I did.

    Sorry if my amusement came off as a complaint…as I said I don’t comment here enough to have a voice, but I read enough to generally respect yours. If you misread it, im sure you weren’t alone.

  61. Dear Edmund,

    The Founding Fathers thought **government** not interfering with free speech was a good idea because the government could then suppress and control the entire populace via “thoughtcrime.” The FF’s well-remembered the Elizabethan police state, which probably rivaled communist Romania.

    A private individual does not have that power, plain and simple. Not even minimally or proportionately. The situations don’t operate in the same problem space.

    (Aside, really complete oligopolies can exercise similar power, which is why the 1950’s blacklists and the suppression of some stories in both Iraq wars by all major news media is generally considered a Bad Thing by historical scholars and journalists, although those suppressions were not illegal.)

    The best defense against bad speech is preventing it from being heard. It cannot propagate as a meme, mutate into a superbug, without a vector. The best defense against pneumonia is not antibiotics, it is not-getting exposed!

    If I have a website and I want to negate bad speech, by far the most effective way is to prevent it from being heard. Then it harms no one.

    I think we can all accept that your philosophy is one of free speech, but trying to argue that philosophy as obvious logic… well, I don’t think it’s going well. Maybe you should accept this is not an argument that’s winnable or even especially persuasive in this venue.

    pax / Ctein
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery
    — Digital Restorations

  62. This is an awful lot of discussion (between Clark @Popehat and here) about something that Mr. Scalzi introduces every reader to prominently on HIS blog.

    Saying he HAS to allow “all comments” or follow rules that aren’t set by himself alone is similar to forcing a pizza joint to serve smoked salmon just because their customers told them to.

    Companies have policies, businesses have rules (and some enforce right to refuse service, btw), and John Scalzi doesn’t allow a bunch of bull honky on his blog (i.e. he keeps a clean house).

    Who exactly is that harming?

  63. No, CWilliams, I’m the one who should apologize. I was cranky, and the sentence is a tough parse. Sorry for that.

  64. No worries, @Xopher. I had an Internet moment where I considered writing a treatise explaining scene processing and threat assessment and how Scalzi got it right, and then I got over myself and reread the comments with an open mind. I decided they could have been taken as me continuing a conversation of which our host was dismissive, thus leading to your response.

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