Well, it turns out I’m famous - sort of. Over at my old digs, my goodbye post got a lot of responses, including a lot of stories. Turns out I’m the Bogeyman. Huh, and I did not even like hiding in closets, what do you know about that!
What I mean is, I am getting all sorts of things pinned on me. Seems I was a hothead, held crazy ideas, and even days after losing my posting powers, I am still somehow blocking selected victims from being able to post comments on Polipundit. Maybe my next gig should be Freddy Kreuger?
But seriously, all this talk tells me I should probably lay out a few things, just for clarity. Believe them or not as you wish, but no one will be able to say I did not answer the questions. So here goes.
First, there were three significant issues which created some controversy at Polipundit; the nomination of Harriet Miers, the control of boorish behavior on comment threads, and of course the Illegals crisis.
When President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to be a Supreme Court Justice, the resulting explosion from the Hard Right was regrettable. Some folks at Polipundit have claimed that I was a champion of Miers, and that I referred to anyone who opposed her as a “bastard”. Neither claim is accurate. What I wanted for Harriet Miers, is simply what Republicans and alleged Conservatives had said for years that they considered the base for Congressional behavior - a chance to be heard, and a right to a vote, up or down. But when Miers was nominated, the demands by extremists for her to be removed prior to even her first day before the Senate Judiciary Committee smacked of an intolerant special-interest group; when Liberal groups made the same attacks on prior nominees by Republican Presidents, Conservatives rightly castigated their litmus-test attitude, as well as the notion that a Presidential nominee was not entitled to a fair chance to have his or her qualifications considered. When the bullying finally succeeded in forcing Ms. Miers to withdraw her acceptance of the nomination, the extremists crowed with delight. The people I called “bastards” were not the Conservatives who were concerned about Miers’ qualifications, but those who had just found a tool to demand ideological conditions for appointments, and who had just demonstrated an ability to blackmail the Executive Branch. Such conduct is reprehensible, no matter what politics are involved. The process, the American people’s right to see nominees in public hearings, was badly abused, and so when I wrote “the bastards won”, I meant (and specifically said so) those persons who found thuggery acceptable when it serves their purpose. The fact that such tactics have only increased in number and venom, proves I was right, that the worst elements in politics are in the ascendancy, and far too few people find Reason before they look for Rage.
The second episode is not so clear-cut. It is the cornerstone to an effective debate, that contrary opinions should be allowed, even encouraged. However, there are limits to what should be tolerated, when the practice of one person’s free speech tramples another. Polipundit is a strong advocate of free speech, to such a degree that he allowed profanity, vulgarity, and all manner of rhetorical bullying. Frankly, I strongly disapproved of this, because it shut down the more civil posters, and all too often solid conversations devolved into shouting matches. To control this, I used three general types of response; I would remove part or all of an offensive post (including ones which were simply being disruptive), if a poster kept it up I would mock them in their own style - this was not well received by the bullies, as such people are never interested in receiving their own style, and in extreme cases I would ban the IP from that thread. I should mention here a unique aspect of Polipundit; writers did not have the power to permanently ban any IP or individual; that was never even a possibility. So while there are, even now, still a few people at Polipundit claiming I locked them out of the site, this is a ridiculous and completely false claim. Of course, it tracks with the sort of behavior I saw when I was an official - while you did not have the power or place to mock a player or coach, you did have the ability to address the various fouls and violations. And like the blogs, the guilty parties always made themselves out to be the victims, blaming the officials for their own misdeeds. I mention this, because while I fully believe in Free Speech, on a blog it’s a privilege, not a right, and I will not allow anyone to derail the discussion with excessive vulgarity or deliberate provocations. Treat the other side with respect, and avoid name-calling, and we should be fine. But if I find it necessary to take action, I will do so, and I will neither apologize nor explain unless I find it necessary.
Finally, there is the issue of illegal aliens coming into our country. This is, as I noted a couple days ago, actually several issues happening together to make a crisis. The complaint I had is actually pretty simple, common sense to my mind. You don’t change someone’s mind by yelling at them, so calling the President of the United States a ‘liar’ or similar tactics is not only rude and a false charge, it is a poor plan of debate. Same thing for yelling at the people who have another opinion; listening to them and offering evidence for your side is smart, but calling them names and writing insults in ‘ALL CAPS’ is immature and foolish.
And that brings you up to speed. I’m sure I will be accused of something else in coming days; legends of monsters and evil hosts tend to grow in size and number. What I ask from you here, is to read my work, respond as you see fit, and judge me by the results. And as always, thanks for your visit and comments.