Friday, April 13, 2007

Comment moderation enabled

It's a shame, but I've had to activate comment moderation. This does not mean that if you are a theist who wants to disagree with us, even vehemently, your comment will not be allowed. This is simply a measure I've had to undertake due to a lot of reprehensible and dishonest (but par for the course from people like this) trolling behavior from a couple of commenters, one of whom I'm sure you all know by name. Yes'm, ol' Dan Marvin proved himself a lying little scum as usual, gleefully reneging on his own promise not to post here anymore. Dan belongs to that particularly unctuous and dispicable breed of religionist who does not feel rules of decency and honesty apply to him, and that being a man of your word is, shall we say, overrated. As Blogger does not make banning an easy thing to do (and banning by IP is an iffy process anyway, as it's easy to get around in so many ways), moderation is the only way to keep the worst of the worst out.

Civil and decently behaved believers are more than welcome to post here, and post criticisms of us. Free expression is a thing all freethinkers respect. But so is integrity and maturity, neither of which have been on display from the likes of Dan or Emanuel. As Tracie has pointed out, Emanuel has nothing to offer but insults. He doesn't even attempt to make arguments for a god; he just wants to shit on atheists. And by his own admission, whenever he takes his wild, undisciplined swings at nonbelievers in general (and guys like Richard Dawkins in particular), he's really just settling scores with an abusive uncle, whose alleged violent and alcoholic impulses Emanuel thinks can be projected upon all atheists. Tracie said it best: there's really no conversation to be had when one side is trying to discuss theology and the other is undertaking a kind of self-induced primal scream therapy to deal with personal emotional issues.

(Though I have a lot of skepticism over Emanuel's account of this. For one thing, he claimed this uncle owned "a library of over 2500 atheist books," and frankly, I don't even think there are 20% of that quantity of books about atheism by atheists in existence. And most of those would be in the Prometheus Books catalog.)

Emanuel clearly has some severe mental imbalances to work out. But that is the purview of psychiatry, which is not what we do here. Criticism of religion, and intelligent debate over same, is what we do here. If anyone in the theist camp feels they can last a few rounds, then be welcome. Go ahead, tell us we're full of shit all you like. Just have thoughtful arguments to present when you do it. The pooflingers can stay in the primate cage in the zoo, until they evolve.

10 comments:

  1. Buk Turgidson4/13/2007 7:37 AM

    I must say, that is an excellent way to run away and make yourself look brave for doing it.

    I think your credibility is on the line more than Emanuels.

    If he is such a troll, why are you worried?

    This looks like cowardice on your part, and he can claim a sort of victory in being banned...because thta it what it is, whatever you call it.

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  2. tracie harris4/13/2007 8:25 AM

    >(Though I have a lot of skepticism over Emanuel's account of this. For one thing, he claimed this uncle owned "a library of over 2500 atheist books," and frankly, I don't even think there are 20% of that quantity of books about atheism by atheists in existence. And most of those would be in the Prometheus Books catalog.)

    I feel that since I've been the one to harp most on this, I should add that I also have no idea if E's story of abuse is true or not. Anyone can come on the Internet, make up a name, and proceed to claim anything they like about themselves and their relatives.

    But there are certain claims where I'd rather err on the side of caution--and someone claiming child abuse is one of them (suicidal feelings are another example, where I've simply taken someone on the Internet at their word).

    Emanuel's irrational connections and emotionalism are what make me worry that his story is true. And I wanted to just point out that, with real respect to your note above, childhood abuse victims don't always have a clear or correct recollection of the events that occurred. Finding inconsistencies in long-term childhood abuse victims' stories is like finding cigarette butts in an ash tray. Frightened or intimidated child-minds, are not the best source of correct recollections decades later.

    Just as an example, the worst case I ever saw personally, was a young woman in her 30s. She had 2 brothers, one older. She had related to me some really horrible events from her childhood. Her father was released from the military due to mental issues, and her mother had severe self-esteem issues and was completely servile--somewhat sympathetic, but totally unhelpful toward her children. (Eventually the mother abandoned the family--mentally unable to cope, herself, any longer--leaving her children alone with this abuser--if that gives you any idea of the mother's capacity).

    Anyway, long story longer, she was never close to her parents or brothers after she grew up and moved away. But one day her older brother got in touch with her, and they got together with the other brother as well. During discussions, the woman brought up a particular incident of psychological abuse that her father had repeatedly subjected them all to (something she had related to me previously). After she brought it up, both brothers insisted her recollection was incorrect, and that it was, in fact, her mother who had done this to them repeatedly. Upon hearing this, she began to recall her mother's behavior, and the memories became clear to her--that her brothers were correct.

    This sort of distortion makes it difficult to determine what the truth is surrounding claims of abuse. Clearly, the event occurred--but the details are distorted. Perhaps it wasn't as easy to place some of the blame on her mother--who was somtimes sympathetic, and not the primary abuser--and it was simpler to have all of the blame totally, and neatly assigned to her overbearing, aggressive father? Who knows?

    But in the absence of any way to know what the truth is--I choose to risk being the patsy of some troll's immature prank rather than negatively engage a potential childhood abuse victim. Just to offer an explain of where I'm coming from on this--I'm not simply being quick to believe anything anyone hands me; it's just that in some cases, I'd rather not risk potentially upsetting someone if I'm not at least fairly certain they're stable.

    I appreciate your post explaining why you had to do what you did. Thanks for that.

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  3. I understand what you are trying to say, but I am afraid it puts you on the defensive.

    From what I saw Emmanule made only two or three posts and you go on the defensive?

    Frankly, I think this does more harm to you than Emanuel or his "clones".

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  4. Folks, chill. I am moderating comments, not automatically banning commenters. Read the post again and don't be so reactionary. Anyone who wants to comment here, even being harshly critical of us, will have their comments put up just fine as long as there's substance there that others can respond to, and their goal is not simply to troll and be obscene and offensive. We are under no obligation to put up with anyone we don't want to.

    While the tone of Emanuel's comments so far has indicated to me he is not interested in civil discussion, I will be happy to let one of his comments go up if he writes one worth responding to.

    Mainly I chose to activate comment moderation to deal with Dan Marvin, who made several comment posts yesterday in violation of his agreement never to come back, essentially adopting a "nyah nyah" attitude and boasting he fully intended to harass us worse than ever. As there is nothing to be gained by further trying to engage with Dan, there is no reason to give him a platform for his senseless displays of antisocial behavior. There is a reason grown-ups do not consider tantrum-throwing small children their social peers. Grow up and get on our level, and you can socialize here.

    So it has nothing to do with being "worried," just with not wanting to deal with infantile assholes being assholish. Dan had been allowed to post here for two months, in which time I had given him free rein, and in return for which all of us were treated to ever-increasing displays of immaturity, dishonesty, stupidity, arrogance, ignorance and offensiveness. With a record like that, he's lucky he got two months. And anyway, he had been deleting comments from people here who came to his blog long, long before now.

    As for trolls who claim a "victory" if their comments are not let through, big fucking deal. They would say that no matter what, as it's the goal of an infantile troll not to engage in worthwhile discourse, but to sow enmity. It's like a drunk at a luxury ball going, "Watch, I bet I can get thrown out of here!" who then shits on the carpet and sets his tablecloth on fire, then goes "There! HAHAHAH! I got you!" as the cops haul him off in cuffs. Who really cares what someone so stupid and antisocial says to puff up his ego? As long as he's gone, he can fantastize about himself all he wants.

    I'm happy to let theists comment here, even stupidly, as was done recently in the assorted attempts by Emanuel and his little clones to smear Dawkins. Those kinds of asinine comments do two useful things: 1] they allow the hateful disingenuousness and stupidity of certain theists to be put on bald display for all to see and cringe at (if any of us ever just said some theists are like this, we'd be accused of bigotry and manufacturing straw men); and 2] they offer an opportunity to get factual rebuttals to fundie lies out in the public arena where they need to be heard.

    Beyond that, I will do what is necessary to keep fools and cretins from poisoning the atmosphere here to such a degree no one wants to come back. I am hardly the only blog owner who has done this, too. There are simply bad people out there who don't wish to play well with others, no matter how civil towards them you try to be.

    Tracie: Emanuel's irrational connections and emotionalism are what make me worry that his story is true.... Frightened or intimidated child-minds, are not the best source of correct recollections decades later.

    Yes, but from a practical standpoint, I'm less concerned with the truth of what he claims as the fact that, however true his account is, he wants to use these alleged experiences as an emotional crutch to inhibit his growing up, and to give him a justification for his anti-atheist bigotry. Emanuel has a wide reputation as a troll who has been banned from many atheist and science blogs because all he does is post nasty hate speech, the nature of which you pegged immediately: he's settling a score with his uncle. Whatever. We aren't his uncle and have no obligation to stand in for him, either.

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  5. I have no problem with having Martin be the moderator of posts here. I come to this (and a few other sites along the same lines, e.g. "On Faith" section of Washingtonpost.com) in an attempt to find rational debate relating to religion.

    Based on observing Martin on the TV show and reading his posts, I think he will be fair.

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  6. tracie harris4/13/2007 1:59 PM

    >Yes, but from a practical standpoint, I'm less concerned with the truth of what he claims as the fact that, however true his account is, he wants to use these alleged experiences as an emotional crutch to inhibit his growing up...the nature of which you pegged immediately: he's settling a score with his uncle. Whatever. We aren't his uncle and have no obligation to stand in for him, either.

    I totally agree. I only wanted to point out why I was taking him seriously. I concur that engaging him here is not a good idea:

    1) If his story is true, engagement would be completely unhelpful and potentially unhealthy

    and

    2) If his story is false, he's an awful troll to come here an mock child abuse victims by falsely claiming to be one and then trying to use a false victimization as leverage for sympathy.

    Agreed.

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  7. Sorry, folks. Comment moderation is fast becoming a fact of life.

    You see, if people really wanted total freedom of speech, they would practice it ON THEIR OWN BLOGS.

    As a longtime blogger who doesn't shun a good debate, I also reserve a special place in hell for trolls who think harassment of others is some kind of god-given right.

    Last year I had an incident with one person who created 11 different sock-puppet identities. He had one goal: either get his 2,000 word manifesto posted on my blog, or force me to ban him, thereby allowing accusations of censorship to be leveled.

    Let's review. A person owns their blog, and puts a lot of time and effort into it. It is not public property. It would be nice if we lived in a world where everyone plays by the rules of civility--but we don't.

    So Martin, I stand behind your decision.

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  8. It is worth pointing out that people who are in the full throws of religious euphoria are really rather delusional and when upset by confrontation they get rather psychotic. Not necessarily dangerous but decidedly detach from reality. You say one thing and they are hearing another. Test the theory; coax them into repeating back to you what you just stated, it can be a complete nonsequitor. I haven’t followed what Emmanuel says, but Dan struck me as someone verging on obsessive psychosis and I fully expected him to go into stalker mode and return. Banning him will help him move on and hopefully rise out of his mental illness.

    Zed

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  9. I'd like to agree with Zed's comments. Dan's post (and certainly Emanuels') seemed so disconnected, disjointed, etc. at times that I, at one point, thought he must be someone being a parity of a fundamentalist Christian --- at other points he seemed like someone on drugs due to his lack of ability to focus and put together rational thought.

    I think it is good to have a moderator who can filter out the trolls, pranksters, and the mentally deranged. I'm interested in honest, forthright debate, not a waste of bandwidth (I'm usually on dialup so it will save time too).

    Keep up the good work Martin, Tracie, Matt, etc... I only wish some Christian that could and would join in on the debate would do so and thus become more interesting for us lurkers out here who are watching and listening for what all have to say.

    Thanks.

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  10. The pooflingers can stay in the primate cage in the zoo, until they evolve.

    But what about Matt at Pooflingers Anonymous (it's on the Atheist Blogroll)? That would ruin alot of fun if he were to be kept locked in his cage. Some people deserve to have poo flung at them. He and his regular commenters also seem to have a pretty good track record with taking care of trolls without banning or moderating.

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