When Blogs Imitate Life

After taking a few months' break from reading Alas, I checked in just in time to see that Robert Hayes (whose comments, incidentally, make for much better reading than his blog) had left a comment on this post by Jack Stephens:

Bhupinder blogs:

This little book was first published 160 years ago on 21st February 1848.

The world has not stopped listening to it ever since.

The comment (from memory):

Except for its hundred million or so victims. They haven't been doing much of anything lately.

Now why, you may be asking, would I have to rewrite the comment from memory? Well, it seems that the comment has suffered the usual fate awaiting dissidents in communist territory--it's been disappeared! No word yet on whether it was thrown in prison without trial, sent to work in gulags of Blog Siberia, or simply shot.

(To give credit where it's due, I should point out that Ampersand gives his co-bloggers fairly wide latitude in moderating the comments on their own posts, and that this is not indicative of his own moderation policies. In fact, he refused, in the face of considerable pressure from several of his readers, to ban the regular conservative/libertarian commenters.)

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Doesn't sound like a place to get a fair hearing

Doesn't sound like a place to get a fair hearing if they remove comments. I guess they don't believe their arguments are capable of standing on their own two feet.

From the comment policy blurb over at that blog:

"And yes, this does create a bit of a double-standard. I can live with that."

".. it’s my intention that most of the discussions here be dominated by
feminist and lefty views. For that reason, brand-new MRA and
anti-feminist posters might not be approved to post even if as individuals they are perfectly reasonable and polite."

"In other words, when I decide whether or not to let a new poster
through, I decide that based not only on the quality of the individual
poster but also on a desire to maintain a certain balance to the
comments on “Alas” as a whole."

Yeah, a certain balance, that's the ticket.

"People aren’t banned based on breaking rules; they’re banned based on
my perception that they’re moving “Alas” discussions away from what I’d
like “Alas” discussions to be."

"Please understand that although I encourage debate, ..."

Oh is that what you call debate. Could have fooled me.


Doesn't sound like a place

Doesn't sound like a place to get a fair hearing if they remove comments.

As far as I know, that doesn't happen often. What's far more common is that a person politely expressing certain reasonable but verboten ideas will be savagely attacked by several of the commenters, who will then go on to complain about Ampersand tolerating abusive behavior by the original commenter. The irony of this pattern coming from a group of people who use the term "victim-blaming" as often as they do is delicious.

The part of the moderation policy you cite is actually somewhat understandable, IMO. There's a place for everything, and it's not unreasonable to want to discuss ideas with like-minded people without constantly having to defend your premises against people who have some fundamental disagreement with you. It's not much of an issue here, but comment threads there can very quickly become dominated by arguments between leftists and conservatives or libertarians, effectively derailing the sort of discussion the post's author had hoped to engender.

Despite his being a moonbat's moonbat, I have a lot of respect for Ampersand. He's more intelligent and thoughtful than anyone so far to the left has any business being, and he backs up his arguments--even in comments--with well-documented evidence (though obviously I disagree with his analysis). But his co-bloggers and many of the commenters (though not all) really drag down the overall quality of the blog.

Yeah, the policy is

Yeah, the policy is understandable. A time and place for everything.

More honestly

Well then, he'd be more honest to say:

"Please understand that although I encourage debate [elsewhere, I don't encourage it here]".