Blogs, Democracy, free speech, and The Joker


 

Recently, I banned a commentator from this blog. It was the first time that I’ve ever had to do this. And I recently boycotted another blog, which I have commented on for several years, and run by a friend of mine,because the same person I banned trolled there to the extant that the posts were monopolized by hatefulness, repeated and unwarranted antisemitism, as well as personal attacks on other frequenters of the blog. I declared that I would no longer comment on the blog until the offender was banned.

Several people who frequent my blog expressed disgust at the offender, who goes by the screen name, apollonian. Some hinted that I should ban him, and another poster stopped posting after apollonian stated he hoped they “suffered”. That’s when I decided to deploy the ban hammer.

I felt badly about boycotting my friend’s blog. First, I like several of the other posters, who also comment on this blog. I learn a lot from them. I do not blog and comment on other blogs because I think I know everything, even though my blog covers a wide variety of topics–more than on which anyone could be called an expert. I blog and comment to learn. Sometimes I will have a growing interest in a topic, and blogging becomes a way to learn by teaching, which is widely considered an excellent way to learn. Mostly I blog to make myself less stupid. Secondly, I felt badly because in some way it could appear that I am trying to force my friend’s hand in banning someone he does not wish to ban (he has a no ban rule).  However this is not the case. It is perfectly accepted practice to walk out of public forums in protest to what one party feels is an abuse of the forum itself. All the way from town hall meetings, to UN councils, this is standard practice.

Even in democratic forums, not everyone is welcome.  Democracy is not the abolition of common sense in exchange for tolerating all behavior. Democracy is rule of the majority, and to say it is anything else is to expect too much. Democracy is quickly hijacked by forces of idiocy and evil when those on the other side view force as inherently evil.  Some people refuse to ban others from blogs out of a “democratic spirit”. In the case of apollonian, this kind of thinking is like Batman letting the Joker run Gotham out of a sense of fairness, while everyone is begging the Dark Knight to take action.  The Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Rises,  are two of my favorite movies of all time, for several reasons.  They analyze very well how democracy needs someone who’s going to step up, even when it means they won”t be popular and what can happen when envy takes hold and the mob rules.

And besides, a blog or forum is not a democracy. Allowing people who are disruptive, hateful, or senseless to run rampant out of a sense of ideology just ruins the experience for everyone else. I used to play a lot of table top wargames while growing up. Entire summer days were spent in this manner, and everyone had fun. If someone showed up that lessened the fun for everyone else, that person wouldn’t get invited back. A blog should not be taken so seriously as to equate to the politics of a nation. No one’s freedom is being denied them when they get banned from a blog.

We can see what this attitude of “open mindedness” has wrought for America. For decades now, those who fundamentally opposed what made America so strong, its industrial and military might, its meritocracy, its familial bonds, those people have been allowed to run rampant and spread the propaganda that all ideas and cultures have equal value.  But I’m going with Carlyle’s Great Man Theory. Great societies are not created and maintained by the random actions of a directionless populace. At some point, the Imperator is called to do his duty. That man is the one others look to emulate and set the example. America was fortunate enough to have been founded by a quiver full of great men who knew that liberty requires action. I believe the Founding Fathers would be appalled at the level of tolerance we show in America. Even Jefferson, that man of the people, knew when crushing action was needed, just as is recorded when he decided to take a military course against the Barbary Pirates. Jefferson writes:

protect our commerce & chastise their insolence—by sinking, burning or destroying their ships & Vessels wherever you shall find them

 

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8 comments

  1. What I was beginning to wonder about, in regard to some of the things that were said on Mike’s blog, was where statements begin to cross a legal line. For instance if someone makes an outright threat to murder someone specific, that is illegal, correct? Assuming so, does stating that a person should be murdered also cross that line? And if so, does such a statement extended to a group of people, say something small like a motorcycle gang or some such? Or a group of people in a DA’s office?

    I doubt our friend crossed any line to the degree it would stand up in court in the US but much of what he said would have gotten a blogger in deep trouble in the UK, FWIU.

  2. Yes, I was considering the same thing. The borderline threats and the wishing for people to suffer, in what other groups would this person not be excommunicated? As Thomas Mann said, tolerance is itself evil when tolerance is applied to evil.

  3. Apollonian crossed the line, and Mike should have dropped the hammer. Enough is enough.

  4. Thank you Magus. I had quit reading your blog, because I thought no one was willing to stand up to a bully, and I was somehow disappointed and maybe a little hurt. You did right.

    When I posted about the incident on my blog, I got this response, which I loved: the Internet is not the place to have an intelligent debate, when you don’t know if you’re talking to a 10 year old kid in his tree fort or an 89 year old man in a mental institution…

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