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This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Neutral site for discussions censored on Balkinization blog

Update: It looks like Balkinization is fully open to commenting again. Some commenters there -- including myself -- complained and apparently persuaded the bloggers there to relent.

I am establishing here a neutral site for discussions that have been censored on the Balkinization law blog. One of the Balkinization bloggers, Marty Lederman, wouldn't even allow a discussion to start. Another Balkinization blogger, eponymous blogger Jack Balkin, cut off a discussion because of the following bigoted comment. The comment is so extreme that at first I thought it was sarcastic but after I read other comments by the same commenter I realized that it was not sarcastic:
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"That's right, Bart. Bush should have just gone the whole way and interned every Arab-American under existing Supreme Court precedent."

The above statement is particularly offensive because it shows extreme prejudice against people on the basis of their ethnicity and national origin. Nonetheless, it was wrong to throw out the whole barrel of commenters just because of one bad apple. For the following reasons, there should be no arbitrary censorship of visitors' comments on blogs:

(1) The more popular blogs have become major de facto public forums. Balkinization is ranked as number four in average daily visits (3727) among law blogs that have at least one blogger who is a law professor.

(2) Blogs are being authoritatively cited by court opinions, scholarly journal articles, the official news media, etc., making it particularly important that the cited blogs be as fair and reliable as possible. Visitors' comments enhance fairness and reliability by correcting factual errors and presenting different opinions. In a list of law blogs cited by law journal articles, Balkinization was tied for 3rd place with 32 citations out of a total of 489 citations.

The Balkinization articles where discussion is censored are:

Secret Court Strikes Down Bush NSA Program, Leading to Latest Fuss About FISA

The FISA Fix

What's the Legal Significance of the Data Mining?
.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> there should be no arbitrary censorship of visitors' comments on blogs: <

There was nothing arbitrary about this but I think that he should have only banned the offender.

You have never been arbitrarily censored, despite your brayings to the contrary.

Friday, August 03, 2007 6:18:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Excuse me, Larry, but how exactly is your post "neutral" if you are attacking me in it? I was being sarcastic in that post to Bart, and I know (directly from Professor Balkin himself) that it was not any ONE poster who was the cause for shutting down comments over there. I also know that the Holocaust happened, unlike you, it seems.

Friday, August 03, 2007 9:04:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Charles said,
>>>>>> Excuse me, Larry, but how exactly is your post "neutral" if you are attacking me in it? <<<<<<

Excuse me, but "neutral" only means that visitors' comments are not censored here.

>>>> I was being sarcastic in that post to Bart, <<<<<<

Apparently the commenter who answered with the following comment also thought that you were not being sarcastic --

Charles,watch out,behind you -- it's a Negro -- a Detroit Negro! And he's got an Arab from Dearborn with him!

Now he was being sarcastic.

>>>>> and I know (directly from Professor Balkin himself) that it was not any ONE poster who was the cause for shutting down comments over there. <<<<<<

And I don't know directly from Professor Balkin himself -- I only based my conclusion on what I saw. I could only take what I saw at face value.

>>>>>> I also know that the Holocaust happened, unlike you, it seems. <<<<<<

I also know that the holocaust happened, but I question how it happened because the Nazis had no reliable way(s) of identifying Jews and non-Jews. Anyway, what does that have to do with my offering this blog as a neutral site?

Also, how do you know that you could not be mistaken for an Arab-American?

Friday, August 03, 2007 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Thanks for your definition of "neutral". Also, if Hillary is elected President, I have no doubt that the chances of me being "mistaken" for an Arab-American will go up considerably -- that was only half-sarcasm -- your views on the Jews are "particularly offensive because it shows extreme prejudice against" them, IMHO. As for Jack Balkin's opinion, here is the e-mail I received from him after he closed the comments:

Dear Charles:

This is a larger issue than just postings by one person. Something is wrong with the comments section (if you compare it with blogs like Crooked Timber or Obsidian Wings, for example) and current policies and subtle hints and not-so-subtle exhortations have not cured it. So I'm going to consult with my fellow bloggers about what to do.

JB


Now, you KNOW too.

Friday, August 03, 2007 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice in the Urbanness said...

> the Nazis had no reliable way(s) of identifying Jews and non-Jews. <

Larry's usual tactic. Repeat a falsehood in hopes that it will make it true.

What happened to my counterpart, ViW? Has Larry censored him?

Friday, August 03, 2007 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>> Larry's usual tactic. Repeat a falsehood in hopes that it will make it true. <<<<<<

Repeating something does not necessarily mean that it is false, as you contend.

Monday, August 06, 2007 1:30:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Another Marty Lederman thread has had comments stopped (deleted actually -- someone had asked me what the cost-benefit of torture could be, and after I answered that, that's the last I saw of comments). Also, was Voice in the Wilderness censored or not, Larry?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 7:41:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Here's the link:

http://balkin.blogspot.com/2007/08/jane-mayer-on-black-sites.html

There were 40+ comments on that thread.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 7:44:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

So much for Professor Lederman (who we already knew did not "agree, obviously, that it's right to use these techniques, even on the worst of the worst") claiming that he understood "the terms of that debate. That is a debate, in effect, about whether torture and cruel treatment should ever be lawful and, if so, against whom and under what circumstances." Maybe because he finally realized which side real Americans would take is why he just deleted said debate?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 7:55:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Charles said...

>>>>>> So much for Professor Lederman (who we already knew did not "agree, obviously, that it's right to use these techniques, even on the worst of the worst") claiming that he understood "the terms of that debate. That is a debate, in effect, about whether torture and cruel treatment should ever be lawful and, if so, against whom and under what circumstances." Maybe because he finally realized which side real Americans would take is why he just deleted said debate? <<<<<<<

What do you mean, "real Americans," jerko? Torture is unconstitutional and against international law. However, Prof. Lederman should have just ignored the comment or condemned it.

>>>>>> There were 40+ comments on that thread. <<<<<<

Yeah, I guess he must have deleted them all -- no number of comments is given. This was very unfair to the commenters. It is better to close an article to comments to start with rather than delete comments after they are posted.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 6:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Nom De Plume said...

< What do you mean, "real Americans," jerko? Torture is unconstitutional and against international law. >

So is blowing up civilian airplanes.

Perhaps you recall folks saying, "The terrorists will have won if they make us yada yada" (less often heard lately). Would you have believed, 20 years ago, that you'd have to take your shoes off to board an airplane, or couldn't have 4 ounces of shaving lotion in your carry-on?

And as Charles pointed out (whether sarcastically or not), there is Supreme Court precedent for interning all Arab-Americans (the SC approved the WW II internments). There is arguably better justification for doing it today, although it was not that crazy in WW II. But even suggesting it now is embarrassing, especially since the US Gov't. just apologized and paid reparations for it. You can thank the Goddamned terrorists for both the hassle and the embarrassment. They deserve no sympathy and they certainly don't have mine.

Still, there are ways to extract information that are both more reliable and less likely to attract do-gooder handwringing than torture.

>> There were 40+ comments on that thread. <<

< Yeah, I guess he must have deleted them all -- no number of comments is given. This was very unfair to the commenters. >

I agree -- very rude to dump the thread just because he didn't like the direction it went.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 7:00:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

UPDATE:

Comments have been closed again at Balkinization.

Thursday, March 26, 2009 2:50:00 PM  

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