Sunday, July 31, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces: An Update on Comments

Blasted Tree

Many of our regular readers who were on holiday during the horrific events of July 22nd came back to their normal routine to find the Western world — at least the European part of it — much changed. They have been writing to ask us about our now-closed comments section, and when things might return to “normal”.

To our loyal readers and commenters we must sadly say that things have changed irrevocably. They will never be the same.

This doesn’t mean the comments won’t return. It does mean we must wait until the Gawkers and Creeps and Finger-Pointing-Blamers wander away — i.e., when some new horror or titillation grabs their attention. Think of this phenomenon as part of the same ugly human tendency which impels people to gather at the scene of a road accident. Except this wasn’t an accident: the monster fingered those he wanted destroyed and the mainstream media is simply carrying out his orders. Had he cut-and-pasted his derivative thinking from the Antifas, do you suppose this ratcheting up of their attacks would’ve occurred? The Antifas promote violence and lawlessness in the name of the European state socialist establishment.

ABB, or those he worked with, set about to systematically wreck the efforts of the small, diverse and mostly obscure group of conservative bloggers and writers primarily in America and Britain. It is ludicrous to assign blame based on a barbarian’s “research”, but that is exactly what the Left must needs do; it has no choice. When the prospect of accepting responsibility for what your culture produces is too terrifying, then you must quickly find scapegoats to relieve your own anxiety. Our readers know this; it’s a phenomenon we’ve been discussing for a long time.

[To strangers who’ve arrived here out of breath, pick and shovel in hand to dig through our material looking for ways to blame others — and good luck with that — you have almost ten thousand essays through which you must wade. Given that you arrive as judge and jury rather than someone attempting to understand, I’m sure you’ll find whatever it is you need to believe about us.]

Again, to our regular readers and commenters: at the moment, the sheer level of hits on our site meter (frequently running at ten times their usual rate) dictates the wisdom of closing GoV comments for the interim. When our traffic drops back close to its usual modest number of readers, then we’ll re-open the comments section.

As the Baron told me today,

We have now been publicly identified by innumerable mass media outlets as one of the two primary inspirations for the Norwegian mass murderer. As a result, we are currently in the crosshairs of numerous groups who would love to destroy us. We no longer have the luxury of letting commenters say pretty much whatever they want, because their indiscretion or hyperbole could provide the excuse for shutting us down.

With the imposition of the EU “Constitution” on member states, free speech among the citizens of that sad failure is greatly imperiled. The elites have granted you the right to say and think whatever they approve. The idea that free speech is inherent in the dignity of the individual is being systematically destroyed in favor of the collective mind, a collective whose rules are written by the oligarchs currently in power in the EU.

You are no longer permitted to live and move and have your being outside their pre-approved strictures. Many of our European friends are understandably scared for themselves and for their countries. I can’t say that I blame them. The boundaries of their homelands are blurring, the doors out of the gilded cage of the nanny state are quietly closing, one by one.

We grieve with you. We see our own Gramscians attempting the same thing in our country, too. Will they win? It’s hard to say at this point. The Founding Ideals, of free speech and individual dignity, are under fierce attack here also.

Despite all this, posting will proceed as usual. We didn’t flinch from the truth before all this happened, and we won’t hold back now.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I appear to have digressed from the task of explaining the possible future of comments on Gates of Vienna. However, my point is to provide context and background for the coming change. With that brief summary done, let me explain what is likely to happen:

First things first: while posting will proceed as usual, comment moderation will be imposed at the beginning until we get a sense of how things will proceed. If you’d seen the hateful name-calling and bullying in some of the emails we’ve gotten, you’d understand the necessity for this restriction. It was appalling to see purportedly educated people reduced to insults and personal attacks as methods of argument. I knew our own so-called “educated” class — the academic mandarins in their university ghettoes — had sunk to new lows, but I had no idea the European professors were every bit as bad.

Second — and this part isn’t necessary for our regular readers, who know them well — our usual rules will remain in force, the ones you used to be able to see at the top of the comment box, and this expanded version which was linked there:

1. Civil: No name calling, gratuitous insults, personal slurs, denigration of someone’s intelligence, etc.
2. Temperate: No exhortations to commit violence or foment insurrection, etc.
3. On-topic: We generally don’t delete off-topic comments, but reserve the right to if they are excessively long. A brief OT mention of something you think we should know is perfectly fine.
4. Decorum: We are a PG-13 blog, because the parents of homeschoolers allow their older children to come over here to further their education. Please make your point without resorting to foul language or explicit descriptions.

Third, there will be new, more rigorous constraints for commenters who wish to have their ideas remain affixed to our posts. These rules follow the simplified outlines of any formal dialogue, i.e., commenters must avoid falling into the murk of fallacious errors if they wish to be part of the exchange of ideas.

In today’s public discourse such lawless talk (more akin to screaming that talking) passes for dialogue. Just look at the average Facebook page to see what I mean. Or turn on your television and watch the screaming heads. Again, as regular readers know well, there is no TV at our house and we both stopped watching the tube thirty years ago. Radio? Not when our choices are the FM stations where National Public Radio holds forth, or AM stations with their endless loud commercials.

Things are different here. We’re not media. We don’t accept the coarse level of “dialogue” that pertains in politics, media or academia. We are supported by modest donations from our faithful readers (plus our own savings). This gives us an editorial freedom to pursue the paths of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Such a pursuit used to be considered the norm. Now it is derided as puritanical. Meanwhile, Propaganda, Ugliness, and Malignity ride the wave of popular demand (see the recent essay by Frontinus for an example of this squalid and mean degradation).

So what are the Rules of Rhetoric for our comment section? Ah, that is the problem. Trying to get across the notion of civilized discourse to people who’ve only been exposed to the Gramscians’ laws, or lack of them. Let me propose a few things it is not:

  • Yelling (via a comment ALL IN CAPS JUST IN CASE YOUR INTERLOCUTOR MISSES YOUR POINT) is discourteous;
  • Appeals to authority are risible — e.g., “I’m a professor and you’re not.” Yes, someone said that in an email and expected to be taken seriously.
  • Blaming is unacceptable.
  • Ridicule will get your comment deleted immediately.
  • Jumping to conclusions by inference are not permitted. A good way to bruise yourself here.
  • Guilt by association. This is a major argumentation of the Left. It’s unethical and lacks integrity but they use it anyway.
  • Poisoning the well. Another common tactic. It uses a “purity principle” against its opponents. Just one of the aspects of smearing and character assassination.
  • Personal attack. This is similar to the ad hominem fallacy but it’s uglier and more immoral in that it aims to shame not just the ideas of one’s opponent, but his very self. Another Gramscian tactic.

Obviously, I haven’t covered all the fallacies that could possibly be used in “debate”. In fact I’ve barely touched on the errors I’ve seen in our opponents’ emails as they gather ’round to deliver their sermons and admonitions from the safety of their place in the well-populated ranks of the socialist welfare state advocates.

There are numerous books and (no doubt) online “mini-courses” which explain the common fallacies used in present-day arguments. Anyone who wishes to comment here would do well to brush up on those terms — surely you learned them in your grade-school debating teams…?

For those who were culturally deprived and never had the opportunity to learn civilized debate, now’s your chance.

For those who can’t be bothered? Fortunately for you there are thousands of other places in which you may hold forth unimpeded by our rules. Those sites will welcome you.

NOTE: An incident to share with our regular readers to give you an idea of the ways in which our opponents operate.

No doubt many of you remember the times I’ve said (in explaining our rules) that being in the comment section was akin to being in our home? My point was that the same rules would apply in the comments as would hold if you were visiting our home. Well, I want you to know that when I repeated this argument to one of the more aggressive Swedes, a university professor — he’d opened his opposition to our decision to close the comments with an email that began “Cowards”, and demeaned himself even more in subsequent emails.

I tell you this to demonstrate the degraded level of these Blamers’ locutions. This particular fellow landed on my analogy with this bon mot: did that include our bedroom? Aside from his obvious discourtesy, I was taken aback by his salacious and unwarranted jump. Fortunately for you and me, he won’t appear here unless he can learn how to speak civilly.

God have mercy on the man’s unfortunate students.