Sunday, March 2, 2008

WWWtW-Watch: #3 - Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics


Dedicated to the proposition that it can happen here.

Here is a rather unique tactic employed by Paul J. Cella, Editor of WWWtW (and the man who ultimately silenced me permanently), to stifle dissent on the site: statistics.

In this instance, I was the third person, following Lydia and Maximos, to make a comment on this post, authored by Steve Burton. Those interested can read Burton’s article, but briefly, he was responding to an author--referred to below as “WW”--who had written on the immigration question, in favor of open borders, stating that:

"[C]hauvinists" oppose open borders, because they care more about relatively small losses to themselves and their countrymen than they do about relatively large gains for non-countrymen - which violates the principle of the "fundamental moral equality of human beings," thereby "getting morality fundamentally wrong."

My initial comment, based on this idea, was:

If WW is saying something like, "Your need creates my obligation and my responsive sacrifice on your behalf benefits us both" then I have to agree with him. I take it that WW's "chauvinism" means "self-interested action in disregard of the need of the other." It would seem to be patent that such behavior is immoral, even if it is "just" by the standards of secular law. Charity, too, is justice--but tempered by love.

That was my position, and I continued to defend it. Finally, Editor Paul J. Cella had had enough of my recalcitrance in the face of the self-righteous opposition of the WWWtW staff and hangers-on, and he came out with this:

Through 44 comments to Steve's post, we have 23 from Rodak and maybe 10 actually answering Steve's question.

Well, two can play that game. I counted the total, when I went back though the thread, as 43 overall comments, including 22 made by me. That’s close enough, as they say, for government work; we won’t quibble over that, or demand a recount. I then tallied up exactly how many separate individuals I was responding to, in making what adds up to about half of the comments on the thread to that point. The total was seven (7). My points were addressed by: Lydia, Maximos, Steve Nicoloso, Kurt, Paul J. Cella, Booton, and Royale. Another commenter, Step2, did not respond to anything I wrote.

So, dividing my 22 (or 23) comments among seven people, all but two of whom were addressing me to disagree with my points, it is hard to see how the quantity of my comments was out of line with the demands being made upon me to respond to points made contra my position by other commenters. All these seven people would have needed to do, at any point, was stop responding to my responses and I would have gone on to other threads, or to other blogs: my total would have stopped mounting.

It is also hard to see how I was not “answering Steve’s question”—whatever that was. Nonetheless, Editor Paul J. Cella, in a fit of pique, wrote:

So you think we […blah, blah, blah…] and Christianity is not for the sentimental. Etc., etc.
Fine. We heard you, man.
May I now ask that you to refrain from a further repetition of these views, especially in Steve's next post, so that the rest of us might carry on our discussion in peace.


In other words, if we can’t convince you that you are wrong, we will simply demand that you shut the fuck up. I did comply with this demand, despite that fact that some commenters continued to address my points after I was asked to stifle myself. (This was also the case on another thread, after I was permanently 86’d.)

Number Four on Umberto Eco’s List: Disagreement is treason.

As a footnote to the above, to “Steve’s next post” as referred to by Cella above, (entitled “Universalism” vs. “Chauvinism” Part II) which I was asked to butt out of and obediently complied, exactly 17 comments have been made to-date in the 18 days since it was posted. So I guess that the faithful were well able to “to carry on [their] discussion in peace.”

6 comments:

Civis said...

Do you recall that a few years ago "e-mail ettiquette" stuff was seen everywhere? (Aside, as a person who uses e-mail at work and with friends, I will have to say that a few of my frinds and colleagues need to brush up a bit).

Have you seen any blogging ettiquette? If not it's high time. (Aside again, whatever the ettiquette is I no doubt violated it with my link to American Pie last week ;) )

Hang in there Rodak, it's a crazy blosophere out there.

Rodak said...

Civis--
I don't see etiquette in the blogosphere as being any different than etiquette anywhere else. You treat other people the way you want to be treated yourself, whether online, in the office, or standing in line for tickets to a show.
If a site is going to present opinion pieces, and invite comments from readers, its owners should treat commenters who disagree with them in a non-abusive way with at least a modicum of hospitality.
I fully intend to hang in there.
In addition to being boorish bullies, the "thinkers" at WWWtW, if multiplied, would be dangerous to free thought in America. If they are too chicken-shit to let me oppose them where they live, I will do so here--where I make the rules.

Civis said...

RE: ettiquette: agreed, but somepeople still may need to be told. Being on the internet is kind of like being in a car. People in traffic will do things they would never do if they were face to face with someone. An example, I can't tell you how many people I have gotten e-mails from who sound like complete assholes, and ten you meet them in person and they are nice enough. I'm thinking, "why is this guy (or gal) so amiable in person and such a dick in correspondence?"

Are they not letting you post?

Rodak said...

Are they not letting you post?

Civis--
If you are reading #3 of a series, the chances are that you need to be familiar with #'s 1 and 2 in order to fully understand it.
To answer your question directly: no they're not.

Civis said...

See, I probably violated the ettiquete again.

Rodak said...

Civis--
LOL. Maybe be so.