Sunday, January 09, 2005

Why Are We Back In Iraq?

Let me give a heads up to those with privacy concerns, Why Are We Back In Iraq? has some sort of statististical tracking. How do we know that? It's posted at the top of the page. So you know going in. That's to be noted and praised. I'm going to comment on their post from Saturday (I'm playing catch up today) and link to it. If you have concerns about what information is being compiled, you can look at their stats. (I, honestly, have no idea how to do that but I'll assume most members of this site do. )

The entry ( is entitled "The Banned Diary" and deals with what it apparently takes to get banned from a web site. For those with language concerns due to work place guidelines governing computer usage, the "f" word is used. (There may be others but that's the only one I registered.)

But you're not banned because of a curse word. I logged on to see what was going on at other sites and read "The Banned Diary." At the end, I had to read it again because I thought, "Surely I missed something." I didn't find anything on the second read.

Apparently, my read of it, expressing an idea that's disagreed with by someone is enough to get you banned. That surprises me. And it's not the policy on this site that you have to march in lock step pattern. Occassionally with something like the Ohio Vote Thursday or an e-mail where someone writes something to the effect of "I'm really mad right now," I will write back and ask if you're sure you wanted to be quoted.

Despite Gina's noting of what she sees as my "Oprah moments," I have said things I regret in anger often. I know that for me, the initial rage passes and then a few hours later or the next day, I might want to change a word or temper a sentence. So unless you've stated, as Jim has, "Quote me on anything because I mean it and stand by it," I will give you time to make sure you want to go with that.

Go on writing whatever you want to in your e-mail because there's no banning if you disagree with us. If you attempt to strong arm the community (or me) into doing something, we will ignore you attempt. And if you make a statement like "Quote Tom Hayden again and I'm gone!"
(as Sue in Waterbury, Conn. said in so many words), we'll say bye-bye but if you ask to be quoted again on something that's on the site, you'll probably be quoted again. [Sue will never be quoted in full because she doesn't meet the language guidelines.]

But even Sue's had her say since.

There are times when I'll make a point (that's my opinion) or someone will be quoted making a point and I'll think, "Oh, the e-mails will fly in over this!" And then they don't. I think the only thing questioned at any length was Cedric's citing Eminem in the "Year in Review" [see].

I understand those who were upset (and we quoted with permission those who wrote in, was it two or three members?) but Cedric took our attitude and our spirit and went with it. I'm glad he did that. I think he made an important point and that he argued it very well. (And Cedric, three members wrote in supporting your selection after the replies to the "Year In Review" went up. They didn't want to be quoted.)

Those were our awards and if you had someone to cite and argued your case, it was going to go up. (I don't know that anyone didn't argue their case but, honestly, if they hadn't, they would have been included anyway just because the thing ended up being rushed out a week early.)

So I'm kind of surprised that an opinion gets you banned.

What was Why Are We Back in Iraq?'s opinion, that the Ohio vote was a big deal and needed to be addressed, not dismissed as conspiracy theory.

A few of you have e-mailed on this which is the main reason we covered Ohio (not in great detail, other sites deserve credit for keeping this at the forefront and the community has also cited Randi Rhodes, Laura Flanders and others). Jim e-mailed about the "shut down" going on regarding this topic. We addressed that in terms of the New York Times. But he and others were bothered by what they saw as a shut down by some of the blogs on the left.

We're not shutting anything down here. If you've got something, bring it up. We can (and have) relied only on the way you see something (by using your words). I don't pass myself off as an expert who has an opinion on everything. I'm sure I've blogged on this until everyone is sick of it but I really admire Ellen Goodman for refusing to pass herself off as someone who can go on any show and discuss any topic. I also admire her for her common sense and hope we show some of that here.

Raising questions is common sense. Sharing your opinions (noting that they are your opinions) only increases our understanding. The two (or three, check the post) who disagreed with Cedric didn't feel the need to ask that he be "banned." They disagree with his opinion, offered their own and it went up in an entry. I hope it made us all think about what we believed.

The Common Ills isn't here to be a gate keeper or shut down discussions. A number of you have e-mailed requesting that I offer more of my opinion (which I'm trying to do). Members seem to be enjoying it. Some have disagreed (and I wish they'd be comfortable about being quoted because I'm not determined to have the last say).

When two members were convinced that I'd repeatedly praised David Corn, I took it to the community and said if I had said that (whatever it was) that I was wrong but that I honestly didn't remember saying that. They wrote again shortly after saying I had. I can't find the entry and neither can they. (Nor did it sound like something I would say for personal reasons about David Corn. And that's not a slam at him.) But I took it to the community again and stated if anyone knew about it, write in and, if not, I was going to forget about it.

[The address is which Susan reminds me hasn't been posted often lately. Sorry about that.]

But I'm reading "The Banned Diary" and I'd heard of people being banned and often wondered what that entailed (I've asked a few of you who've e-mailed about it). Why Are We Back In Iraq? has offered a pretty detailed picture of what it entails:

When you get banned from Daily Kos it means that you can't post anymore diaries, you can't make any comments, and you can't rate other people's comments or recommend their diaries. Your prior comments and diaries don't disappear but they can't be rated anymore either. You also lose the power to edit or remove your words, if you so desire. You can still read the contents of the Website, of course (you're not redirected to somewhere like here), but, basically, you lose your "community" status. The worst thing is that you don't receive any word when you're banned. No e-mail, no message in your account. You just are. It's kind of like Kafka's The Trial, in a way.

Here's some of the first post that apperantly led to his being banned:

Come to my house, walk up the stairs, through the hallway, enter my kitchen, check through all my cupboards and cabinets...and you will not find any tin foil.
So let me get this straight.
According to pretty much every influential left-leaning blogger:
It is not a "conspiracy theory" to suggest (and post pictures) that Bush wore a wire during the debates.
It is not a "conspiracy theory" to suggest that Karl Rove set up Dan Rather and 60 Minutes with a (possibly) phoney document about Bush's lack of service in the Texas Air National Guard.
It is not a "conspiracy theory" to suggest that Karl Rove or Dick Cheney leaked Valerie Plume's name to Robert Novak and others.
It is not a "conspiracy theory" to suggest that our government flew out Saudis so they can avoid questioning in the days after 9/11.
It is not a "conspiracy theory" to suggest that George Bush stole the 2000 election.
OKAY! I get it. Those are good "conspiracy theories." Call them "non-conspiracy theories." None of those will bring about POLITICAL SUICIDE for the Democratic Party.

Okay, I am going to disagree with him. On the record. He says no tin foil in his house. How dare he mock those of us who bake! I also used it to line the pans I cooked the turkey and ham in (for Christmas) so that I would have less of a mess to scrub afterward.

But seriously, am I missing something here? Do you see any problem with questioning? I mean, I took philosophy, so maybe I'm overly used to the merits of questioning, but I don't see anything that merits banning someone in the comments above. (Or elsewhere on his blog entry.)

At one point, he refers to an Air American host and states "but one of them deserves to get his teeth knocked out." A point I mention because maybe Daniel Okrent decides who gets banned?
I mean Okrent outs a reader for a stated hope (which Okrent reads as a threat) so maybe the opinion that someone deserves something is seen as out of line? [See "Daniel Okrent, Step Down"]

If so, he apologizes for his word choice in his second post.

We had an e-mail that I don't have anymore (they're printed and delted). But it was by someone who's now a member of the community. "X" said it was okay to discuss this. "X" was very upset over something I'd written. ("X" thinks it was either what they saw as my pushing Unfiltered or So What Else Is News? -- I honestly don't remember what it was.) "X" had a lot of stated hopes for the karmic payback from my statements. I asked "X" if this was for quoting and it wasn't so it didn't come up here. But "X" was entitled to their opinion and "X" is allowed to hope whatever about me or anyone else. And "X" wasn't e-mailed: "Stop coming to our site and never write again!"

There's also the fact that so many of you are really great writers and you build up to your points with this real love for the language so pull quotes don't represent the full picture. I understand that because on my end, I read what I'm writing aloud to make sure they "speak."

I also understand that when we're upset the primary concern we have is registering that we are upset. (Too Oprah, Gina? Dr. Phil?)

In my personal life outside the community, I say everything I want to. And after I've said it, I usually forget about it. I purge it, get it out and deal with something else.

I'm sure a few of you do that as well.

Rob: "I'm reading this [Note: I copied and pasted "The Banned Diary" and sent it to Rob] and if this was all it took to be banned, I would've been banned a long time ago. When you kept saying, 'I'm working on the thing ["Daniel Okrent Step Down"] or I'll try to have it up this weekend, I really thought you were blowing me off. I probably e-mailed something stronger than 'Quit blowing smoke up my ass' at least twice. I didn't think, 'Oh God, I'm going to be banned and never quoted when I want to be!' or 'There's not going to be any reply to this!' I'm not seeing anything wrong with what he posted on Daily Kos and I don't understand why he was banned."

I don't understand either but I'm blog ignorant and don't pretend to be an "expert."

I wonder if there's a written policy?

"The Blogged Diary" is worth reading. For those with privacy concerns, I have tried to capture the basics of it. I haven't quoted responses to the post because I don't know that they'd want to be quoted and I also don't see much to pull from. Ron (who runs Why Are We Back In Iraq?) is called childish by someone who never addresses the issues Ron's raising. I don't see any real debate going on, just "You're childish!"

Considering that we addressed yesterday what we do and do not do (we don't track here), the subject of banning is worth commenting on.

Beth e-mailed some questions (regarding policies) and I'll try to answer those in an entry. I also want to address more of the Times coverage. Hopefully, we'll have time for all of that today.
[Note: a parenthesis has been closed. Thanks Ben.]
[Note: I called Ron who runs Why Are We Back In Iraq? "Rob." Sorry, Ron. I also left out the "Back" in his site's name. Which he was too polite to point out.]