Tag Archives: Drama

The /r/anarchism ShitStorm flares up again: Round Three

The Sacred Chao
Image via Wikipedia

A few days ago, I wrote about the drama that was transpiring in /r/anarchism. Back then I wrote that we had reached a unsteady compromise and I expressed cautious optimist for the future. Well, I’m sad to say that things didn’t turn out the way I planned and the third wave of the shitstorm was soon upon us. I will attempt to explain how we reached this point.

QueerCoup and Db0 bash heads.

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that we had reached a more cooperative attitude with QueerCoup (QC from now on) but this was quite a premature statement. Just one day later, they made a very aggressive post about me, which was quite a surprise to tell you the truth. Soon after, they stepped down as a mod as well and took a less active part in the subreddit.

While QueerCoup was mostly inactive, other people started becoming more active, such as mapthon and thepinkmask who had very strong feminist tendencies. At some point QC returned and made a post praising them, while condemning what they perceived as a majoritarian push by me. However the wording of the post was such that it insulted a female mod that was before, which led to a heated argument between myself and QC again, and finally a call out. While the argument in the end was put down to a bad wording and a misunderstanding, the bad blood between us seems to have been cemented for now and snipes against each other would continue to this day.

Why are they here?

A very common occurance while the above was happening, was people requesting mods to be demodded, or people to be removed from /r/metanarchism. Usually the mods were asked to be removed for not being modded according to the process. People were particularly asking for mods ptimb and enkiam to be removed, which eventually led the former to delete their account altogether. On the other hand, many requested that humanerror and ASDFOKJOI3123 to be removed from the /r/metanarchism approved submitters list, which due to its private nature, would block them from seeing and participating in it.

Tensions flared when enkiam removed around 5 people unilateraly from /r/metanarchism’s approved submitter list and then posted about it. They were quickly restored by other mods, and only two ended up being removed after discussion, but it added to the distrust of enkiam’s power, leading to yet another post calling for him to be demodded. In fact, the curious fact was how the top mods of /r/anarchism (i.e. those who cannot be demodded by others easily), skobrin and dbzer0, were being “pulled” by both sides to act. On one side we were asked to act to demod mods like enkiam while on the other we were asked to start being more active with our mod powers. Skobrin remained largely inactive except removing the most egregious comments, while I tried to receive a clear democratic decision behind my actions.

On the other hand, the process for calling out abusive and oppressive behaviour on the main sub went better, and various elements such as unrepentant MRA derailers and known fascists were banned through a democratic process. A lot of other meta posts were being discussed, such as the header icon and the sidebar policies. Things seemed to be calming down again, but this wouldn’t last.

Welcome to Operation Mindfuck

After someone fraudulently accused the redditor R_A_W of being a stormfront entryist, the pinkmask suggested that this might all be an elaborate trolling attempt in order to see FUD and set anarchists against each other. Given the username of R_A_W as well as some others who used words like “Fnord” in their names taking part in these discussions, a Discordian Operation Mindfuck was suspected and an unconventional solution suggested. However, soon after a discordian was outright banned for their offensive username, an insidious subversion attempt came to the spotlight.

It became obvious that we were being targetted, and it’s not at all a big jump to assume that this further aggravated what followed.

The mother of all ShitStorms

There wasn’t one event that sparked the biggest one of all, but rather a lot of small things coincided to prepare the ground for a lot of lulz at /r/anarchism’s expense all over reddit. I’ll try to present them as accurately and objectively  as I can.

One vital catalyst to the whole issue, was the implementation of the suggestion to make our spam filter public (which includes the deleted posts). I eventually hacked around borrowed code and made our mod actions transparent.

At around the same time, littlepinklies, posted in /r/mensrights to show her support, which drew a lot of visitors from that subreddit, which didn’t go unnoticed by anarchists and happened to coincide with this post by keteht, which sparked a lot of discussion on the actions of the mods in the main reddit and due to the MRA crowd being there, the discussion was skewed heavily towards unmoderation. Further aggravating the issue was the attempted privcheck from keteht which drew a hostile reaction from QC and another call-out for them in /r/metanarchism. Keteht requested to be allowed to see what was being said about his family, but was refused entry by enkiam (eventually overriden by others mods).

Because of the post by keteht which was surprisingly active for /r/anarchism’s standards, a new post was raised calling for a  “referendum”. Unfortunately, it was formed in entirely the wrong way1. This post was quickly followed by two crossposts in /r/mensrights, the biggest of which was this.

These actions made the moderator enkiam believe that there was an organized reactionary attempt and he made the unfortunate decision to delete the referendum post, as well as the satelite metathreads that spawned around it. However, due to the newly implemented transparency of the spam filter, these actions were now painfully visible and reddit at large picked up on that, and descended on /r/anarchism to call everyone a hypocrite. The referendum post is upvoted to the stratosphere and any opposing comment, especially from radical feminists and mods is quickly downvoted to oblivion.

The cross-posts from reddit at large come in rapid succession. We’re linked from /r/funny, /r/bestof, /r/reddit.com and others, which are some of the most populated places, quickly overwhelming the actual anarchists the frequent /r/anarchism. At the end of the day, /r/anarchism achieves 10 times the number of normal unique visitors, primarily at the referendum post and the next day 5 times as many.

The external visitors heavily upvote the referendum and this is then used as stepping stone from other regulars to ask how a complete unmoderation might happen. Others point how the results is not an accurate repressentation of /r/anarchism’s crowd given how many people arrived from outside and what kind of people they are.

A lot of mods are harassed to step down while this goes on, while a few others leave in disgust or despair when they notice the actions of enkiam. defectedyouth in particular, re-approves the referendum and other mods quickly approve the rest. Reaction against enkiam reaches a fever pitch which eventually makes him declare his resolution. Dbzer0 in the end, requests that he step down which further draws the ire of QC and the /r/anarchocommunism crowd, which declare this an act of cowardice and treason. Other mods voice their their agreement for enkiam stepping down.

Enkiam in the end is gone, as the visitors start dispersing, and so the anarchists voices can once again be heard. For example, a gloating thread for enkiam’s departure is quickly posted but doesn’t draw nearly as much support as one would expect and the OP is quickly reminded that gloating is not at all appropriate in this situation.

As the dust settles, the mods who are left take an unofficial stance to wait and see what the actual community wants, before taking anything more than a janitorial action. A lot of valuable regulars have already left, griffjam, voltairine, zhouligong, ptimb and others, while many who remain become more inactive or take a break. A lot are worrying about how much the reactionary elements will stick around and continue pushing for anti-feminist agendas and how that will affect a community that is split between trying to be inclusive and trying to retain its libertarian character.

  1. In reddit, when one wants to call a vote, they shoudn’t ask people to upvote the topic itself as a form of vote. Doing it this way means that a lot of quick downvotes will hide the topic altogether, stopping the discussion, while a lot of people upvote such topics just to preserve the discussion []

I Survived /r/anarchism's ShitStorm of 2010 and I Didn't Even Get a Lousy T-Shirt.

the calm before the shit storm.
Image by dearsomeone via Flickr

Anyone looking in on the subreddit of anarchism, would think that all-out-war is breaking out. Call-outs from people against the mods and call-out from mods against each other. Reactionary downvote brigades and sarcastic trolls. Posts about rules and posts against rules. And all the sideline, statists, Men’s Rights Activists and (right-)libertarians having the schadenfreude of their life.

Obviously anarchism can’t work right?

Well yes it can, but before we go into that, let me present the history of these events in as much an objective way I can (I will try to put in some links later).

The origins.

Until one point, we had the unwritten policy of simply modding anyone who is a contributing member of the community. This had been setup by one of the early mods, joeldavis, and it was an interesting alternative to the classic oligarchical mod structures of most other subreddits. It wasn’t perfect but it was good. At this point, there was a general agreement that mod’s only rule was to prevent the spam filter from catching legitimate posts and to check each other’s power.

The Failsafe mod

Given the way that moderation was implemented, any mod could de-mod any other mod, which presented the threat that a malicious person might masquerade themselves as a contributing member long enough to get modded up, and then quickly de-mod everyone else and destroy the reddit. To avoid this, we decided to elect a failsafe moderator who would be the owner of the subreddit and could not be demodded in this way. The candidate was chosen to be Veganbikepunk, the original creator of the subreddit.

Then reddit changed the code so that latter mods could not de-mod their seniors. This made things safer but ultimately more hierarchical unfortunately. This is isn’t so much related but a reason to understand why things progressed the way they did.

Showing our feminist colours.

I don’t remember exactly how it started, but at one point we started modifying the header icon of the reddit to point out our solidarity with other movements, such as radical feminism or queer anarchism. This was opposed by very few mods (particularly a few who were leaning more towards the propertarian values) and quite a few subscribers of the subreddit. Discussions heated up on this issue but most of the regulars agreed that pointing out this solidarity is important.

Unwelcome elements

A few misogynistic and white-supremacy  advocates started appearing in the reddit and posting, well, misogynistic and white-supremacy shit. Many correlated this to the recent change of the header icon, particularly since many of those elements were posting especially against this change. As one mod put it (paraphrase), “feminism made the reactionaries come out of the woodwork.”

This led to outrage from many members of the reddit, who felt that this community should not tolerate such speech which was reinforcing oppression of marginalized classes. This was usually called the “No Platform” position. Many of the old school mods (including myself) suggested that the organic moderation of the community via voting on the comments and their posts was enough to counter such elements and no further action was needed.

Others posted that the organic moderation was subverted via external reactionary brigades1 and thus, stronger action was required to combat this phenomena and preserve /r/anarchism as an anarchist community.

The Banhammer falls.

As this dicussion was raging, a mod called bmoseley07 (who has since deleted his account) went ahead and banned one of the most egregious scum. A person called Zamato Elite. This is pretty much the point where all shit hit the fan. The ban was quickly reversed by other mods, only to be redone and undone again and again.

The mod discussion pretty much exploded, and two sides quickly formed an polarized in the debate. On one side was the argument that banning is not inherently authoritarian when it combats oppressive actions and speech and that /r/anarchism should be a safe space for oppressed classes. The other side was arguing that free speech is not inherently oppressive, and especially not when it can be countered with other means such as downvoting, and that the problem with those reactionary elements is transient and they will leave discouraged when their comments are consistently downvoted.

Disclaimer: I was on the latter group. At that point, I didn’t believe that the issue was as big as it was made out to be, and certainly not requiring a banhammer.

Things went pretty much downhill from here. Quickly other people were nominated for banning and some did it with very little input from others, further aggravating the other side, who then undid any changes. Insults from both sides were common with one side being labeled “vanguardists” and other being the “manarchists”. Meta discussions on mod abuses raged and many people started posting articles explain why moderation is not inherently authoritarian.

It’s important to note that while this was happening, no mod actually de-modded another one who opposed them. Many people who look in from the outside, think that this actually happened, but this is not true. Even the most radical elements of each camp avoided this.

Guidelining

As things seemed to be devolving into an all out mod-edit-wars, a few people tried to come up with some common ground solutions. The first such attempt was QueerCoup’s Banning Procedure, which was a draft that was continuously updated with input from the community. It didn’t treat banning as taboo, but it also stipulated that it must be the last course of action after all other options have been exhausted. It also required a lot of agreement from the mods and gave a chance to people being targeted to avoid it.

Unfortunately, since many still felt that banning was bad in all cases, this procedure didn’t gain much traction. Some opposed it out of principle. The mod wars continued.

Seeing this, dbzer0 (that is me, in case you forgot) drafted a different policy which basically took the events that were already happening and used them as a basis for a policy. This would allow people who could compromise just a little to work with each other in a more organic way and make mod actions resemble a more direct action.This was met with more support and with the unsaid consent of most mods, since hey, this policy just allowed them to do what they were doing anyway.

Speaking for myself, I had started to accept than banning might be acceptable in some circumstances, in order to preserve the inclusive space of /r/anarchism. I was still very much for free speech and (perma)banning only as a last resort, and against making /r/anarchism a safe space (i.e. a place where no opposing views are requested).

The Purge

As dbzer0’s guidelines started to get traction, the unthinkable happened. Someone de-modded everyone (we had upwards of 50 mods at that point), including themselves, and left veganbikepunk as the only moderator of /r/anarchism. This was quickly identified to be the user idonthack who used to be the most senior after VBP. idonthack was a vocal proponent of the no-banning policies and I assume he did it because the accepted rules seemed to be moving in the opposite direction. He never did account for himself on this (quite authoritarian) act, so I can’t really say much more about that.

This was since known as the Great Mod Purge of 2010. It frustrated both sides, including the only mod left, VBP, who quickly found himself to be the centre of attention.

At this point, I used this release from my “duties” to take a break from the drama in /r/anarchism and go do something relaxing. As such, my knowledge of the events following this, until the last week are a bit sketchy, so If I’m getting something wrong, please correct me.

The Bro-Trolls come, a Monarch Falls.

Even though VBP had stated that he was not going to take any action until a community decision on moderation was reached, he was the de-facto monarch of the sub. He also quickly banned two of the most egregious scum, Zamato Elite and Godspiral.

Around this time, a new reddit was created, pretty much by the pro-ban group of /r/anarchism. This was /r/anarchocommunism and from what I know, it was used as a launch group for a coordinated trolling assault on /r/anarchism. It wasn’t created for this reason, but this happened because of VBP “fatal” mistake.

He banned longtime.

Longtime was one of the most outspoken radical feminists of /r/anarchism. She routinely called out the casual sexism of many members and was particularly fond of using irony and sarcasm as weapons and turning the words of people against them. This had the effect of making her both receive a lot of flak by the people she assaulted in this way, and to also make her a sort of an icon for people fighting against accepted sexism in /r/anarchism. A favourite tactic of longtime was to write a comment in ALL CAPS and exaggerating the sexism or derailment in the comment she was replying to and thus shaming them into submission (imho good) or angering them enough to lash out (imho bad). This will become important in a sec.

After the mod purge, the efforts of the radical feminists were effectively countered. They could no do anything else except use the voting mechanism of reddit and their comments. For longtime, this further drove her to intensify her campaign of ALL CAPS (at this point she was making practically only ALL CAPS comments) as it was one of the few weapons left to their side, until more mods were added.

Unfortunately, VBP who had never been the most active redditor, was not aware of longtime’s style, so he saw one such ironically sexist comment and did a knee-jerk reaction, banning longtime. He was quickly explained the situation and reversed the ban within one hour, but the damage was already done. Longtime left in disgust and soon after deleted her account. This was the catalyst for the Bro-Troll brigade.

The Bro-Trolls were ironic names of historical male anarchists, where part of their name was replaced by “Bro” (“Bropotkin”, “Brahkunin” and so on) , thus signifying the “manarchism” in the politics of /r/anarchism. These people, apart from continuing in the proud tradition of longtime’s ALL CAP sarcastic sexism, started a systematic campaign against VBP. Unfortunately VBP reaction badly to it, quickly making some comments that were uncalled for (such as calling a member of the forum by their real name) and getting defensive.

While this was happening, QueerCoup  started drafting a modding policy, so we can get more mods on the reddit again and then start building the policies of the subreddit. Many others were at the same time requesting that no mods would be added and that we go completely unmoderated, but the rampart sexism that was rising up on the sub convinced many of us that such an option would be unacceptable for an inclusive space.

It was at this point that I started becoming more active again in the sub.

After about a week of harassment, and as the campaign against VBP escalated, he was asked to step down and so he did, leaving skobrin in his place. Frustratingly for many, skobrin wasn’t really active at that time so no further action was taken in the next few days, until he came back and modded dbzer0 and griffjam, who were some of the most supported mods in the new modding suggestions thread.

The meta is diverted.

As you can imagine, the meta discussions in the reddit were intense and drowning all other submissions. As my first act as a mod, I decided to try and work with this by creating a dedicated area for meta discussion which would both facilitate more of it and allow the main reddit to concentrate on actual posts and news about anarchism. This was not a mandatory move however, so anyone who wished could still post their meta topics in the main sub. Many people did find the idea good enough and started using it voluntarily.

At the start, /r/metanarchism was set to restricted mode, which meant that anyone could see, vote and comment on articles, but only the approved members could submit new ones. Soon however, the Bro-Trolls (which had reduced their posting by then) along with a few new accounts started trolling this area as well, so in an attempt to maintain discussion, I switched the security to private, which meant that one approved members could see it. Of course, since it is very easy to be approved, I didn’t consider this an issue, but apparently some did.

The same afternoon, QueerCoup denounced this action and the subreddit and called dbzer0, skobrin and VBP out for de-modding. And this pretty much started the second round of shit-flinging.

Everybody points and laughs

dbzer0, skobring and VBP are called out by QueerCoup, QueerCoup and enkiam is called out by hummanerror and anarchoal, chromalux and reqem is called out by VBP, the classic reactionaries from MRA and whatnot are called out by QueerCoup. Mod and ban guidelines are challenged. And as if on queue, everyone else chimes in to informs us how this is proof that anarchism can’t work,

At this moment, the debate is still raging but at a less intense level. QueerCoup and myself have achieved more cooperative attitude (I’d like to think). We seem to be cautiously moving towards an commonly accepted modding policy that will be very similar to my “Direct Action” proposal. We’ve had a vote and a compromise and those seem to have been well received.

Most of the current drama revolves around QueerCoup being a mod after his position was blocked by other members of the reddit. There’s also some bad blood between the regulars of the subreddit which will take a long time to heal (if ever). The also the issue of the visibility of /r/metanarchism. Mods, as of now, are treading very carefully to avoid being seen as abusing their power or supporting sexism and I’m fairly certain that we will soon reach an understanding and a new balance. Of course, I could be wrong, and things will explode yet again in a third round of drama. Time will tell.

So now you know what’s been going on. I hope I gave you a perspective that shows how the drama is not at all illegitimate and that this is a discussion that needs to happen to allow the subreddit to grow beyond the casual sexism that permeates reddit as a whole. In a future post, I will expand more on why dissent is not necessarily a sign of an unhealthy community.

  1. We do have proof that white-supremacy groups like stormfront have had organized plans to make their position heard, by collectively voting on their positions. People from other subreddits such as /r/mensrights also often request help from their group when they are downvoted and confronted []

My gawd, the man is truly an idiot of heroic magnitude

Disclaimer: Skip this post if you don’t care about internet drama.

TBB responded in the most telling way possible and which should give you a clear idea of the kind of reaction you can expect from him when he doesn’t like your arguments. He will not respond, he will not argue. He will declare your reasoning “sloppy”, Make up some imaginary reason he thinks you respond this way he can use as excuse to not argue and declare you a liar, intellectually dishonest, slanderous, fucktard1, and a host of other things.

Hey Larry, should I call the Waaaahbulance now? If you don’t like people criticizing your ridiculous arguments for the piece of bullshit they are, because you keep talking out of your arse without bothering to even read of goddamn book except Mao’s mental farts, then you know, close down your blog again. You seem to have adequate experience on how to do that at least.

Or, you know, don’t. You give me ample stuff to write about and I can counter easily your claims that

Anarchism — at least db0’s version of it — is just incoherent sputtering bullshit, without even a valid critique of capitalism, much less any kind of realistic vision for a better society.

as anyone can see by reading a small sample of my articles here.  I simply do it while  poking your thin skin and watching you squirm and whine on your blog since you’re too much of a coward to interact with the internet at large and can’t take criticism, even well-meaning or polite criticism, without calling people idiots.

So yeah, I’m going to keep calling you the “fucktard” that you are since that’s what you requested more than often enough. You’re comedy gold mate and you’re fast becoming the clown of internet discourse everywhere, even among groups you belong in, such as Atheists and Socialists. You’re the one we can point an say “You see TBB? Yeah, if you want to make a blog, don’t be anything like him”

I hope you continue “not to mind” Larry, and do enjoy all the hits I’m sending your way. You’ve earned them and you continue to earn them by giving me arguments which I can counter and make a stronger case for anarchism rather than the statist bullshit you propose without having a clue about history or reality.

Oh, and lulz about me “calling Orwell a Totalitarian”. Please continue to point out how you lack even basic reading comprehension.

/endlulz

  1. all actual names he’s called me and others who tried to leave a comment there []

The Barefoot Bum strikes back and the ethics of blogging.

8 12 09 Bearman Cartoon Freedom of Speech
Image by Bearman2007 via Flickr

…Sort of. In response to my internet drama post about banning me from his blog and my thoughts about it and his past actions he’s come out to clarify his position and why nobody deserves to call him an enemy of free speech or whatever. Of course that would actually be a valid defense if I had claimed that he was an enemy of free speech and open debate. Which, you know, I haven’t.

The Barefoot Bum thus, unwittingly, provides us with a perfect example to talk about blogger ethics and go further on why his actions were objectionable.1

He claims that he has no obligation to publish comments or be as nice to commentators and thus implies that shouldn’t be criticized for not doing that. He also claims that he doesn’t object to others criticizing them at their own locations…within a blogpost whining about me criticizing him at my own blog. The Irony is delicious once more.

But what he has failed to grasp is that I’m not criticizing him for being a hypocrite or an enemy of free speech. I’m criticizing him for being an arrogant elitist, for being a dick to people who don’t deserve it and for being hypocritical about being a “a honest seeker of truth” when he dismisses arguments which do not fit into his preconceptions.

His comment policy fits nicely into this picture since it’s a policy which works quite different from the examples he mentions about “no comments”, “no replies from the office”, and “open to all but trolls”. Putting aside the fact that any and all those comment policies can and should be discussed and criticized just as well, his own policy of “comments are heavily moderated and discouraged” is very vague on its guidelines and judging from the examples of what he ends up banning can thus be condemned for the thin excuse for intolerance of different opinions it is. Just because it’s his  policy in his own blog does not allow him to escape this, and this is precisely what I did.

One might ask, as he proceeds to do, why didn’t I do this before? Why I didn’t criticize his comment practices (or his Maoist tendencies) before this drama occurred. The answer is quite simply because I used to consider him an online friend at some point in the past and thus was trying to tactfully point out the errors of his positions without putting it bluntly and thus forcing him on the defensive which would have simply ended up with us speaking past each other. This is only common (n)etiquette between friends and acquaintances really as you’re trying to change the other’s position without breaking up all relations in the meantime. My attempts were especially cautious furthermore as I knew firsthand his intolerance and thus slow. But it was there, in the various counter-arguments I made in his comments and in this blog as well.

Of course, what ended up happening is that the more clearly I started opposing his position, the more annoyed he became at me and the more cold and stressed our interactions became. Still I kept hope that he would be willing to listen to opposing opinions  from someone who’s opinion he used to respect and thus I decided not to come out and condemn him openly until he took the first step to force my hand as I expected him to do, and as he proceeded to do. Instead of thinking why someone he used to read and agree with started arguing against his positions, he took the easier solution to consider that I must have somehow become stupid in the meantime and therefore not worth listening to.

In fact, this etiquette is what Larry seems to be severely lacking and something that he also deserves to be condemned for just as well. His reaction to people who express a different opinion is horrendous. He will accuse them of stupidity or “fucktardery” (to use his own words) at the drop of a hat and thus only manages to discourage and avoid dialogue. Is it no wonder why I consider such knee-jerk reactions counter-productive and do not follow them? And this is precisely the reason I now openly take the time and condemn Larry’s intolerant behavior. Because I wish to discourage it.

I don’t have any illusions that Larry will learn from this of course but he does serve as a great example of how not to act if you’re really looking for truth. Shutting down dialogue, especially when the other side is not being deliberately trollish or aggressive, is not in your interests as a freethinker. Larry may be too far gone with far too thin a skin to save but hopefully the rest of you aren’t.

For closing I am going to address Larry’s contention that he’s not a Maoist because he’s not explicitly said so. A claim so ridiculous on its face that I shouldn’t have to address anyway but I’ll do this just in case one can’t see it. Very much like Socialism or most other political theories do not apply via self-description, so does the opposite hold true as well: The lack of a self-described label does not automatically exclude one from the theory. Larry makes the fallacious reasoning that people are not a “Hitlerites” either simply for being vegetarians nonsmokers, missing the point that those factors do not a Nazi make. However someone who was intolerant to non-Aryan races and homosexuals and also an anti-semite would probably strongly point to Nazi-tendencies. Similarly, the Barefoot Bum’s promotion of governmental communism, his support and apologetics for various Maoist policies, his fawning over Bob Avakian and the RPCUSA and finally his intolerance for opposing opinion in a true Marxist-Leninist fashion, do point out that strong Maoist-tendencies certainly exist in his political orientation, even though he has not explicitly endorsed the whole theory.

If it walks like a duck and it looks like a duck but it hasn’t actually quacked yet to confirm it, you are still warranted to have a very strong suspicion that it is, in fact, a duck.

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  1. Really, It’s not worth wasting any more bytes explaining how he didn’t understand why I was annoyed at him. My post is quite clear on this even though Larry picked the parts which were the easiest to misrepresent and proceeded to do so. []

The Barefoot Bum is just not interested

And for your daily dose of internet drama…

I’ve been waiting for this to happen for a while and finally now, after the Barefoot Bum re-re-re-…-re-opened his blog I’ve finally been banned from commenting on it in no uncertain terms. He’s “just not interested” in what I have to say. This is after I simply pointed out that his speculations on the historical rise of capitalism are off-base as he misrepresents a lot of historical factors such as subsistence farming or the causation for wage-labour and thus may/will reach the wrong conclusions.

I was implicitly threatened with a ban if I did not “provide evidence” to counter his lack of evidence and then my subsequent comments providing some sources and explaining in direct terms that he cannot assert something and then demand evidence to disprove it, were deleted (or left unapproved more likely). Shortly after, I was informed via email that my input was not appreciated.

And this pissed me off.

Why did the random email from some random blogger piss me off? Because for good or bad I’ve had a friendly history with this particular blogger and in my dismay I’ve watched him descent more and more into intolerance and elitism as time went on. I’ve seen him ban friends, foes or simply well-meaning people for uttering words of criticism with the laughable excuse that they’re not “a honest seeker of truth”. I’ve seen him deliberately crap on my efforts to help him and did not even get as much back as a consistent apology (only some half-arsed mumblings about “Technical issues”). Back then I did not express publicly my annoyance at the way he treated me as I was willing to give him the benefit of a doubt on behalf of our friendly history, but enough is enough.

The Barefoot Bum has become the example of a blogger you want to avoid.

And it’s sad, you know? He was the type of blogger that I enjoyed linking people to and asking for his input for my own ideas. He has the type of sharp thinking that can accurately criticize socioeconomic issues such as the capitalist mode of production and reach some interesting and digestible conclusions. But his growing intolerance to simply being wrong is just off the fucking scale. Oh he’s just wonderful when he’s arguing against theism where he knows he’s right. I’ve seen him accept the most rampart hostility from theists with a chuckle, but don’t you dare challenge his nascent political beliefs and especially don’t you dare challenge them from a socialist perspective. Or he’ll shut down his blog!..Again.

Did I mention I’m pissed? Just in case you forgot.

For someone who prides in his “honest search for truth”, TBB is ridiculously closed to listening to constructive criticism or facts which go against his ideology. And don’t you dare do so in his blog without evidence he’ll agree on. His comments are just for praises after all. And you have something critical to say, you’d better post it where he can safely ignore it (i.e. your own blog) and continue as if no objections have been made to his errors and distortions.

And you know what the funny thing is? This change of character happens to correlate very nicely with his turn towards Maoism of all things! It’s like a perfect example of how flawed ideologies lead to flawed results, not only in practice but apparently in character as well. The more he started getting turning towards authoritarianism and “glorious leadership” as valid sociopolitical concepts, the more his own character started representing the nasty effects these concepts breed. It’s like a practical example of how character corrupting these ideologies are.

In any case, there’s nothing left to salvage here. This bridge is well and truly burnt and not worth rebuilding without some big changes. I do hope to be proven wrong and see Larry rethink his position and actually start hunting for truth with an open mind once more, but I don’t bet on it at this point. It is also probably time to also unsubscribe from his blog as there’s no point in reading analysis starting from flawed premises from an author who stubbornly refuses to consider this possibility.

Goodbye Barefoot Bum. I’m certain you’ll sleep better with the knowledge that your ban earned you a prominent place along with Objectivists and liars. I wash my hands of you.

UPDATE: Hey look, he’s just noticed this post and his response was his usual arrogant bullshit avoiding any substance. No, much easier to call me unintelligent and declare I’m not worth arguing with. I guess only stupid people can possibly disagree with the Barefoot Bum since everyone who does is labelled as such. As for Maoism, well, read his latest posts and make your own conclusions.

I wonder who's the clueless American after all…

Ready for some Intarwebs drama? The irony is delicious!

So as I was reading the articles of the latest Carnival of the Godless, I happened upon a particular one from the Socratic Gadfly which was making fun of the U.S. Americans of a recent poll, that were claiming Atheism and prayer at the same time. Now that’s all well and good as I’m all for making fun of inanity like that. However there was one comment that I saw that I felt I should respond to:

Hey, idiots. If you believe something, you can’t agnostic about it!

I decided to leave a simple comment, that this was incorrect and one could very well be an agnostic and a theist; Namely a theistic agnostic. I innocently assumed that my comment would help the Gadfly realize that he did a mistake and perhaps avoid embarassing himself in the future by calling people idiots, when in fact they are not (not talking about the “praying atheists” here of course).

For those not very familiar with the word [1. and who can’t be bollocksed to read the article I linked from it], the word “Agnostic” is greek and literally means “without knowledge”. As a result, one can be agnostic about a great many things, including deities. Indeed, there are various ways someone can be agnostic about Theism. A Theistic Agnostic specifically is both a theist and an agnostic and the definition is that he does not have knowledge about the nature of god(s) but believes he/she/they exist. Hell, one can even be a Christian Agnostic! It does not matter that he falls under the subgroup of theism, as the Gadfly insisted, they also fall under the subgroup of agnostics. So yes, you can very well believe in something and still be agnostic.

Anyway, I was not prepared that the Gadgly would stick to his guns and attempt to argue the point and I was wholly unprepared when not only was I told that I do not understand the meaning of the word, not only was I told that I am trolling but I was even called a theist!
Now, one would assume that before someone makes such a claim against someone, they would at the least have attempted to have a cursory look at the other’s profile before making themselves look like an even bigger ignoramus than they already are.

But alas, for the Gadfly the fact that I was supporting this definition of agnosticism was enough of a proof to jump to the conclusion that I must be a thest. The fact that I even had the gall to argue my point was further “proof” that I must be a troll, which only shows that further than agnosticism, the Gadfly does not even know what a “Troll” is. It is a tasty irony that someone who is complaining about cluelessness would himself prove how (shamelessly) clueless he is.

The cherry on the top? It seems that the only thing smaller than his knowledge is his temper. And thus we get to enjoy the Socratic Gadfly having a hissy fit.

Look, here in Dallas, I had a college philosophy professor claim to be an atheist, then talk about praying in the same breath.

I didn’t put up with his bullshit, and I’m not putting up with yours either.

Second, you’re lying, to me and to yourself, when you claim you don’t want to argue about this. You do.

Third, if I clearly presented your metaphysical self-definition to 100 people on the street, 99 would call you a theist.

Your Wiki link? It’s agnostic THEISM, you troll. It supports ME, not you.

Finally, it’s my blog, and I get the last word. Capiche?

If you don’t understand that, understand this: I just banned your IP, as you’ve gone past the edge of being a theist troll.

Well, unfortunately for you Gadfly, you may be able to ban me from your blog (I must really start keeping track of this) but you cannot ban me from speaking or pointing out how wrong you are, or how foolish you look.So I see your “Capiche” and raise you a “Nyah Nyah”! 😛

This was, however, unfortunate in a way. Not because I was banned when I wasn’t even trying to be offensive but because the Gadfly is such a prolific poster that it’s certain various people open to irreligion might stumble upon him and be horribly misguided by his ignorance. That, and he is just another excuse that not all Atheists are very bright or tolerant, but of course the Objectivists already help with that anyway.

UPDATE: Just to let people seeing this know that I’m currently continuing this debate with Socratic Gadly via email where he seems much more amiable. Perhaps it’s the public thing. In any case the basic issue we have at the moment is a definition one.

Namely he believes that Agnosticism equals “Agnostic Atheism” while I assert that it’s more open than that (as per Austin’s comment)