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. []

51 thoughts on “The Barefoot Bum strikes back and the ethics of blogging.

  1. Yeah, I've noticed that about TBB too. I remember a year or so ago, he didn't like a post that Greta Christina had written. So, what does he do? He puts up a post titled "I Don't Respect Greta Christina Anymore." What a whiny shit. He gave similar treatment to a couple of other atheist bloggers, Chris Hallquist and ER. For a while, I contemplated writing a post titled "Who Gives A Shit What The Barefoot Bum Thinks Anymore?"

  2. There's not much more I can say other than "agreed". I'm glad you're not backing down on your criticism, db0. 🙂

  3. Here's another lie:

    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.

    Again, you fail to reproduce the entire argument:

    That I might have some positions in common with Mao doesn't make me a Maoist any more than vegetarian, teatotalling nonsmokers are Hitlerists.

    This is not a fallacy, this is just a statement expressing the fallacy of hasty generalization. And I don't even accuse you of making this fallacy: it's merely a demand for substantiation, a demand that is not fulfilled by the vague unsubstantiated assertion that I support and "apologize for" various Maoist policies.

    Uncharitable and selective paraphrasing, slander by false and unsubstantiated pejorative labeling: you are descending to a Christian creationist level of rhetoric, mendacity and stupidity.

    You are engaging in selective qu

    1. Again, I was talking about Maoist-tendencies, something which you seem to be persistently avoiding. You may not be a full-fledged Maoist but you certainly have a lot of views in common much like someone who would support Anti-Semitism and Aryan Imperialism would have a lot in common with Nazis even if they were not anti-homosexual and anti-gipsy as well.

      You're grasping at straws to claim once more that I'm an idiot. This is the lazy way out.

      1. I was talking about Maoist-tendencies, something which you seem to be persistently avoiding.

        In what sense does an explicit and direct request to enumerate and substantiate these Maoist tendencies constitute "avoidance"? Also, since you explicitly and repeatedly make the analogy to prima facie morally objectionable Nazi views of Nazis, what specific prima facie morally objectionable "Maoist" tendencies do you accuse me of having?

        1. No, I will not get into this. I have no more interest in going through your blog and finding all such examples. I have far better things to do. If you want to consider this as proof of lack of proof then be my guest. Your opinion of me won't get much lower anyway so I don't care. Those who are interested can make their own conclusions.

          1. Let me get this straight: unsubstantiated insults — insults you refuse to substantiate — are fine for you, but my own substantiated insults constitute jumping to conclusions and intolerance of opposing opinion?

            Just trying to understand, here. </sarcasm>

  4. I'm not a Maoist, and I object because the label is simply false.

    But also the use of "Maoist" as a pejorative is stupid. Even self-identified Maoists do not support or apologize for Mao's sometimes catastrophic errors and morally objectionable positions. No present-day Maoist supports famine or of taking action that has even a small chance of causing famine or other material catastrophe. And even the RCP disagrees unequivocally with Mao's violent suppression of dissenting opinion in Revolutionary China.

    I'm pretty much done with this Monty Pythonesque People's Front of Judea bullshit. I tried to handle our disagreement person to person, like civilized people, without descending to a public fight, much less insult, lies and slander.

    My mistake.

    1. There you go again, writing the same argument again and again. I've answered all these points above so I won't bother writing the same things once more.

      No, you didn't try to handle any disagreements person-to-person like civilized people. You've never done that. Never. Not when you suddenly screwed my efforts to help you and publicly put them down, nor when you had a disagreement with my articles countering yours (you simply ignored even mentioning me), nor when you finally had enough of me and wanted to break contact. You didn't handle anything. You run away from your problems. You continuously shutting down your blog is the perfect example of this behaviour.

      So do the same again. You're either incapable of recognising what you do or a liar. Go on prove me right once more.

      1. No, you didn't try to handle any disagreements person-to-person like civilized people. You've never done that.

        That's a lie. When I rejected your comments, I sent you an email. Person to person. Like a civilized person.

        Not when you suddenly screwed my efforts to help you and publicly put them down.

        Are you still hung up about that? Good grief, man, get over yourself. I praised your efforts; all I said was that the experiment in self-hosting didn't work for me. What the fuck do you want?

        you had a disagreement with my articles countering yours (you simply ignored even mentioning me)

        What the fuck are you talking about I've mentioned you several times, both in agreement and disagreement. Are you mad because I happened to write about a general topic that you also happened to write on, and that I don't follow your blog obsessively and check in every time I write?

        And *I* have a thin skin?

        You didn't handle anything. You run away from your problems. You continuously shutting down your blog is the perfect example of this behaviour.

        Thanks for the psychoanalysis, but I'm happy with my regular psychiatrist.

        1. That's a lie. When I rejected your comments, I sent you an email. Person to person. Like a civilized person.

          You didn't try to handle the disagreement. You told me to fuck off…politely.

          All the rest of the examples I'm talking about are simply examples of your lacking of "handling". I'll leave anyone reading to make sense of your hand-waving.

          1. You didn't try to handle the disagreement. You told me to fuck off…politely.

            I'm not obligated to "handle" the disagreement in any other way. You have no right to my attention and engagement.

            Civilized people, when they're politely told to fuck off of a place they're not entitled to be, politely fuck off. Spoiled children piss and moan and act like the world owes them its gratitude and admiration for simply existing.

          2. I'm not obligated to "handle" the disagreement in any other way. You have no right to my attention and engagement.

            And I'm not obligated to see your "handling" as anything more than running away.

            Civilized people, when they're politely told to fuck off of a place they're not entitled to be, politely fuck off. Spoiled children piss and moan and act like the world owes them its gratitude and admiration for simply existing.

            You seem to have a lot of experience with spoiled brats and I'm starting to have the impression that it's because you are one. A very privileged spoiled brat who doesn't think social norms apply to it. And no, civilized people may politely fuck off from where they don't belong but that doesn't stop them from condemning said place or the reason they've been told to fuck off politely.

  5. I did substantiate my position as much as I felt I had to. You simply latch onto my dislike of having to go trawling through your blog for specific arguments as an "unsubstantiated insult" for a point which is not nearly as important as the core of my posts, as an excuse for silly sarcasm.

    Well, you know, whatever makes you happy.

  6. I'm done here. I honestly don't care what you or anyone else thinks of me, I'm unconcerned that I've hurt your feelings or anyone else's, and I'm very happy the way I am. I'm simply not interested in your petty vindictiveness (barely) masquerading as "concern". It's unfortunate (but not entirely surprising) that you've descended to lying and slander to wreak your petty revenge, but your hardly the first person to do so, and I'm still standing.

    Please: do me the favor of doing what I originally asked in the email: Let's go our *separate* ways.

    1. Doors. Asses. Ways out. You know the drill. And take your misunderstanding and lies with you. I've already said what I felt needed to be said about you. Hopefully this will help others to know how to treat you.

  7. I don't need to back up shutting down your blog. It's my blog, I can do with it what I please. I'm not answerable to you or anyone else.

    Ergo. Thin skin.

    Um, yes: substantively misrepresenting another's actual words is lying. And if you're going to accuse me of lying, you are free to provide substantiation.

    And yet, I have no substantially misrepresented you. Those people who you've misrepresented had already in their own time argued why you're wrong until they gave up in frustration. I won't rehash everything again.

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