When posting on hot button issues, one anticipates drawing some nutjobs out of the digital woodwork. It’s inevitable. Many have no other human contact, and necessarily seek contact any way they can. But these are usually the “enemy”, the ones who troll the blawgosphere looking to start a fight. They relish the havoc they cause, the closest thing to love they experience.
But what of friends? These are the people with whom one’s sympathies lie. They support the same causes, see things the same way and want to enthusiastically scream “me too,” and more. The problem is that they can be just as troublesome as the enemies when they don’t recognize the limits of propriety, but they can be harder to get rid of. Like the guest who overstays his welcome, they can’t stop and they won’t go away.
When I posted about the Innocence Project of Florida, and its misbegotten email seeking support from the blawgosphere to garner support to stay the Wayne Tompkins execution a mere 6 hours before the execution was to take place, it was like catnip. Out came the opposition to the death penalty, supporters of the Innocence Project of Florida and self-righteous one-trick ponies who saw this as their opportunity to jump on the soapbox and scream.
A couple of comments were posted, with monumental deletions, in the beginning. When I realized that this perceived invitation could get out of hand, I just deleted further comments altogether. Then the emails started, the arguments, the accusations, the challenges. As the self-righteous are often wont to do, they demanded their right to post their screeds, at length, with links (to themselves and their one-trick pony friends).
It starts with the belief that a shared opposition to the death penalty and generic injustice means that they have found an outlet for their views on a stage far larger than they would ever have on their own. There are literally thousands of little websites and blogs announcing personalized incidents of injustice, often providing ad naseum details of every blow landed on the innocent. No doubt some are true, though many reflect perceived wrongs which evaporate under scrutiny. Regardless, the chance to get their issue spread across a broader stage was too much to bear. And so they swarmed.
When I get the occasional swarm of nutjobs who lash out in favor of killing people, or in support of police misconduct, it’s fairly easy to laugh at a few and cut off the rest. I have no misgivings about it. But it’s harder to do so with people who appear to have a sincere belief in what I consider the right causes, but just lack the self-control and sensibility to conduct themselves properly.
In the past week, Orin Kerr added to 2 new rules to the ever-expanding Volokh list.
General Guide to Blogging, #127: In a moderated comment thread, there is a 50% chance that any commenter who is given a warning for being uncivil will argue that they were not uncivil, demand an explanation of what exactly they did that was deemed uncivil, and seek an explanation of why others have not been warned when they did more or less the same thing.
General Guide To Blogging, #128: In a moderated comment thread, there is a 50% chance that a commenter who had an uncivil comment deleted will accuse the moderator of censorship and question the moderator’s commitment to free speech. (Because if the First Amendment means anything, it’s the right to do what you want with someone else’s private property without the property owner being able to clean up your mess.)
Ain’t it the truth. I try to be fairly equal-handed in my approach. I shut down friends as well as people I don’t know. I shut down people who agree with me as well as people who think I’m a moron. But even when I fall short of my efforts at fairness, I still retain total control over what appears here and what doesn’t. My “enemies” don’t like it. My “friends” absolutely hate it. Of the two, the friends find it far harder to comprehend, and tend to be far more aggressive and nastier about it. The reason seems obvious: I’m supposed to be on their side, so how dare I not show them unconditional love?
So for the sake of clarity, let’s review some basic concepts of life at Simple Justice. No, you cannot post a comment attacking every case with which you have a problem. No, you cannot ignore the post to which your comment is attached and use it as a jumping off point for your personal agenda, no matter how righteous you think you are. No, you cannot use a comment to attack every judge, prosecutor or other official you believe has wronged you, your loved one or someone you know absolutely nothing about. No, you cannot post links in a comment to your little one-trick pony blog to get it exposure because it’s really, really important that everybody knows about it.
And finally, no, I won’t be goaded into letting you have your way because you challenge my “censorship” of your really valuable and important things to say. While we may well share many of the same views, you have no right to post anything here. Zero. No, you don’t have to agree with my decision, and no, I don’t need your approval or agreement. No, you don’t have to understand why. Your threats of excommunicating me don’t really bother me.
There are wackos on both sides of every issue, and the wackos never perceive themselves as such. The only thing wackos seem to accomplish is to draw other wackos to their corner and push reasonable people as far away from them as possible. The wackos never understand why this happens, and why they are so utterly ineffective in accomplishing their very important goals. They are blind zealots, and they are a danger to their own one-trick pony cause. They just can’t understand why.
Numerous readers/commenters were banned this weekend. They were told they are not welcome here. Not because I disagree with their cause, but because out-of-control “friends” are no more welcome than enemies. This is not subject to debate, and it’s not going to change even if you threaten to kill the pony.