Despite promising to write follow-up posts about the kerfuffle between ProgressOhio Ex. Dir. Brian Rothenberg and myself, I didn’t. After the roaring silence over the last post, it seemed best to just let it die.
Then I made the mistake of reading the comments on the PO piece Monday night and was once again, well, P.O.’d. In response to a post by Jill (not our Jill), Brian says the following:
- Well, perhaps Jill, you or Pho can provide me with a list of those groups you want censored on PO's site.
You may want to forward this also to any other site MyDD, KOS etc... that allow posters from these groups.
And please clarify for me, if a person is a member of one of these groups you've identified -- should they be allowed to post on other issues?
If someone posts on your site, what is your litmus test? Can you identify who you have censored or will censor?
I wrote a post brimming with bile, but I have a strict No Bloggin Angry rule. I slept on it. By the light of day (and after cooling off) I decided that wasn’t the way to go. I’ve taken a couple more cracks at editing the thing, but again it seems like a lot of bother for little gain. Brian attacked me, I hit back, leave it be.
But this business about Pho the Would–Be Censor keeps rankling. Brian’s asked a series of rhetorical questions in response to something I didn’t say. Nonetheless, I'll give him an the answer.
First off, I didn’t say PO should censor 9/11 Trooth. You can check my BSB comment and his post. He’s the one who says it’s a natural question, not me. My main takeaway from all this is that you couldn’t pay me enough to run a community blog. If it has my name on it, I want to be able to stand by it. Letting whoever come aboard and post whatever just isn’t how I roll.
On the other hand, Brian is being naïve to think he doesn’t have an issue here. Surely ProgressOhio isn’t simply the public common Brian pretends it is in his post. PO has a point of view. It’s a left of center organization. Brian can be snippy all he wants, but if Naugle tries to start a pro-Iran war group on PO and invites a bunch of RABbits come aboard and join, either the organization is going to stop them or the organization is going to tear itself apart. Yahoo can allow groups of all stripes, an organization with a political viewpoint cannot.
The question then is where they draw that line. Every line drawing decision they make has weight and consequence. If a group of DLC-loving moderates move in to the virtual space, the group becomes one thing. If it’s leftists like the PDA, that’s another thing. And if they try to be big tent and lets the pro-Palestinian and pro-North Korea radicals from International A.N.S.W.E.R. set up shop, it’s yet another thing.
Part of how PO can finesse this is by looking at different levels of involvement. I agree with the subtext of Brian’s spew that comments should be allowed regardless of political viewpoint. That’s certainly the case here on the Pages. One reason Brian’s comment so filled me with piss and vinegar was the implication that I censor commenters around here. No one who has read this blog for any length of time can honestly level that charge.
On the other end of the spectrum are actions that would lead a reasonable reader to believe that PO endorses a group. When the anti-RAB post went up I started research to respond that they were overstating PO’s approval of the group. But then I went on the PO site and saw that resident web maven Dave Harding had joined. I looked further thinking he might be a member of every group like Tom on MySpace, but at that point he was not. He had joined Trooth, however. At that point it is difficult to make any claim that PO simply provides tools for the group to use.
In the middle of the spectrum lies the passive act of allowing someone use the online tools to set up a group. As I said there is a tough line there, but where the line is drawn, means something about the organization.
After all this, I’m left wondering how PO feels about the Troothers. I think it’s a fair question. And the question for me is: Do you believe our government murdered 3000 Americans in cold blood simply to pursue a political agenda? Unless the answer is “yes” or “maybe,” Trooth becomes simply a set of conspiracy mongers. If the answer is “yes” or “maybe,” people and organizations thinking of partnering with PO should know that.
I will be at the ODP dinner. It’s entirely possible I’ll run into Brian. I’ve wondered all week what I would say to him. I have an icebreaker now.