Rules for comments: A reminder

I’ve had to delete a number of comments and I’ve been forced to ban some users lately. Therefore, it is appropriate to bring the rules back up to the top, as a reminder of what is and is not acceptable in the comments.

  • A reasonable level of civility is expected. While it is expected that controversial political and social issues may generate heated debate, there are common-sense limits of civility that will be enforced.

This is a wide open rule, and intentionally so. Here are a few examples of what is not permitted under this rule, though this is by no means a comprehensive list.

Open racism and anti-Semitism is not permitted under the “civility” rule. We live in an age where everything anyone says can be described as “racist,” so this is much more narrowly defined than in a lot of places. Do not use racial slurs, do not describe an entire race with derogatory terms, etc. This is not difficult to figure out.

Namecalling should be avoided. For example, calling me or anyone else a “faggot” is a good way to get your post deleted and get your account banned. Threats of violence will not be tolerated.

It is impossible to predict everything that is beyond the bounds of civility, and it is pointless to try to list everything. That said, most people are adults and are capable of understanding what is and is not civil. It should not be a surprise when an overtly uncivil post is deleted, whether I have explicitly prohibited that specific content or not.

  • This blog is a family-friendly site. Therefore no cursing, profanity, vulgarity, obscenity, etc. will be allowed. This is a zero-tolerance rule and will result in automatic deletion of the offending post.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

  • Anonymity has greatly coarsened discourse on the Internet, so pseudonyms are discouraged but not forbidden. That said, any direct criticism of a person by name cannot be done anonymously. If you criticize someone, you have to subject yourself to the same level of scrutiny or the comment will be deleted.

This one is pretty self-explanatory.

  • Please keep your comments relevant to the topic of the post.

Please comment on the post itself instead of using the comments to bring up something unrelated to the post. For example: If I write about tax policy, please do not use it as an opportunity to post about abortion, traffic laws, or the war on drugs. Thank you for your cooperation.

Meme sharing via guilt trip.

If you’re active on Facebook, you’ve seen plenty of images with text like this:

“I bet only 2% will share this, and most people will just scroll on by because they don’t care.”

The easiest way to get me to not share a meme is to guilt trip me for not sharing it.

Homie don’t play dat.

Oh for crying out loud!

So apparently the billboard advertising the new X-Men movie featuring a Apocalypse choking Mystique is controversial.

What utter nonsense.

The X-billboard doesn’t glorify violence against women any more than Apocalypse beating up Charles Xavier glorifies violence against the handicapped. It is a villain being a villain.

Shut up, Social Justice Warriors.

Of course moderation is censorship

Anyone who has moderated any sort of forum has engaged in censorship if he has deleted comments or banned a disruptive user. That is not a bad thing and we should not run from the word “censorship.”

Disqus is one of the leading comment providers on the web, used by a number of high-profile sites. They had a useful blog post about moderation, but this one statement caught my eye: “Removing hateful comments or banning users who are there to antagonize others isn’t censorship.”

Actually, censorship is exactly what that is. And that is not automatically a bad thing.

Think of it this way: If someone comes into your home and calls you a bunch of obscene names, you will probably ask him to leave. You are censoring what he is allowed to say to you in your home, and you have every right to do so. It is no different when someone is on private property on the Internet – a blog, a forum, or a Facebook page – and behaves in a way not allowed by the established rules of the site.

Censorship can be a bad thing, such as when government tries to make criticism of politicians illegal or engages in other ways of intimidating or punishing people who speak truth to power. Censorship can be a good thing when it preserves the decency of a forum, protects innocent people’s reputations from libel, or silences disruptive trolls. The only thing that really matters is how censorship is used, not that censorship is occurring.

The opioid "crisis" is not a crisis

The opioid “crisis” has been inflated far beyond what the statistics justify, and is in danger of leading us to the failed policies of the past. We need to take a step back and closely re-examine this non-crisis, before we overreact with bad and destructive policy. Our “solution” could be far worse than the problem.

The abuse of opioids (both prescription drugs and illegal drugs like heroin) killed 28,000 people in 2014, leading the New York Times to describe opioids as “a leading cause of death.” That description is misleading. Opioid abuse killed 0.009% of the population that year. Is this really a crisis? No, it is not.

“Candyman” doctors who recklessly distribute opioid painkillers should be prosecuted. As people who hold medical licenses, they hold a higher responsibility for the care of their patients. But doctors as a whole are far more knowledgeable about and experienced in the proper use of prescription drugs than government bureaucrats. Doctors know the needs of their individual patients far better than government bureaucrats.

The news media has been incredibly irresponsible in reporting on this limited problem as a “crisis” and politicians have been irresponsible in jumping on a problem to “solve” with legislation. Only by educating ourselves and pushing back against this dishonest fear mongering – and lobbying our elected officials to not be swayed by it – can we stop further unnecessary government meddling in the doctor-patient relationship.

Let’s not leave cancer patients or people with chronic pain in the cold because some bureaucrat thinks he knows better than a doctor, or because a doctor is too afraid of cowboy law enforcement to give the patient the medicine he needs under the proper supervision. Government meddling in our health care is the real crisis, not opioid abuse.

Enough.

I banned another user this morning. This individual claims to be an actual Nazi but is more likely a parody troll.

Read the rules. Follow them, or you won’t be commenting here. Calling me or someone else a “faggot,” open racism or anti-Semitism, and other such violations of Rule 1 will get your post deleted and might get you banned.

I am not inclined to enable pre-moderation of posts, meaning I have to approve posts before they appear. However, I will do so if this continues. My blog will not be a place for this filth.

Like it or not, Hiroshima was justified

The Hiroshima bombing was a terrible tragedy and will always be remembered as an example of the horrors of war. While it was justifiable, it was nonetheless a tragic loss of human life.

Last month, I tweeted an article putting the nuclear annihilation in historical and mathematical context, and that context is critical to understanding and analyzing the decision to use nuclear power. That context is simple: The Hiroshima bombing resulted in fewer deaths than continuing the conventional war against Japan. Bombing Hiroshima saved lives, on both the American side and the Japanese side.

Sometimes in war, you are faced with no good options. President Truman knew that an invasion of Japan itself would be incredibly bloody and destructive for both nations. He chose the option that would end the war more quickly and result in less death and destruction – for both military and civilians – than an invasion.

In fact, one could argue that nuclear weapons have been the greatest force for peace the world has seen since the end of World War II. The horror of atomic warfare restrained both these United States and even the Soviet Union, a truly Evil Empire guilty of genocide against its own people. Both nations fought proxy wars, but a third world war between the USA and the USSR would have been horrific on a scale that would have easily eclipsed World War II.

While I understand that the destruction brought by only one bomb is very different psychologically than thousands upon thousands of conventional bombs, it is interesting that Hiroshima gets so much more attention than the much larger number of civilians killed by the Allies’ conventional bombs in both Germany and Japan. Of course, the Axis targeted cities and civilians as well, with Germany’s bombing of London and Japan’s war crimes against China and Korea. We should remember those people at the same time we remember the lives lost in Hiroshima.

City Council should reject Planned Parenthood funding

Bloomington Herald-Times, May 21, 2016

To the Editor:

The Bloomington City Council should reject Planned Parenthood’s cynical request for $7,500 in corporate welfare from the Jack Hopkins Social Services Fund and instead distribute this money to an organization that could actually benefit from the grant.

The fund guidelines discourage funding operating costs, but in reality that is exactly what this grant seeks to do. This is not a “one time” investment, it is a continuing program.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky took in over $15,000,000 in its most recent fiscal report. PPINK also has the backing of an obscenely wealthy national organization and network of affiliates that bring in over $1,000,000,000 in annual revenue. There is more than enough money floating around Planned Parenthood to fund the Bloomington branch.

The city council should stop forcing pro-life residents of Bloomington to subsidize an organization we find morally abhorrent. They should instead donate their own money.

Finally, city councilor Dorothy Granger, who volunteers for Planned Parenthood as a clinic escort, should recuse herself from this vote. Using your position of authority to funnel tax dollars to an organization you personally volunteer for may not be a conflict of interest legally, but it does present a serious appearance of impropriety.