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CFI applying censorship and restricting freedom of speech?
Posted: 22 March 2007 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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[quote author=“Paul”] This is not about CFI’s ‘rights’ to do as they please.  It is about (with apologies to Edmund Burke) whether what it pleases them to do is right.  And this is certainly a legitimate question to ask at one of CFIs public fora.

Yes, and you may well ask it. I have given the answer as I best know that answer: it was considered inappropriate and legally suspect by higher-ups within CFI. More than that, I simply do not know.

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Posted: 22 March 2007 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Geez, can’t these people get though their thick heads?  This forum was set up by CFI for their purposes.  They are free define the limitations of discussion areas and we members are free to stay or leave. 

Arguments about whether or not CFI should or should not have the policies they specified are meaningless.  If you don’t like the structure here, you are quite free to set up your own forum for discussion of topics germane to your interests and invite people to participate there. 

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Posted: 22 March 2007 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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[quote author=“Paul”]But when a legitimate question is raised, it seems to me that it is the responsibility of senior management to answer it, and not simply assert its authority.  After all, this would seem to be most inappropriate for an organization of CFIs type, although I agree that living up to such principles is very time consuming, indeed.  But if CFI is going to have such a public forum, it surely mustn’t treat participants in the forum like children.

Paul, if you look through this thread and the associated thread you will see that people in management positions with CFI (Thomas, DJ) have commented on this very issue repeatedly and at some length. (Austin commented on a different issue, as well). I would suggest you read through the other entire thread, distasteful though that may be, to get some idea where things stand.

Now, I have been told that the issue went farther up the ladder in CFI than those particular people (including, as I have said, legal), and I suspect you would be most happy if everyone involved in this decision were to take the time to come on the forum and explain their decision. Of course, I would be happy if that were to happen as well. However, as you note, that would be a very time consuming process. All of these people, Thomas and DJ included, have other important things to do for CFI. Had they not been present on the forum at all, I would have been unpleasantly surprised. But they have presented themselves to forum members and repeatedly made themselves quite clear. Further expectations of them frankly appear to me to be unjustified.

You may not agree with the reasoning they provide, but they certainly have not treated forum participants like children.

In future I know that DJ wants to minimize his and his employees’ forum participation, as they have been required to do more work than they would like here. (Particularly during the last few weeks, due to the actions of ~0.2% of forum membership). They work extremely hard in their normal day-to-day CFI jobs, and do not need the headaches that come with regular forum maintenance. However, making such a change will of necessity push further responsibility to volunteer mods and admins. If you have come to expect full accountability from the entire CFI organization when decisions are made on the forum, up to and including the deletion of threads and the expulsion of problem members, then I really do believe you are going to be disappointed.

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Posted: 22 March 2007 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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[quote author=“Paul”]Let me point out that pulling posts and banning people from a public forum are among the most severe ‘penalties’ one can impose; therefore, I’m afraid that if senior management wishes to approve of having these fora in the first place, it must recognize that it is taking on an additional and time consuming responsibility.  Otherwise, impressions may be made that are undesired by all involved.

I disagree. Internet forums are, often as not, moderated by volunteers who have the power to pull threads or ban members. It’s quite normal practice.

[quote author=“Paul”]I also think that it would be a mistake for volunteer moderators such as yourself to ‘take up the slack’ in this regard.

Of course, I would be happy to be joined by a full-time CFI employee on this forum. The business question for CFI central, however, is how their limited time, resources and employees are to be arrayed against the issues that confront them. I am not going to second-guess their decisions in this matter. More volunteers here means more resources can go to some other project, like CFI on Campus.

[quote author=“Paul”]But when you begin to argue on behalf of the policy senior management decides, you yourself become a party to the argument.

I volunteer for this job because I agree with the aims of CFI with some passion. 99% of the time I enjoy it. Although no large organization may be expected to be right all the time, I think CFI is doing a very admirable job, and I do in general agree with the decisions of senior management. Obviously, if I felt that my own philosophical intuitions were being abused here, I would leave. I expect others would behave in precisely the same manner.

[quote author=“Paul”]I think that this is what is part of the confusion here—and I agree that there are practical problems in running this kind of open forum which, perhaps, no one really thought through.

Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that this is the first forum that CFI has had, so they haven’t yet had to deal with issues of problem posts and members. As a result, they are learning a bit as they go. Not surprising. But not so, in the sense that many people at CFI (myself included) are quite familiar with moderated forums in other places. I’ve been around moderated and unmoderated forums for over a decade.

Personally, I cannot abide unmoderated forums. They quickly degenerate into flame wars and spam. Moderation also has its downside: threads get pulled and people get booted for what the mods believe is bad behavior. You takes your choice, that’s all I’d say. I prefer the latter.

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Posted: 22 March 2007 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Like you, Paul, I am knew here, but I adminstrate a board myself, and from what I’ve read the mods here took all the appropriate steps concerning the post in question.  I have absolutely no issues with what has been done about the matter or how it was done, esp since it was legally suspected.  I also think what was done was VERY humanistic, but I won’t go into the why and wherefore, because it deals with personal thoughts and feelings.  I completely support the mods and CFI’s decision.

Whatever other feelings I have on the matter do not matter.  What does matter is how it was handled and I think it was handled very appropriately.  Now my only wish is that the matter be dropped because it is very disconcerning, esp to new members.  Personally, I’d rather see other things discussed here, like Paul Kurtz’s admirable and undying optimism.  He’s an amazing man and I would not mind learning more about him, if I could.  Or even that other thread about Quantum Physics, which I have very little knowledge about, but would love to learn more.

Currently, I have no idea why, but can only assume, there is not much discussion about anything else, except two threads about this subject.  It is very slow and right now very disturbing.  I didn’t join this board to see a discussion like this. I joined to hear more about CFI, besides what is on their podcasts and things related to CFI.  I do believe there was a podcast not too long ago with Paul Kurtz on it, if not more than one. If I could remember it’s title (and any others) I’d start a thread on it, but I can’t seem to recall it.  I also remember one with Dawkins on it, as well as Sam Harris.  Those would also be a much better discussion, if they are not too old to discuss.

My suggestion is, if one can not handle decisions made by the mods and staff at CFI, then find a board that you can deal with better.  However, like I said, I feel the matter was handled in a very appropriate manner and the issue should be settled. Not dragged on and on, disrupting the board and flamming everyone associated with CFI.

Now can we please get on with posting other topics more appropriately discussed on this board, so new members can join in on topics?  I, for one, would like to read more newer posts, besides old dead 100 posts long threads that date back months past.

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Posted: 22 March 2007 05:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Paul:

First, the right of CFI to make its decisions is not in question, the question is whether people have the right to ask whether it is making the decisions it ought to make, and to provide arguments in support of any conclusions they may be reaching in that regard, in a public forum sponsored by CFI.

I agree with Paul.  CFI can do anything it wants with this.. its forum.. but because of the unique KIND of organization CFI is - one of free thought, humanism, and inquiry - CFI should hold itself (and those of us passionate about CFI and its mission have to hold CFI) to a higher standard.  If the original post on this issue was indeed a murky one legally speaking, then Paul is correct that this explicitly should have been communicated to the forum and to the blogger.  That would seem to me to be perfectly humanistic and understandable (Myriana’s comment that “humanistic” reasons, OTHER than said legal reasons, would be acceptable is quite confusing ... I wonder what sort of humanism she subscribes to?). 

Honestly, unless I’ve missed something, it seems to me that DJ/Thomas only said they consulted CFI attorneys, yet they’ve neglected to do the professional thing and post the official legal advice to either this forum or send it to the blogger himself in private.  Knowing what some at CFI feel humanism is all about, and having to negotiate the busy schedules they indeed have, I wonder… 

Anyway, I did not read the full original posting, but based on the topic and the rest of this thread, it hardly seems to be a legal or abuse-related situation to me.  I could be wrong, I know.  If dad were doing this to an unwilling son, then that would be a serious problem, but that does not seem to be the case.  Indeed, it seems that the law should have nothing to do with this case because it would be then legislating morality.. something we all know is a problem here in the U.S. re abortion and euthanasia. I assume the social libertarians at CFI would agree with this! Indeed, the way DJ has written about this, it seems that he is personally offended (which is his right) by the situation.. which of course means nothing re this forum.

So, UNLESS these deletions are actions re a tricky legal issue which really has legal advice behind it, there is no reason why any humanist at CFI (from Paul Kurtz on down) would have a problem with this interesting thread.  After all, folks at CFI are always talking about ethics; this seems a perfect case for folks to talk about just what humanist ethics are (or aren’t)! 

The threat of banishment for wanting to continue with said topic, sadly however, does seem in line with a rather neocon point of view… one that the folks at the Intelligence Summit would agree with :wink: 

That this posting is being singled out is interesting and baffling. That DJ seems, in his latest post, to be very angry with all this is even more baffling.  This clearly goes deeper than it seems.  Putting the alleged legal restrictions aside for argument’s sake, I reach out to DJ here to explain WHY this topic does NOT have anything to do with humanism.  The only reason I can think of is that DJ’s definition of humanism is secularism, atheism, and naturalism, and perhaps not much more.  If DJ does not even think discussion about politics and economics are essential (and central) to humanism (which they obviously are), then perhaps he thinks ideas about human sexuality, compassion and fatherhood aren’t either?
Doug:

In future I know that DJ wants to minimize his and his employees’ forum participation, as they have been required to do more work than they would like here. (Particularly during the last few weeks, due to the actions of ~0.2% of forum membership).

Yeah Doug, but the 2% of us are the most interesting % much of the time 8) ... and certainly the % most interested in getting to the crux of humanism!

Doug:

Obviously, if I felt that my own philosophical intuitions were being abused here, I would leave. I expect others would behave in precisely the same manner.

Freethought and Humanism are supposed to be able to include the type of discussion that the deleted post was about (among so many other topics). If a religious fundamentalist joined the forum, we’d expect he or she might want to leave one day; but that would because he or she was not a freethinker or humanist and really did not BELONG here in the first place.. Not ideologically, philosophically, or otherwise.  I do not suppose CFI would ban them - unless they began using hate-mail tactics - but their leaving would be their own choice. 

HUMANISTS on these forums are NOT - it seems to me - making the choice to leave for any content related reasons.  Instead, they are being ask to leave if they do not like the censorship or anger aimed at HUMANIST postings like this dad’s posting (or postings critical of CFI’s definition of humanism as it defines it in our name), which offend some of the folks who set up this free and open forum!  And it must be about offensiveness if it’s not about real legal problems (is it?), because it can not be about anti-humanism. 
Mriana:

I didn’t join this board to see a discussion like this…

Well, this is a large forum Mriana, and you need not focus on this particular thread if you don’t like it.  It has a right to be here, and you have the freedom to read any and all other threads :D  

You also have the right to start any topic regarding humanism, Freethought, etc., you want…  Well, maybe not :?

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Posted: 22 March 2007 06:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Paul: 

the organization is spending much time debunking the myth of a probably non-existing being, instead of concentrating on the real needs of really existing beings here on planet earth. Too bad the organization is committed to free speech for a reactionary Danish newspaper, but not to a South African father engaged in behavior that is, admittedly, out of the ordinary.

Amen, Darwin Loves You, and all that Jazz!

PS:  Paul, you may wish to see this post about that cartoon issue here:  Oops, that post seems to be gone :?

Here are a few titles to look up:

This is the real outrage

Amid the cartoon furore, Danish imams ignore the tragedies suffered by Muslims across the world

Tariq Ali
Monday February 13, 2006
The Guardian

===================


Muslim World is in Crisis But We’ve Had a Hand in it
The dust from killing fields far away drifting our way

by Haroon Siddiqui

====================
Fighting Islamophobia: A Response to Critics
by Deepa Kumar

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Posted: 22 March 2007 06:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Howdy from Los Angeles, where I just got in from the airport.

How many humanists does it take to stop talking about a man having sex with his son (for whatever justifications he gives)? Or to stop debating the point as to whether or not these discussion forums are the place for such a discussion, or if it is anti-humanist or neo-con (?!) to suggest that it is out of place? Evidently, it takes a couple fewer than are involved in these discussions right now smile

To clarify a couple points: To my knowledge, Thomas never said nor did I say we consulted “CFI attorneys” on this post. This discussion forum doesnt get nor merit that amount of attention from the executives and attorneys at CFI. I think both Thomas and I did imply on separate occasions that there could have been legal implications for allowing such postings under our auspices, and that was one of quite a few reasons given for saying such discussion was outside the bounds of this forum’s mission.

Even if some can’t resist raging on about this topic, I encourage everyone to enjoy yammering with like-minded skeptics and humanists on a whole host of other topics, and stop insisting on only talking about the right of a man having sex with his son to explore the ethical implications of that sexual activity here in this online community. Take a look at other threads for ideas about other things that might warrant conversation, other topics we might all enjoy exploring together.

Lastly, I would like to put some of this in perspective. A couple years ago, instead of this CFI-wide discussion forum (at that point, this forum was just a part of CFI’s campus outreach program and its website) we had a CFI List-Serve for discussion of topics similar to the ones treated on this forum.

One participant of these current discussions in this thread was so vociferous in his attacks on those who disagreed with him on certain political questions that we received literally dozens of emails in complaints from our volunteers, activists and leaders from around the country. The consequence of all that rancor and ill-will is that we were forced to shut down the list-serve, which we had set up in the first place in the interest of encouraging community and discussion of the kinds of things CFI advances in society, and even to foster friendships and coordination of interests and efforts.

When I proposed to my two bosses at CFI that this Online Discussion Forums be set up in the list-serve’s stead, broadened to involve more people than just our college students, I was met with quite some resistance. Some of my colleagues at CFI had questions like “How we will keep the discussions civil, keep certain people from engaging in invective and personal attacks, and keep detractors of CFI from hijacking the public space we’re providing” and “What is the liability involved in letting anyone say anything about anything, on our websites,” and so forth. Also, some had concerns about bad PR if certain topics discussed could be quoted out of context by our cultural competitors. Still other members of CFI’s executive committee were concerned about the staff time required to set up and maintain such an online community (which seems to be a big concern of many such forums, including other skeptic and humanist discussion forums).

My response to all of these understandable concerns was that we should have a little faith in skeptics and humanists: that we would find volunteers who would moderate the discussion forums, and that with the exception of one or two people who seem intent on being divisive, we’ll be able to create an online space for people from all around the world to talk about and debate, in a civil and good natured way, the central questions CFI’s concerned with.

I’m happy to say that what we set out to do with these forums have been pretty much successful in that regard, this current debate notwithstanding.

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Posted: 22 March 2007 07:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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DJ:

...about a man having sex with his son


Um, that does not seem like what is happening here, DJ. 

No legal reasons for the deletion, huh?  Hmmmm.

And DJ, we ARE writing about all sorts of stuff everywhere on these forums!  I have 24 pages in my Barry file.. each page with more than 20 posts!  Maybe those of us writing on this thread WANT TO.  Why are you so wanting to redirect us?

DJ: 

One participant of these current discussions in this thread was so vociferous in his attacks on those who disagreed with him on certain political questions that we received literally dozens of emails in complaints from our volunteers, activists and leaders from around the country. The consequence of all that rancor and ill-will is that we were forced to shut down the list-serve, which we had set up in the first place in the interest of encouraging community and discussion of the kinds of things CFI advances in society, and even to foster friendships and coordination of interests and efforts.

I wonder who this participant can be?  I know I had discussions and debates on the nature of humanism on this listserv, and some folks (mainly CFI STAFF and not volunteers or students), had problems with my take on things, and thus complained that I was attacking them instead of addressing the issues (do these dubious complaints sound familiar, anyone?); but what you describe seems to be something else again.  I guess that poor excuse for a person did not receive “literally dozens” of emails and phone calls like I did from folks telling me they thought at least I was NOT being “vociferous” in MY posts re folks who agreed or not with me.  So who is this evil participant?

Indeed the one CFI staffer who wrote to the listserve to attack ME was considered by these same volunteers as being ‘off the mark’ and outrageous in his comments.  I forget what his name was, I only recall his initials.  Anyway, this same staffer told all of us that the plans for these CFI forums were always in the making and that the email listserv was meant to be temporary re discussions about issues (there was a separate listserv for purely CFI business). 

DJ:

My response to all of these understandable concerns was that we should have a little faith in skeptics and humanists: that we would find volunteers who would moderate the discussion forums, and that with the exception of one or two people who seem intent on being divisive, we’ll be able to create an online space for people from all around the world to talk about and debate, in a civil and good natured way, the central questions CFI’s concerned with. 


Again, I wonder who these one or two persons are because I don’t see anyone talking about embarrassing topics for CFI on these forums, or do I see anyone being divisive or attacking CFI; it seems instead all participants are engaged in passionate discussions and debates - civilly and honestly - re “the central questions of CFI…” 

...Unless “divisive” is meant here as being the same thing as ‘challenging’ what some don’t want challenged :idea:

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Posted: 23 March 2007 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Thanks David from me too.  A polite, civil and humanistic :wink: response!  Let the free inquiry move forward!

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Posted: 23 March 2007 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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[quote author=“Paul”]Well, DJ, nice to hear from you.  We’re making progress, I think.  Telling us (in a good-natured way) that we’re ultimately irrelevant is much better than threatening to ‘disappear’ us.  Maybe it’s that good west coast, laid-back attitude that rubs off immediately upon landing.  If your trip is business, I hope it’s productive.
Peace,
Paul

I lurk here a lot and most of the time do not have much to say. But . . . . God this post was smarmy and rude and completely misrepresented DJ Grothes post. My god what is wrong with you! When did he or anyone else say that this forum is ultimately irrelevant. It sounds like he is the one who set it up in the first place! You so responded in a dicky way to something he didnt even say Is that because you wanted to ignore what he was actually saying? Hrmmmm. Sounds like it to me. And then you say in a later post in your similar smarmy and condesending way that “little by little progress is made.” When did Dr Koepsell apologize for making mistakes or for CFI making mistakes? Sometimes freethinkers are so hard to like!!

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Posted: 23 March 2007 08:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Censorship on this CFI Blog

Grothe quoted

quote=“DJ Grothe”]Howdy from Los Angeles, where I just got in from the airport.

Would you believe I spent hours trying to decipher where exactly this statement was supposed to be placed in the mission statement of the CFI and I failed hopelessly to include it under any of those headings that CFI used against my article. Perhaps management of CFI are exempted from the mission statement. It might be interesting to know.

Anyhow, less of the funny staff and now to the serious part.

Grothe quoted:

How many humanists does it take to stop talking about a man having sex with his son (for whatever justifications he gives)?


When I look back it seems I have been harassed by the moderators of this blog, given dishonest replies as to why my posting was pulled off and finally I am faced with a character assassination by a senior management of this CFI blog. In the meantime I am faced in an untenable situation of not being able to defend my dignity nor my humane values because I am not allowed to discuss my original posting at all.

[Either Grothe is telling the truth or he is telling a lie and is manifestly dishonest with his statements

This is a serious charge that Grothe has brought against me. If I am committing sex with my son there is nothing much to debate about? The act of a father having sex with his son is a vile act of molestation that should not be tolerated by any human being in this world. It is also an illegal act in every country of the world, including the USA and my home country South Africa.

In the interest of justice I call upon Grothe to expose his evidence with which he has declared in his statement and to protect my child from this vile act I am committing. I want Gothe as a caring citizen of the world that wishes to protect children, even one child (my son), to go to the nearest police station in Los Angeles and report the incident so that they can take the case back to South Africa and perhaps the South African police can protect my child from this molestation that I am inflicting on him. This is the right thing to do!


I urge members of this blog and senior management of CFI to investigate this serious allegation that Grothe has brought forth against me. If they claim Gothe is correct in his assumption and give details of the evidence that led to the charge against me I will apologize and in embarrassment hide myself away from this blog, never to be heard from again and face the charges of molestation in South Africa.

Yet on the other hand Grothe could be telling a lie and if this is uncovered (as I am sure it will) then I expect an apology from CFI and Grothe and a dismissal of Grothe from CFI because he is dishonest and falsely using the authority bestowed on him to trump up charges against me.

In any respectable organisation a charge of molestation brought by the management against any member of that organisation requires that organisation to probe the matter and confirm if the allegations are true. I call on CFI to respect my call for this organisation to probe Grothe’s statements and either verify the claims made by Grothe on behalf of CFI or call upon Grothe to appologise.
Fayzal Mahamed

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Posted: 23 March 2007 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I am new here but what better place to jump in. You are from South Africa so maybe there is a difference in lingo but if you are talking about masturbating your son, that is sexual activity. Most people would consider that a form of having sex. This is not like Clinton’s use of “sexual relations”  to mean only intercourse, when he said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Lewinsky”, when he knew very well he had other kinds of sex with Monica Lewinsky.

There are different kinds of sex, and masturbating someone is one of them. But I think they said the topic should be dropped so I’ll leave it at that.

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Posted: 23 March 2007 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Fayzal, I understand that you are annoyed at various people here. I ask you once again, let it drop, please. Let’s move on.

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Posted: 23 March 2007 08:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Censorship on this CFI Blog.

Hi Render,

Welcome if you are a first time writer.

Render quoted
[quote author=“render”] You are from South Africa so maybe there is a difference in lingo but if you are talking about masturbating your son, that is sexual activity.

I completely agree with you that masturbation is a sexual activity but is “sexual activity” and having “sex with my son” the same meaning. I definitely do not think so. If I had anal intercourse with my adult female partner I would not be prosecuted for any criminal offence although it is a sexual activity but if I had anal sexual intercourse with my son I certainly would be prosecuted although I am engaging in the same “sexual activity”. I contend that Grothe use of the words “sex with my son” belongs to the latter category. I certainly hope the “lingo” we have here in South Africa and in the USA concerning the terms used to protect children from sexual abuse are the same otherwise the USA is in serious trouble in trying to protect children from abuse.

By the way I find it strange that you would write for the first time on a topic and then declare the topic should be dropped. Are you suggesting that after you had your fair share to debate the subject no one else should be allowed to partake and express their opinion. Pretty arrogant of you, don’t you think. :twisted:

Fayzal

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