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CFI applying censorship and restricting freedom of speech?
Posted: 23 March 2007 08:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]Fayzal, I understand that you are annoyed at various people here. I ask you once again, let it drop, please. Let’s move on.

Thanks Doug for your observation. Yes I have moved on from my original topic but to allow Grothe to come on this platform and declare that I had “sex with my son” and allow that to pass is asking a bit much of me, something I do not think you would allow either if the integrity of your character was at stake.

I am going to put a final post entitled “Part Two” of why CFI is restricting freedom of speech in general and how blogging in a secular humanist athmosphere should operate.

I think that you Doug would agree with me that freedom of speech is is an important topic that meets with your “approval” and part of the CFI mission. I mean I would hate to think that if any person stumbled on this blog, the person would for a moment think that they have entered a fundamentalist blog where restriction of speech is the norm of the day.


Fayzal.

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Fayzal Mahamed,
Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Posted: 24 March 2007 03:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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[quote author=“mfmahamed”]. . . and how blogging in a secular humanist athmosphere. . .  if any person stumbled on this blog . . . entered a fundamentalist blog . . .

I just wanted to provide a quick point of clarification. The CFI Discussion Forums are not blogs. There is a clear distinction between forums and blogs.

Forums are a space online for a group of people to discuss topics. They get their name from ancient Greek and Roman forums where citizens would publicly speak and debate on certain topics. On the other hand, the term blog comes from “web log,” and it is more of an online journal or publication of one person (or small group of people), and it is owned and directed by just one person (or small group of people). Blogs are for individual users, forums are for communities.

Again, a blog (such as someone’s on MySpace, LiveJournal or Blogger) is owned by just one person, or a small group of people. The blog owner chooses the topics of entries on the blog, and even controls who can read and comment on these entries. Not just anyone can make a main entry on someone’s blog. Although people can sometimes comment on entries, this is not the main focus of the blog, and it is possible for the blog owner to create private entries which cannot be viewed by anyone else. Because the blog owner has complete control over what appears on their blog, the blog can form a personalised reflection of the work, interests and ideas of one individual.

Unlike blogs, forums are not completely controlled by one person - instead, any member of the forum can start a topic for discussion or post a new entry that is within the purview of the forum. Forums depend on the responses from the community to initial entries or posts in order to form a discussion, reflecting the interests of the group rather than only the interests or focus of one individual.

Cheers!

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Thomas Donnelly
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Posted: 26 March 2007 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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Fayzal Mahamed

I’ve heard that Fayzal Mahamed has been banned by CFI from these forums over the weekend.  I am not sure that he ought to be depressed or honoured?

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Barry F. Seidman
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Posted: 26 March 2007 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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As pointless as it likely is, I just felt I should reiterate my opinion as a totaly unofficial memebr of the community not affiliate w/ CFI, CSH, etc. This forum exists as an outreach tool for these organizations. They provide the opportunity for discussion to encourage participation by people attracted to their agenda, to enhance recruitment and a sense of community, to float ideas and gauge the responses to POI of a fairly sympathetic demographic, and probably for other related reasons. Whatever the larger mission or philosophy of these groups, this forum exists to serve these and probablqy other similar purposes. I am grateful it exists because it is a rare opportunity to debate and discuss ideas related to humanism and atheism in a setting less hostile to these ideas than the larger culture. As such who discusses what here is absolutely at their discretion. If they create an environment we as individuals don’t find comfortable, we are free not to participate. But the organizations and their directors owe us no explanations. They have chosen to provide some feedback with which I think most community members are comfortable. If they haven’t convinced you, Paul and Barry, then you are free to disagree with their rational, but I for one don’t support your clamoring for a justification you find convincing. This is not the State restricting free expression, but a private organization deciding what content it will allow on its website, and if you insist on demanding more justification I think you’re abusing the opportunity the hosts of this site are providing. Whether their behavior is “humanist” or not is a thin rational for complaining about it that overstretches any reasonable definition of humanism. Of course, I’m free to ignore this discussion just as you are free to refrain from participating in the boards if you don’t like the rules, but I just wanted to add at least one voice from the community supporting the administrators right to take the actions they have taken.

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The SkeptVet
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Posted: 26 March 2007 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Then I’ll offer the other side.

It is a shame: That one active member was banned, and I gave up on this “discussion group” from the very same actions of the management. My own take is: Why should I invest my time (let alone donation) in CFI if I am easily and arbitrarily deleted? I have invested many hours in this discussion forum, fueling free inquiry, even if CFI disagrees with my opinion, it claims its mission is to allow the discussion (how else is inquirey free?).

This group can not be a place of free inquiry for people who have their posts deleted without explanation or who are banned for complaining publicly about such action. And even more so when the management makes false statements in public about it (I am still waiting for my personal email from Thomas about how he is going to remove my posts, and I am waiting for an apology that I doubt will come as well).

The attitude of the management in this issue has been aggressive against the posters and awfully defensive. I see little difference in DJ and Thomas’s statements and actions that those of a church trying to silence dissent. CFI has done remarkable things, but one or two dirty deeds done in the dark, that the members or community are not allowed to question, bring it to the level of just another dogma.

If big brother is watching, and big brother is arbitrary, where is the freedom of inquiry?

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Posted: 26 March 2007 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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A couple comments re the last two postings.

Thomas works for DJ, so their responses will be the same.

I know (from other CFI staff) that NO CFI staff has the authorty to ban anyone from these forums.  THAT power belongs ONLY to volunteers like Doug Smith.  DJ’s posting here, threatening banishment, was against the rules of these forums, for such authority is not invested in him. 

Doug may have acted alone on this (and he has that right, even if some of us think that action in this case is morally and ethically dubious and is a breach from the mission of CFI as a free thinking organization), or he may have gotten agreement from all the vounteers which would seem at least to be a bit democratic, or he might have been prompted by DJ or Thomas who ought to stay out of such decisions.  But we don’t yet know WHO did this because there seems to be no public disclosure as Paul suggests their ought to be.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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There are probably hundreds of other topics that should not be discussed on this forum; and we all well know what these topics are. In my opinion, Fayzal’s discussion was inappropriate and I agree with the deletion of that thread.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 05:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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I am stunned

I have been listening to the podcasts, read much of the literature and then I stumbled on to this mess.

I feel so sorry for the CFI staff and volunteers.

I think you should change the subject to Mental Masturbation.

Don’t you guys have anything better to do?

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Posted: 26 March 2007 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Paul makes some very good points.  I never thought about the hotel example, which certainly is the same thing as with this situation.  Fascinating… Property Rights indeed!

As for Mindwalker, you should check out the hundreds of other threads/posts in these forums across the board and understand the sort of inquiry humanists and atheists are all about before pointing to this one as if it represents more than it does (though it is key because it is actually about how this forum is moderated).

But, more importantly, feeling sorry for CFI in this instance seems to me the same as feeling sorry for the Bush Administration now that they have to answer difficult questions from the Democratic Congress they never had to answer to the previous Republican Congress!  I don’t feel sorry for the Bush Adminstration or CFI because this discussion (as seperate from the content discussions elsewhere on these forums) speaks to why we can have such forums in the first place and what ‘free inquiry in all areas of human endeavor’ (the CFI slogan) is all about. 

It is also what democracy is all about. 

And not everyone at CFI dissagees with what Paul, myself and some others have argued here; look back and see that the top ranking official from the Council for Secular Humanism (besides Paul Kurtz himself) agrees that the banning (threat of banning when he posted) is against the mission of CFI.

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Posted: 26 March 2007 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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Mindwalker, you are absolutely correct.  This whole thing could have been disposed of in one post.  However, there are a few who can’t get some concepts past the certainty of their opinions, who can’t recognize a lost cause, and who have an amazing ability to repeat themselves.

However, that’s the price we have to pay for accepting a broad (NOT unlimited) range of views.  smile

Occam

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Posted: 27 March 2007 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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[quote author=“Barry”]A couple comments re the last two postings.

Thomas works for DJ, so their responses will be the same.

I know (from other CFI staff) that NO CFI staff has the authorty to ban anyone from these forums.  THAT power belongs ONLY to volunteers like Doug Smith.  DJ’s posting here, threatening banishment, was against the rules of these forums, for such authority is not invested in him. 

Doug may have acted alone on this (and he has that right, even if some of us think that action in this case is morally and ethically dubious and is a breach from the mission of CFI as a free thinking organization), or he may have gotten agreement from all the vounteers which would seem at least to be a bit democratic, or he might have been prompted by DJ or Thomas who ought to stay out of such decisions.  But we don’t yet know WHO did this because there seems to be no public disclosure as Paul suggests their ought to be.

All: Hello from the Pittsburgh airport, where I am on a delay. It sure doesnt feel like 5:40 AM. ‘:o’

Fully aware that the following comments will only inflame some of the more contentious members of the forums, I want to make just a couple points of clarification, so that well-meaning people dont spend weeks arguing over inaccuracies:

1. Selected staff at CFI do have the authority to ban forum participants, but I have tried to limit the amount of work-time invested by CFI staff on the forums (as part of their job description, since they have so much other stuff to do). We’re doing this by trying to give some of the authority over to volunteer moderators, such as Doug Smith, who has himself been such an understanding unpaid member of this community, even as he has conveyed how frustrated the last week of rancor on the forums have been to him personally. Of course, CFI staff can be as involved as they want in the forums on their down-time, as long as they (and everone else) keeps generally within the purview of the forums.

2. Barry Karr (my boss) and others at CFI agreed that the offending poster should be banned, for the reasons reiterated numerous times to him both privately and on the forums in various threads. Not because the issue was too taboo, but because it was outside the mission of the forums. And for all the other reasons listed numerous times. He was given multiple warnings. After his insistence a number of times to talk about the topic deemed outside the purview of the forums, and then his calling for the firing of CFI staff, I relented to Doug and he was banned.

3. The decision was Doug Smith’s, although I encouraged him to give a couple other chances to the offending poster, hoping it wouldnt come to the point of someone being banned, which is a worst case scenario in my opinion. In retrospect, and after talking with Doug (who is currently traveling on vacation even as he is involved with this hubbub!), I now believe this was my mistake. I should have followed Doug’s lead originally and let him ban the offending poster after repeated warnings. Not doing so appears only to have exacerbated the whole issue, and given energy to the tempest in the teapot.

4. This issue is not about free expression. There are many forums to freely express and discuss one’s sexual activity with one’s son. I have decided and other management at CFI have agreed that CFI’s forums are not one of them.

5. To the couple of people who feel motivated to use CFI’s forums almost exclusively to criticize CFI for not being socialist enough, or to almost exclusively criticize CFI for not allowing a protracted discussion of a man’s sexual activities with his son on its forums, I want to encourage you to soften a bit and realize that CFI’s forums serve primarily a mission of outreach on CFI’s issues. They are not set up to primarily focus on an exploration of specific sexual ethics or criticism of CFI (in my opinion, there are other more effective ways of doing these things). In my opinion, being hard-hearted about these issues is inconsistent with our shared humanist values.

Because of limits on our time and human resources, this will be the last comment on this subject officially from CFI, although I predict that this will continue to be seemingly the central issue of concern for a couple CFI discussion forum particpants who can devise of nothing else to focus on. May I invite people to enjoy conversation about other issues of more import to organized skepticism and humanism and CFI’s public education mission.

Regards, D.J.

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"Few have the courage of their convictions. Fewer still have the courage for an attack on their convictions." - Nietzsche

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Posted: 27 March 2007 03:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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[quote author=“Paul”] And how would you know about the appropriateness of Fayzal’s discussion if you aren’t allowed to see the original post? 

I was allowed to read the original post, Paul. I didn’t feel it belonged here, and, once again, I agree with its deletion.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 04:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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I hear you, Paul. I feel the same frustration about not being able to attend the Nuremberg trial. I wonder if the Nazis really killed the six million Jews…

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Posted: 27 March 2007 04:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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[quote author=“Paul”]Hi, George,  apparently you claim rights for yourself (to read the original post) that you don’t think should be extended to others.  Thanks for making my decision for me on my behalf.

Paul

Oh god, I cant resist calling you out. Your so slimy Paul, George never said he had a right to read the original post and that you didnt have the same right. And besides, it is not your “decision” to make about the post about whether or not it should have been deleted!! Havent you ever been on chat boards before? It is not “egregious” to ban someone for not playing by the rules, and you can argue to your blue in the face that there is a constitutional right to free accomodation on these boards and that everyone has a right to post whatever they want here but that is simply not so. Look how much attention is taken away from talking about skepticism and rationalism while you make a mountain out of a molehill. You are such a two bit philosopher who just wants to argue for the sake of arguing. For gods sake drop it and move on.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 04:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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God only more of the same. Obviously George was just making a point. And you are SOO pretentious. Frission, according to dictionary.com is “a sudden, passing sensation of excitement; a shudder of emotion; thrill: The movie offers the viewer the occasional frisson of seeing a character in mortal danger.”

How in the world should someone be expected by CFI to “at least exhibit a ‘frisson’ of logical ability”  YOu just cant stop arguing can you

This is EXACTLY why we never get anywhere in society because we are always fighting over such stupid stuff.

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