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CFI applying censorship and restricting freedom of speech?
Posted: 27 March 2007 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Paul, It is obvious that you have to make this all about you. And by the way, telling me in a VERY condescending way that I am saying things that are “beneath the dignity of my potential’” is NOT complimenting me. What universe do you live in, do you actually believe the BS you are saying? YOu are such a sterotypical blowhard argumentative type. Do you have anything to say about anything other than CFI removing a post that it decided did not belong here? That decision is not up for a vote and it should not be, IT IS THEIR DECISION. I repeat havent you ever been on other moderated boards before? People get banned for not keeping the rules ALL THE TIME. It is obviously impossible for you to see the situation from any other perspective than your own side which is very VERY immature. People like you are the reason I dont get involved with the old group here which was just as petty and argumentative over the most stupid stuff and never getting anywhere. I give up. This is idiotic.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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[quote author=“Paul”]What bothers me most about the way discussion of this issue has proceeded is that it exhibits such a lack of basic skills of reasoning on the part of so many.

This is not your psychology classroom, Paul. If my intelligence bothers you, I apologize.

[quote author=“Paul”]George, the transcripts of the Nuremberg trials are freely available for anyone to look at.

I have “looked” at it. In it, I didn’t find much of the IG Farben part of the story, for example.

[quote author=“Paul”]And the sort of thing you’ve just posted is much more damaging to this forum than anything Fayzal has posted that I’ve yet seen.

Maybe. Maybe it’ll get deleted.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 06:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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(paraphrasing im sure rolleyes )  In the market place of ideas no one ideas should be excluded.  Some will have worth and some will not.  But it is up to the market place to decide.

If a poster floats an idea/topic and the marketplace (CFI/members) find it worthy of debate then so be it.  If not then it will be a one post topic.  The marketplace should be free to decide which of those ideas are worthy and which are not.  Those ideas should rise or fall on their merits alone.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 06:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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DJ:

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

You ought to change the word contentious, DJ, to dedicated.

DJ:

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). 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.

Let me re-explain here.  I seem to have confused two versions of the word authority here.  What was told to me was that, of course CFI can shut anyone out of the forums or close the forums down alltogether because of what Paul described as Property Rights.  CFI owns this forum.  So in that sense, CFI legally was allowed to ban Fayzal. 

BUT, I was told that it was not your or Karr’s JOB to police the forums (or any staff at CFI), and their actions were inconsistant with CFI’s or humanist values.  It was censorship from above. Fully authortarian ... A misused authority, ‘big brother’ like, wrong-headed and contrary to all we stand for.  And for humanists, THIS wrongdoing is enough, property rights asside.

Also, I agree with Paul that since you (or Karr, who is a conservative Republican) have not offered any satisfactory reasons for the banning of this topic other than your arbitrary dislike of it, no one ought to consider the decision rational. 

DJ:

Not because the issue was too taboo, but because it was outside the mission of the forums.

You know, if you were honest, you’d admit you think the topic is taboo.  You have already said so in your wrong-headed description of the post as about sex between father and son which it clearly was not.

To say instead that it was a topic outside of CFI’s mission is absurd, and Paul’s response seems to explain why. 

You know, in another time DJ, talking about your being gay and the issues around homosexuality would have been a topic not in CFI’s mission because of the misunderstanding of a great many things including humanism.  I am particularly baffled that you, of all people, think as you do here.  Some sort of projectionism, maybe?

DJ:

To the couple of people who feel motivated to use CFI’s forums almost exclusively to criticize CFI for not being socialist enough… In my opinion, being hardhearted about these issues is inconsistent with our shared humanist values.

Since I am the libertarian-socialist you refer to, I will say that if you think politics and economics have nothing to do with a humanist worldview, than you know very little about humanism!

I have not “criticized CFI for not being socialist enough;” if you have read any of the postings, you will see that I have written on politics or economics and I have written on many other things such as free will and angry atheism, so my posts are hardly exclusively about politics or economics - AND there are threads called Humanism and Politics/Social Issues, no? 

My argument is not that CFI/CSH is not socialist enough (I am not a socialist anyway), but about how CFI/CSH DEFINES its most important (and only) philosophy ... Humanism! 

Atheism, secularism, biblical criticism, science.. Are all not philosophies.  Naturalism is, but CFI/CSH misses the full picture here, only defining naturalism as opposed to supernaturalism, and not by its full description such as found at at www.naturalism.org (for instance). 

That you call my posts about politics or economics or humanism (or how CFI/CSH defines humanism) hard-hearted, I’d respond that you were not being clear-headed enough.  This ain’t about feelings, DJ.  Shall we all become weak-headed on these topics on these forums so that CFI (or you) can feel loved?  Where’s the freethinking in that? 

DJ:

I predict that this will continue to be seemingly the central issue of concern for a couple CFI discussion forum participants 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. 

Well, you are a psychic DJ, because you’ve predicted that some of us will not follow your orders here.  It’s not in our freethinking blood smile 

And as I have already said, my participation in these forums are all over the place (though not on pseudo-science, I admit), and your nasty comment that we can “devise of nothing else to focus on” is just your way of redirecting all eyes from this vital issue.

Sad.
George:

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…

Huh?  This reactionary response makes no sense, on top of it being reactionary!  And I won’t even bother to respond to Nappy; it would seem by his dialogue that he’d be happier to post on the Fox News Forum!  Why is he here?

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Posted: 27 March 2007 07:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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Well, I can’t help myself. Blame it on my plane being delayed yet again. At least they have free wireless internet the Pittsburgh airport raspberry

Barry: All registrants to these forums agreed to the following when they registered:

While the administrators and moderators of this forum will attempt to remove or edit any generally objectionable material as quickly as possible, it is impossible to review every message. Therefore you acknowledge that all posts made to these forums express the views and opinions of the author and not the administrators, moderators or webmaster (except for posts by these people) and hence will not be held liable.

You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, sexually-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws. Doing so may lead to you being immediately and permanently banned (and your service provider being informed).

Even so, it is true (and I agree with you) that many issues regarding sexual ethics are important topics for secularists, humanists, skeptics, rationalists, etc. to address and explore. And the forums allow and even encourage that discussion. But such discussion can happen without being sexually explicit, and not all sexually oriented topics belong on the fourms. Not everyone will agree on which topics should and which topics shouldnt. It is a judgement call. But for you to equate gay rights with the right of a father to masturbate his son (for whatever reasons he gives) is to do a disservice to me and other gay people who are GLBT activists.

The post on masturbating one’s son was taken down because it was deemed to not fit into the category of important ethical questions within the purview of this forum. I am completely fine with people disagreeing with this decision, but even if Thomas made the wrong decision in the first place by removing the original posting (I do not think he did) I think it doesnt serve this online community to focus on the supposed rights of a father to make posts on CFI’s websites about his sexual activities with his son.

Surely no one would argue that CFI has a moral or any other obligation to let people post entries on absolutely any topic on these forums?

Simply put, a decision was made by a moderator, it was supported by CFI’s leadership, and I think by the majority of people in this online community. Even if it was a wrong decision, I believe it does even more harm to inveigh against CFI and its staff and volunteers for making the decision. 

I am sure that wont limit the railing against the “heiarchy” at CFI that would dare to keep removed certain material that it decided, after deliberation and much discussion, was objectionable.

At least some people seem to be findingthe back-and-forth fun. Cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless smile

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Posted: 27 March 2007 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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Paul,

I’m finding the conversation increasingly muddled, and its making me increasingly frustrated. First, with regard to Brennen’s post, I think he is confused about what constitutes a ‘public’ space and what constitutes a ‘private’ space, and how this relates to ‘free speech’. The debate over the public/private distinction has a long history. I can remember when it was suggested that even though a hotel was a ‘public accommodation’, if it was privately owned, the owners should have the right to decide whether they wished to rent rooms to people of color. Presumably, Brennen wouldn’t buy into that argument. Why, then, should a public accommodation have the right to regulate speech? If speech turns into ‘behavior’ and the behavior is inappropriate or threatening to public order, well, then, ok. But I hardly think that a discussion of sexual ethics on this forum is behavior or disruptive of public order. Is it that this forum doesn’t exist to discuss matters of sexual ethics? Why? Who decided what is and isn’t relevant to humanism? This is all preposterous. I would suggest that Brennen seems more concerned with ‘property’ rights than human rights. This doesn’t seem ‘humanist’ to me. Should I now suggest that Brennen be banned because he doesn’t meet my definition of what is relevant to humanism? This is just plain silly. Should I not be allowed to wear a shirt to a shopping mall that says “I hate Bush” on the front, because the mall is ‘private property’ and the owner loves the president? A little clarity of thought would go a long way here, Brennen.


I can assure you, I find the discussion frustrating as well. First of all, your arrogance and condescension make debate with you largely pointless. You label any disagreement as ignorance and incoherence of thought. Your examples regarding public accomadation are inapt and clearly designed to be inflammatory rather than explanatory, and you completely miss, deliberately or not, my point. Your amateur and inaccurate political assessment of my feelings about “property rights” is pure ad hominem. If you wish to encourage free debate, as you claim, first you need to rein in your ego and learn to address other members, even those not in agreement with your position, with respect. You share, it seems, with Barry a habit of being so sure of yourself that you cannot conceive of well-intentioned, intelligent, humanist individuals who would disagree with you. Barry, to his credit, has done a great deal to control this tendancy in the interest of engaging others in debate and of potentially actually influencing other people by presenting his ideas in a reasonable and respectful manner. You are apparently so consumed by self-righteous indignation at the restriction of a discussion you were not even a party to yourself that you cannot control your need to disparage those who don’t agree with you. Such behavior poisons the atmosphere necessary to free and open debate and only impedes the ends you claim to seek. To paraphrase yourself, a little humility would go a long way here, Paul.

If you cannot restrain yourself from demanding explanations not owed to you by those who provide this space for discussion, perhaps it would be more appropriate to do so directly and privately? Though, of course, that would take the discussion out of the public eye, and limit your opportunity for bold public proclamations of your unique and pure commitment to true freedom of inquiry, which clearly the rest of us can’t fully understand or appreciate.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 07:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Barry,

I don’t think Paul’s example of “public accomadation” is at all accurate. If you haven’t figured out by now, I lean democratic socialist/old-left, whatever you want to call it, myself and I am hardly a vehement supporter of private property rights. But I think CFI/CSH are providing an opportunity for discussion that they are under no obligation to provide and that also is designed to serve their interests in some way. In return, they ask for adherence to what seem reasonable and rarely intrusive guidelines to protect themselves against misuse of the discussions out of context for propaganda purposes by others (which I agree is a weak but still somewhat legitimate rationale). You have, after all, freely condemned almost everyone and erything about CFI/CSH repeatedly, and they have rarely made any effort to censor you except when you strayed into areas having to do with your past employment there. They make no profit from the enterprise and we as a community get great benefit from it. Whether I agree with the specific judgement on the original tghread (and, as it happens I don’t), I do not agree than there is any obligation upon our hosts to allow any and all discussion to take place. As a libertarian, I know you find any coercive limitation on your rights to say and do as you please repugnant, and I know Chris shares that sentiment, and I suspect Paul does as well though I can’t say for sure. I won’t get into the debate about the extent of individual liberties and when they can or should be restricted. But CFI/CSH limiting content on this forum is not going to create anything like the opression or inequities visited upon people of color by restriction on their use of public accomodations. The example is purely inflammagtory and exaggerates the importance of this forum and the administrators actions.

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Posted: 27 March 2007 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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Paul, I don’t have any special position, but I read the original post because I log on frequently enough that I saw it and the responses during the two to four days is was up before it was deleted.  At the time I recognized it was well outside the scope of this forum and felt that it would more properly be posted and discussed on one of the myriad of adult forums on the Internet. 

I agree with the administration’s decision to delete it. 

I further agree with Brennen’s well reasoned and cogent responses to you and Barry.  However, I’m quite old and crotchety so I don’t have the patience with either of you that he does.  To make a clearly ad hominum evaluation of both of you - you are blathering, garrulous, crackpots with far more time to type in your drivel than clarity of thought to give a succinct opinion then let it go.  :evil:

I know that one or both of you will write an interminable post excoriating me (I know. This is another critical thinking error - “poisoning the well”), but thank goodness for the scroll down key.

Occam

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Posted: 27 March 2007 05:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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A Proposal

To any of those who have participated on this thread in this forum:

Here’s an idea.  Many of the discussions on these forums have been about what constitutes humanism; or at least, what topics are pertinent to humanism and ought to be visited.  This has come up about capitalism vs. a libertarian-socialist approach, politics and economics in general, atheism vs. humanism, the Islam Summit’s partnership with the Intelligence Summit under the approving roof of CFI, and this issue concerning sexuality.

I would like to invite anyone who has contributed to this last topic - we can’t visit all topics due to time, and this one is perhaps one of the most interesting - to share dialogue on my radio show, ‘Equal Time for Freethought’ perhaps on July 1st, 2007 (date chosen because of the possibility of a one-hour program that day).

What is the relationship between sexuality and humanism?  Why are some sex-related topics open for discussion among humanists (like homosexuality), and others not (like a dad’s compassion for his son which is NOT sexual abuse, incest or pedophilia)?  Are humanists/naturalists fully informed by the hard and social sciences on these issues and open to the many needs and ways of being human, or are we anti-body and anti-bodily pleasure puritans like our Christian comrades where our only difference with them may be our atheism?

Are any of you who have participated in this thread - Brennon, Occam, Nappy, George, Paul, Doug, Gallaga - interested? 

I also invite DJ to articulate his opinion (both as a self-identifing humanist and re his role as CFI-forums decision maker re this banning), and Fayzal as well (I will forward this to him).

PS: To ensure fairness, I will not moderate such a program myself, but will delegate the job to one of the ETFF team.

www.njhn.org/etff.html

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Posted: 27 March 2007 05:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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I would join if I can…time zone may be a problem (+8 GMT) and you should know that I was offering a relatively strong dissent to the original post. Arguing somewhat against the propriety of Fayzal’s action, though I was also trying to respect his integrity and not equate him with a predator. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Posted: 28 March 2007 02:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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I would be glad to listen to your discussion, Barry, but I can’t participate. My spoken English sounds even worse than it reads. And I am aware of the fact (even though I often forget this) that my intelligence is not adequate to engage in a dialogue with you, guys.

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Posted: 28 March 2007 04:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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Paul,

As you apparently saw in my response to Barry, I do feel your comparison to discrimination in public accomodations was inappropriate and rather hyberbolic because it equates in principle two act of greatly different seriousness and significance. I still feel CFI/CSH provides a service both to benefit the community it serves and for its own aims, and doing so does not obligate it to allow any and all discussions or to justify its decisions to the ultimate satisfaction of all member sof the community, which is what you seem to want. I think the concept of property rights is also inapplicable. You are assuming obligations on the part of the organization that it supposedly incurs by offering a space for public discussion, and I do not agree with that assumption. You also seem to wish to dictate to CFI/CSH how it must interpret its own guiding principles in such a specific matter, and while I personally disagree witht he specific decision CFI made with regard to the original post, I don’t think it is up to you, or me, to demand the organization act in accordance with how you or I see its principles and objectives, but how they see them. You are free, of course, to disagree, but your tone has consistently suggested that you feel a great moral wrong has been commited and that the banning of the topic and the poster is tantamount to abjuring the principles of hbumanism Furthermore, you seem to feel the organization owes you personally a satisfactory explanation. As I’ve said, I don’t agree with your feelings or your reasoning here, nor the tone you’ve taken in your discussions.

I was not assuming you were not having private discussions, I was simply questioning the apprpriateness or value of the public pronouncements you were making and suggesting that since your grievance seemed personal perhaps your complaints ought to be as well. Finally, I certainly do not wish to imply that I am not interested in discussions with you on whatever topics, aside from that of the banned thread, which I think is at the beating-a-dead-horse stage, nor do I wish to suggest you should not participate in the forum if you have the time and inclination. As Barry can attest, I am capable of disagreeing vehemently with others while still supporting their right to contribute to the discussion. I have, so far, found the tone you’ve struck and the way you’ve responded to criticism of your ideas less than respectful, and if that is the standard way you argue I probably won’t be inclined to participate in discussions with you, but that is not something I am ready to assume will turn out to be the case.


Barry,

I’d be happy to participate in any dialogue you wish to support, if time and logistics allow. I can’t say as I think I have anything particularly insightful or uniquely informed to say on the topic. It’s of interest to me in so far as it is an improtant part of the human experience, so I certainly have opinions, but I don’t have any special knowledge or experience on the subject to offer.

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Posted: 28 March 2007 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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OK!

Paul, Fayzal, Brennen and maybe Gallaga (if he is willing to stay up late - what is the time in Hong Kong when its 6pm in New York?) are interested in participating. George, if you think your spoken English is a hindrance, I will understand, but feel free to participate indeed as an intelligent person. All of those I invited are certainly intelligent, or they would not get this entire debate ... well, maybe not Nappy smile

So the list so far is:

Paul
Fayzal
Brennen

George?
Gallaga?

I’d be really happy if Doug Smith and DJ Grothe will particpate as they have made the strongest case for banning Fayzal.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 03:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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Paul,

I agree that understanding and dialogue are possible even though we may have significant disagreement. My point in emphasizing the privat nature of CFI/CSH was to suggest that as a private orgnization without the power of government and with no claim to represent the public at large but only its own members it was not bound by the same obligations as government to allow or facilitate people’s expression of their opinions. The difference in scale, which we agree on, in my mind makes a qualitative difference as well. I think the issue of free expression is a vital one in terms of maintaining a free society and individual liberty, and I feel sometimes people cry violation of their free speech rights in context where it is not appropriate and this threatens to cheapen the concept. Not every limitation on one’s expression of a thought constitutes a violation of the 1st amendment, and so I prefer to resevre terms like “free speech” and “censorship” for truly significant contexts in which 1st amendment freedoms are infringed in impotant ways. Of course we can cordially disagree about this.

And while CFI/CSH may have some obligations under their own guiding principles, that is for them and their leadership to decide. It is fair to ask, as members of the community, for an explanation but they are under no obligation to satisfy us in that regard, so I felt your persistence and tone in asking for an explanation went beyond what was reasonable. Again, we may simple agree to disagree on this. As for any “backstory” of course I’m not aware of that and there’s no way for me to figure that into my itnerpretations of your posts.

I think we’ve both been able to articulate our positions and found what common ground there is, so unless you feel there’s any reason to go farther I’d consider the topic exhausted, and I look forward to any further discussions we may have.

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Posted: 29 March 2007 08:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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From my recollection we “were” well on the way to a very similar discussion, though only I and Fayzal were involved when it vanished. Most of the dissent is similar to what I had offered, especially the tone of respect for Fayzals personal conundrum, while arguing the more global implications.

I can’t imagine what scared CFI so much, to have resorted to the brute tactics employed.

On the show time. That is not impossible, I believe it’s 6am by me…though not sure about that daylight savings time stuff anymore.

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