September 11, 2003
On comments and banning

I've gone over a year and a half on this blog without any kind of policy statements, but after the recent dustup I suppose I can't avoid it any longer. I'm checking out other blog policy pages for inspiration, starting with Ginger's and Kevin's, and will try to have my own such page up in the near future.

In the meantime, there's my ban of Owen Courreges from comments, which was sparked by some highly offensive (to me, anyway) words in the thread I linked to above. A number of people whose opinions I respect - William Hughes, Byron, Mike, Kevin, ElGato - have left comments in that thread saying that I have done the wrong thing. That concerns me, and I've been considering what to do about it.

It's difficult for me to discuss this topic in any depth without saying unkind things about Owen. (I'm not surprised to learn that he has no qualms about doing the same to me, however.) Suffice it to say that my opinion of the value of his comments is not as high as some other people's.

This is my blog, and I will do what I think is necessary to maintain its integrity, including removing comments and commenters whose actions are harmful to my readers, my blog, and myself. I do not, however, want the cure to be worse than the poison, and I refuse to let someone like Owen goad me into doing something that will cause others to think less of me. As such, I'm removing the ban on Owen and on another poster whom I blocked a few weeks ago for similar behavior. I will not hesitate to reinstate their banishment if I feel they cannot act in a civil manner.

I apologize to you, my readers, for taking up so much time on this subject. I hope this will be the last time I have to address it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 11, 2003 to Administrivia | TrackBack

Dude, it's your blog, and you have no responsibility, moral or otherwise, to make and keep it an open forum for debate.

Posted by: Frankenstein on September 11, 2003 1:12 PM

I know, and I appreciate your saying so. I hate being in this position, and I plan on stating clearly for all to see what I consider acceptable behavior here.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 11, 2003 1:18 PM


In the comments on the original post, you said, "He chose instead of equate these schoolchildren with a group of people who were publicly directing hatred at them."

I think perhaps you mischaracterized his position slightly, and that led to this problem.

Owen's problem doesn't seem to be with the kids, but with the adults who set up this school. That is (from his second comment), "those who are so extreme in their support of gays that they would deign to demand separate schools...."

I can understand your anger with him if you thought he was denigrating kids, but that doesn't seem to me to be the case here.

...[after a quick visit to his blog]...

I see that Owen has posted similar comments in his defense, that this was in part a misunderstanding.

That said, I think he overreacted to the banning. I'll post a comment to that effect on his blog as soon as I'm done here. (Gotta stick up for a fellow MOBster.. ;)

Posted by: Doug Haunsperger on September 11, 2003 2:07 PM


Looking over the thread again, I see your point. Guess I was a bit sensitive. Thanks for the catch and for your support.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 11, 2003 2:20 PM

Chuck, you're more diplomatic than I would be. It hasn't been a problem on APCB yet, but I'd have no problem booting someone from my comments section.

I'll second your other commenter and say it's your damn blog. Do as you damn well please.


Posted by: Pete on September 11, 2003 2:56 PM


I think you're doing fine here. You tend to take the other side than I would on many issues, but I respect how you present things here. I've never felt unwelcome as a reader. That's pretty cool.

Like the earlier comments, I think it's your blog and your call and I think its cool that you're writing up a comments policy.

Posted by: elgato on September 11, 2003 4:04 PM


I've never been known as the voice of reason, but I do view this site as "your house". In much the same way I would not appreciate anyone disrespecting the "ground rules" when they visit me, I try to follow the same guidelines when visting "your house" here on the web. If I ever step out of line, please let me know ASAP.

By the way, if you respect a knuckle dragging Neanderthal such as myself, you can respect anybody.

Posted by: William Hughes on September 11, 2003 5:46 PM

There are subjects of which any serious discussion is, necessarily and in some respect, violent. We (by whom I do not mean merely the blogosphere) do not suffer from a net surplus of candor. The present climate of pervasive dishonesty (Oh! Oh! What violent language! Ban me, quick) in public discourse was a seamless outgrowth of a general reluctance to call a spade a #%^$%^ shovel. But we are so far into topsy-turvyland that provocation passes for candor, the real thing having faded into unfamiliarity.

I trust you, and I suppose you trust yourself, to distinguish candor from provocation. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on September 11, 2003 8:12 PM

Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 11, 2003 9:37 PM

Ownership of the press includes the right to choose who uses it. People who want a back-and-forth exchange of ideas should go to Usenet or discussion boards. Comment threads aren't an equal playing field.

There is very little reason for you to feel obliged to play host, and no reason at all for you to regret uninviting someone.

Not that I have a strong opinion or anything.

Posted by: Greg Morrow on September 12, 2003 9:36 AM

Charles, I found Owen's comments appalling, and I would have done exactly what you did--except I wouldn't have lifted the "death sentence" so quickly. There are some statements so disgusting that nothing short of an extreme, vehement expression of disapproval is warranted, and this was such a case.

Posted by: Steven desJardins on September 12, 2003 12:46 PM

As you know, I'm a firm believer in the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the blog rules.

Your judgement on these matters is generally sound. Do what you need to to keep the pool clean.

Posted by: Ginger on September 12, 2003 1:38 PM

Regarding the original issue, I don't think it's possible to denigrate the supporters of HMHS as a group without including the students who attend the school in that category. The kids want to attend the school. It was set up to accommodate their preferences. If no gay student wanted to attend HMHS, it would not exist.

I see no parallel between people who think NYC -- or America -- 'deserved' 9/11 and people who think that there needs to be a refuge for gay students who find the bullying and intolerance to be more than they can handle while receiving an education.

I'm not a fan of HMHS, but we cannot forget that it is intended to serve the kids who attend. So when I put down the school, I'm responsible enough to realize that I have to address the concerns of the children who want it to exist.

Posted by: PG on September 14, 2003 10:16 PM