Thursday, December 6, 2007

How we got here

This is me, for the moment: I might touch on the ongoing struggle that keeps me from posting where I'd prefer, but it's a matter in process, so I'll be reasonably polite and stick to bare facts. For now. But I still have things to say about the rest of the world. Chavez isn't going to get away with his raid of a JCC in Caracas without me calling him a fascist. And I have tales of my trip to Korea that some people might like to hear.

A word about the moment: There was once in China a great master of the Diamond Sutra by the name of (as Koreans remember him) Dok Sahn. When he heard that there were Buddhist monks who didn't study the sutras, he set out to challenge them. Along the way, he stopped into a humble spot for lunch. The woman who ran the place promised him his lunch for free if he could answer one question. The Diamond Sutra says that the past is past, the future hasn't happened yet, and the present is so fleeting that it's already gone. So, the woman said to Dok Sahn, "The Diamond Sutra says that past mind, present mind, and future mind don't exist. With which mind will you eat your lunch?"

So, the bare facts before I eat my lunch. I was a regular poster on Newsvine. The site contains a great deal of what I would call blatantly antisemitic hate speech, despite terms of service that explicitly forbid "hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable" material.

One example I pointed out to the staff of the site:
But the average (so-called Christian) American merely echoes the mantra of his Zionist masters as he has been trained to do all his life.
In response to the longer message to the staff which included that example among others, I was told:
If [name of someone who regularly posts Holocaust denial, antisemitic conspiracism, and other hate speech] honestly does believe that the holocaust did not occur, then it is up to him to provide evidence to support that view without violating our TOS. In that respect, I think he is doing a relatively good job of heading up a controversial view without regularly crossing the line. He has crossed the line and we have contacted him and asked him to make some changes, to which he has done accordingly.

The best thing to do, if you are offended by or do not agree with [name of someone who regularly posts Holocaust denial, antisemitic conspiracism, and other hate speech]'s postings, is to either ignore them altogether or to provide alternative sources of evidence and opinion to those discussion threads or to your own column. Having multiple points of view represented is a part of what makes Newsvine a good place to learn.
I and many other users feel that this is a pretty shallow response that demonstrates a gross ignorance of just what the major tropes of antisemitism are, but the main thrust of the message is something I can live with. Let ideas win out over other ideas. So I did what I could to explain what antisemitism is. When I came across something I felt was antisemitic, I was appropriately polite but honest about it. Well, not so polite with some people as with others, but in each case appropriately polite to the situation. Until I was told:
However, if I find even the slightest trace of you referring to, implying or otherwise painting someone - anyone - as an anti-Semite again, your account will be terminated permanently and without prior notice.

I don't have time to research and debate the intricacies of your discussions with Tom and other users about neo-Nazis, anti-Semitism and such. So, purely as a matter of conservatism I am erring on the safe side and saying that you cannot accuse Newsvine users or staff of anti-Semitism or other forms of hatred toward specific groups of people.
There is no "if I honestly do believe" clause for me. No possibility of "heading up a controversial view without regularly crossing the line." (Even though my view is hardly controversial in most circles.) So, they've refused to deal with the problem themselves, and now they refuse to let me even address it. Their reasoning at all times includes a disinclination to understand the issues. I can hardly blame people whose expertise is in computer science rather than, say, minority studies, Jewish history, or journalistic ethics for failing to already have a well-formed understanding of the issues. But I can blame them for censoring me. [Update: They banned me, without me having written anything on Newsvine at all, let alone "the slightest trace" of anything. I originally left this out because it wasn't clear if they had banned me or merely suspended my account.] Hey, it's not a problem if there's nobody pointing it out, right?

This is just for people who want an explanation of what's going on. It is, of course, my view, though I've tried to be pretty fair. There's a lot more I could say, but I won't on this forum at this time. It is actually a fairly important matter - with Newsvine being a fairly large site, owned by MSNBC, a major news outlet - that ought to be openly debated on Newsvine.

I've posted it here, for now, since I can't post it there. Now, for lunch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Ignoblus,

I just found you and will be reading the rest.


Brenda Mayer