I miss Linfar!

I miss Linfar.  She is one of those who have been banned and purged in the last day or two.  Last night, I went through Google Cache to look for the diaries she has written, which have been purged, along with her comments, from this site.  Fortunately, on the internet, nothing is ever really gone for good.

For those of you who miss her, here is the link to her cached User Page here at MyDD.  Linfar MyDD User Page

Linfar is absolutely a beautiful writer.  I was exceptionally impressed with her last diary "Typical White People"

Some of you may think that is controversial.  I don't think so.  She didn't come up with that title from thin air.  She was parroting something Sen. Obama said.  In any event, I believe that it represents a powerful statement from a woman who lived the values that everyone is calling for these days, and points out, through the title, that there is no such thing as a "Typical White Person." Read the article if you haven't read it before, and if you have read it, its worth a second read. Here is the link. Typical White People

You may not like what Linfar has to say, but as Democrats/Liberals/Progressives you should all be willing to listen to her. Disagree loudly if you must, but don't push out people with opinions who are different than yours. We all lose when that happens.

Please bring Linfar back!

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As Democrats we have long held the mantle for "freedom of speech",  We have been the standard bearers, frequently at our own expense.  The ACLU  has filed amicus briefs and acted as representation on behalf of the American Nazi party, the KKK, Larry Craig, Rush Limbaugh and many other groups and individuals we as Democrats find personally abhorrent.  We, Democrats, stood in unity to protect freedom of speech from the constant assaults by those who would relegate our Bill of Rights to a Bill of suggestions.

One of the most cherished privileges we possess in America, is freedom of speech, as guaranteed under the First Amendment. It is not only a privilege, it is a right, under the Constitution of the United States. A wise man however, once said:

"With great freedoms, comes greater responsibility".
The obligation to exercise restraint and good judgment concerning free speech is a topic of debate in our society. When does freedom of speech go too far?

We know one cannot scream fire in a crowded public venue without legal complications.  There is an assumed responsibility for  the physical safety of others when making such public demonstrations.  Then the question is;  Are we only concerned about physical safety? Are there other occasions or actions that would fall under review? The courts have generally protected what has come to be known as "symbolic speech", wearing hats, clothing or accessories like jewelry etc. that may contain messages or images, but even "symbolic speech" is not always allowed.

The court has emphasized the need for consideration for the "personal sensibilities of the audience." This is where I will begin my case for censorship.

The personal sensibilities of the audience.

MyDD is a private venture, it can, and has written it's own rules for engagement.  They, MyDD, are, in many ways like the Boy Scouts of America, they can pretty much arbitrarily decide who can and who cannot be a part of their organization. They write the rules and we comply or we get shown the door, as it should be.  But the basis for our participation as described by MyDD is:

MyDD is a group blog designed to discuss campaigns, the progressive movement, and political power.

The operative word there seems to be to be "DISCUSS", not accuse, threaten, insult, disparage, slam, smear or blame. To that end, there are even rules to which we all have agree to abide.

Users who are bashing or attacking any other user on the site, including authors of diaries and front page postings, will be banned. Candidates and politicians are fair game (but that doesn't mean you can use inflammatory language against candidates).
It is here, with these rules that I have a problem.  Simply put, we are not following the intent and spirit of those rules, perhaps it is our belief in freedom of speech that is preventing us from enforcing rules that apply to everyone.

There are so many inflammatory diaries and comments on this site now, that at times, one can hardly tell if it is a Democratic site or the "freerepublic".  I have gotten so frustrated with the name calling and vitriol that spews forth from some supporters of both remaining candidates, that I've resorted to filling the personal mailboxes of the three front page writers.  I am not a "nanny" type of person. but as a "Trusted User", I have on more than a few occasions found myself uprating user comments that were unfairly troll rated, and troll rating other comments that were rated "MOJO" for absolutely no other reason than they were written by a "cohort".

You also have a duty to read comments posted by untrusted users (you are the only ones who can!) and rate them up if they deserve to be viewable. We hate to see users become untrusted, and want them to rejoin the community, and rating them up when they post good comments is the only way for that to happen.

What I have routinely found, is that the hidden comments largely come from a small but active group of people who continuously uprate each other's comments and diary's just to gain TU status.  They are then free to post absolutely fictitious and libelous statements and diaries at will.  A simple review of the diary list, recommended and otherwise will reveal very little in the way of substantive discussions about:

campaigns, the progressive movement, and political power.

rather what you will see is something very unbecoming of a Democratic site.  I'm not really very concerned if individuals here personally support Hillary or, Barack, but I am concerned that the level of childishness here has made many of us so uncomfortable and offended "The personal sensibilities of the audience" that it may be time to use censorship to save us from ourselves.  I know already that this would be a difficult task for the moderators as the very success of this site depends on page views and hits.  It is after all as mush a "product" as it is a forum.

We as "Democrats" have turned against ourselves to such a degree that wemay indeed be causing irreparable harm. Neither candidate will ever be able to recover in the eyes of at least those of us who remain on this site.  It is increasingly looking to me like there is a small but very vocal group of Hillary supporters will leave this site if Obama wins or at least will become little more than antagonists at every turn to those who supported Obama.  The same can, and should also be said about a small but vocal group of Obama supporters.

Anyone who has been on this site either as a diary writer or lurker for more than a few months could not possibly have missed the de-evolution of the "public side of this site into something akin to a "Freeper" zone. I have nothing but respect for the front page writers and most of the public diary writers, but seriously, what have we come to when the number one recommended diary, with 45 recommends and 180 comments, at least at the moment of this writing, is a diary about "Saturday Night live" and a serious diary about "Al Qaeda, Impeachment, and Iraq" has no recommends and no comments?  Is this really what we as Democrats are all about?  Proof of our candidates greatness or fallibilities is best described by a satirical television program?  How about a youtube of Bill Moyers or Amy Goodman, might they be better sources of political discourse?

I know I am going to get troll rated by many, many people now that I have openly called for reason, reason in the form of censorship, but if that is the price I have to pay so be it, and I will gladly post the first comment to my diary so you can troll rate me, but I hope I will at least strike a nerve in the silent majority who lurk here and who tire of the childish behavior that abounds.  Use your status as a TU, censor those who do a disservice to our Democracy and our Democratic candidates.  A little time spent searching a users comments and diary's will quickly point out who the "Freepers" are.  If every comment and diary  written is an affront to one of our Democratic candidates, they are most likely a "Freeper" trying to sabotage our discussions.  Let's send them back to the hellish place of their origin.

Let's return to civility before it's too late, and this is a plea to everyone.

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Ode to MyDD, or, How I Got Banned By Matt Stoller

It was just six little words to Matt Stoller that got me banned from OpenLeft today:

Stoller is very quickly becoming irrelevant.

This was my response to the first of Stoller's two-rant rant-fest today re Democrat Barack Obama's decision to
skip the vote on Republican John Cornyn's resolution condemning MoveOn for its own newsprint condemnation
of General David Petraeus.

Never mind that Stoller had titled his little bitch-whine, "Obama Betrays Us, Of Course." (That "Of Course" speaks
eternal volumes.)

Never mind that Stoller started by writing:

In Dante's Inferno, the Opportunists were "the people who refused to take sides on the whole
good vs. evil thing, but just looked after themselves. As a result, they're doomed to forever run
after a banner while being stung by wasps and hornets... These people aren't technically in hell.
They're not evil enough to be in hell, so they're in the vestibule of hell."

Never mind that, after observing immediately thereafter that "Obama didn't take a vote on the MoveOn condemnation,
but an hour earlier he voted for the Boxer amendment," Stoller simply declared -- as if it required no further explication --
that Obama was "a sad spectacle of a politician."

Never mind that, after two dismissive updates, Stoller couldn't possibly resist giving Obama one final self-righteous kick
to the curb: "What a putz."

And never mind that -- just in case there was any doubt -- Stoller added to rant number two the following salutation to
Obama'a advisors: "You suck!"

Never mind all that. Apparently, all the thin-skinned Stoller himself needed in order to ban me was that I merely suggest
that he was "quickly becoming irrelevant." Not that he was irrelevant, mind you. Just that he was on thin ice.

It helped, I'm sure, that I use -- or, I should say, used -- the same ID at OpenLeft that I use at MyDD and that I started posting
at MyDD in April, while Stoller was still here. I didn't even have to mention Obama's name. He knew.

But never mind that, too. Did Stoller respond to my seven-word comment? Did he engage me in any way? No. He. Just. Banned. Me.

Or so it seems. The lesson, it appears, is that dissent of any kind against Matt Stoller -- or perhaps just take-no-bullshit dissent from
supporters of Barack Obama -- is not tolerated at OpenLeft.

I'm tempted to argue that Stoller, in particular, is on his way to becoming the Eric Alterman of his generation -- pissing his way
to the top of a pinnacle that is all the more shaky, because of the very soggy crowd that is pushing from below to tip it over.
The Veruca Salt of the Netroots.

But that's another story. The point here is that, given the choice between Matt Stoller's apparent censor-tactics and
MyDD's free-wheeling free-for-all, I'll take MyDD any day.

In my experience, MyDD is more decentralized, more bottom-up, more democratic. It simply puts more power in
the hands of its diarists.

Is there more risk in this approach? Yes. Does it require more honesty and vigilance and mutual respect from
those who participate? Yes. (Democracy is hard.) But it also affords more freedom -- and, ultimately, a
better shot at the truth. And it's just more fun.

So: Long live unfettered free speech. And long live MyDD -- George and all.

"Don't Tase Me, Bro" Open Thread

I realize this is a bit of a digression from politics proper, but I just had to ask everyone what they thought about the Andrew Meyer/UF Taser incident.

It's a strange thing to see, and if you haven't seen it yet, here it is.

A little more background appears here.

Your thoughts on the incident?  The media's response?  What do you think we should do about it?

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Workers Have the Right To Remain Silent: A Podcast Interview With the ACLU's Bruce Barry

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal as well as the Independent Bloggers Alliance, the Peace Tree and Worldwide Sawdust.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

So reads the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. However, the Constitution does not prevent employers from encroaching upon the free speech of their employees. Even so, most Americans assume their right to free speech is protected in all aspects of their life - including their jobs. The reality is quite different.

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