I Love Gellies

Mormonism, Evangelicism and Chaos Theory

Accountability for your words

So, as a chemist, if I started ranting on this personal blog about how people who don’t believe in the dogma of ether are idiots, and one of the other chemists (say, Tomchik) were to say, “Hey, PC, what would your PhD committee think to hear you lambasting critics of Ether?”

I could, act like a child and say that Tomchik was threatening me, personally on my own blog, and going after me, and my future family.

I could simply remove posts that bring up complex questions I can’t answer instead of letting them exist and be answered by others.

Or I could man up, and say, “Go on, Tomchik, I believe what I’m saying and I’m willing to defend it to my committee.”

Or, I could cowardly ban him for daring to question my mental prowess. And hide behind the safety that comes from silencing one’s detractors. This tactic has been used by some of the weakest and strongest minds in history. The weak, because they don’t know how to deflect the questions. The strong, because hiding the truth is the only way one can lie out of it.

The ability to speak freely one’s mind was very important to the framers of the constitution. But they never envisioned a free-for-all where everyone could say whatever they wanted without any consequences, but when where people were allowed to exchange ideas. Now this is my personal blog, I will remove swearing (what can I say, I’m pure like that), I will remove personal attacks. But the day I start banning people just because their arguments are more sound than mine, I hope someone would set me straight.

Matt 12:36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.


July 9, 2009 - Posted by | Religion


  1. I think Blake did a little more than just say “I wonder what your thesis committee would think of this?” (I would have been ok with that)

    He said that he thought the system should weed out candidates like Perry and that he was going to follow up with the regents at St. Louis Univ. Essentially, “if your words can get you kicked out of school, I’m going to use whatever influence I have to try to make it happen.”

    The banning and asininity that ensued are, well, asinine, but I don’t hold Blake blameless in the whole thing.

    Comment by Tom | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. OH, and the comment deletion WAS fascist.

    Comment by Tom | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  3. I think it’s mainly fear that causes people to want to censor information that threatens their deeply held beliefs. I’ve had my comments censored before. I’m glad you don’t approve of these kinds of tactics.

    Comment by Jessica | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  4. Jessica,
    I agree they fear their beliefs are being threatened.
    I really believe Jesus when He said the truth would make us free.

    Comment by psychochemiker | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  5. Jessica,
    Rusty wrote he deleted the comment because it linked to an anti-Mormon website. What was the website?

    Comment by psychochemiker | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  6. I believe it was Utah Lighthouse Ministry.

    Comment by Jessica | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  7. I was very new to the blogosphere and didn’t realize that UTLM is not a favorite site of most Mormons. It was quite awhile back so I can’t remember for sure, but I’m fairly certain I wrote another comment after Rusty’s response that he never posted (in which I do not recall citing any “anti-mormon” sites). Anyway, I gave up after that. It wasn’t the first time I’d had comments deleted or edited to remove information I was trying to provide.

    I think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way, but I have to say I’ve never hung out with people that have such a list of rules for communicating with them. Sometimes it feels like if you don’t adhere to the rules you are shunned. Maybe I’m taking it the wrong way, but that’s how it feels sometimes. Like on Rusty’s blog. I felt totally unwelcome and like he just wanted me to go away.

    Now, I have a list of rules for my blog (which basically = no personal attacks), but that is for the purpose of encouraging productive dialogue and avoiding ad hominems and red herrings and general all-around unpleasantness. I don’t believe in censoring information or arguments contrary to my beliefs though.

    Comment by Jessica | July 10, 2009 | Reply

  8. I think censorship of comments is pretty loathsome and prohibiting people from posting links shows a deep-seated insecurity and/or paranoia. I don’t care if someone is posting a link to the most vile anti-Mormon site on the Internet; if it isn’t pornographic or something, let the free exchange of ideas reign.

    Link-sharing can become a problem if it turns into link-spamming. On the one hand, if you want to make an argument, make it yourself. On the other, there’s no sense in re-inventing the wheel if someone is bringing up an argument or issue which has been answered by someone from your camp elsewhere. If you’re the mod, use your discretion.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being the OP of a topic and asking people to steer the discussion somewhere else. I did so on the theosis thread because I really didn’t want any kind of drama on the bad blood between Perry and Blake; I think that would have detracted from the larger discussion and was totally irrelevant to the OP of the thread.

    In the case of Perry v. Blake, I think Blake was out of line for threatening to terminate Perry’s PhD progress, and I don’t think banning Blake was too much of an extreme reaction. I’m not sure that I would welcome someone on my blog who threatened to talk to my superiors at Trinity and get me kicked out. The Internet just isn’t that much srs bsns, folks. However, I definitely don’t think entire comments by Blake’s should have been removed.

    One things for sure though. I’m glad that even uber-smart, scholarly, intellectual types lose it sometimes and have unprofessional pissing matches. It’s a good reminder that they’re real people just like the rest of us.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers | July 14, 2009 | Reply

  9. Bridget,

    I left Blake’s arguments up and removed his comments threatening my family. Disagree with me fine,but threaten my kids and wife, thats where I don’t have to tolerate someone’s speech anymore.

    Comment by Perry Robinson | July 14, 2009 | Reply

  10. Was that the entirety of the comments you removed then, Perry?

    That’s fine with me if that’s the case, but that is one of the problems with censorship. If the people observing didn’t see the comment beforehand, they have no idea what was said and can’t really judge if it was over the top or not.

    Incidentally, that’s one of the reasons I favor disemvoweling over deleting. The comments are still there and people can piece them together if they really want to make the effort. A good disemvoweler can also restore the comment in the future if needed.

    Not that you have to take moderation advice from me…

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers | July 14, 2009 | Reply

  11. Bridget,

    Yes, I only removed the last when the comments about my family came along. I am fairly tolerant of differing views on our blog. I don’t have a problem with people disagreeing with me. I try to discourage personal remarks and just get people to stick with the ideas expressed and their evaluation.

    After blogging for a number of years, I have only banned one other person, thats 2 total in over five years.

    In any case, I looked for an email address for you since I had a question for you that I did not wish to air on a blog. Would you drop me an email at acolyte4236 at sbcglobal dot net?


    Comment by Perry Robinson | July 14, 2009 | Reply

  12. No harm done then, Perry. And btw, when I said I find comment moderation loathsome, I had more in mind what was being discussed above re: censoring Jessica over counter-cult links. Threats to family/personal attacks are more of a gray area for me.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers | July 14, 2009 | Reply

  13. There’s an automotive board I frequent, and sometimes people will post insults & threats they get get from others, both directly on the boards, & in PM’s, in the community.

    The result is that those who outright threaten look like idiots to others in that community, as well as getting various insults thrown back at them!

    Live by the sword, die by the sword?

    Comment by Mike H. | August 16, 2009 | Reply

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