The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: K. Paul Johnson <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: [bahai-faith] fw Re: [bahai-faith] Censorship vs Free Speech
Date: Wednesday, June 10, 1998 10:00 AM
According to George & Marlena:
> >I
> >>> have also had some personal dealings with censorship in some newsgroups.
> >I
> >>> question, though, if any freedoms are in question here.
quoting me:
> >>
> >>How so?  For example, my own freedom to raise a question about a
> >>prophecy of `Abdu'l Baha in a way that cannot conceivably be seen
> >>as rude, hostile, etc. or violating any newsgroup rules.
> >>
> >> I see no reason why
> >>> everyone should be allowed to print anything they want, anywhere they
> >want.
> >>
> >>Straw man.  The fact is that no one is asking for that.  Just for
> >>consistent, fair application of the guidelines.
> <snip>
> Dear Paul,
> It seems to me, based on what you have just written(above), that unlimited
> freedom to write anything you want IS exactly what you want.
How is that?  I specifically stated that the post in question wa
not in any way rude, hostile, or in violation of newgroup rules.
The problem isn't even that it was *rejected* but that it was
simply thrown away, and when I asked for an explanation there was
none.  This surely violates the procedures that srb has set in
place.  And above, I say that all I'm asking for is consistent,
fair application of the guidelines.  I really don't see where
you're coming from on this, with such an accusation.
> Insulting and demeaning people by calling them names is not what I would
> call freedom, but an abuse of freedom. And that kind of abuse is what I am
> against.
Where in the world do you see me insulting and demeaning people
by calling them names?  Surely not in the passage quoted above.
I'm mystified.  And surely not in the post which was discarded
without an explanation; if I'd kept a copy you'd be able to see
the evidence.  But the gist of it was posted to this list,
followed by an explanation of all the hassles Bill Hyman put me
The only possible reason for your making such a harsh accusation
that I can imagine is that you think my line "Straw man" was
intended to call *you* a name, to insult and demean you by
calling you "straw man."  Well, what kind of goofy namecalling is
that?  What could it mean?  If this misapprehension is at the root
of your accusation, then let me clarify.  The dictionary definition
is "an argument or opponent set up so as to be easily refuted."
Thus what I was calling a straw man was your setting up the critics of srb
moderation as people who want to be able to say whatever they
want wherever and whenever they want.  You were making *me*-- or
rather your imagination of me-- a straw man for the sake of
argument, caricaturing my position.  Now you're sticking to that
caricature in spite of clear evidence against it, and imagining
that you see namecalling where there is none.  You can easily attack and
defeat such a position, but it's an artificial construction
designed (unconsciously perhaps) to be easily defeated.  The
critics of srb moderation want simply 1) clearcut policies 2)
fair and evenhanded application of them 3) responsive and helpful
moderators rather than rude and hostile ones.
That's NO BIG DEAL.  For most of its history srb had all these
things in my opinion, and only recently has it slid (ever more
rapidly, it appears) in the direction of arbitrary, high-handed,
hostile, nonresponsive moderation.  If Dick Detweiler or Alma
Engels, for example, were on the team now, we wouldn't see the
kinds of abuses that are cropping up, IMO.
> PostOn.
> George
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