Comments Return to Gates of Vienna

Our traffic has yet to subside to its normal levels, “normal” being what it was before the horrible events in Oslo on July 22. However, the numbers have abated to the point that Dymphna and I are once again willing to allow comments.

Reasoned discourse in civil societyFor the time being comments will be moderated — that is, they will require approval in advance by the blog’s owners. We have decided to do this based on the level of vitriol in some of the comments we have received in our email. It is the tenor of those messages which prompted us to resort to moderating public debate on our blog.

Thus we have settled on a revised set of guidelines. As our long-time readers and commenters know well, there are four general categories of rules; these remain in force. That is, comments must still be civil, temperate, on-topic, and show decorum. In the interests of clarity for newcomers to our comments section, the definitions of those terms have been tightened and clarified.

Below is a brief “reference-card” explanation of our expectations:

1. Civil:   No name calling, insults, slurs, denigration of another’s intelligence, etc. are allowed. Valid arguments rely on reason rather than feeling. Characteristics of unacceptable responses include, but are not limited to: hostility of tone, reliance on insinuation, the employment of heavy sarcasm, condescension, or hectoring. The determination of the presence of any of these traits in a comment is at the sole discretion of this blog’s owners, as is the presence of logical fallacies.
2. Temperate:   No exhortations to commit violence, foment insurrection, start a revolution, etc. are allowed. Also impermissible are expressions of approval over the suffering or death of individuals or groups.
3. On-topic:   The news feed provides the sole venue for off-topic comments (obviously, no news items are off-topic in the news feed).
4. Decorum:   Parents of homeschoolers allow their older children to come here to further their education, and have requested that we maintain a PG-13 environment. Argue without resorting to foul language or explicit descriptions. Asterisks are not an acceptable way of making bad language palatable. If you cannot make your point without using profanity, obscenity, or scatology, do not post it here.

The most important thing to remember about the rules is this: The determination of whether any comment is in compliance is at the sole discretion of this blog’s owners.

This may seem unfair, but there is a good reason for the tightening of our standards. We are now under close scrutiny by hostile observers who are eager to find a pretext for shutting this blog down.

The consequences of a mistake are different for commenters than they are for the blog’s owners. You, the irritated commenter, may suffer the inconvenience of having your comment fail to appear here and be forced to post it at another site, or have it go unread.

We, on the other hand, face the possible closure of Gates of Vienna if the language appearing on our site is inappropriate. When our choice is between irritating a would-be commenter or having our blog closed, it’s no contest.

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Requiring blog comments to obey well-defined rules does not infringe on the free speech of commenters. To assert that we are “suppressing free speech” is a categorical error. Gates of Vienna is a private forum; it is not, and never will be, a public space. Anyone who disagrees with our limits is free to set up his own blog where he may hold forth to his heart’s content, applying his own rules to his commenters — or applying none at all. That indeed is where your liberty lies.

We have never permitted absolute freedom of expression within our forum, though learning this limit has come harder for some than for others. Our goal remains what it always was: to provide a space in which open and reasoned discussion may take place within clearly-defined parameters. Experience has proved that reasoned discussion is all but impossible without clear rules of discourse. Without the structure provided by our rules, what begins as unfettered “freedom” invariably ends as a free-for-all.

Not too many decades ago the standards outlined above would have been taken for granted and would not need to be made explicit. But we live in a degraded age. Common civility is no longer generally practiced. Rules of behavior, when they are acknowledged at all, are held in derision.

Resisting the tide of post-modernity may be difficult, but we will attempt it anyway.

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Because of my workload Dymphna will be in charge of moderating the comments. Since her health doesn’t permit long sessions in front of the computer, there will be delays.

There will also be times when no comments appear at all. As we visit family and friends, or travel, no one will be available to “take your comment”. Given the mess we’ve been handed, this is the best we can do for the moment.

20 thoughts on “Comments Return to Gates of Vienna

  1. By the nature of the subject, not a concise post, but explicit, eminently clear, and altogether fair.

    I am happy to know you both have recovered sufficiently from the recent unpleasantness to deem re-opening comments a step you are willing to try.

    Lucy, I’m home.

  2. @fk–

    I don’t know that I’ll ever recover completely. I discovered more than I wanted to know about hate mail.

    I have little enthusiasm for this, but readers have asked and things have calmed enough — no more media requests! — that it feels doable.

    It may be that the majority of would-be commenters will choose silence. Which means readers like you will have the floor to yourselves!

    Heh. Very heh.

    BTW, took me a moment to get your Ricky Ricardo reference. I could here his voice…did you know her 100th birthday was observed recently? She’ll always be ageless, though.

  3. Thanks for the personal response, Dymphna. I have BIG sympathy for your situation; I don’t envy you.

    Not to be overly critical, but I do have to question why you don’t just delegate this comments monitoring to your lady in waiting — or the Baron’s manservant. Or did Monday’s market collapse wipe out your vast holdings — as it did mine (hee-hee)?

  4. Wednesday, August 3, 2011
    Geert Wilders Doubles Down on Hate

    I tried to refute with this reply:

    Tim Bus
    Is this a censored blog?
    Do you only allow agreeable comments,like those of Anonymous’? If not: What about the “intended” consequences of inflammatory rhetoric, directed against Fortuyn and Van Goch, which led directly to their murders? What about the same kind of death threats aimed against Wilders?

    Contrast his comment that IF ‘Mein Kampf’ is banned for inciting hatred, THEN so should the koran, for the same reason. Even if he was calling for a ban, as opposed to highlighting an illogical situation which should be openly discussed by the government, that’s hardly in the same league as the direct hate speech and incitement which flows in mosques during Friday sermons.

  5. Gates of Vienna is a private forum; it is not, and never will be, a public space.

    To this forum’s eternal credit, the restraint of moderation shown in previous times made it, nigh well, a public space.

    I do not envy either of you what must have been a literal torrent of hate mail and the like. The Acts17Apologetics video featured here made rather clear just how unfair and imbalanced Liberal accusations against Conservative blogs continue to be.

    Thank you both for reopening the comments here at Gates of Vienna. Let this community emerge from its tribulations as an even stronger family.

  6. I am glad to see comments once again are open. Moderated, as are mine, but open. You are, as always, in my prayers. All my best to you and your fine contributors.

    I begin to think that the whole of Africa intends to migrate to Europe, one boatload at a time, through the unfortunate island of Lampedusa.

  7. Glad to see comments are back up and you really do have to keep a lid on the comments.

    Hopefully all will comply with the tightened rules and you are spot on with this comment:

    “I don’t know that I’ll ever recover completely. I discovered more than I wanted to know about hate mail.”

    Those who hate G of V and similar sites would love to attack us for any heady comments that may slip by but I know you and Baron will do your best. Do what must be done! Got your backs as much as I can!!

  8. I’m glad to be able to post a hug and a thank you. I will miss Fjordman, and I’m really saddened with Lionheart’s response to him. I am not in either man’s shoes, but I remember when Paul was going through his Orwellian nightmare. I hope that Fjordman can weather this, too.

  9. I’m glad the comments are back. I’ll do my part to keep my own emotions in check here.
    The hate mail which you received, I’m sure, was overwhelmingly irrational in structure, tone, and direction. Amazing how the liberal will extol the intellect and reason as long as they serve his purpose, and how quickly he will abandon them when ideas prove to have unpleasant implications.
    And seeing the implications is what your blog is all about.
    It’s important to me that your blog is here, that you, both of you, remain persistent in this peculiar, ancient cultural conflict that has so many ramifications.
    For the practice of democracy (and democracy is practice, not institution) the times are grim and ugly indeed. Not because of any religious fanaticism, but because of the Leftist multicultural fanaticism. It has degenerated this far because multiculturalism is going the way of all flesh– it has lost its authority, its hold on our thinking is breaking down. This process is inevitable, and here, many people are intellectually far ahead of the supposed cultural leaders in our society.
    I wish you well. And occasionally, I’ll comment.

  10. I am so happy to see this blog returning to a more normal way.
    I always maintained that GOV is one of the jewels of the blogosphere.
    God bless the blog owners and those who post regularly.
    By the way, what was “Lionheart’s response”?

  11. goethe–

    You reminded me of an excellent essay:

    Whittaker Chambers, Communism, and Islam

    I wanted to post on it. I may yet. Even though it’s more than a month old now it’s a perennial subject unlikely to stale-date. Besides, far too many people have forgotten Whittaker Chambers’ role as a martyr/witness.

    Makes one realize how far communism made inroads into Western intellectual thought. And how that serves to silence so many now with this new totalitarianism.

    Bostom is a fine, fine writer. This lead quote, by WC, even sounds like Goethe, come to think of it:

    Freedom is a need of the soul, and nothing else. It is in striving toward God that the soul strives continually after a condition of freedom. God alone is the inciter and guarantor of freedom. He is the only guarantor. External freedom is only an aspect of interior freedom. Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom the soul dies. Without the soul there is no justification for freedom.

  12. By the way who is this guy-Lionheart and why is he attacking Fjordman?
    I did not follow all the intricacies of this story, but it seems strange for a GOV contributor to spew such leftist garbage.

  13. I can’t figure it out, either, Cobra. After all, Paul fled to the US and sought refuge here when the police wanted to arrest him. I don’t even pretend to know what I would do in either man’s place. I am puzzled, too. Does Paul know something the rest of us don’t know?
    David Wood has perhaps the best fisking of those who would convict Fjordman, GoV, Geller and Spencer for incitement:

  14. In the series GLOBAL IDIOCY

    Prior to Coca Cola’s new campaign, which puts the most popular personal names on the bottles, the decision was made to exclude Muhammad when one considers that the name is too interconnected with the prophet of the same name. In Norway, you choose to take the same precautions to prevent any emotional outbursts.

    In Sweden, it was said that Coca Cola is strongly associated with the U.S. and the name Muhammad may be offensive because it is strongly linked to Islam.

    Vibeke Hansen, Coca Cola Norway told Norwegian TV2, that they have chosen to exclude the name out of respect for the Prophet. The name plays an important role in some cultures and religions, and we do not want anyone to feel supported by that name is found on our bottles, she said.

    According to the Norwegian State Statisticvan Bureau Mohammad, with many different spellings, is the most popular name in Oslo.

    Other names, like Ali, Miriam and Habibi, however, will be included.In the series

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