My Comment Policy

I deleted a coment this morning.

This is not something I normally do, except for comments that are both anonymous and content-free — abuse and invective do not count as ‘content’ for this purpose. The comment I deleted this morning was not anonymous, and it could be argued that there was some content in it.

However, the content (if any) was drowned in a sewer-main’s worth of crude insults hurled by one respondent at another. I will not tolerate this, even when the insult-hurler is nominally on ‘my’ side of an issue.

Armed And Dangerous is not a public square and “free speech” standards do not apply here. If you have nothing to contribute to debate over the things I write about, I can and will cut you off at the knees. This applies to those who broadly agree with me as well as those who disagree. (If anything, I give my opponents a little more leeway than my allies.)

In my own small way, I’m trying to defend civilization here. So keep it civil. Or else.


  1. This is the posting I was responding to (which is still on your blog):

    “Dan Kane, shame on you.”
    Color me scolded. Go fuck yourself.

    “‘Raghead’ and ‘Cunt’ are not especially helpful. Does nobody stop to think before posting on the net these days?”
    I didn’t have to think particularly long and hard about calling that raghead a cunt…I’m a maven with respect to the divination of such truths.

    And my maven-senses are tingling with the possible gay-ass cuntish nature of your ’silent protest’ bollocks…

    In return, I said:

    1. Thanks for telling me to fuck myself. I enjoyed it.
    2. Mavens are generally self appointed
    3. The poster should calm down – I offered a hug.
    4. I’m glad I made him tingle with my ‘gay-ass bollocks’
    5. I believe I reiterated my offer of a hug.

    The exchange between myself and Dan Kane was one where I attempted to point out to him that calling opponents ‘ragheads’ and ‘cunts’ is not helpful.

    As can hopefully be seen from the above posting.

    I don’t know if you got the wrong end of the stick, if you thought I was the one posting about ‘gay-asses’ and ‘cuntish bollocks’, or if you think that this is acceptible but treating someone who acts like this with humour rather than getting andgry and starting a flame war isn’t? Which was it?



  2. Huh? That’s going back in time a little…I’d forgotten all about that.

    Still, a flame is a flame…if I found your ‘line’, ESR, and stepped over it, I apologize.

  3. Armed And Dangerous is not a public square and “free speech” standards do not apply here.

    This is something that many internet users do not understand. Free speech says the government can’t stifle, not site owners. I know it’s slightly OT but this has been something on my mind a good bit lately. You have free speech, but not on someone else’s dime — their site, their rules.

    There is no responsibility to be fair, there is no right for someone to be heard.

  4. Adam – I agree with your point. What I’m failing to understand is why my post was deleted when the abuse and crude insults hurled were not hurled by me, but by another person, whose post is still on the blog?

    Glen, I would be happier to thank Eric for moderating if I knew that he knew what he was doing. Sure, it’s difficult to keep track of every post made here, but I would have hoped he’d have taken at least the time to make sure he understood what was going on. It’s not the deletion of the post that bothers me – Dan Kane doesn’t seem as though he particularly wants to listen to my brand of ‘swearing at opponents invalidates your arguments regardless of their grounding in fact’ schooling anyhow – the thing that bothers me is that the post that caused all this _is still there_ while my innocent post, because of association, because of trying to deal with such abouse without recourse to removal or closing my eyes, _has_ been deleted.

    Had Eric jumped on the original post, then I’d be unaware. As it is, _I’ve_ been attacked, rather nastily, for having a (to me) reasonable point of view, and then denied my chance to defend myself. I can see little to be thankful for in that. Do you understand? Or have I taken the mauve pill by mistake?


  5. Calling people “ragheads” and “cunts” seems about normal for this blog. Stormfront would have “kikes” and “niggers”. Extremists and loonies always end up sounding the same.

  6. tds, I apologize. I misunderstood who was on which side of that post, partly because you didn’t use the usual inclusion convention. Accordingly, I will leave up your repost.

    Dan Kane, I now think you were at fault here. Please moderate your language in future.

    We have another regular who has more than once referred to commenters as “toadies” (he knows who he is) without any justification. This is not acceptable either and I’ve had a mental bit set that I should say something about it. The house rule is that you may impugn someone’s character on this blog only in close association with presenting behavioral evidence of the defect, so you get away with “toady” only in close association with a description of suck-up behavior.

    Similarly: “You’re a Nazi because you have advocated mass killing of those you regard as racially impure” would be acceptable (assuming the second clause to be true), but just saying “You Nazi” as a rhetorical firebomb is unacceptable.

    In general, I will look far less leniently at flaming when it is directed at other responses than when it is directed at me. Repeat offenders will be banned.

  7. >Calling people “ragheads” and “cunts” seems about normal for this blog.

    It hasn’t been normal in the past, and I don’t intend to let it be in the future.

  8. We have another regular who has more than once referred to commenters as “toadies” (he knows who he is) without any justification.

    *One* commenter, and I do think that

    I have to say, that since emigrating to the USA, I have never been more aware of, and more deeply disgusted and ashamed of, the kind of seditious betrayal I see in the MSM and in certain contributors to this blog.

    I certainly salute ESR’s gastronomic fortitude an intellectual integrity in allowing such foulness to pervade his domain.

    …has a certain sucking-up quality about it. But it’s your blog, and all you have to do is call attention to it. I’m happy to comply.

  9. “Dan Kane, I now think you were at fault here. Please moderate your language in future.”

  10. Hey Eric,
    I got a 2 point for you to notice.
    1. First of all for GOD sake, set your RSS feeds so that they contain a full blog post, not just truncated 100 words.

    2. Fix your these errors on you individual blog post pages. Here are the errors
    Warning: preg_replace(): Unknown modifier ‘/’ in /public/html/esrblog/wp-content/plugins/google-hilite.php on line 105

    Warning: preg_replace(): Unknown modifier ‘r’ in /public/html/esrblog/wp-content/plugins/google-hilite.php on line 105

  11. > 12. ESR, are you a freemason?

    No. Why do you ask?

    (I have had friends who are Masons hint broadly that they wouldn’t mind sponsoring me for membership, and I would cheerfully join but for one thing: I cannot honestly profess to belief in a creator-god as the Masons require.)

  12. Not even Wikipedia sheds much light on the Masons. I was in my father’s town recently, a town of perhaps 10,000 at the most. I was suprised to find a huge masonic temple. It was perhaps four stories tall, and large enough for a 747 to park in. It was probably the biggest non-industrial building in town. Strange, no? Or maybe it just looked a lot bigger than it really is. But what do they do that requires all that space?

  13. Oh, and thanks for moderating. I have been checking out of interesting discussions lately, because I felt they descended into ugly slather.

  14. Well, all I know about the Masons are that members must be tradesman (a *smith, a craftsman, a programmer might be loosely acceptable). They have all the trappings of a secret society (special handshakes, chants, etc.). Members are supposed to be very respectable and trustworthy. Also, when a mason reaches the rank of ‘shriner’ (I think that is what it is called), a somewhat high position in the Masonic order, he is given a Masonic Bible, which is a version of the Holy Bible (I think it is based on the King James version) with some passages edited to give meaning to the Masons. If you are interested, I saw some (supposed) copies of the Masonic Bible for sale on I cannot verify any of this information, since my great-grandfather was the only Mason in my immediate family, and he died when I was seven.

  15. Eric, in the WP Admin interface, go to the “Options” menu, then select the “Reading” sub-menu. Under syndication feeds, select the radio button for full text instead of summary. That ought to fix your RSS feeds.

    [Ed note: I have done this.]

  16. While we’re on the subject of the web pages, could you fix the mouseover code for the AIM image please? I get JS errors every time any page with that logo on it loads, because the JS seems to have been truncated at around 80 characters or so.

    (The JS lines split right in the middle of a quoted string, so I get an “unterminated string literal” error. This is in the switchon() and switchoff() JS functions; both have strings that got wrapped when they shouldn’t have.)


  17. I’d like to make a couple of semi-related points, on the theme of free speech, I’m not commenting specifically on a particular act of moderation by a particular person, just raising these issues in spirit of inquiry.

    1. It seems the consensus in the US that free speech only binds the government (the federal one at that) and not institutions or individuals. However, as ESR pointed out speaking about net-neutrality and the like, looking at the net as mere piping, as bitflow over owned infrastructure, might not give us the social consequences we would prefer. I believe ESR’s metaphor is that of the net as a place, as a locale where conversations and trading occur, but this seems to me to impose higher burdens in terms of free speech than would derive from the clause that free speech only binds government.

    2. European constitutions are written in different language. Instead of “congress shall pass no laws abridging…” you get a somewhat different focus. As an example, Spanish Constitution (1978) 20.1 (on the freedom of expression):
    The protection and recognition is given to the rights
    a) to freely express and difuse thoughts, ideas and opinions by means of words, writings or any other means of reproduction
    b) to the creation and production in the literary, artistic, scientific and technical fields.
    C) to the freedom of teaching.
    D) to freely communicate or receive accurate information through any means of difusion. Laws shall regulate the rights to the conscience clause and the professional secret in the exercise of these freedoms.

    It’s quite clear that the intent of the constituent is not merely to limit the role of government in the regulation of speech, but to create a social framework in which speech is actually substantially free, whether from state or private power.

    On this light, do you think that there’s any onus, legal, ethical, or otherwise, on site owners or administrators, to ensure a fair hearing, and the like? If not, should there be?

    Is the government the only agent we should fear when it comes to our freedom of expression? Are media conglomerates, private big corporations, private institutions such as schools and the like, also to be taken as threats, or they are not significantly dangerous? For bonus points, relate this to the ideas of trusted computing and the digital imprimatur ;-)

    Personally I don’t know how to answer these questions. Sorry for having somewhat hijacked this space to pose them but hopefully they are interesting to the audience.

  18. David said: “Is the government the only agent we should fear when it comes to our freedom …. ”

    In my opinion, any institution or individual that has enough concentration of power to wield governmental or quasi-governmental powers is a threat to liberty, not just the “official government”. Many libertarians disagree with me and appear to be perfectly happy to allow Microsoft, IBM, the Red Cross, etc. wield tremendous power. The typical position appears to be that the market allowed them to have that power, therefore it is okay.

  19. “The typical position appears to be that the market allowed them to have that power, therefore it is okay”
    Is it not more the case that ‘the market’ provided an environment within which they could freely develop their own position of power? Are they not at liberty to do this? Are we still at liberty to choose?

    I would answer yes, yes & yes…the danger to our liberties arises when such corporations manage to fanagle governmental leverage in the marketplace.

  20. I certainly appreciate the sentiment, Eric…mankind doesn’t have a particularly good track record when it comes to wielding power honorably ;-)

    However, putting aside for the moment any specific accusations of governmental string-pulling and special interests (which I think fall into the general ‘danger to liberties’ category)…what exactly do you imagine such corporations really *have*, in the way of power? Power within the legitimate context of their market niche, certainly…isn’t that what we used to call being a competitive success?

    I happen to agree with the general theory that *real* monopolies require force, typically the kind of force that only a government can provide. How can M$ force you to buy their product? Are they not at liberty to strike up business deals with PC manufacturers, offering them competitive rates and the use of M$ branding if they ship machines with ‘Doze pre-installed? Sounds perfectly legit to me.

    Or how about Verizon? Where I live they are the only game in town. No cable, no DSL, no wireless…just vanilla twisted-pair Verizon telephone service. My choices are a) crappy dialup, or b) $500 for satellite. Is this monopolistic? Are other companies excluded from installing infrastructure? Nope. They don’t do it because we’re a 1 horse town that doesn’t justify the investment. My limited range of choice is not the same as my liberty to choose…which remains intact…even though I may grumble about my situation.

    Ultimately, my point is that I think it is a tad tinfoilish to suspect all concentrations of power…I suspect those concentrations of power where I suspect corrupt acquisition and/or future utilisation of that power.

  21. Sorry Dan, I can’t agree with you about it requiring governments to enable non-government concentrations of power to impact liberty. See this story to see what I mean. Your examples aren’t really good ones and appear calculated to downplay the danger rather than address true issues with concentrated power.

  22. I see…well, that article acknowledges “…Granted, it’s not technically “censorship” since it is not a government ban on speech…”

    I would agree that there is power to be derived from intimidation, as in this example, but this hardly refutes my view of monopolistic concentrations of power. I did not say that it *requires* government intervention, however, only that it *typically* involves governmental influence. Your example is interesting because it is the *fear of retribution* that enables these muslims to derive their power…an insideous, but weak, powerbase.

    What is ‘power’ anyway?

  23. Well, I think many worries about big corporations might be exagerated, but manufacturing state-of-the-art microprocessors, just for an example, is extremely expensive. It doesn’t scale down well at all. There are 3 or 4 manufacturers of intel-compatible micros and it’s probably what the market can bear. Under such situation of, let us say, natural oligopoly, it’s easy to envision these players agreeing to enforce trusted computing on their platform, and there’s practically nothing that the market can do to fight back, or perhaps there is and I don’t see it.

    Interesting comments though.

  24. Don’t see what the big stink isabout deleting posts. A couple of my replies didn’t make it past the moderation, and a couple more have vanished after posting. BFD. Apparently they were determined to be both anonymous and content free.

    I’m fully aware that it’s Eric’s blog, and he can delete what he wants (and I don’t blame him at all). I just don’t understand the point behind starting a discussion over pulling a comment full of slurs and invective, when deleting comments (at least mine) is SOP.


  25. >when deleting comments (at least mine) is SOP.

    Except it isn’t. Not for me, anyway. Perhaps you managed to trigger WordPress’s spam filters.

  26. My definition of power is in a similar vein to yours, Eric…’power is the potential for effecting change’…I think that you unfairly color (and prejudice) your definition by introducing the notion of coercion.

    I agree with your assessment of the microprocessor market, David…it is one heck of an expensive undertaking, not a ‘cottage industry’, so it should be unsurprising that it naturally boils down to a handful of key players. The risks of entering this market are formidable.

    When you say “…it’s easy to envision these players agreeing to enforce trusted computing on their platform…” my natural response is “And?”. Are they not at liberty to make business decisions themselves?

    As for “…and there’s practically nothing that the market can do to fight back…”, well, other than choosing to not buy their products, which is an exercise in ‘consumer power’, what *right* do any of us have to force them to make products to our specification? They may well have their own ambitions/motives for colluding with other industry partners to build better products, but ultimately, if consumers object strongly enough by witholding our dollars, they had better rethink their business plan or go bust.

    Of course, this is not currently the complete picture…industry *is* trying to fanagle governmental support with legislation that will coerce the market. That’s corrupt…and that’s the point where I firmly side with Eric ;-)

  27. > manufacturing state-of-the-art microprocessors, just for an example, is extremely expensive. It doesn’t scale down well at all.

    It doesn’t have to.

    The costs of fabs is interesting. The cost of the bleeding edge goes up but the cost of fixed-performance goes down.

    We’re already seeing PCs that are “fast enough”.

  28. The reason I criticised your definition, Eric, is that coercion (to my understanding) is a rather negative malevolent act…as distinct from persuasion, reasoning, or bargaining. If I coerce someone, I force them (somehow…threats, intimidation etc) to move in a direction against their will. I disagree that *all* power involves such malevolence, as your definition implies.

    To wit, take ESR…he has power within the OSS community. He has gravitas, credibility, projects intelligence and reason, and ultimately has a track record that puts him in good standing…and many people will happily listen and agree with him. For good reason. Other than his sinister ‘Eric Conspiracy’, I don’t see any evidence of coercion as he uses his power.

  29. “There are 3 or 4 manufacturers of intel-compatible micros and it’s probably what the market can bear. Under such situation of, let us say, natural oligopoly, it’s easy to envision these players agreeing to enforce trusted computing on their platform, and there’s practically nothing that the market can do to fight back, or perhaps there is and I don’t see it.”

    Once they freeze the specifications and start putting samples on the market, “trusted computing” will be hacked within months. That doesn’t necessarily keep it from succeeding with the 99% of users that neither comprehend the threat until much later nor have the knowledge to install the hacks on their own system. But if it succeeds, it will be because governments are tossing those who do understand in jail for distributing the hacks and helping their non-technical friends install them.

    I’m not claiming that monopolies that survive offending their customer base are impossible without the government doing more than enforcing normal property rights, just that this isn’t such a case. A possible scenario: a private company buys an undeveloped area of land, builds a road grid, then sells lots. It retains ownership of the roads and rights of way, charging small fees for usage. Once there is a city on the land, they raise the fees to 10 times what it costs to maintain the roads – and insist on the whole annual fee being paid merely to walk across their street once. Nor can you build a bridge over the street or tunnel under it, because they have full rights to the land, all the way down and all the way up. Those incautious enough to buy land and build in areas enclosed by the road grid without a firm contract preventing fee and condition changes like this can only pay up, or else call for a helicopter to pick them up and abandon their homes and businesses…

  30. Nice scenario markm :-)

    The creative-minded among us can doubtlessly conjure seemingly endless visions of tyranny, monopoly and corruption. In the passionate effort to illuminate the potential terrors, unfortunately, lies an inability (or unwillingness?) to address hard economic reality.

    To take your scenario as a candidate…think about what you’re implying. A company is going to invest millions of dollars in infrastructure construction, with the intent of fucking the populace over with escalating ‘subscription’ fees…what if the people just say “fuck you!” ? Flush one huge investment down the plughole, bankrupting the original development company, and leaving it open to takeover from a more reasonable….metropolitan cooperative?

    Although I’d like to see someone try it…that’d be a good fight ;-)

  31. Policies must be strict in order to avoid abusive language. Yeah its a good step.

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