The Carpenter and the Lens Maker

Background Reading


Well it seems that the sides have begun to solidify in this ongoing debate over ‘online behavior‘.

notoriousDUG restarted the discussion and here are some of the more meaningful responses:

Reply by Andronymous on Thursday

Thanx for restarting this discussion Doug.  Never EVER IMAGINED I’D SAY THIS, but compared to some of the monsters here Beezodog seems positively civilized.

I’ve had this same discussion time and time again for years with Julie.  There are of course the rules, but they’re clearly ignored.  Simply actually following them would be a huge step forward.  Instead, the only instances of moderation ever that I’m aware of struck me as capricious abuses of power.

Somethings got to change.  Personally, I’d say it needs a woman’s touch.

I am guessing that this discussion has been needed for quite some time. I know that when I think back to my own experiences within this group it saddens me that the place has turned into something of a ‘cesspool‘. When you have a group of thugs who manage to frighten the other inhabitants into silence, you now have the recipe for what goes on in poorer Chicago neighborhoods.

Reply by notoriousDUG on Thursday

I do not want to moderate or enforce courtesy; I would be banned in minutes of that policy.

I would just like to see some moderation for the three things I think are the only places you should really moderate a message board.

  1. People running off topic on a personal crusade to the point of madness.  When you get a single person beating the proverbial dead horse to the point it is ruling the board you need to put a leash on it.  Michelle really should have, at some point the other day, been told she needed to give it a rest; her personal battle was making a mess for others.  If she was unable to let it go she needed to be removed from the discussion.
  2. People being threatening or purposefully offensive need to be censored. Racial or any other slurs, threats of violence or overtly sexual content has no place here, or in any other public forum.  That said trying to censor for offensiveness is difficult, we all have different limits; a word or expression I find OK but others may find offensive.  I do think there are things we can all agree are not right to say and it is perfectly OK to moderate their use.  Related to that purposefully using language, even if it is not something all people consider inappropriate, in order to upset a single person is pretty fucked up and should not be tolerated.  Free speech is one thing but when you have somebody purposefully being offensive like Gabe was it’s time to tell them to tone it down or take a hike.

I am not advocating that we employ the thought police, but I would like to see things like what happened between Gabe and Michelle stopped before becoming the shit-show we all saw the other day.

I would also like it if the rules were fair, evenly applied and enforced quickly.  I think there is a serious issue here with rules not being evenly applied across the membership.  I think if somebody other than Gabe had acted like that they would have been stopped much earlier.

As painful as things are this is surely something that must be dealt with. What is ironic is that suddenly people like Simon Phearson have decided to hide behind an argument that civility is more of a reflection of a baseless classism that should not be allowed.

Reply by Simon Phearson 16 hours ago
No one was defending Vilda’s use of the word “retard” or Vilda’s subsequent goading of Michelle when Michelle called Vilda out on it. The problem with Michelle’s campaign was not its putative target or its ostensible motivation, but its method. Michelle responded (sometimes multiple times) to virtually every comment in which she could discern the slightest disagreement or irritation. She took offense at any suggestion that her technique wasn’t going to convince Vilda to cease using the word, and she openly declared that she would make this place hell for anyone who refused to see things her way or condone her methods. Throughout, she made evidently clear by her actions that her campaign against “hate speech” and “slurs” was really about her, about what was said in her presence, and how she felt entitled both to cast all of us as moronic enablers of hate speech while also spending hours among us. Vilda’s actions were irresponsible, immature, and counterproductive. But Michelle’s actions ground things to a halt. Removing Michelle, as we’ve by now been able to see, has quickly returned this community to its prior equilibrium. Vilda’s continuing presence has shown no detrimental effect. It’s simply unfair to the members of this community, and wildly inaccurate, to portray Lee’s banning of Michelle as establishing that the CL is a place where members will circle the wagons around bullies using “alienating language.” If anything, we have just demonstrated our willingness to ban one such bully – which is exactly what Michelle was.

And more of the same from Simon:

Reply by Simon Phearson 15 hours ago

Actually, it’s not. If we’re going to play the “insufficiently denouncing the actions of a person constitutes defending them” game, then anyone here casting Michelle’s actions as merely calling out the use of inappropriate language is effectively “defending” the slash-and-burn approach she used.

Personally, I think it made perfect sense to ban Michelle but not Vilda. Their inappropriate actions were of two entirely different orders. Vilda’s actions were childish and disruptive, but they did not bear the open malice for this community that Michelle repeatedly declaimed.

In terms of restoring the community’s equilibrium, the moderators could have banned Michelle, Vilda, or both. If only Vilda were banned, Michelle would remain just to launch into another campaign if and when someone accidentally tripped her trigger – either by using the word “retard” or some other forbidden word, or by adopting some other unacceptable (in her view) attitude. It would again launch into a massive derail, the members of the CL would again futilely entreat her to channel her energies more productively, and again we would find the moderators invoked to do something about a poisonous exchange where Michelle features centrally. If both were banned, I suspect we would notice little difference from what we see now, with Vilda still a member. So banning Michelle and not Vilda strikes me as the minimal moderator action needed to restore order, and preferable for that reason – no “defense” of Vilda being needed or implied.

And yet more from Simon:

Reply by Simon Phearson 15 hours ago

I don’t fault Michelle for being outspoken or ardent. But when it became clear that Vilda was not going to be responsive to Michelle’s criticism, it no longer was a matter of “raising concerns” or calling for them to be taken seriously. It instead became entirely about Michelle.

Again, no one disagreed with Michelle (save Vilda) that the word “retard” shouldn’t be used in the way that Vilda used it. What that massive derail became was an argument over whether its use was so seriously harmful that the only acceptable approach to moderating its use was to ban it completely, through this site’s moderation policy, and absent that, for Michelle to police its usage unilaterally, by derailing each and every thread in which it appears or its usage “accepted” (in her view), regardless of what other values or purposes such thread might serve.

So what Michelle was guilty of was not having the “temerity to raise her concerns,” but of believing that she was alone entitled to dictate to this community how her concerns would be addressed and policed.

Some more precise and reasoned alternatives:

Reply by notoriousDUG 10 hours ago

It amazes me that nobody has noticed that in all the defences and justifications of what went down pretty much everybody agrees that Gabe antagonized her and that doxxing her was crossing a line.  In spite of that nobody seems able to make the connection that his behavior drive hers. Didn’t we all learn in like grade school that it. ‘takes two to tango?’ I did not defend Michelle’s behavior, I do not disagree that something had to be done about her.  My issue is that he behaved as poorly if not worse and nothing happened to him.

And this:

Reply by Davis Moore 10 hours ago

I believe this is actually the second, maybe third thread in which “retard” was used and objected to by Michelle, and in which Simon and others attempted to dismiss, diminish and devalue her complaints, mostly by mansplaining to her how language works or how freedom of speech works or how she should feel about things or what someone’s “intent” was, or (my personal favorite) how she should stop being a college educated liberal elitist. I mean shit, someone posted a cartoon implying she needed something that involved “dick”. And then had the audacity to play dumb about why that is problematic. Anyone who would do that and not realize how incredibly mysoginistic that is is either completely out of touch or totally full of shit.

Michelle may have lost her mind and become an even crazier person than she maybe already was, but a lot of people basically antagonized her to that state and very few people stood up for her. Probably in large part because there aren’t many of the types who would stick up for her on this issue on this forum because it is so hostile to anyone who speaks out about topics that are disruptive to the norm here. (It’s also real convenient for people who want to keep using “retard” as a casual slur and pejorative that there are probably no actual people with intellectual disabilities on this forum to stick up for themselves. Much in the same way it was really easy to use “Gay” for anything you thought was “stupid” back when all the actual gays were in the closet.) It’s pretty clear what kind of community you have here, and it’s pretty reflective of mainstream society at large: male dominated, sexist, ableist, hetero-normative, often times borderline mysoginistic and and certainly hostile and petty. It’s a shame because people often assume some sort of alignment between bicycling and progressive values, and that this would be a welcoming place for people with progressive views on something as complex and nuanced as calling people “retard”, but sadly that apparently is not the case. It says a lot about the joint that Gabe et al are just your “lovable scamps” who always get a pass for being shitty because “Awwwwww, they love bikes though…”.  I just can’t imagine why more people wouldn’t want to join your “community”, where Gabe and the like can just antagonize someone by using hateful slurs until they’ve become a crazy person, then dox them, while the rest post “guy eating popcorn in a movie theater” memes, and at the end of it the victim of the feeding frenzy is jettisoned and your mascot/attack dogs are still where they always are. Seems like a recipe for stagnation to me but whatever, it’s your sandbox.

Sadly the one person who actually owns this ‘hot mess’ of a forum is largely silent:

Reply by notoriousDUG 10 hours ago

So I can’t help but notice that Julie’s voice seems to be missing from this conversation beyond a non-specific promise to do something about it all sometime in the future. Julie, this is your site and, in the end, you are responsible for what happens here so let me ask you this: How do YOU feel about the use of the word ‘retard?’ How do YOU feel about how Gabe acted?  About how Michelle acted? Are YOU OK with her being doxxed? Are YOU OK with people using speech others find offensive here?  Can I start calling women ‘broads’ because I don’t give a shit if you or anyone else thinks it is offensive? This is YOUR playground which means it runs by your rules.  Right now your rules and how you run your playground is being questioned; don’t you think you should weigh in on this at some point?

To my mind this exposes the ‘feminist mindset‘ as largely an extension of ‘whatever the guys want‘. Whenever the general discussion in the Urban Cycling Community turns to proposed solutions to bringing about the equality of the sexes in the bike lane, I hope that people think back to this forum and the overall lack of female involvement in this discussion. Of what are they afraid?

Reply by Haddon 2 hours ago

Troll Trolling At Its Best

Troll Trolling At Its Best

The effort to drag Julie out into some public exchange is petulant and, to me, utterly disgusting. She made a statement, nothing more need be said. I declare this thread closed and will bomb it will endless troll pics until it goes away.

And yet more…

Reply by Gecko 2 minutes ago

Exactly my thought on the whole situation.  It was like being on an unsupervised 2nd grade playground where Gabe said something that Michelle didn’t like, she told him she didn’t like it, then he just kept shouting it into her face to bully and antagonize her.  Then when the parents finally did come out, they blamed the victim of the bullying yet again, and she was the one who was suspended while Gabe continues to roam, free of any consequences of his ridiculous actions.

There are many forums that I belong to that have adopted far stricter moderation policies on vastly larger population bases with similar sized “staff” (volunteers) and better success rates.  They are very pleasant and civil, and no one appears to be crying because their “free speech” is being limited.  Heck, one of them even automatically replaces swear words when you post!  So even if you type “fuck” in your post, the software switches it to “frank” before it goes live, “shit”=”stuff” etc. etc.  Why proper moderation seems so elusive for this particular site is still a mystery.

I suppose that the very last time this much discussion was carried out over the behavior of a single individual in the midst of a religion was either:

What people sometimes forget (and this is most certainly true of those who wield power in a less than even-handed manner in order to control thought) is that both men ended up become heroes to millions of people. Both men spawned a new way of thinking about life.

The Carpenter from Galilee ran up against a group of clerics whose ‘franchise‘ was being threatened. Their country was under Roman occupation and along comes an upstart who is offering them a means of throwing off the rule of not the Romans but the ‘whited sepulchers‘ who were their spiritual leaders. He was in essence daring them to stone a woman caught in adultery by asking the ones who were guiltless to be the first to do the throwing. And who can forget the confrontation when he healed a man on the Sabbath. Or perhaps worst of all entered the Temple and began scourging the money lenders.
Nothing that Michelle did even came close to any of this.
The Lens Maker Galileo on the other hand did nothing physically demonstrable. But yet he too encountered the wrath of yet another group of men who would have no one brook their authority. His sin? He simply told the Truth.
From observation he concluded that perhaps the Earth itself was not the center of the known universe. But rather a well known member of the solar system, the sun itself.

You Can Handle ‘The Truth’

Nothing threatens male dominance like telling them they might be wrong. Then people emerge to defend the Faith. Simon Phearson has decided to be that person. He is adept at taking the facts and ‘twisting them‘ ever so slightly to help seal the fate of the accused in the minds of the True Believers.
But every now and then someone who is also a True Believer runs up against Truth. This happened on the Road to Damascus for a zealot by the name of Saul of Tarsus. Sometimes the most active defenders of the ‘way things are‘ on the ChainLink Forum have begun to see that things are not well.
When a man or a woman begins to decide that Truth is a bigger commodity than the meager ChainLink Forum Rules things get turned upside down. When this happens, when people suddenly decide that the status quo is not good enough, they begin to think for themselves. And that is the beginning of the Revolution.

Turning Around A Poor Community

One of the more meaningful and beautiful things that has happened this summer is the rise of the Jackie Robinson West team in the Little League World Series. This was more about ‘off the field‘ things than anything on it.
When Vilda used the term ‘shitholes‘ to characterize both the South and West Sides of the City of Chicago it struck a chord in me. He was doing then what he did with Michelle. But what really made things worse was the fact that his hooligan friends entered the fray to taunt and harass her. And then when the Sanhedrin met their response was the same as that of the Roman Inquisition. Her fate was sealed as had been mine.
But a group of Little Leaguers made all the difference this summer. They turned back the venomous hateful naysaying of people like Vilda and Simon Phearson and even James BlackHeron who now goes by his new handle, Self-sealing Stembolt. And nothing that you can say will do as much good for the children and their working class parents as the games they won this year.
Chicago's Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

Chicago’s Cycling Movement Issues A Leftist Manifesto

We need to seek just the same sort of redemption for the ChainLink Forum. We cannot and must not allow the place to continue in the hands of people who are unwilling to be much more than stooges for a group of Clerics whose authority is being threatened. These are folks for whom ‘bike lanes‘ are like liquor. They expect them to serve as ‘opiates for the masses‘. The problem is that the benefit of the lanes is less important to them than the idea that they can remain in power and be ‘movers and shakers‘.

They have an agenda and they have people who aid them in forwarding that agenda. But never mind the idea of removing cars from the streets and the parking for them, that is only a bit of fluff. What they really and truly want to do with this forum and with the people in the Urban Cycling Movement is build a platform for bigger things.
But until that time comes they practice their skills at keeping people who speak out from remaining on the inside.