Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Banned from Commenting on a Conservative Blog

Conservative blogger John Hawkins of Right Wing News has banned me from posting comments to any of his blog entries. I can log on under my userid "huckupchuck"; but I do not have access to the comments fields once I do so. And when I click on the preferences of my user account, I get a one-line, four-word message that says: "You have been banned." I have written to John Hawkins asking for an explanation, and I am waiting to hear back from him. If and when he does respond, I will update this entry.

Now, John Hawkins has the right to ban whomever he wants to ban; but there is absolutely nothing that I have posted as a comment on his blog that would constitute a bannable offense according to his own terms for posting comments. I truly have no idea why I have been banned. I can only possibly imagine three reasons. First, there is just some technical mistake or moderating oversight that can be easily rectified. I hope this is the case, but Hawkins generally runs a tight ship and I doubt a banning would happen randomly and without his knowledge. Second, being in Mexico, I have been using some public access computers. It is possible that I failed to log off one of these computers and that someone has posted some nasty comments under my name that would merit being banned. If that is the case, then I support the banning. But I have looked through all of the current threads and I can find no such misuse of my account. So I am inclined to rule that possibility out.

The third possible reason,and most worrisome to me, is that Hawkins has gotten fed up with my questions and my comments critical of some of the positions he has taken, particularly with regard to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill currently being debated in the Senate. I can´t imagine Hawkins getting so exorcised by this such that he would ban my entire account. That seems unlike Hawkins, who has been generally very respectful and tolerant of differing opinions; but if that is the case and he wants to ban me for that reason, that´s fine, too. If true, however, it places his whole pretense to be open to criticism from other ideological perspectives in question, at least in my mind. I never would have thought that, but I can´t help but think so now. Maybe this is all a mistake and it can be resolved soon. But, perhaps, in his mind, Hawkins considers that my recent critical commentary makes me "a jerk" -- and so he might justify my banning accordingly. But I have been posting comments there for a long time, and the regular visitors to RWN know that I can be prickly and snarky sometimes, but no more so than many of my rivals there. They would know, too, that I am generally respectful and try to be as civil as possible in our debates, discussions, and arguments. In fact, nothing that I have ever said or written in a comment there even approaches the kinds of bashing that I sometimes receive from some regular people who post there, and who still have active permission to continue posting there.

Let me give an example. Here is the first of three comments I wrote, before being banned, in a recent discussion thread on the current Immigration Reform bill, which was up for a cloture vote in the Senate. I presume that this comment is one of the ones that was the "straw that broke the camel´s back," so to say:

Why are you so opposed to ending debate and having a straight up/down vote on this matter? Why doesn't it matter if a Senator votes to end debate and then votes against the bill? Why is it an insult to conservatives. Why are you so afraid of this?

Posted by huckupchuck
June 25, 2007 10:31 AM
I asked these questions in a comment in response to the original posting made by John Hawkins. The next comment I wrote in this thread said the following:
Posted by Don_cos June 25, 2007 11:02 AM
All well and good, but how is voting for cloture yet then voting against the measure not doing what you want. It ends debate and puts an end to the bill once and for all. It would seem to me that voting to keep debate open merely allows for the continued lingering of this measure and its periodic reemergence and consumption of the Senate's business. End debate, vote against it, and put it to rest once and for all.

Posted by huckupchuck
June 25, 2007 11:14 AM
The final comment I posted in this thread, which was a response to another one of my respected rival´s comments, said:
Why do your comments to me almost always have to end with some demeaning remark about my mental capacity or my intelligence? Please, be a decent human being and keep the ad hominem slights to a minimum, CavalierX.

Now, to the subject ... Let's remember that Hawkins is saying that even those who vote for cloture and then vote against the bill are traitors to the cause and their votes mean nothing. How can a vote for cloture and then a vote against the bill be construed as a vote in support of the bill? And what about conservative disdain for the filibuster and the notion that presidential initiatives and nominees that come up in the senate deserve and up or down vote?

Posted by huckupchuck
June 25, 2007 12:08 PM
Now, compare these comments with one directed at me by one of my other opponents, who wrote later in this very same thread:
If you don't want to get your nails broken or pumps scuffed, best for you to stay at Barbra.com or some such place "kinder, gentler" place, Huck. You'll find few "compassionate" {said in a drippingly sarcastic tone} conservatives here.

Posted by Cartman
June 25, 2007 9:00 PM
And yet Cartman continues to have posting privileges while I am banned. Not that Cartman´s harmless post should be a bannable offense (and I don't think it should), but comparatively speaking, I think his posting would constitute more of a bannable offense than any of the three comments I posted previously, especially under Hawkins' own rules for posting comments.

This is just one of the many examples of the experiences I have when posting comments on this blog. Fine. I expect to take some tough hits and even some personal ribbing on a conservative blog; but there is the question of parity in terms of what kinds of comments merit wholesale banning from the site, and what kinds get passes.

Again, perhaps this is just some unfortunate mistake or some kind of technical issue. And if it is, I will most certainly update this posting to reflect that.

But if it does end up that I was banned for the content of my comments, then I ask you to check the full range of them out for yourself, come to your own conclusions, and suggest to me any rational explanation that does not call into question the claim that this website, Right Wing News, is different than those which seem to ban commenters randomly for nothing more than expressing a critical, opposition opinion.

UPDATE: 28 June 2007, 2:53 CST: I still have not heard back directly from John Hawkins, but I gather from the number of referring pages to my blog coming from a particular discussion thread at RWN that the offending passages may have been my comments in the discussion thread on a posting by Hawkins that addressed the subject of his running liberal ads on his blog. I did cynically question whether Hawkins´ rationalization for running such ads was a principled one. Personally, I believed it to be unprincipled behavior and I said as much, explaining my reasoning. But, that's me. You might think otherwise; so, I encourage you to click the link above and decide for yourself if anything I said there would merit wholesale banning.


Don_cos said...

I posted this below, but thought it would also be appropriate here.

No Huck, I haven't read anything you posted that I would consider a bannable offense. Most of us look forward to "crossing swords" with you.

Despite your tendency to be wrong ;-}, I can't remember you posting anything that crossed the line.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Don_Cos. If posting items critcal of Conservative orthodoxy were bannable, I and many others would have been gone a long time ago.

The question has been asked of Mr. Hawkins and it should be resolved. Until then, follow the plan of the truly and reasonably banned trolls, register another name.

See you soon, Huck!


President Friedman said...

Wow. There has got to be some kind of mistake. I cannot see any rational reason why you'd be banned and a multitude of others allowed tostay. You and D-Vega are more even-tempered and considerate posters than 90% of the conservatives on that site, even if I do often disagree with you.

Hope this gets fixed. I've always enjoyed the RWN comments community, but if it is going to be morphed into just another conservative echo chamber, I can do without it.

Anonymous said...

Huck, if I had to venture a guess as to your banishment, I'd have to say it's the amount of disrespect you show to John Hawkins. Even I, who as we both know can be pretty darn disrespectful, was taken aback at how you attack him and challenge him to respond while knowing that he won't.

Now don't get mad at me for saying that. You and we are all wondering what's going on and that's just my guess and I too want you to return.:-)


President Friedman said...


That doesn't add up.
Huck's criticisms of Hawkins pale in comparison to SST's, and SST has been around for years and is still posting. And Huck also asks perfetly reasonable questions about the immigration issue and Hawkin's plans to combat stray Republicans. If he is being disrespectful by demanding an answer, then Hawkin's is being disrespectful by refusing to give one. Granted, it is his site and he is allowed to be that way, but in my experience it is out of character.

El Jefe Maximo (J. Huck) said...

Don_cos - Thanks. I will wait to see how it all works out. As I told CavalierX, it would be a shame for me not to be able to bounce my thoughts off of all of you and have them criticized by the other side. It helps me be a better critical thinker. I'll miss it. (I'm missing it already.)

StanW - Thanks, too, for your support. However, on principle, I will not try to register another name if I have truly been banned because of the content of my postings. That would be truly trollish and truly disrespectful of Hawkins. Why would I want to be such a cad as to try to post at a place where the host of the blog really does not want me to be there.

President_Friedman: Thanks for your comment, too. I have always enjoyed RWN because it hasn't been as much of an echo chamber and even very critical opposition viewpoints have been tolerated. I just don't understand it.

Glibertarian - Thanks, too, for your comment. I very much appreciate hearing your reaction to my postings. I know that I can be extremely critical of Hawkins, and sometimes pointedly so. But I have always understood comments sections to be the place where comments can be offered on the actual postings of the blog owner. I have considered whether my posts have crossed the line of respect, but I don't see how they have. I have only challenged Hawkins on what I see are inconsistencies in his methods and in his thoughts. Sure, I have done so sometimes in a very strong manner. But being a tough player is not inconsistent with Hawkins' own modus-operandi and that of many of the other conservative posters on the site. Unlike the kind of comments I regularly endure from Cartman or Rose, I have never attacked Hawkins personally, questioned his faith or his sexuality, demeaned him for his personal appearance, or ever questioned his intelligence. I have questioned the authenticity of his political or ideological convictions when I have thought that such convictions are clearly contrasted with his behavior. Perhaps Hawkins took it personally when I question the strength of his principles regarding running advertisements on his blog for people and things he utterly despises. But I don't think that is out of the realm of the questionable; and I certainly don't think it is disrespectful. I imagine my comments sometimes make him uncomfortable and squirm a bit - and may even cause some of his supporters like you to be taken aback some. But I'd suggest that this reaction comes not because I am disrespectful, but rather because I cut at some things that might really sting and which may be hard to respond to. I have been stung equally as harshly on many occasions by many of you on RWN; and I have been duly and correctly chastised sometimes when I do let my emotions get the better of me. But I always recognize that and even apologize if an apology is warranted. And another fact is that, unlike many other liberals who post at RWN, I have on occasion agreed with Hawkins and even applauded his accomplishments.

In the end, it seems to me that what you are saying is that Hawkins just got tired of my heat, and so banned me because of it. It's fine and I accept it because it is his blog after all, and he can do as he wants. But I can't say that I am not a bit stunned and disappointed in Hawkins for doing so, especially since he often speaks about politics as rough business and that it comes with the territory. I just never thought Hawkins would take anything posted in a comments section so personally.

Thanks, again, for your comments and, Glibertarian, for your honest explanation of what you think may be the cause. The good thing about this is that it may cause me to get back to my own blog more regularly. But, I will miss the regular back and forth at RWN, which I will continue to read regularly, just because I have come to respect it and all of you who I have come to know through it.

Don_cos said...

"But, I will miss the regular back and forth at RWN" ~ Huck

Don't worry, if John doesn't let you back in, we can still pop in here and straighten you out! ;-}

Kingfisher said...

I just learned about this earlier today.

Honestly, I didn't see any logical reason for you to be banned. It seems odd that John banned you for something which looks trivial, especially when other leftist trolls say far worse without any consequences.

I will also congratulate you on your decision not to go back to RWN under a new ID. If that happened to me I would respect John's decision and never return too. Unfortunately some people refuse to take the hint.

Best of luck. I'll come back from time to time to set the record straight! ;-)

Huck said...

kingfisher - Thanks. In all fairness to Hawkins, I must say that I am really not sure why I was banned. Only Hawkins can tell me that, and he has not communicated any reason to me yet. What I am suggesting might be the rationale is just a supposition at this point. I'm just trying to make sense of it and am reaching for any explanation related to the moment of my banning that could be a possible cause. If Hawkins ever tells me why he banned me, and if I have been way off base in my suppositions, I will certainly correct the record, and with apologies, if necessary. Thanks for the kind words and I hope you continue to visit my blog. Cheers!

Kingfisher said...

Thanks for the kind words and I hope you continue to visit my blog. Cheers!

Sure, thanks. So, where's the free beer?

Huck said...

Sure, thanks. So, where's the free beer?

Heh! Come now, kingfisher, you know as a good conservative that there's no such thing as a free lunch, I mean BEER! But I will buy you one if I ever have the chance to meet you!