Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Right Wing News Banning Update

I am just returned from an evening out with some friends and colleagues and only just became aware that a bit of a debate has been taking place in the comments to this guest posting at Right Wing News. It's a pretty long comment thread, and the relevant discussion takes place later in the thread, so you'll have to scroll down pretty far along to see this exchange.

I appreciate all the folks who are coming to my defense; but, since I am not able to speak for myself there, I just wanted to address a couple of the points that a few of the commenters there have made suggesting possible reasons for my banning.

First, the question has been raised about my possibly being banned for "stealing" content. I have done no such thing, either before the banning or afterwards. On the one hand, my blog had been pretty much defunct until the banning. So, I know that plagiarizing content can't be the reason for my being banned. Also, I take issue with those who think my recent referencing of the commentary and postings at RWN is plagiarizing content. For people to suggest this means that they have no idea what either plagiarism means or what the critical intellectual process entails. But, aside from that, it is the only way that I can think of to still be engaged in the discussions taking place at RWN. And there's no harm in referencing this discussion by reposting bits of Hawkins' postings and bits of the commentary on the comment threads. In fact, it would be improper for me to discuss RWN and discussions taking place on comment threads there without referencing this material. And Hawkins himself generally doesn't seem to mind when Rush Limbaugh or some other media outlet or pundit references the content of his blog. If I were to post things verbatim from Hawkins' website and then pass it off as my own, that would constitute plagiarism. What I am doing doesn't even come close. Everyone's ideas or comments that I reference are properly attributed to the person who said it. The ownership of this intellectual property still belongs with the originator of it.

Second, people re-post both blog entries, news articles, and commentary quite regularly on their blogs. There is nothing "creepy" about it, which is what one of the RWN regulars had to say about it.

For one, there is this common practice in the blogosphere called "fisking" in which entire postings or commentary made by one blogger or columnist reappears in other blogs, almost always without the permission of the original author to reprint it, in which the blogger takes apart and criticizes, sometimes sentence by sentence, the "intellectual property" of others. As long as proper reference and citation is made to the author of the original materials, and the source through which this material is published, this is perfectly proper. And this applies not only to blog commentary, but also even to academic research and publication. How would students be able to write their research papers if they had to contact the author of every source text for permission to reference their work in their papers? In fact, there are entire blogs that are dedicated specifically to tracking the goings on of other blogs. The one that leaps to mind at the moment is the old (and now seemingly defunct) Sully Watch, which tracked Andrew Sullivan. And there's the eloborate Moore Watch which tracks Michael Moore. Again, there is nothing improper or "creepy" about this.

For two, the practice of rehashing the comments made by others in comment threads on other blogs for the purpose of illustrating a point is quite common, too. Hawkins himself does this with regularity when he cribs selected comments from posters at the DU or DailyKos in order to mock them or to make a particular point about them. And many other bloggers make such use of the public commentary of others for similar reasons. Again, as long as proper attribution is given to the source of these comments, there is nothing improper about it. In fact, one of RWN's regulars, Christopher_Taylor, has a fantastic blog, Word Around the Net (which everyone should check out, by the way), whose main premise is to see what commenters are saying around the net in various different discussion threads about the topic being discussed.

I encourage any and all to read everything I write on the subject of my banning from RWN, to weigh it, and to make up their own minds about it. I don't have the right to be a commenter at RWN. Let me make that clear again. Who gets to comment on RWN is purely Hawkins' prerogative to decide and I unequivocally respect his right to do as he sees fit for whatever reason he chooses, or even for no reason at all. It's his baby. But, by the same token, no one will take away my right to react on my own blog to anything and everything that is publicly available for my review. If you have a problem with the things I write about or how I write about them, you are welcome to come to my blog and leave as many comments as you want as long as you follow the two simple rules that I have outlined here: (1) No vulgar or obscene language; and (2) No threats of any kind to anybody for any reason.

One final comment: Apparently, someone recalls that it is Hawkins' policy not to respond to queries about why one gets banned. Well, I have to say that I missed the thread where this was determined; but if it is true, then Hawkins needs to update his FAQ page, which states the following about comments:

Are There Any Rules About Posting Comments?: Yes, please don't flame excessively, use an exceptional amount of vulgar language, call anyone a "towelhead," "raghead," or "wetback," continually post off topic material, spam, use racial or gay slurs, libel anyone, troll, make threats, or challenge anyone to fight.

In short, don't be a jerk.

If that won't work for you, I'll delete your posts and ban your IP. If you are banned and genuinely don't know why, email me. If you know you were doing something mentioned above and you are banned, please don't try to get around the ban. Do everybody involved a favor and find somewhere else to post where they appreciate what you have to say.
When I discovered I was banned, this is where I went to see what to do. And unless I am misreading something, and because I truly have no idea why I was banned, I emailed Hawkins asking why, just like he instructs one to do. If he really doesn't answer such questions, that's fine. That's his right. But I would suggest that he shouldn't mislead people by inviting them to email him with such queries.


Don_cos said...


I still don't understand this. One of the things that drew me to RWN is that it is one of the few major blogs that allows opposing views. i have never heard of John banning someone without good reason. At the same time I have never read any comments from you (and I have been reading them for some time now) that I would consider cause for banning.

I really would like (though I likely never will) to know why you were banned.

Huck said...

I really would like (though I likely never will) to know why you were banned.

Make that two of us. I suspect that Glibertarian's explanation from some time ago might be pretty close to the mark; but it seems unlike Hawkins to take comments so personally. I can be a harsh critic of Hawkins. But what I don't understand about the whole thing is that there are other equally (if not more) harsh critics of Hawkins who can still post. It's still a mystery to me; and I suspect you are right that we may never know. That still doesn't make RWN a bad site and it still doesn't detract from what Hawkins has to say; it's just a bit disappointing.