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Censorship and Selective Moderation on Objectivism Online

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mweiss

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Just wanted to get the word out about that 'other' forum...

For those of you who wonder why my presense on OOL is so rare in the past year, it’s because I’ve been put on Moderator Watch, which was sometime about a year ago. The individuals who initiated this action, David Veksler and David Odden, aledge that it is because I fail to use Reason in my posts.

I don’t know about you, but I have noticed a lot of whacky posts on OOL and they aren’t put on mod watch. So I sense something going on where I am selectively singled out. Now before you write me off as a looney, hear me out…

A few years back, OOL was infected with some sort of computer virus. I found that my PC was infected after accessing the forums on OOL. I quickly alerted David Veksler as to the problem. To my surprise, he responded in an arrogant manner, asserting that I don’t know how to use a PC. I was quite taken aback that this sort of behavior would come from someone claiming to be an Objectivist.

It wasn’t until months later, that I learned through other sources at OOL that one of the “skins” on OOL’s forum was indeed infected with some sort of adware virus. I was correct and David was a victim of his own hubris. I never got an apology from him for that attitude and false accusation. However, I never held it against him.

Then sometime last year, there was some contraversial issue I was posting about, ‘could have been property taxes, but they put me on mod watch after that post and I never was reinstated since. That’s why you haven’t seen my posts in the past year. The truth is, about 70% of everything I posted was never allowed onto the forums.

What I sense is an overall arrogance here among these young mods—heck, they’re just kids in college, or just graduated, still ‘wet behind the ears’ and very strongly idealistic. Perhaps they take Objectivism a little to evangelically. I can remember back a half century ago when I was like that, having freshly discovered O’ism after studying Christian Science under Mary Baker Eddy for many years. I can tell you that religion was on its last leg for me and Objectivism came along at an opportune time for me. It had “all the answers” or so I thought at the time.

Ethically, I think it still does. Politically, it may be a little too simple a model of reality to fit the world as it is today. But I think we can still use the underlying principles of individual rights to improve the predicament of mankind today. Greenspan’s admission that his model for the economy may have been flawed may not be as much of a damnation of the former Fed Chairman as it is a simple fact of reality. Perhaps there are many nuances involved that the relatively monochromistic Objectivism does not address.

Let me get back on track with my original point: I posted two more messages this week, and both went to the trash forum without ever being posted. One later became the topic of my last blog entry. The other was a question to the forum, asking if we really have solid, verifiable evidence to back up all of the indictments against presidential candidate Barack Obama.

When I wrote the moderators to address my disappointment with their censorship of my posts, they banned me from posting. David Veksler wrote a snide, satirical reply that I found both arrogant and insulting. It was like he was writing to a dog—or something lower than a dog. That was the last straw.

I have always supported the ARI view on Objectivism. That is why I refrained from getting too invested in other Objectivist forums that cater to Branden’s and David Kelly’s views. This incident changes things. I will move to those ‘other’ forums and perhaps find more of a level playing field.

A few of the moderators here have such an elitist attitude that it’s beginning to become abrasive to me. The sneering, condescending attitudes that Mr. Veksler in particular have displayed are not what one would expect from Objectivists or students of Objectivism. What happened to the open discourse and discussion atmosphere that Objectivist groups I attended in the 1960s had? Has the internet changed people into the hostile attitudes they now possess? Has the moderator/poster hierarchy given some people power over others that they perhaps do not deserve? Gone is free and open discussion. On OOL, if they don’t like you for any reason, they can sit back and laugh as you write volumes of posts and they send most of those down the bit bucket.

I tried hard to give them the benefit of the doubt and keep quiet about this internal matter, but now I am quite angry with my fellow “Objectivist” moderators. They’re acting like children with swords.

This blog will probably be erased by the time they discover it, which is why I am backing it up and plan to post it on other Objectivist forums, but it should stand as a wake up call, that not all people purporting to be Objectivists are perfect and that moderators of such groups are not to be assumed as models of Objectivism.

To their credit, David and David are fairly sharp in their Epistomology of Objectivism, but the way they practice Objectivism as a whole in the day to day operations of OOL leaves something to be desired.

I told them that Objectivism cannot afford to be tossing out its constituents in the petty manner that they have done with me. I cited the ‘pedantic’ (there, David, did I spell it right this time?) tone of Yaron Brook’s rhetoric of late and how that shrill tone is not going to gain support of the masses who vote—it will only further alienate them. Objectivism needs a cool head and needs to couch their rhetoric in less offensive terms. I find this in my own efforts to argue Objectivist principles in economics and politics—the moment you’re perceived as shrill, pedantic and unable to listen to the other point of view—is the moment when the other side stops listening to you and writes you off as a looney.

Objectivists would be shocked if they realized how many people consider us to be on the fringe end of looney. Our individualist thinking, say them, is akin to the Timothy McVeigh type of anti-social mindset. Strong accusation, but there it is—that is what some people think of us Objectivists. And therein lies part of the problem why we are but a few thousand across the nation, instead of a few tens of millions in our numbers and influence.

This board just lost an ally, and it was totally with thanks to your top two moderators. Their action has caused me to rethink my views on Objectivism. If they are the product of it, then perhaps I’ve been overlooking some flaws. I don’t think Miss Rand would have acted that way, however. I think this is a matter of youth and the smugness that comes with youth and their new-found philosophy. When these boys grow up, give ‘em fifty years, then they’ll probably have a more well-rounded view of the world and perhaps they will see what I’m talking about.

In the meantime, I am truly concerned for the rest of Objectivists and for the world, in the face of this menace called Statism. Objectivists need to band together in agreement, not waste resources on cutting off their legs.

I am deeply disappointed in these two individuals. But I will find a better group—perhaps one with a more reasonable balance of ideas and less hubris.

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