Thy hand, great Censor, lets the curtain fall

Here’s a funny thing – there’s this old thread at Talking Philosophy, so old that it’s dated January 8 2008, so old that I’d entirely forgotten it. More than a year old. Long time ago. I found it because I googled ‘Bernie Ranson,’ and I googled ‘Bernie Ranson’ because that was the name on an email message sent to one of my correspondents by what I had thought was a new and unfamiliar troll named Kees but turns out to be a troll I have encountered at least once before, on this old thread at Talking Philosophy. His MO is a little different there, at least at first – which is revealing, because it means he could have done a better job here, but chose not to.

Anyway, there’s an interesting note of obsessiveness about the whole thing – about the two threads taken together. Well ‘interesting’ isn’t quite the right word. ‘Peculiar’; maybe that’s what I mean.

It’s noteworthy (or something) that in January 2008 and in the past week, I took ‘Bernie Ranson’/’Kees’ to task for telling me and others that we were lying – it’s noteworthy that his approach is very consistent in that way (and in others, too).

One substantive issue at the end of the recent encounter was whether it is consistent to defend the right to free speech and also delete comments on a website. Yes, of course it is. I publish this web site: publishers don’t publish everything they are offered, they are selective; I select what I publish here; that includes comments. I don’t delete or edit comments very often – but that is because I don’t need to. Most comments here are good, and worth reading and engaging with, so I don’t do anything to them. But that doesn’t mean I don’t do anything to cause them to happen. Comments here are good because B&W attracts people who make good comments, and B&W does that because it has good content, and B&W has good content because I select it. Obviously I select it. B&W has a subject matter, and a tendency, and a set of commitments, and its content reflects all that. The pope doesn’t write for B&W, nor does Robert Mugabe, nor does Ann Coulter, nor does Tariq Ramadan. That’s not censorship, it’s selection.

I thought you’d like to know that.

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