Herb, stay. Lee, go.

First, read the following exchange from a recent comment thread:

    Brad, if you are still reading this, I’m assuming you notice that we have the equivalent of a troll gang here. Lexwolf and Lee are happy to chase off anybody they can, and gloat over it, as if they had actually won an argument. For the life of me, I cannot understand why Mary Rosh has to go, and Lee and Lex stay. It’s the same anonymous put down and snobbery–a bit more subtle, perhaps, but nonetheless condescending ridicule of all those they disagree with. Sometimes they have a point, but often their contributions are simply toxic.
    It would be pointless to read this blog, I think, were it not for the thoughtful contributions of Paul, Claudia, Phillip, Randy, Bill, and a few others, especially the occasional new contributor, like Annee. Even the extremist Dave can laugh at himself and admit a mistake. But I think I am out of here. I’m sure Lee will be glad.
    Posted by: Herb Brasher | Apr 7, 2007 7:37:40 PM

    Herb, if you don’t bring any facts to the discussion, only liberal propaganda, myth, and personal invective, you can expect me to hammer you with facts, and my opinion based on those facts.
    If you find the truth toxic, you need a system overhaul.
    Begin by stopping with the whining and insults , and take on piece of information which upsets you. Don’t blame us for shocking you with the truth. Blame the propagandists in public schools and the socialist media for filling your head with years of disinformation.
    Posted by: Lee | Apr 8, 2007 4:10:44 PM

    Herb, you just provided substantiation for a (favorable) comment I made about you on another thread.
    Posted by: Steve Gordy | Apr 8, 2007 4:19:34 PM

    I answered your praise for Herb’s bashing, too, with another challenge for you folks to get on topic and post facts. Stop hijacking the threads with personal attacks.
    Posted by: Lee | Apr 8, 2007 6:06:36 PM

    Back in your cave, troll. Lee doesn’t recognize a fact unless it’s vetted by Rush or Sean or Ann.
    Posted by: Steve Gordy | Apr 8, 2007 7:01:37 PM

    Try me.  Post a fact, or one of your factoids.
    Posted by: Lee | Apr 8, 2007 9:13:53 PM

    Thanks, Steve, I found it.
    Posted by: Herb Brasher | Apr 9, 2007 10:00:22 PM

    Found what, a koom-ba-ya site where liberals chant their slogans and recite their myths?
    Posted by: Lee | Apr 12, 2007 10:02:06 AM

That’s it. I want Herb, who gets what the blog is about and is willing to put his name behind what he says, to stick around.

Lee, for abusing one of our most thoughtful and civil correspondents, is hereby banished. He can apply to me, via e-mail, if he would like to be reinstated. He will have to persuade me that he is seriously repentant, and one of the best ways he could do that would be to write me using his real, full name, and use it thenceforth on this blog.

But I doubt that he will. Lee has persuaded me that either doesn’t know what civility is, or like the one previous exile, aggressively scorns it. It’s up to him to persuade me otherwise — or for some of you upstanding citizens who regularly respect others to do so; I’ll consider that as well.

Oh, and Herb, with regard to that other exile — he/she went first because he/she wasn’t local, and had no interest whatsoever in our home state beyond lame attempts to deride it. I’ve bent over backwards for Lee — and LexWolf, and RTH for that matter — because they seemed to care just that tiny bit more about issues of particular interest to The State’s readership. (Some may forget, but in an alternate life, I’m that newspaper’s editorial page editor.)

I’ll be interested to see how all of you — particularly LexWolf and RTH — react to this. I’m sure I’ll soon find out. In the meantime, expect to hear more from me on this subject in the next couple of days.

40 thoughts on “Herb, stay. Lee, go.

  1. Randy E

    I’m surprised Lee has time to read blogs as busy as he is with his jobs working for NASA and WIS, as a volunteer fire chief and engineer, overseeing fingerprint technology for some obscure company, and on the side he formulates economic theory while working as a school hall monitor.
    I’ll miss hearing of all the exploits.

  2. Ready to Hurl

    I’m sorry to see Lee banned.
    It would seem to me that Brad would want to stay in touch with the views of what is most probably a sizable segment of The State’s readership.
    The only reason that I continued extended exchanges with him was to confront and dispel misconceptions that many less vocal people have adopted after some 40 years of rightwing propaganda.
    Lee was a radical exception in many ways but also an avatar for many victims of the regressive right wing propaganda machine.
    Ah, well, there’s always the Vice Mayor of Crazytown. Or, was it Mayor? I could never decide.

  3. Ready to Hurl

    Brad, in case you missed this in another thread…
    Community Leader: Online Journalism Skills I Wish I’d Learned in School
    A successful forum or blog relies upon a robust user community. However, these communities don’t magically form. They require enormous amount of time, effort and leadership. If you’re lucky enough to develop a community, the work only gets harder: a forum/blog moderator is equal parts party host, discussion leader and diplomat.
    What does this have to do with journalists? Online, writers and editors are expected to interact with the audience. (If you work at a place where this isn’t an expectation, start looking for another job; your current gig has an expiration date.)
    Audience interaction can yield better stories and more interesting content, but it also opens the door to arguments, mindless debates and comments so stupid — so egregious — you want to throttle the nearest life form.
    Moderators must swallow that first impulse and step back. They need to see opportunity amidst arguments and story ideas amidst flame wars. They need to lead the discussion and prod it when it falters.

  4. Carol Hathaway

    Doug, don’t go! I’d like us to retain at least all those commenters, like yourself, who are willing to use their real names when posting!

  5. Brad Warthen

    You’re right, Carol. But only Doug can decide for himself whether he wants to be part of a civil conversation — something that seems a tad doubtful, in light of his last remark.

  6. Ready to Hurl

    Looks like a great weekend on
    C-SPAN2’s Book TV: April 14-16
    Brad, maybe you can find the time to watch the Allawi interview. Or, you can stay tuned to Forked-Tongue McCain’s Happy Talk Express.
    The Daniels interview is must-see-TV for Lee, of course.
    After Words
    Insightful author interviews
    Saturday 9 PM, Sunday 6 PM and 9 PM ET
    Ali Allawi, former Iraqi Minister of Defense, Trade and Finance, was a leader of the opposition movement in exile during the rule of Saddam Hussein. In his new book, he assesses the reasons for the invasion of Iraq, and details the mistakes he says were made during the occupation. Mr. Allawi discusses his book with Roland Flamini, chief international correspondent at United Press International from 2000 to 2006 and foreign correspondent and World Section editor for Time magazine from 1968 to 1994.
    Weekend Highlights
    Andrei Markovits, Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America
    Andrei Markovits is a professor of comparative politics and German studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In his book, he assesses the reasons for the recent rise in anti-Americanism in Europe, and argues that such feelings have roots going back to the approval of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776.
    (Saturday 3 PM, Sunday 5:30 PM ET)
    Clive James, Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts
    Critic Clive James has penned over one hundred original essays on people he believes shaped today’s understanding of the twenieth century. Spanning everything from the arts to politics, Mr. James organizes his profiles in alphabetical order, placing Alfred Einstein next to Duke Ellington, and Mao Zedong just prior to an essay on Thomas Mann.
    (Saturday 7 PM ET)
    Cora Daniels, Ghettonation: A Journey into the Land of Bling and the Home of the Shameless
    Cora Daniels writes that the ghetto lifestyle popularized by urban African-Americans and Latinos is destructive for these communities and for American society as a whole. She argues that ghetto culture teaches young people to value money, sex, and fame over education, social advancement, and marriage.
    (Sunday 12 PM ET)

  7. Brad Warthen

    I’ve heard from Lee via e-mail. Short version: He hasn’t decided that he wants to come back yet. He sends regards — in his own way — to Lex and Dave.

  8. Herb Brasher

    Well, Brad already knows how hard it was for me to stay gone–I was already drawn back into it on the “Classy Disagreement” thread–couldn’t help but appreciate that exchange.
    I’m pressed for time this weekend, so I can’t say much more than that in my experience, real discussion needs some degree of vulnerability, but it’s hard to do that when you know that someone is waiting to pounce on what you write like a predator, and put a label on you on the basis of whatever position you might happen to take on any given subject, or score points at your expense at any opportunity. Real conversation can’t flourish in an environment where elemental forms of trust can’t at least begin to grow. Even debate has to have its parameters.
    Maybe some people will stay away if Lee leaves, but I have a feeling that others will join in who’ve got at least as much, if not more of a contribution to make.
    As for Lex’s often ridiculed song, “Kum ba yah,” I’m sure he knows it’s an African-American spiritual. It certainly doesn’t express any theological complexities, but if there really is a God who really delights in people who might be interested in His “coming by here” and be involved in our lives–well that can have profound implications for life. Some of the simplest things in life are, or can be, the most important, and thus also the most valuable.
    On another note, I can appreciate that many female contributors on the blog wouldn’t want to use their last names. That, in my opinion, is just another proof of how fragile the right kind of environment for worthwhile discussion is.
    Oh, one last comment–I disagree with RTH’s assessment of the average person in this state. I’ve had little windows of opportunity in the last couple of weeks to converse with neighbors and others who’ve disagreed with me over stuff I’d written in a letter to the editor, or whatever. These people aren’t all like Lee, not by a long shot. I’ve appreciated the really good conversations, and I’ve come to understand their side a little bit better, even when I still disagree.

  9. Randy E

    While there are some slugfests on here, I repeat what I wrote a few weeks ago. Having to articulate a position, defend the position, and challenge others has helped me refine and develop my positions and views. For example, Lex and Doug made me see perspectives on education from outside my profession. As a result, I’ve had to evaluate and analyze in different ways.
    I’ve also learned from others. For example, Dave referenced the IBM CEO who saved Big Blue. I read up on him (CEO not Dave) and learned something new.
    On NPR there was an English professor who explained that a benefit for our young people from all the IM-ing, emails etc. is they spend a great deal more time practicing written communication. Similarly, I find myself looking up words which I’ve heard but not had to spell or even define precisely.
    Finally, the very act of debating the issues on this blog is active citizenship – we are discussing our community even if it’s unruly at times. How else would I get a chance to chat with Paul out in Marion, with the guys who’ve lived in Europe, or a parent with children in private school. This is a rich source of perspectives.
    My only concern is I think Herb blogs without wearing pants.

  10. LexWolf

    “I can’t say much more than that in my experience, real discussion needs some degree of vulnerability, but it’s hard to do that when you know that someone is waiting to pounce on what you write like a predator, and put a label on you on the basis of whatever position you might happen to take on any given subject, or score points at your expense at any opportunity. Real conversation can’t flourish in an environment where elemental forms of trust can’t at least begin to grow.”
    Now that perfectly describes Randy! He has made a career out of distorting, mutilating, spindling and flat-out inventing “quotes” and to throw those at us even half a year later. If you and/or Brad think that this is any way to have a proper discussion, then you are truly beyond hope. If Lee is banned, then why in the world isn’t Randy banned for doing even worse than Lee? Just the fact that you don’t like what Lee is saying doesn’t mean he should be banned. Neither should Randy. Free speech is good for you even if you don’t like what other people say. IMO strong disagreements are perfectly OK. Kumbaya-singing is what invariably stifles any worthwhile discussion. BTW, Kumbaya is widely recognized as the “anthem” of cowardly leftists who would rather crawl into their cocoons and deny reality while hoping that better men and women will defend their sorry behinds.
    Why is it always the people on the Left (and Herb easily fits that category) who simply can’t stand opposing opinions, especially if they are made to look thoroughly foolish by those diverse opinions?

  11. LexWolf

    as to your original post, how about really reading some of those old posts directed at Lee. If you truly keep an open mind, you’d be amazed at the viciousness and vitriol directed toward Lee. If you wan

  12. LexWolf

    If you want to ban Lee, I truly don’t see how you can fail to ban some of the people attacking him. How can you even pretend that RTH, Randy et al aren’t at least as deserving of a ban? Except, of course, that they agree with your big-government ideology much more than Lee would.
    Don’t get me wrong. Unlike our leftist brethren, I am not clamoring for banning anyone but if you’re going to ban anyone you surely have several more prime candidates on the other side as well.
    As for me, do whatever you think is right. I made it for all but the past 6 months or so of my life without even knowing of the existence of your blog and I’m sure I would survive quite well without it (assuming I don’t just post under another name). If you ban me as well you will have mostly gotten rid of the non-leftist, non-big government ideologue posters. Maybe that’s what you want while using Herb’s post as a cover?
    Then the remaining posters can all sing Kumbaya along with Herb…. However, I think you’ll find that lovefests are very boring and if you think your current blog traffic and post count is low, just wait.

  13. Randy E

    Lex, your commentary regarding your quotes reminds me of T.O. complaining that he was misquoted in his AUTObiography.
    Brad’s a real “lefty” the way he pushes the Iraq “War” and supports McCain and Graham…oh, I guess they’re “libs” as well.
    Your obsession with me is a little disturbing, but I get the idea you won’t be around here too much longer.

  14. Ready to Hurl

    “Unlike our leftist brethren, I am not clamoring for banning anyone”

    Re-read the first sentence of the second post in this thread. I was serious.
    Lee’s mistake was playing rough with people who (a)signed a name; and, (b)didn’t take kindly to his ridiculous name calling.
    Posters with “names” are sacred cows on Brad’s blog. They are to be respected— not ridiculed, personally attacked and denigrated.
    I could care less what Lee says about me but some people get offended when he impugns their professional opinion and motives. In the real world Doc DeMarco has a reputation and doesn’t need a self-appointed “expert” dissing him.
    For example:

    “…I think I know a low [sic] more about the big picture than a small town doctor who just feels sorry for his patients.”

  15. LexWolf

    RTH, quite frankly I’m sick and tired of people being “offended”, or claiming to be “offended”. In most cases it’s nothing but a cheap ploy to shut down any speech the offendee doesn’t like. Herb especially has had several such episodes on this blog.
    Naturally Brad can do whatever he wants but it seems to me that he has just established a dangerous precedent: if one of the “favored” posters screams loudly enough for another poster’s head, Brad will start chopping. In effect, Brad has just handed over control of the blog to Herb.

  16. Brad Warthen

    It could be in worse hands than Herb’s. You might even like it, because he would be much less likely to ban anyone, I surmise. He’s nicer than I am.
    I urge you, Lex, to reread the post yourself. I specifically mentioned two people who are close to the edge — you and RTH. One of the barriers to understanding that you and Lee have in common is a tendency — nay, a compulsion — to frame everything in ideological terms. If someone disagrees with you, they must be “liberals,” or “leftists.”
    Look at the first two who have been banned. Look at the two I’ve warned. What’s the ideological commonality?
    And yes, people who use real names, who make themselves accountable for their words, do have greater license. That’s the policy, clearly stated and fairly applied.
    On that note: Randy, brother, you don’t have to be so sarcastic. In particular, I don’t think it helps to mock Lee, or LexWolf, who naturally resents that he may receive the same treatment.
    Of course, since we know you are Randy Ewart, you can do what you like. I’m just saying that I would rather encourage people to express their views in a civil manner, rather than mock them into an unproductive rage so that I end up banning them.
    Everyone is welcome — as long as they have that same welcoming attitude toward others. If they don’t, I give them time to change, after having told them what they’re doing wrong. Banning is a last resort.
    Or perhaps, it’s a next-to-last resort. If it doesn’t work, I might go to requiring everyone to register to comment. But I’ve never wanted to go that far, so for now I’m holding off to see if the current approach works. If I don’t see progress soon, though, I might take that step.

  17. Randy E

    Brad, while it’s true that sarcasm I now see to be, in general, the language of the devil, I learned long ago that reason is lost on Lee and Lex. This is the second thread directed towards them as a spanking for naughty behavior. When Demarco gets sucked into heated debate (with Lee) you know it’s a problem. And don’t forget, you took joy in dangling the delete button in front of Lee just recently.
    I say give Lee the boot without fanfare and censor Lex quietly as necessary. This will have similar effectiveness as registering comments. The reduced negative influences will clear the air and allow the positive energy to build.

  18. Herb Brasher

    My only concern is I think Herb blogs without wearing pants.

    I didn’t realize I had left my webcam on.

    Herb especially has had several such episodes on this blog.

    Excuse me, but the last time I checked, everybody was free to have their own opinion? Why am I not supposed to express mine? Most of the time, Brad answered–nothing. Which is just fine. I expressed what I thought, and he didn’t react. It’s his blog. But I also remember Claudija’s statement that she didn’t want to post amid such ideological rants, or similar. How many other thoughtful people stay away because people on this blog are yelling “YOU LIBERAL IDIOT!” and vv. at each other. Please inform me as to how the content of that is supposed to help me, or anybody else.
    I want to recall someone saying a long time ago, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I’ve personally never taken pleasure, or been helped in any way, by being ridiculed by someone else. Maybe masochists enjoy that; I don’t. So I don’t see how yelling at people, and making sarcastic assumptions about where they went to school (though Lee has no clue where I went to school, I don’t think), is of any value.
    Is this the kind of discourse you guys carry on in your families? If it is, I’d hate to be there.

  19. Randy E

    Brad, why no thread on the Imus issue? Here’s a great take on it by Jason Whitlock, a wonderfully pragmatic and astute writer. Anyone willing to sacrifice $$ to give Mike Lupica the bird (figuratively) must have a good perspective.

  20. Steve Gordy

    While I feel some regret at seeing Lee banned, he was warned. The situation was akin to a guest invited into someone’s home who spent his time disparaging anyone who disagreed with him; moreover, disagreeing in personal terms. I’m sure Lee is knowledgeable in some areas, but his dogmatism was not limited to his areas of knowledge. When he attacked Paul and Herb in personal terms, he went over the line.

  21. Noah Doubt

    “Here, we’re all about fighting the good fight. We’re gonna shove the ideologues of left and right out of our way (there are plenty of other blogs out there for them), and talk about pragmatic ways to do stuff that truly needs doing in South Carolina, the nation and the world.”

  22. Claudia

    “You never saw a bigoted, opinionated, stubborn, narrow-minded, self-conceited, almighty mean man in your life but he had stuck in one place since he was born and thought God made the world and dyspepsia and bile for his especial comfort and satisfaction.”
    Mark Twain
    And sometines the place you’re stuck in is inside your own head.

  23. Ready to Hurl

    Brad has just handed over control of the blog to Herb.

    Good choice.
    At least Herb doesn’t gratuitously impute hatred of GW Bush as the partisan cause of opposition to the Iraq meat grinder.
    Herb for Blog Czar!

  24. Annee

    Herb for Blog Czar? GOOD GRIEF!!!! The guys listed above write 10x’s as many comments as he does and 80% of their stuff isn’t worth glancing at whereas at least Herb give you something to chew on (maybe that’s why he and Brad and a few others get torn to shreads a lot – because at least their stuff is WORTH chewing on?). Brad – these guys don’t get it – and Herb is right – occasional commenters such as myself have gotten tired of the bickering and potty language. I hardly read the blog anymore for that reason as I prefer to spend time reading and dialoguing with those who can express themselves and their opposing opinions in such a way as still shows respect for personhood of those who disagree with them. If this gets cleaned up a little I think you might actually get some GOOD and worthy discussion going. The issue isn’t that we disagree – the issue is attitude and respect. Let me repeat that – the issue isn’t that we disagree – the issue is attitude and respect!
    Winston Churchill is a prime example to me of someone who could vehemently disagree with people, with witty language, and still show respect for the person he was disagreeing with.
    You’re not going to change anything in the political arena with potty language. So, in my opinion Brad, you’re on the right track.

  25. Dave

    This is unbelievable. I go out of town for a few days and one of my favorite blogs becomes a censored private club. Lee, like some others, is very direct and blunt and its too bad that there are so many thin skins out there. I dont agree with personal insults towards family and that is why I agree totally with the Unperson sent to exile. But Lee has offered up a lot of conservative information and his thinking cuts through a lot of the fog on complex issues. Let’s see, Ghandi went on a hunger strike to defeat the British colonialists. I won’t do that but I too will sit out in a blog strike until His Majesty Brad eases up on the censorship throttle. I really regret that as I find the dialogue exchange here enlightening but obviously my skin is a little thicker than most.

  26. Ready to Hurl

    Hey, Herb, I wrote that Lee represents a “sizeable segment of The State’s readership”– not “the average person in SC.”
    Many of his opinions resonate strongly with the majority of South Carolinians, however.
    If you don’t think that’s accurate then perhaps you haven’t read the posts on the Let’s get the flag down NOW!” thread.

  27. Herb Brasher

    You’re right and you’re right. I apologize. I put it up to being snowed under with reading right now, but that’s no excuse, either.
    Didn’t read your post very well, but I just read the comments on the thread you mentioned very well. The only thing that’s missing is a an attempted biblical defense of slavery to put icing on the cake. Pretty horrifying.
    Hopefully Brad is right, that the silent majority isn’t commenting.

  28. BizWiz7

    If you don’t respect those South Carolinians who already compromised with outside agitators and local wannabe liberals who constantly have to demonstrate the penance, just go over to those threads on the flag, tell them what you really think about them, and when they respond in kind, have Brad ban them.

  29. Herb Brasher

    Check back up on the “underbelly” thread. I spotted that one right away. And of course, we know who Carol is, but she’s keeping pretty insightful and to the point, methinks.

  30. BizWiz7

    Mr. Basher, my response to you was that compromise with most who claim to be moderates and liberals is not really possible, because they either don’t intend to honor any deal they make, or don’t care if someone more radical on their side tries to tear it up and move the lines in a more extreme direction.
    When was the last time you saw a liberal, socialist, moderate, progressive come out against a more radical position and say, “No, that’s not fair. We already reached a compromise on ____(Confederate flag, statute, gun laws, tobacco, …)___”?
    Lack of honesty or courage to stand up to the extreme statists is what makes most Americans hold no respect for any of the so-called “moderate liberals”.

  31. Herb Brasher

    BizWiz7, I think that it is useless to try and rejoin your statements, because of the labels you put on the groups you don’t like, and the generalizations to boot. “They don’t intend to honor any deal they make,” and “they don’t care” are the radical statements of extremists who don’t want to dialog on issues, just stick on labels.
    At the bottom of our disagreements, I suspect, are radically different core values, and the conception of what is truth, and what is evil and a lie. The values that I personally, and many with me, want to have at the basis of our pre-suppositions are what is true and good, regardless of who may hold to them–for truth is truth, regardless of how many people “vote” for it, or even how many people like it–and how to apply that as evenly and as best as possible in the context that we have, without completely tossing out all restraint and order. Your presuppositions are evidently formed around core values that are maintained by a particular group, with all others labeled as “liberals” or “progressives,” or whatever. Truth lies within your group, and everything outside of your group is, by definition, a lie, and evil. The evil, then, is always out there. Your group is right; everyone else is wrong (or a “liberal,” or a “progressive,” or whatever label you choose to give your enemies. You learn from nobody, except from those within your group.
    I have to maintain that evil is much more pervasive than that; that all of us, no matter what “group” we belong to are infected with it. That will, among other things, necessitate a constant, precarious balance between individual rights and freedoms on the one hand, and corporate responsibility on the other. It demands constant watchfulness and adjustments, because the evil is not just “out there,” but in us all, and will overpower us if we don’t stay alert.
    And generally, labels don’t help. They jam up human relationships and dialog, just like they jam up my old HP ink-jet printer.

  32. Moderate Guy

    Mr. Brasher, all you have done in your psuedo-psycology is to try to dismiss everyone who makes an observation which you cannot answer. That is rude and intellectually dishonest.
    Labels are valuable when they are correct and used by people who understand them. Unfortunately, most people know so little about philosophy that the names of various schools of thought mean nothing to them, or some misconception.
    Real liberalism means something. Socialism has many forms, but they all share some core beliefs in state ownership and control of economic enterprise and people’s lives. Socialists who call themselves “liberals” are dishonest, and but they have redefined liberalism to mean socialism that cannot admit to it.
    In general, the observations about liberals, like all socialists, being dishonest negotiators is quite correct.
    A lot of the extremists who want to BAN tobacco, CONFISCATE firearms, and OUTLAW large vehicles are just now out in the open, after a series of compromises which they claimed was all they wanted.

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