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On Commenting and Posting. Again.

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I’m about to head off for a long vacation to travel and write a book about teaching the AP Language course I have taught for the past six years. While I hope to post on occasion as I travel, my guess is that I will find walking across northern Spain and visiting Prague a bit more interesting than writing another one of my rants here. I’m largely leaving the site in the hands of others for a bit, and the truth is that I don’t want to burden them with moderating comments any more than I have to.

In the past few weeks, it seems that commenting has become an issue once again. I’ve had e-mails asking me to ban people, to delete threads, and to end commenting altogether. I’d hate to the latter, when threads like the one under “Why Labor” are so thoughtful and interesting, despite disagreement between some of the commenters.

The truth is that I rarely read comments, on this site or others. Balancing all my hats leaves me little time to write, and even less time to read comments. If you’ve been insulted by a comment left here that I didn’t moderate, I’m sorry. Odds are that I didn’t see it, but I don’t want you to feel like my leaving it represents my endorsement of it.

What used to be a source of insight and entertainment has become a little too angry and a little too strident–and from me, that’s saying something. I worry that, by adopting a laissez-faire approach, though, I have kept other people from wanting to engage and be part of a discussion that could be useful again.

While I tried to develop a comment policy, that seems largely ineffective at making people happy. So let’s try a metaphor. If you were to come into my house or classroom, you’d be welcome to argue ideas with me and the other people there. I deeply believe that argument is among the most powerful methods of learning, and I try not to discourage it when I can. You might even get a little too passionate, a little personal, and maybe even a little mean. We all do on occasion. But if you came into my home or classroom and bullied people or used vicious personal attacks on them, you wouldn’t be welcome for long. I’d encourage you to try a different approach, and if that didn’t work, eventually I would ask you to stop visiting.

In a lot of ways, this site is my home online.

So here are the rules:

  1. Everyone starts with a clean slate now. I don’t want to go back and police old conversations, and I don’t have the time to do it. We all start fresh, with future comments judged on their merits.
  2. Remember we can learn from each other, even from people for whom we have contempt.
  3. Adhere to the guidelines of a house guest: don’t bully people, don’t insult, don’t name call, and don’t dominate the conversation in a way that makes other people feel they can’t speak.
  4. No sock puppet accounts. Please comment under one name as consistently as you can. I do understand the need for anonymity, but, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, it drives me crazy when people comment under multiple names. I suspect that’s because it’s often a cover for abuse.
  5. If you feel someone has broken these guidelines, please don’t fight it out on the site. Drop [email protected] an e-mail (with as much detail as you can) and I will check it as quickly as I can. If I don’t respond, be assured that I will look into it.
  6. If you’re repeatedly a rude house guest, I will probably change the locks and turn off the lights when you come by. I doubt I’ll send you an e-mail explaining myself, but I will block your access to the site as best as I can.

Let’s all see if we can start over. Welcome to my house. Please wipe your feet, and leave your old battles at the door. We might just have a nice party going that other people want to join if we handle it right.

Thank you.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we\'d certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

35 Comments

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  • Thank you, Don, for not banning me at the behest of a few rightwing plants, losers, and ne’er-do-wells. Hell, this very same rabble got me banned over at cowsquirrel site, and hence, they feel emboldened and empowered to do so here. They would love to have me banned, for then, all the lefty sites would be as milquetoast as the state dailies.
    If you go back and search the archives, you will find that I NEVER attacked another poster unless they attacked me first. And really, I simply cannot understand that mentality. WHY attack another poster for simply posting something you don’t like? I don’t get it. Issues are issues. People are NOT issues.
    I think that you showed PUBLISH on your site some of the hate mail that you get regarding other posters. THAT might put a stop to their nonsense. I would REALLY like to see what they’re saying when no one is watching. I think that that would go a long way to understanding their mentalities, such as they are.
    But p.s. When you’re traveling through Spain, DO stop in the bars and see if people are not vigorously debating politics. You see, THIS is the only country in the world where that doesn’t happen. Why? Well, the little tightie righties cannot STAND a real, honest debate! True story.
    And BTW, I envy you your trip to Spain. I have never been, but I’ve always wanted to go. SO much history there that still lives on today. And lest we forget. The Spanish Civil War was the precursor to the twentieth century, and those influences are still very much with us! Guernica simply equals Fallujah, and the Hispanic world knows that all too well!
    Buen viage, amigo!

  • While in Prague, if you’ve a chance, the John Lennon Wall was inspiring to me, or at least a memorial to his inspiration during the time that Soviet troops darkened the atmosphere of Czechoslovakia. It’s a more colorful place now even as fascism makes its heavy inroads via the EU.

    Your frank admission that you receive private emails requesting that you censor and ban people is affirmation to me that the barely concealed structure behind the Democratic Party is censorious and oppressive. The way that Democrat-based websites routinely remove links to thoughtcrime sites is also testimony. It is not tracel destination for anyone treasuring personal freedom.

    The rarest commodity of all in this world is self-awareness.

    • I don’t receive e-mails from the Democratic Party asking me to delete comments. That would be an absurd waste of their time. I do, however, receive e-mails from people asking me to remove comments they perceive as abusive. I don’t mind that at all, though I have little time to delve into them.

    • I believe you. The party does not operate in that manner. I know that.

      But in my nine years of blogging, wherein I used to delve into party politics and drew many more comments, never once did anyone ever contact me privately about anyone’s comments. But I know that various others have complained to blog administrators about me, and without fail, these have been Democratic Party regulars.

      • As a marginal Democrat and occasional commenter, I’ve never contacted a blog administrator to complain about what someone else has posted. Unless a poster is making vile, baseless and almost actionable statements about someone, I’d be opposed to having him banned.

        I’ve said before that I think good manners are overrated. Those who can’t stand the rough-and-tumble of blog commentary need to go elsewhere.

        • I think there is a difference between “the rough and tumble of blog commentary” and being an asshole. There are a million places one can be an asshole online. There’s no reason for this place to be one of them.

          Argue. Fight. Dispute. Just don’t be an asshole. Maybe that’s the post I should have written.

          • Might I dare add something to this conversation? I abso LUTELY think that name calling IS appropriate! Look, here’s the deal. Once a person becomes a public figure, not a private figure, but a PUBLIC figure mind you, I believe that they are fair game! If one chooses to put themselves out there as public figures, well then, they definitely DESERVE the scrutiny of ridicule! Have NONE of you ever spent time in Native American culture? Hell, their entire CULTURE is based on making fun of each other!
            Why? Why would they do such a thing? Easy answer. It keeps everyone from getting a big head. Their culture could absolutely NOT produce a Donald Stump, for he would never be allowed to be the asshole he is!
            Name calling of public figures is as American as apple pie! And it should be!
            Let me offer up a concrete example. Style over substance. Our culture is ENTHRALLED with style over substance. It’s just the nature of our narcissistic culture!
            Look at the pics, the recent pics, all OVER the internet, portraying the two little loudmouthed black chicks with their hands in the air in defiant salute! Wow! Impressive right? NOT! You see, people fell for their crap! It’s all STYLE, with NO substance! WHAT THE FREAKIN’ HELL DID IT MEAN? When they had their way, when they had the mike, when they had it ALL, they could do NOTHING with it ex CEPT call all the white libs in attendance racist! THAT my friends is ALL style without a SHRED of substance!
            Hence, these two little loudmouthed black chicks are FAIR GAME for ridicule!
            Now, on to substance. Substance in this case is a man like Bernie Sanders who has devoted his ENTIRE FRIGGIN’ LIFE to improving the lives of ALL of us, black, white, purple, what EVER! And for two little stupid little blacks chicks to prevent Bernie from speaking to some TWELVE THOUSAND PEOPLE who showed up to hear him is simply flatassed WRONG! But we have the pic, right? Works for me……NOT! I like a leetle SUBSTANCE with my pics!
            Look, dudes, I actually LIVED through the sixties, and actually PARTICIPATED in the sixties, and for the life of me I can’t friggin’ REMEMBER a similar incident where allies TURNED on each other like that! It was all about alliances back then. NOT loudmouthed photo ops! Folks were puttin’ their LIVES on the line to improve things!
            So, why would some of the less mentality endowed posters on this site criticize ME for pointing out that these little black chicks don’t know their ASSES from a hole in the ground?
            If you get the mike, if you get your way, if you hijack a Bernie Sander’s event, by frickin’ GOD you’d better have something to say, other than, “you whities are all a bunch-o racist bassturds”!
            Not real bright. Damn STOOPID in fact. Hence, they deserve ridicule! And for this, montany mami wants me banned, JUST like she did at montana cowsquirrel site!
            Dumdass public figures dee SERVE to be publicly ridicule. That comes with the territory! If you don’t want to be ridicule, DON’T make yourself a public figure! If their message is a great one, it will survive. If it is dumb as dog shit, it deserves to die!
            And don’t EVEN get me started on Mr. Giantefart, creationism boy!
            I would vote NO on censorship of any kind, for there is FAR too much collective wisdom out there to discourage debate. I put myself out there all the time. Hence, I’m a public figure of sorts. If you think I’m a dumbass, just SAY so. But please, saving all the talk of banning free speech for a country more sympathetic to your views, like say N. Korea!
            WE’RE AMERICANS, BABY! We can handle a leelte free speech! Right, montany mami?

          • Sorry for the typos. Been a beery, beery long day! It was SUPPOSED to be my day off, but some gawdammed TWENTY something called in SICK again, and the sixty-four year old old timer had to cover his ass again! I’m gettin’ too damn OLD for this shit. And to the two little loudmouthed black chicks, THAT is exactly why I wanted to hear Bernie’s message! To PROTECT social security for YOUR sorry fat asses! Is that so wrong? I’ve got mine, you sorry loudmouths. I’m trying to protect YOURS! For you see, you little twits, ALL social security matters! Ooops! Yes, I see by that comment I’m a racist bassturd too! My humblest apologies in advance to mikey seareeka, and montany mami! I just can’t help myself. Like Bernie, I even want to help the inbreds who want to get me banned! That’s just the way I am! I AM the sixties! Never quit caring, dudes. I never quit caring!

          • Jeebus. Mr. Temperpants wants to ban my old nemesis, Dave Skinflute?? From the cowturd site! Shyte! I give up on Montana blogs. There is nothing wrong with Dave’s posts. In fact, I have always counted on Dave doing away with the niceties and getting to the very HEART of the nazzzi argument for me. Saved me a lot of time doing research. Sad, so sad. A sad day for the Montana blogosphere!

            Dave Skinner | August 20, 2015 5:57 PM at 5:57 PM | Reply

            “You have got to be shytting me. Here at Cowgirl, former home of Larry the Krotjch and his peurile dreck, and you’re “warning” me? I might be censored or banned? I merely point out what seems like dog-whistling about not much and eye’m magically a neo-Aryan? Oh, my the intemperance of it all. The INTEMPERANCE.
            What the heck, I learned something: The phrase Western Civilization is no longer acceptable in bipartisan discourse.”

          • Wow. Bob Williams nails it in a succinct, powerful poem!
            Bob Williams | August 20, 2015 9:27 PM at 9:27 PM | Reply

            Yet another example
            Of special privilege of
            Laying on a complex of word lashes
            As just response/rebuke

            For being mightily/righteously offended
            By a simple nudge, question, or suggestion.

          • That’s the post you should have written.

            Im not at all perfect but I know I have better arguments when I stay true to the facts.

            If you’re presenting your opinions correctly you don’t have to lower yourself to calling people names. If you have a good argument it will stand. Doesn’t matter what side you’re on… just stick with the evidence that proves your point. Remember all us old folks were taught manners…. so where the younger generations, and we all know how to use them

            Sure I am not proud of a lot of my moments online, and yes I at times have to be aggressive because of some funky recessive Gene….. But evil Naw thats not my style…..or intent. so I continually try for the better argument…. at least its a work in progress, and it should be everybodys.

            The definition of civilization Larry is this: – the quality of excellence in thought and manners and taste; “a man or women of intellectual refinement”; “he is remembered for his generosity and civilization” (None of this doesn’t mean you can’t go camping, or shoot a gun at a deer during hunting season

            We might all fall short of that description, but it is worth the effort. And that doesn’t have a party of choice.

            Our first fathers thought it so important as to exhaust all remedies of diplomacy before a fight with england… now some people today don’t even consider another’s sovereign right to be treated equal or with common decency to be worth a damn? Just Saying

            At least try to be impeccable with your words for a change.

          • I think “being an asshole” can be defined as failure to accept the self-image someone projects as reality. We got a bit of it here – Don is going to travel Europe, write a book, yada yada, in other words, he envisions himself intellectually and culturally superior, a builder of fine minds in youth,, a fine human being, smart beyond dispute. Hubris, it is.

            If you come here and comment and do a little curtsy to that self image, you’re a fine commenter. Step in and disagree with the man’s self image, you’re an asshole.

            As I said above, self awareness is the rarest of commodities. As a “conspiracy theorist” I get slapped around on a regular basis by people of average depth, and have to live with it. If I imagine that those who imagine themselves a cut above are not, that is the defining quality of an asshole. Nothing more. Nothing less.

            • My favorite symptom of whatever demons haunt Mark Tokarski is that he goes around accusing other people of envisioning themselves as “intellectually and culturally superior,” with apparently no realization of the sad, sad irony of him saying that about anyone else. At normal levels, that would just be one of the quirky character flaws we all have, but at Tokarskian levels, it rises to pathology.

              I can only hope he’ll donate his brain to science so we can unlock the mystery of pathological lack of self-awareness, and help some other person in the future. It’s just too late here.

              On the bright side, given the magnitude of the affliction suffered in this case and his overwhelming self-regard, we’ll probably eventually associate Tokarski with PLOSA just as we associate Lou Gehrig with ALS today.

  • Dear Don: Hope your “vacation” is a good and productive one.

    And the non-Don comments above are a prime example of just what Don is talking about – flame-throwing as usual. Could you guys just go get a bottle and a blankie and please leave the rest of us alone? Please?

    Off-topic as usual, blaming everyone else for your problems understanding the world, and making blanket condemnations for whatever perceptions whether it be “righty” or “lefty” adds nothing to understanding on anyone’s part. I know you all think you know everything and everyone else is dumber than rocks but please, we all can find our way here and home again without your help. Thanks again.

    I would rather stick to the subject at hand – whatever it is – than wade through whatever muck you are throwing to find it. Thank you very much. And I know this is probably an open invitation for you to start throwing mud at me. I decline the invitation however so please do not indulge yourself.

  • Larry, You got one thing wrong. The 2 women who interrupted Bernie did so at a relatively small event in a park. There were maybe 2,000 people there. The event on the Univ. of Washington campus that drew 12,000+ people was not interrupted.

  • You know, I wrote one post, two sentences long, objecting to one repeated phrase. I did not name LK, nor make any personal comments about him. Since then, he has referred to me nine times, calling me an inbred and other names. He has accused me of “attacking” him. He has accused me of trying to get him banned. He has accused me of trying to have him banned at another blog.
    For the record, I have done no such thing. I have not contacted Mr. Pogreba about LK. I have no idea why LK thinks I tried to have him banned at mtcowgirl.com. Didn’t happen there, either.
    All I did was express my opinion about a phrase, in two benign sentences. I would like for the bizarre accusations about me and the name-calling and insults about me to stop.
    Thank you.

      • Thank you for the confirmation and for the welcome, Don.
        I like your “home online.” There is excellent writing and excellent discussion here. I’m a sucker for a site hosted by a fellow English language zealot, too.
        I’m a bit taken aback by being immediately bullied here, but I will stick around.
        Thank you and safe travels.

        • Um, it’s an adult site. Do try to consider that bee FORE making recommendations as to what is and isn’t permissible in someone else’s post! HEY, we all have’im. Opinions that is.
          YOU, gentle reader, were the one who suggested that the term “black chicks” was the equivalent of calling a male negro boy! And I called you on that. THAT is not bullying. It’s simply suggesting that you back UP your assertion with a fact or two. Now, if you can somehow convince me with a cogent, well-written argument including some examples to support your assertion, well by GOD I’ll stop referring to black chicks as black chicks! Until then, black chicks they are!
          In my best Andy Rooney voice: ya know, have you ever noticed how the skin is thinnest where the argument is the weakest? I certainly have!
          Now, since you supposedly stopped arguing a while back, here’s your chance to do so again! I guess that’s what Bob meant when he said you’re hoggin’ up the space round here with a continuation of your original groundless complaint!

          • p.s. Care to have an opinion of your OWN some time on something, mommy? See, in the biz, we call that bouncing off someone else’s bid. We go give a bid for a job and the home owner calls another company for another estimate. They show up and ask what we bid, then underbid us by a certain amount. In other words, THEY STEAL OUR BID! For you see, we do all the work FOR them! We know what the job will cost to the penny to be done right. We give the bid. Now, because they know our bid and our reputation, they can underbid us just enough to get the job with NONE of the risk of doing their own bid! See how that works? They come along and immediately do not overbid nor underbid. They know that if they bounce off our bid, it’s gonna work because we know what we’re doing!
            That is what you do. You have NO opinions of your own that I can see. You just enjoy bouncing off MY posts! That requires NO thought or writing skill on your part. And is in essence STEALING what I write! Bouncing off the posts of others is lazy and theft. And that just ain’t right.
            I stated MY opinion quite nicely I thought. And you did what? Simply attacked, or bounce off, my choice of words! That is unethical in the business world AND the blog world. And I for one don’t appreciate bouncers one little bit!

          • Then my Opinion Larry is this: You used to be far wittier in your younger years…. the “Swill” is speaking now. … and it must be the cheap Swill.

          • Really, norma? Seriously? You’re seriously attacking another poster because of his choice of libation? You DO realize that this is Montana, right? Them’s fightin’ words, and fightin’ words are NOT allowed!
            That is your first warning!

          • Again, I hate to repeat myself, but I read. I read a lot. And my favorite reading pastime is reading the comment sections.
            Now, for ALL you morons out there that think I’m way off base on my opinion of the loudmouthed know nothing little black chicks who interrupted Bernie, I encourage you to read ALL the comments on the following article. I did. ANYONE with a lick of sense knows that they did irreparable damage to the black lives movement. Why? Why did they, why were they ALLOWED to do this? I dunno. I dunno. All I can tell you is that the damage is done. White libs are gonna be lookin’ for some OTHER cause now that they’ve been SHiT upon by the representatives of this “movement”. I mean, really. This is freakin’ MONTANA ferrcrhissakes! We’re a waving state. We wave to each other…….all the freakin’ TIME! In fact, I can’t freakin’ drive to WORK without getting a sore arm! And those who don’t wave back are consider to be outta state assholes! So when we see two little loudmouthed black chicks who refuse to even shake a man like Bernie Sander’s hand, we immediately KNOW that they are shit! Hence, their movement is shit!
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/senate-races_55d77eb4e4b08cd3359c20fd?kvcommref=mostpopular

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