Should these comments be illegal?

Some of the comments to my Instalanched post display a misunderstanding of my remarks, and accuse me of slighting Ted Rall merely for not allowing comments. Example:

Why snipe at Rall for not allowing comments on his blog while ignoring that Reynolds doesn't allow them either?

Pick a position and stick to it.

My position (and I'll stick to it!): threaten me with prison for comments, and I will snipe with everything I've got!

But I couldn't care less whether Ted Rall -- or Glenn Reynolds, or any other blogger -- simply allows comments. Whether to allow comments to a blog is a personal decision, and I can see arguments pro and con. After six months as a steady blogger, I am still a fairly new to this, and I like having the comments feature because it lets me know what, if anything, people think. It is possible that if I do this long enough I might grow tired of comments, but I am nowhere near that stage. However, I try not to feel obligated to answer all comments, because I don't want them to turn into a nagging obligation like email or messages left on an answering machine. I could imagine that for some bloggers, comments -- whether favorable or unfavorable -- could be a major distraction from blogging. Having the writing of other people right there on your site might strike some as an invasion, and be very annoying. Anyone who feels that way would be better off not allowing them. So would people who want complete anonymity.

Several of the really big bloggers allow comments, and I can see why they might not want to. It strikes me as a little ridiculous to see 546 comments to a single post, and there's no way in the world I would want to read through them. When I see that, I tend not to even open the comments. I don't know whether I would want such a burden. (I should be so lucky, though....) Then there is the issue of legal liability for comments -- the recent legal threat to Atrios by Donald Luskin being a perfect example. Considering all of these factors, I fully understand why bloggers would not want to be bothered.

What gave me offense about Rall -- and what set me off -- was the venomous malice he showed towards commenters. Once again, here are Rall's words:

When I was researching the whole blogging thing, a cartoonist pal strongly advised me against including a comment feature in my blog. After I spent a few months reading hundreds of political blogs, particularly among the minority of bloggers opposed to Bush's fascist takeover, I understood why. A comment feature, in an ideal world, would allow people to discuss issues in a civilized way. But we don't live in an ideal world, and what happens in reality is that a bunch of right-wing maniacs link to your blog and encourage their right-wing maniac friends, all of whom should be in Gitmo rather than running free, to post insults in the comments section.

Yes, there are people for whom the highlight of their day is to post "Ted Rall is a commie asshole" on the Internet. Those people are welcome to post such illuminating messages on their own blogs.

Rall does far more than explain his no-comment policy when he states that those who disagree with him are: a) mentally ill, and b) should be imprisoned. Imprisoning people for political disagreement -- even when such disagreement is coupled with insults -- is totalitarianism. Rall -- a man whose central thesis is that Bush is a fascist -- admits by his words that endorses the most odious and oppressive totalitarian state tactics. No surprise there; he advocates a Marxist revolution in the United States. If such a thing were to happen, people would surely be imprisoned for the crime of being "right wing maniacs" -- and for the wrong "comments." What I am writing in this blog -- right now -- would be a crime in the state Rall wants to establish.

Bottom line: Rall wants me imprisoned.

(So, of course, do Phelps, Falwell, Dobson, Sheldon, et al.)

I hope that people like Rall never get power, just as I hope that people who advocate imprisonment of homosexuals never get power. They are all a direct threat to me, and what they say obligates me to speak out in self defense.

That was my objection to Rall's comments policy. Other than the fact that the no-comment policy forces me to discuss my opinions here and not on his blog, whether he or anyone else allows comments is completely irrelevant. The crucial difference between Rall and the "right-wing maniacs" he'd imprison is that none of the "maniacs" would put him in prison for "comments."

"Maniacs" whose comments upset Rall belong in prison?


What is a "maniac," anyway?

posted by Eric on 11.15.03 at 07:24 PM


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Good morning, and welcome to this edition of the Cul-de-Sac, my semi-regular labor of loving linkage, in which I attempt to gauge the zeitgeist of my corner of the blogosphere. This is the first Sac in several weeks; I've been... [Read More]
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Absolutely right. We owe nothing but resistance to those who would imprison us or take away our means of self-defense. And that includes all those like Phelps, Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Sheldon, Santorum, Scalia, Bork, etc. on the ChristiaNazi "Right", _and_ all those like Rall, MacKinnon, Dworkin, Brady, etc., on the neo-Communist "Left" (intellectual descendents of Herbert Marcuse).

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  November 16, 2003 1:44 PM


There, in his naked reality, Ted Rall accuses himself and stands convicted of totalitarian intolerance and the bigotry which accompanies it.

I had the discipline to learn to draw, portraiture and caricature and medical/technical drawing, line-drawing, freehand... with a pencil and paper I put up or shut up.

Rall gets his seemingly pre-pubescent doodles published AND his venomous screeds printed in order to give voice to poisonous, intolerant anti-Americanism... shameful, but permitted under American law.

Do I see the irony here? Rall wants to do away with the freedoms which let him urge the doing away with of freedoms! What a maroon.

SharpShooter   ·  November 16, 2003 10:16 PM

Uh, SMA, Scalia and Bork are strict constitutionalists and support the federal system of states rights. They are not fascists. You need to read their opinions and dissents and not just Democratic talking points to get the full picture. Because Democrats want judges who will make law from the bench so long as they are liberal.

For instance in the Texas sodomy case, Scalia stated that it was not up to the federal courts to decide a case that was a states rights issue. There is no right to privacy written anywhere within the US constitution just as there are no constitutional rights to homosexuality or heterosexuality. Therefore these issues fall under the under the jurisdictions of the states and the 10th amendment; not the federal courts. Scalia never said sodomy was evil or bad. His opinion was that the federal courts had no jurisdiction under the US constitution to hear the case and make federal law from the bench that grants rights that do not constitutionally exsist. That's all.

Ted Rall on the other hand is a seditionous dirt bag who would wipe his ass on the US constitution. They are in no way similar.

Harry   ·  November 17, 2003 2:03 AM

Harry's right. Look at it another way. If you were a totalitarian would you want you neighbor -- or your subjects -- to be able to kill you? Not likely. If you were a totalitarian, you would be opposed to a strict reading of the Constitution -- that is, opposed to Scalia, etc. (you should also check out his ruling on a search and seizure marijuana case a couple years ago -- he came down in favor of the grower and against the police).

The Second gives us the right -- and the power -- to fulfull the claims of the Declaration of Independence. That is, the right to overthrow your government and kill the totalitarians.

That's why its so damn silly to call Bush a fascist. One, he, unlike Clinton, isn't going to poke around for other ways to stay in power after his 2 terms, and two, what kind of totalitarian would encourage the 80 million of his people who have the means to kill him to continue to possess that means? What kind of a dictator wants his people to be able to threaten his life?

Bush -- like strict constructionists (Scalia) -- is opposed to gun control. No totalitarian -- and very few left-wing politicians or pundits -- ever was. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but power is in the muzzle of a gun.

Yes, we need to maintain a free press (you're looking at what is by far the most widespread, most free press ever known to man, by the way). But without the guns to back up the conclusions of that free press, what have you got?

blog of unknowing   ·  November 17, 2003 3:41 AM

I did read Scalia's opinion, that's how I arrived at my opinion of him. I also read Bork's books, that's how I arrived at my opinion of him. Bork consistently, systematically, attacks the idea of individualism, individual autonomy, individual privacy. That is his _ideology_, it is not mere "judicial restraint" that he is advocating.
And there was hardly a less restrained judge than Scalia, who read his dissent aloud in the court, attacking "the homosexual agenda", and then, recently, read the majority opinion again, sneeringly. If he hadn't played the demagogue instead of the judge, he wouldn't have been forced to recuse himself in the Pledge of Allegiance case.
As for "Democratic talking points", that is just more demagoguery, an even uglier smear than "homosexual agenda". I am totally independent in my thinking. I admire Justice Kennedy, who so eloquently defended my right to privacy in my own home, which you deny in the name of "states' rights" (which was also the shibboleth used to defend slavery and segregation). Justice Kennedy, by the way, was appointed by President Reagan, not by any Democrat. And Justices Stevens, O'Connor, and Souter were also appointed by Republican Presidents. So, obviously, political parties have nothing whatsoever to do with anything. That is just a despicable smear.
And if you know anything whatsoever about me, if you've read my blog Up With Beauty or any of my comments here in Classical Values, you'd know that I am absolutely opposed to any form of gun control, and I will, if necessary, use my right to keep and bear arms in defense of my freedom of speech, my freedom to worship my Gods and my Goddesses, and my right to privacy in my own home.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  November 18, 2003 12:21 AM

The Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  November 18, 2003 12:52 AM

Scalia thinks the IX Amendment meaningless.

In addition his rulings reflect not strict construction but Catholic theology.

Bork is an ass. Another religious and cultural fanatic.

We are stuck with one fortunately not the other.

For the most part despite their numerous bad rulings I prefer the leftys and the moderates on the court.

Thomas for me being the exception. Though he often agrees with Scalia his reasoning is in fact closer to strict construction than Scalia's.

To get the results he wants Scalia's reasoning is often tortured and twisted.

M. Simon   ·  November 18, 2003 7:50 AM

Scalia is not a conservative judge. He is a Catholic judge. It is possible to confuse the two because they agree on many points. That however does not make Scalia a conservative.

M. Simon   ·  November 18, 2003 8:30 AM

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