anatomy of an inhibition

The stuff people say is priceless to behold sometimes.

During a Washington Post panel discussion with Glenn Reynolds, Jeff Jarvis, Jane Hamsher (NOTE: Because there's some controversy over the proper location of Jane Hamsher's blog, I deferred to her celebrity URL), and Jay Rosen, an anonymous New York commenter leveled the following charge at Glenn Reynolds:

New York, N.Y.: Why does Professor Reynolds dislike comments on his site, when by linking to the Transit Workers Union Site, they got nearly a 1000 comments of truly vulgar and racially hostile nature, to the point where the union had to close down comments.

He felt free to inhibit the free speech of others, but seems to be afraid to allow that level of exchange on his own site.

Glenn Reynolds: I don't think I was the source of those comments -- they came from people who live in NYC and were inconvenienced by the strike, and the comments were overwhelmingly hostile before I ever linked. Of course, it was the Transit Union's choice whether or not to have comments on their blog. They chose poorly.

Glenn Reynolds: I should add that it's an odd concept of "limiting the free speech of others" that involves linking to someone's blog.

Not only do I agree with Glenn Reynolds, but I've been guilty of similar (albeit on a much smaller scale) conduct -- inhibiting people by linking to their blogs.

While until today I didn't realize that I had actually been a victim, the fact is that for better or for worse, I have been one of those bloggers Glenn saw fit to "inhibit" on a number of occasions. (I was absolutely thrilled and delighted each time, but little did I know.....)

Anyway, because it's happened to me, I think I'm qualified to describe what happens to those blogs that Glenn Reynolds inhibits by linking to them. First, you might notice that if you allow comments like me but don't get that many, you'll suddenly have a flurry of them all on one post. Strange comments from the type people you've never seen before and who you can tell are not regular readers. Then, if you check the counter, you'll first see that there are more people on the blog than the counter can display at once. Next, you'll see that you get something like 20,000 hits when you'd normally have a few hundred. In technical language, this whole process of inhibiting your free speech is called an InstaLanche, and it can be expected to last for days. Here's a colored graph showing the damage an InstaLanche can do as it runs roughshod over a blog's free speech:


As you can see, eventually the symptoms die down, and your blog goes back to its previous state of being "uninhibited." Some of the new visitors, however, might like your blog, and if you're especially unlucky they'll keep stubbornly coming back to inhibit you all by themselves even after all other traces of Glenn's "inhibition" wear off.

It's very inhibitating -- to all except the uninhibitible.

MORE: Via Mister Snitch, a blog called Hullabaloo elaborates on Glenn Reynolds' censorship technique:

Glenn Reynolds knew exactly what he was doing when he linked to that blog and sent his massive readership over there to flame them. That's within the rules of engagement. But it's chickenshit when you don't have comments yourself. And it's dishonest in the extreme to pretend that you don't engage that way when you do.
He "sent his massive readership over there to flame them"?

I read through Glenn's post, but I couldn't find anything like that anywhere. No flaming instructions. Nothing. (Obviously, Glenn was too slick to leave any trail.) But as Mister Snitch points out, Digby's readers consider this a flame war, and the commenters advocate a massive retaliatory email attack against Glenn Reynolds. That's because he's guilty of something worse than inhibiting free speech by linking to blog posts, and that's a thing called "eliminationist rhetoric":

We are living in a political world formed by rightwing commentators who have made a fetish of harsh eliminationist rhetoric hammered over and over again into the ether until it sounds like normal discourse.
This is not a new topic for me.

And yes, I'm afraid it's true. I commented about this extensively in an earlier post. In that post, not only did I graphically demonstrate the linkage between Reynolds and eliminationist rhetoric, but I unearthed this very damning statement:

I'm not interested in being anything more than a tool for the right and an echo of their propaganda.
Glenn would probably deny saying that, but there it is! As I said then, "the inner workings of his eliminationist strategy!"

What more proof could anyone want?

Obviously, links from Glenn are goose steps towards eliminationism.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON LIBERTARIAN FASCISM: Stifling dissent by linking to it? Trampling free speech by quoting it? Doesn't this all sound familiar?

Once again,

Ein volk, Ayn Rand, Ein Fuhrer!
Is there any way to make the connection plainer?

posted by Eric on 01.25.06 at 02:27 PM


Holy crap... Biggest spike I ever got was from Oakland Raider articles submitted to, but those spikes were like 2-3k tops...


Harkonnendog   ·  January 25, 2006 11:17 PM

Yeah, but you live on the uninhibited island of Kauai!

Eric Scheie   ·  January 25, 2006 11:26 PM

I got an Instalanche for my review of the Serenity movie, from a link I shamefully submitted.

That inhibition was over three orders of magnitude greater than my normal reads. I guess that post was really inhibited.

B. Durbin   ·  January 26, 2006 1:15 AM

hmmm...guess I got "inhibited" by G.R. The increase was amazing. Nothing like an Instalanche.

Didn't stop me from not turning off comments--didn't stop me from blogging either.

The thing is, though, that blogging is supposed to give the people the ability to respond to the pundits. It's supposed to open up communication between the proletariat and the haute bourgeoisie.

But it doesn't quite work that way. Esp. when the majority of people who comment on blogs aren't necessarily bloggers (as I now know) and when the pundits are most interested in constructing echo chambers.

Meet the new media boss, same as the old media boss.

Tish G   ·  January 26, 2006 11:11 AM

Thank you all for having the courage to share these riveting stories of survival in the face of the Reynolds link attack machine!

(Maybe it's time that we victims thought about forming an InstaLanche Survivors Support Group....)

Anyway, keep coming back! This has been very enabling and empowering!

Eric Scheie   ·  January 26, 2006 3:11 PM

Maybe it's time that we victims thought about forming an InstaLanche Survivors Support Group

good one! I wonder how many of us are out there....hmmmm.....

Tish G   ·  January 26, 2006 6:18 PM

The biggest spike I got was a Stop the ACLU post and it was nothing like that!

Do you think he meant that when Reynolds links to a previously uninHABited blog it becomes inHABited? Maybe he just mispelled?

beth   ·  January 27, 2006 10:54 PM

You mean, like InHibitat for InHumanity?

Eric Scheie   ·  January 28, 2006 8:41 AM

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