SHAME, Radley Balko & Squishy Libertarian Censorship
Last weekend, our SHAME profile of Radley Balko resulted in a brawl over at MetaFilter after one of the forum's squishy libertarian moderators censored a post and discussion linking to it. The mod (screen name: LobsterMitten) explained her/his/its decision by claiming that the profile was an "ad hominem" attack "via an editorially undiscriminating site" — or that's the justification she used at first.
After getting criticized by dissenting MetaFilter users (who politely explained that LobsterMitten did not fully understand the definition of an "ad hominem" attack, and pointed out the arbitrariness of her decision), the trigger happy mod walked back her original "ad hominem" accusation against SHAME and replaced it with some something much more ridiculous. The reason she censored a discussion about our profile of longtime Cato toadie Radley Balko: because it was "axe-grindy."
Here's her/his/its full explanation. You tell us if it makes any sense at all:
I felt like 'ad hom' captured the specific way this post seemed to strike people as axe-grinding, in the sense that this bio stuff was being posted not as "here are interesting facts" but in service of a larger ongoing argument, so that's why I used that phrase. So maybe it's more accurate to say that the problem 'ad hom' was meant to capture there is better phrased as 'axe-grinding'.
So… fact-based political criticism = axe-grinding = censorship. That's a dumbshit libertarian for ya!
MetaFilter's censorship mini-scandal had a dull and depressing quality to it, bumming out a lot of people. User windykites put it best:
I'm in a bad mood and came in here spoiling for a good argument but there's just nothing to be had, even the fighting seems sort of lackluster. I'm disappointed in all of you.
Anyways, carry on.
Yes, carry on. And if you haven't already, read about Radley Balko on NSFWCORP.