In Response to the Ban
Victor has shed some new light on his decision to ban certain atheists from his blog (those certain atheists being, presumably, Papalinton, and yours truly).
Here is his original statement:
I am going to have to ask two people, whose names I don't think I need to mention, to stop posting here. I do this with great reluctance. The reasons are two. One, I think your positions are better represented by other people who agree with you for the most part. Second, your contributions always make discussion more inflammatory than they need to be, and you don't bring out the best in the rest of us.When Jeffery Jay Lowder pointed out that the same logic could apply to theist commenters on his blog, Victor responded:
I love the idea of a "free speech zone" but you end up dominating the conversation here. And even when I want to address a position like yours, I think other representatives of your views better represent them.
Maybe, but the two atheists seem to dominate discussion. The theists I think you have in mind used to be typically ignored if their points were too far off-target.I would like to summarize and address these issues.
But it took me a very long time to come to this decision, and this is precisely the reason why it did. If I start banning, then someone can say that someone on my side said something just as bad, etc. etc. etc. In fact, people here would pledge to ignore these people and then ended up not being able to do it.
1. We tend to dominate the discussion.
I am guilty. Papalinton is not. It is worth mentioning, however, that Bob Prokop is the single most frequent commenter on the site. Many of his comments are completely off topic. While I try to stay on topic, I also try to reply to comments made to me (and there are many), and sometimes those comments stray somewhat from the main topic. I don't think that's my fault. As for Papalinton, he tends to provide supplemental commentary and information, but not so much to actively engage in the banter, as I do.2. Our positions are better stated by others.
Of the regular commenters (theist and atheist alike), everyone is guilty. Aside from the occasional contributions of other philosophers, we are all less than perfect in making our points eloquently. If you want your blog to be open to professional philosophers only, you'll have to ban more than a couple of atheists.3. Our contributions make the discussion more inflammatory by not bringing out the best in others.
Now we're getting more to the heart of the matter, I think. People love to hate us, and they say some pretty nasty things. That's what creates the vitriolic atmosphere that we so often see in your blog. Again, I don't think that's our fault. People like crude can be downright uncivil toward people that they regard as "the enemy". And I think that's your biggest problem. You may say that I earn this vitriol by saying things that are provocative. Perhaps, but you should be aware that from my perspective, I hear many things said by theists that are quite provocative, too. At least I generally try to keep my responses civil, if not understated. And Papalinton does a much better job in that regard than most. What you're doing is punishing him for the bad behavior of the Christian commenters in your blog.4. People have been unable to stick to their pledges to ignore us.
This is the most interesting thing you've said about this whole issue. I always thought the whole purpose of having a blog like yours is to provide a forum for discussion, and that's exactly why I was there. I know that people don't like what I say. So why shouldn't we talk about it? Do you really want to have an echo chamber? But it seems I get mixed messages from you. I think you really have been interested in discussing things with me at times. If not, why do you so often reply to my comments? In fact you have, on numerous occasions, made a new post specifically to address something I have said. If that's not an invitation for discussion, I really don't know what is.