It’s not just progressives who shut down dissent.
The American Thinker, a conservative website that Ethics Alarms has referenced from time to time, announced that it is shutting down its comments section, a move quite a few political sites have taken in recent years. Then, the next day, it published a jaw-dropping justification (or something) that justified nothing. I’m posting the whole, awful, self-indicting thing, and interjecting my comments as it proceeds:
Yesterday, we announced that we are closing comments at American Thinker. We immediately received a couple of hundred very unhappy, angry, and sometimes insulting emails about that decision. Without divulging why we made that decision, here are a few points to ponder.
Without divulging why? What’s the big secret? Why the tease? Why write this whatever it is and not explain the reasoning for cutting off debate and feedback?
First, 90% of the assumptions in the emails were wrong. This meant that a lot of people were theorizing in advance of their data. America is currently deeply destabilized, and things are happening that most people can’t imagine. Sometimes, those things hit close to home.
I don’t know what this is supposed to mean either. What is The American Thinker saying? That its posts are unclear? That its readers are idiots? That those who disagree with its authors are too biased and emotional for their opinions to count? These would be important questions to answer on the site if anyone could ask them…
Second, it’s lovely that many of you came here for the conversation in the comments. To have the comments abruptly turned off was the equivalent of our breaking up your party, the great party at which all the guests were interesting and delightful. We appreciate what an unpleasant shock and disappointment that was, and we hate to be the mean parent who broke up the party, but, again, sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
What incredible, insulting, condescending crap! Why would anyone continue to read a website, blog or a relative’s emails that addressed him or her like this? If I didn’t smell an Ethics Dunce turd, I wouldn’t have finished reading myself, and I seldom read The American Thinker. I certainly won’t after this.
Third, this site is a labor of love for everyone involved, especially for its founder, Thomas Lifson. If you imagine that he would ever authorize such a difficult decision when there were other choices to be made, well, you don’t know Thomas. All of us who work here agree that the choice was binary: shut down the comments or shut down the site. Or to use an analogy, amputate the limb or watch the patient die. Looked at from that perspective, there really was no choice.
It won’t make the Ethics Alarms list because its so stupid that nobody uses it, but “It’s a labor of love” is silly rationalization for doing something that people find hurtful, inconvenient or offensive. As for the rest: you can’t say “we had to do it” without explaining why. It sounds like a lie (as in “horse shit”) to me; why would any website have to shut down comments or “die”? How about responsible moderating? Can we say “moderate”? Sure we can!
Fourth, we know that many of you have interesting opinions and amazing funds of knowledge. The beauty of American Thinker, the thing that makes it unique, is that we’re not a newspaper with a stable of journalists we can call on. Instead, we rely on voluntary submissions from people who want a reputable conservative platform. If you want to make your opinion known, consider submitting an essay. Our guidelines are here.
That’s changing the subject. A full essay isn’t a substitute for a comment: who are the editors kidding?
Fifth, if you’re really exploding with things to say, or you’re unable for whatever reason to get your articles published at American Thinker, maybe you’re the right person to start a blog. With social media platforms excluding conservatives, the clock is turning back to a time when conservative content was on blogs — remember the Army of Pajama-Clad Davids? Maybe this is your time.
Can you believe this? Or, write a book! Have you considered traveling to London and going to Speaker’s Corner! How about writing a play? The issue is not what other ways someone can express an opinion other than commenting on an American Thinker article, the issue is why the hell can’t readers comment on American Thinker articles?
Sixth, going into the future, American Thinker remains what it’s always been: a forum for conservative thinkers who want to contribute to the national conversation by offering information and ideas consistent with American principles: the Constitution, individual liberty, the free market, and the rule of law.
Finally, this noxious disgrace of a post ends with Rationalization #64, Yoo’s Excuse, or “It isn’t what it is!” The definition of forum is “a place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged.” If the site is banning all comments, it isn’t a forum, no matter how many times it insists it is.
Ethics Alarms is a forum. The American Thinker has revealed itself as cowardly, double-talking, arrogant, and an untrustworthy fraud.