Re: BBC Worldwide
"And this would prove what? That you stalk people you disagree with and NetKop them? You're proud of this? All because *you* claim what the AC sez is wrong? Doesn't the AC have the right to his opinions or take on matters? Or is it just you that have that right?
Might I suggest you make your case, refute his points and let the marketplace of ideas pick the winner. You sound more than a bit obessive..."
Freedom of speech isn't absolute. It never has been. And when what you say becomes actually dangerous laws in virtually every country allow for action to be taken. I honestly believe that the AC in question's bold-faced falsehoods are a danger to readers. That leaves me with two moral choices: challenge him at every turn (which is impossible, as he appears to be paid to astroturf full time, whereas I have work to do) or put the effort in to prove he's violating the rules and have him censured.
Similarly, the "marketplace of ideas" concept only works if both sides are being forthright (or at least as forthright as they know how to be.) When one party to a debate is outright lying and has zero moral compunction about doing so then they can say anything and proving it becomes nearly impossible, especially if they manage to be vague and weaselly enough about what they're saying.
What's more, most of my family are shrinks. The tools and techniques of manipulation and coercion are fairly well known to me. They are deployed by this individual with great skill.
In addition, who you are matters a great deal in the arguments you present. When a lot of what you are presenting is forceful opinion as opposed to dry facts that can be dispassionately analyzed the individual spouting the opinion matters.
So, unless you are one of those people who (wrongly) believe that all humans are impervious to manipulation and coercion, that we are all perfectly rational individuals who always make rational choices (provable bullshit, by the way) then what this fellow is up to very, very wrong. I am attempting to gather enough evidence to prove it.
Let's say I see a car park itself just outside my condo complex every single night and stay there, engine running, for 12 hours a night, every night. People come up to the car, the window is rolled down, some furtive movements that look like items being exchanged occur and the person leaves. Dozens of people interact with this car ever single night for weeks. The car is always in the same place.
Let's say that I get the license plate number, perhaps some video of the exchanges, and maybe even proof that exchanges with minors. I wait patiently and get a few shots of the faces of the folks in the car. I then check this against publicly available databases for local gangbangers in an attempt to determine which of the various local police forces and/or which specific task force I should bring the information to in order to achieve the quickest response.
Is that stalking? Or being through? Or should no citizen ever report such things because that's a violation of the rights of the drug dealer?
As far as I'm concerned, analyzing the actions of the drug dealer while they are in public, in front of my condo complex is not stalking. Following the bugger home could be stalking, and not something I'd do. But gathering intel on their activities in public in front of my home, and then figuring out A) should something be done about this B) who the hell are these people and C) who best to report this to all seems perfectly rational to me.
And thus it is with the anonymous coward in question. I believe that what he is doing is reprehensible. Not because "disagreeing with Trevor Pott" is somehow bad - for the love of $deity, please disagree with about things! I'm no bastion of perfection or absolute integrity! - but because of a combination of the techniques used and the sheer volume of posts.
In point of fact, the scope of the operation is part of the issue. It is a fairly well known group psychology technique that the more you repeat something (and the more you repeat it under differing circumstances) the more you can convince people of anything, even if it is demonstrably false. If you encounter a lie told as truth at every turn you will eventually accept it as truth, often questioning your own sanity and/or perception of the world at large.
This is one of the reason astroturfing campaigns are so viciously effective. Look at - for example - the Tea Party. The entire thing was functionally a Kotch Bothers propaganda arm funded by them through FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity and a few other outfits. They through massive amounts of money and manpower at it and it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams*.
Personally, I like a good, vigorous debate. A great example is this thread. There are people disagreeing with me here and I think that's a good thing. Many of you have valid points, and they need to be raised. My morality and ethics deserve questioning just as much as anyone else', and - believe it or not - I do honestly consider the points made by those arguing in opposition to the views I present.
That doesn't mean that I have been convinced that I am wrong - so far on the topics in this thread, I have not been so convinced - but I believe that you are all right to raise the issues and let others decide. I am just as capable of hypocrisy and simply outright being wrong as anyone else out there.
With the exception of when someone hides their bullshit under the anonymous coward button, if I find someone particularly annoying (say, for exmaple, jake), then I can simply "ignore" them. It's a feature us "gold vultures" get. And that's a great solution to folks like Matt Bryant or jake.
These are annoying twatdangles that irritate the piss out of me, but they don't present their arguments using the tricks of the psychomanipulative trade. More to the point, they have the courage to allow their comments to be consistently attached to a single pesudonym, so their commenting history can be easily reviewed and someone reading the tripe they have on offer can make an informed decision about believe (or not) what they have to say. (Something, BTW, that the anonymous coward very purposefully prevents by using the AC button for every single post.)
I believe very strongly that we all have an ethical duty to one another. The Register's comments section is a community. One where the "police" are overburdened and only get to attend to issues on a very part time basis.
The last time I raised an issue about a commenter with the powers that be (Eadon) they nuked the individual completely. Not just a suspension, or even a ban, but an actual nuke. Expunged everything the person ever wrote from the database.
That wasn't what I wanted at all. I was thinking a suspension was a good plan for the simple fact that the individual in question was attacking the writers of the publication, and going way overboard. Sadly, it was long enough ago I don't remember too many of the details - just the broad strokes - and by nuking the entire posting history I can't just call it up and say "here are the hundred or so posts over a two day span that made me raise the flag".
In this case we have an AC I think is a dozen times as much of an issue as Eadon ever could have been, in that I honestly and truly believe this AC is setting out to manipulate and coerce people to their detriment. But I don't believe in simply asking the overburdened "police" of this little community to Ferguson the fellow because that's easiest. Instead, I intent to learn from my mistakes by gathering the evidence, making my case and seeking a rational and proportionate response.
Now, if if you have a problem with the above, that's your right. But at least take the time to understand the situation beyond the mundane simplicities of easily digested "sound bites".
*See http://www.npr.org/2011/02/25/134040226/in-wis-union-battle-focus-on-billionaire-brothers and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_activities_of_the_Koch_brothers for a decent overview. "Five years ago, my brother Charles and I provided the funds to start the Americans for Prosperity," David Koch said at an AFP rally in 2009. "And it's beyond my wildest dreams how AFP has grown into this enormous organization." Etc.