A hive of scum and villainy: WtD versus the smoking trolls

The Internet: you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

For almost three years I’ve been blogging and commenting on climate change and climate scepticism. As many readers – both sceptics and “warmists” – appreciate I’ve allowed robust conversation on this blog.

More so than other blogs (both sceptical and pro-science). That is a conscious choice of mine: deliberate because I believe there should be debate, and I’m a strong advocate for freedom of speech.

Recently I republished a piece by Simon Chapman on hate mail and cyber trolls. It was an article which I thought interesting, primarily because of the authors reflection on the intense nature of online debate.

Very quickly my blog was overrun by advocates for “smokers rights” – or more accurately tobacco apologists. Even more quickly, the vitriol and illogical nature of many of those posts disturbed me.

As far as online interactions go, I’m pretty robust.

I’ve spent almost 20 years being part of online communities: from online gaming were “smack talk” is the norm to debating with Creationists, neo-Nazis and all forms of ignorance, hate and prejudice.

I’ve always been of the opinion of bringing the fight of those that seek to confuse or misinform. While WtD has been in operation I have allowed and interacted with with holocaust deniers, those who doubt the effectiveness of fluoridation and all manner of those in “denial”.

But I have not been as disturbed – nor felt as abused – by the tobacco apologists that swarmed to this blog.

I’d ask those posters who engaged in that abusive behavior to meditate on that point: you’ve outdone the holocaust deniers in vileness.

All too often, it is the bullies who claim the mantle of victim.

Not here.

Not on my watch.

They have offended me and readers of this blog.

There are lines.

Those lines have been crossed.

Simon’s point’s in his post have been well and truly proven.

It has also been distracting conversation. 

This blog is about climate change. It is an attempt to explore and discuss the politics, the science and the denial of global warming. It has always been my intention to provoke discussion, debate and contemplation.

I appreciate for some my style can be confrontational, irreverent, maddening or worthy – but the blog is welcome to all who wish to read and comment. There are many appreciative readers, and those who disagree with me and the science.

That is to be expected.

So I am forced to do what I would never would have thought I’d do – shut down commentators and a topic of debate.

Blogmasters decisions:

  • The debate on the health effects of tobacco, smokers “right” etc. is over – any further posts on this topic will be deleted
  • I do this because it is not a debate, it is an incendiary invitation to hate, abuse and a magnet for the Internets scum and villainy
  • I have applied permanent bans to some individuals – these bans will not be revoked, no matter how much pleading
  • Those new to the blog (MJM) will be permitted to post if they stick to the topic of this blog (climate change)
  • Those feeling “censored” by this… well tough. My blog. My rules. You are free to discuss/debate/deny, but not here.

7 thoughts on “A hive of scum and villainy: WtD versus the smoking trolls

  1. WTD, I apologize for my non-climate-oriented posting on the “Shooting of the South African Miners” article, but did not see a proper way to work in climate change when discussing the censorship of commenters exercised by the Australian site that ran the story.

    I’m also quite unaware of any swarming that was done on that other thread: I saw two posts from Patsy Nurse, a couple more from Phil J, and a quite nonoffensive and fairly humorous one from Fredrick Eich that was censored almost immediately. I’ve invited you to share any offensive messages you may have gotten that would have inspired you to such a blanketing posting as this one, and explained why, in general, your side of the issue would benefit from such sharing. I’ve never heard of advocates who deliberately erase evidence that they are being abused by the opposition… isn’t that something the whole Lewandowsky debate is currently about? (I haven’t followed it very closely so I may be mistaken.)

    I *do* know that I have urged Free Choice bloggers to generally avoid censorship in the past. Antismokers tend to be fairly free with throwing around all sorts of nasty terms and inferences in discussions with smokers, but I think in general, it’s better to have that out in the open rather than hidden away where the hatred ends up producing harm without people ever being aware that it even existed. As someone who is well known and quite active in the Free Choice community I’m familiar with many of the bloggers and posters and commenters who are also active, and if there are any people who actually are stepping over the line in terms of being abusive of others I would appreciate the opportunity of being made aware that so that I could try to talk to them about it. I see no reason why you should be reluctant to share that information with me.

    You noted that you have applied permanent bans to some individuals, and as Blogmeister that is certainly your privilege, but I think also that when you’re exercising that privilege you have a responsibility to be open about it and indicate which individuals who have banned, and ideally, examples indicating why you have had to ban them.

    I noticed that you’ve used Sammy’s term “tobacco apologists” here and I would like to ask your readers to check out my response on the use of that term over on the other thread. As noted there, I do not feel it is an accurate appellation.

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains” <= a writer and researcher in the area: *not* an "apologist."

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Not in total disagreement. And yes, people have latitude to comment on a wide variety of issues. Agree, better to have an open discussion.

      But In this instance, the topic was feeding some intense feelings. Letting it go on would have been risky.


  2. P.S. Sorry… meant to add “or a smoking troll” after “tobacco apologist” in my sig there: I’m far too skinny to be troll. A “smoking scarecrow” perhaps, or maybe a “debonair smoker,” or a “lithe and keen witted archetype of the Dunning-Kruger effect” … but definitely not a troll.

    – MJM

  3. Tony Duncan says:

    I think i agree withMichael,
    I was just banned a few weeks ago or so from Stephen goddard’s site for “lying” about him. What I was really banned for was making sure his readers read what he actually wrote and that once it was clear that the arctic ice was going to break all the records he would not be able to claim some excuse. Goddard is someone who basically cannot ever admit he is wrong, so having me continually shove in his face and have his readers see that part of him was intolerable.
    But Goddard maintains that his site is completely open, so he had to find some excuse to ban me. I was given no chance to point out the ridiculpusness of his accusation, though I tried. I had said repeatedly that he refused to make predictions since he was so wrong on his last ones, and he fished out a post where he made a prediction about MYI and some other rather meaningless issue. The fact that I was unable to defend what I had written, and that he banned me just as it was clear that he was going to be totally wrong confirms my view that he is a propogandist. I never used any ad hominem, but I morrorroed his sarcasm right back at him. Certainly my posts were less offensive then msot of his commetns aimed at me.
    If you do not present the offending comments and show how they clearly contravene your policies on posting then you leave the door open for being called a propogandist yourself. Certainly not all of them but at least a few from more than one person that has gone over the line.
    I also do not think it is useful to ban people permanently without warning. Even Goddard gave me warnings, even though they were specious and clearly a ruse for his real motivation.

  4. Tony Duncan says:

    Hm. Just checked Goddard’s site since I was notified about a comment on the last post I was allowed to comment on, and THAT comment has been censored.
    It was from Kevin McKinney who had been commenting quite rationally and respectfully about the SIE. No way Goddard could find a real excuse to ban him
    I imagine Goddard can’t even mainttian the fiction to himself that he is an honest advocate now and he has to hide those that expose his hypocrisy.

  5. WTD, in terms of “intense feelings,” I gather you may mean material similar to what “Stoptober” has been posting on Pat Nurses blog? E.G. “you being a selfish extremist pro smoking troll … your vile slanted twitsted trolling on your blog. ….you dumb hag. … This is the true face of the spiteful hateful trolls who peddle pro smoking, … You are a nasty old hag Pat Nurse and sure proof of the effects of lifelong smoking on your appearance,…” (Note, I deleted some of the more off-color language…) I’ll admit though that I’ve seen some folks on my side of the aisle respond in kind over the years, although not as often at such levels.

    – MJM

    • Watching the Deniers says:

      Such language used by either “side” is not appropriate, agreed. Regarding the language used/recieved – I’ve seen about the same if not worse. It’s all about monitoring and nipping things in the bud.

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