Friday, November 7, 2008

Common Debate

Once upon a time, there was a site called Common Dreams. It used to publish a wide range of articles of different opinions on the left. And then it added a comment feature that became the home to a free debate of ideas.

Then came the election campaign and Democratic censorship. First, the selection of articles became restricted to those that supported the Obama campaign. Then the site became very aggressive in removing any comments critical to Obama and the Democrats and in blocking the access to the site of anyone who was critical of Obama and the Democrats.

The goal of this site would be to try to create an alternative, especially for those who used to like the old Common Dreams. The idea is that this site could publish articles, or links to articles, with a wider range of opinion than what CommonDreams has these days. And that this site would be a place for a free debate and expression of ideas.

Unlike those who run CommonDreams, I'm not afraid of free debate. In fact, I find it healthy and educational. And for any who would like to try to participate in the political discourse of this nation and this world, its good practice.

My idea of a comments policy would be that
1) No profanity, or at least keep it limited.
2) No personal attacks or name calling.
3) No spam or advertising.

But, a free debate should be allowed. I don't care if you agree with me. Be willing to discuss ideas and events with a bit of civil decorum, and there won't be any problem with it on this site.

If you like this idea, say hello below.


KDelphi said...

I'm here too! LOL.

There are CD people all over the other"liberal" sites too--just looking for dissenters. Gawd!! What do they think theyre doing??

When did these people become fascists? How will this "work" in the long run?

Nannie said...

Present and accounted for...


wild said...

hello, hello..nice of you Sampson to offer an alternative to CDreams. I got booted from just b4 the election, lol.


Anonymous said...

Yep, I too got the boot. I'm awaiting rtdury, progressiveparty, atheist, and countless more. And you know something, I really do miss Snow Wolf.

P.S.: I do apologize for being a bit too foul mouthed. It's just that politics has gone mentally insane these past years. How can we contact others who were also banned from CD to join? I'm not so sure they'll know this site.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of censorship, one of my friends who was able to access the site forwarded to me an article complaining about the right wing censorship. I find this ironic given that Commondreams and Huffpost censor and ban users at will. Talk about hypocrisy at large:


The Threat of Fairness

by Joel McNally

As right-wing talk show hosts see their political power waning in America, they are now worried about a brand new threat to their bizarre version of democracy.

After dominating the public airwaves for two decades, right-wing radio is terrified that a new administration will be more open to attempts in Congress to require talk radio to, gulp, be fair.

I became aware of this last week when I was invited by the Marquette Law School student chapter of the conservative Federalist Society to debate two right-wing talk show hosts, Charlie Sykes from WTMJ/AM in Milwaukee and Guy Benson from WIND/AM in Chicago.

You'd never guess what has conservatives in such a tizzy. It's a rather mild requirement the Federal Communications Commission once enforced in this country requiring radio and television stations to air opposing views on public issues.

It was called the Fairness Doctrine. The basic premise was that the public airwaves, which belong to all of us, could accommodate only a limited number of broadcast stations licensed by the government.

In exchange for those lucrative licenses, the government declared broadcasters had a public responsibility to cover controversial issues of community importance and to at least make some attempt at fairness by allowing more than one side to be heard. The requirement was intentionally vague and far from any kind of onerous burden on broadcasters. It never required anything close to equal time. Broadcasters were given broad discretion about how and when alternative views would be aired.

In the mid-'80s, President Ronald Reagan's FCC killed the requirement of even that minimal gesture toward "fairness" in the name of de-regulation. That is what allowed the rise of the all-right-wing-all-the-time radio that dominates the dial today.

We now have a talk radio industry in this country that is so overwhelmingly one-sided it most resembles a government-run media in some totalitarian country rather than what citizens should have a right to expect on the public airwaves of a democracy.

Led by Rush Limbaugh, AM talk radio is dominated not merely by conservatives, but by the far-right fringes of conservatism -- true whack jobs like G. Gordon Liddy and Michael Savage who regularly cross every line of decency to promote racism and even violence.

Even the unscrupulous President Richard Nixon, who utilized Liddy's talents for black bag jobs run out of the White House, described Gordon on the Watergate tapes as mentally unbalanced. On the air, Liddy has advised gun owners on the best way to murder federal agents who attempt to take away their guns: "Head shots! Head shots!"

While this one-sided, right-wing juggernaut has been expanding, we also know from presidential elections since the Reagan era that the citizens of this country are not overwhelmingly right wing.

In fact, most of the presidential elections over the past two decades have been extremely close, indicating something close to a 50-50 political division in this country.

So you have fully half of this country whose point of view is totally shut out from our so-called public airwaves.

That's why it was so amusing to hear both Sykes and Benson argue against restoring the Fairness Doctrine by claiming it would deny free speech. It would allow the big, bad federal government to control what could be said on the radio.

It's simply amazing to hear right-wing conservatives use a free speech argument to justify shutting out the speech of anyone other than themselves -- more than half the country who don't hold right-wing views.

Conservatives explain the total dominance of right-wing opinions on talk radio by claiming that right-wing personalities are somehow inherently more interesting and entertaining than anyone expressing views on the left.

That doesn't make any sense at a time when the intelligent, hilarious news satires of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert coming from the left are among the most popular shows on television.

It seems far more likely that half of America doesn't even bother turning on commercial talk radio because they expect their intelligence to be insulted by simple-minded, right-wing rants up and down the dial.

And, for the most part, they're right unless they check out Milwaukee's 1290 WMCS/AM, where I co-host "The Morning Magazine" from 6 to 10 a.m. weekdays.

It's true some Democratic political leaders including Sens. Richard Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, John Kerry and others have expressed an interest in reviving the Fairness Doctrine in some form and increasing diversity in ownership to expand the voices on the public airwaves.

Right-wing talk show hosts will scream bloody murder. But it could be very healthy for the broadcast industry, ultimately expanding both audiences and profits.

During the economic collapse of recent weeks, we've learned totally unregulated capitalism doesn't always produce the best results for either the public or for business.

It's time for totalitarian right-wing radio to tear down that wall and stop shutting half the public off the public airwaves.

Joel McNally of Milwaukee writes a regular column for The Capital Times.
© 2008 Madison Capital Times

Samson said...

To Frederick ...

I put the "Don't be obscene" idea for comments up mainly as a reminder. And to me as much to anyone else.

I grew up a poor kid from Appalachia who made his way in the big city working resteraunts and construction jobs. That means my language can be 'colorful' at times, especially when I'm writing what I really feel about something I feel strongly about.

But, I need to remember that this is a public site and all sorts of people might come to read it. Including children and others who aren't so accepting or comfortable with such 'colorful' language. So, I try to keep my own writing clean most of the time.

I'm not going to boot someone who lets slip one of the famous seven words that can't be said on TV occaisionally. That's just a reminder to try to keep it clean.

Samson said...

PS... Welcome everyone!!!!!! :) :) :)

I starting to be amazed by how many people have been censored off of CD

Anonymous said...

Looks like another user JWVerez also bit the dust and he was even nice enough to support Obama. seriousprofessor, Lobo Gris, and ardee are somehow still on. It seems that if one nails another user for asking us on the left to "proceed carefully" by being "centrist", then that user gets banned. Commondreams and Huffpost need to be DIVESTED ASAP.

LittleBrother said...

I've been banned, too-- see the comment to Samson's 11/6 post I just left, if you're interested.

I'm glad you modified the "no profanity" restriction. If you've read my comments on Common Dreams, I think you'll agree that I don't exactly pepper my comments with profanity. Nor, if I do say so myself, am I liable to the criticism that writers use profanity to make up for deficient writing skill.

But I've never come to terms with this putrid nice-nellyism attitude that claims to be put off and absolutely DEVASTATED by seeing the word "fuck" written down somewhere. Nor am I sympathetic to those who claim to be so sensitive that passionate comments are too awful ("angry") to comfortably read.

I believe that political discussion can, and in a way should, become occasionally heated and caustic. I don't want to face another site where I have to worry after the fact if I'll be banned because I used the expression "don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining"!

I'm curious as to what kdelphi means about "CD people" effectively trolling other sites-- do explain!

I used to spend a lot of time at a locally-based putatively "progressive" site that I came to realize was patronized mostly by DPA "progressives", similar to the DPA bloc (and administrators) at "Common Dreams".

Without making a point of it, I find myself intrigued by the psychology of "citizenship". So I came to take notice of the interpersonal dynamics on sites like my former haunt and Common Dreams.

I noticed long ago that some participants are natural "commissars" or gatekeepers; they take it upon themselves to criticize and seek to censor visitors who don't conform to their positions. I've also noticed that site administrators seem to encourage or at least tolerate this so-called "self-policing".

I wonder if snippy Vern and that passive-aggressive piece of work "High Karate" are pleased to find that dissenters have been disappeared!

Oh, shi...! Oh, sugar! Does it still count as a "personal attack" to speak ill of Common Dreams reactionaries? Because I still need to vent about this outrage.

I'd hate to get banned from the Common Dreams exile site so early in its inception! ;)

Nebraska Nathan said...

Hi everyone. I hope I'm not too late to join. For those of you who were banned for whatever reason, take heart. Even a lot of us who supported Obama and some such as myself who did not even criticize him got banned anyway. Ironically, Snowwolf and jakenewton are still on the site. I was not noticing much discussions on that site and except for Thomas More and Sioux Rose, most everyone I had seen on that site I had never met before. And this I started noticing only after the election was over that there are fewer discussions. I don't know what's going on at CD but whoever's owning it is probably hell bent on trashing it and turning it into a Limbaugh site altogether. That used to be a great site but now I cannot believe that they would go this far in kicking people off the site. The only thing that could be even considered remotely controversial was when I said that we need to focus on local elections and even Thomas More, emaho, and Sioux Rose had taken kindly to my idea. A couple of other users on the forums took up my idea and thanked me for bringing it up. Maybe that's my crime. To bring up the awareness that local elections and even statewide elections do indeed matter and can make a significant difference is probably what scared the admin folks at CD that somehow I was a threat to their ideal status quo in Washington. Maybe in 2 years when the Democrats lose their seats and probably even their majority status will CD stop banning diversity. Until then, all they want is kiss up or get kicked out. Very very sad.

Nebraska Nathan said...

By the way, what do you people think of the idea of going back to local elections and improving turnout there first followed by statewide offices and then federal? I was thinking that local elections are like the foundation of building a better government from the ground zero on up. At least that's the only way I can expect that there'll even be a chance in 20 years that we'll see a President Nader or the likes, no?

wagelaborer said...

Hi, wagelaborer here. Thanks for doing this, samson. I can't believe that we each found our way here.
I wonder how many of the banned there are that we can't reach.
What happens when the ruling class shuts down the entire internet?

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,

Damn. And you went through all that trouble defending Obama. Anyways, we won't bash you or boot you out here. We might have a healthy debate but nothing of the nasty.

In case you haven't noticed, as of November 11, 2008, CD has turned off google caching. It's as if that site is now run by criminals and thugs.

Anonymous said...

"What happens when the ruling class shuts down the entire internet?"

I'd say that they've already worked that out. See, they won't shut it down completely because they gotta throw a bone or two to make it look like there's "freedom" on the net. Like Roe v Wade, they're not working on shutting it down but rendering it irrelevant. We need to spread the word and force CD to pay up and shut off donating to them until they can behave themselves. And the same can be said of Alternet (though it doesn't ban but often removes at will), Huffpost, DailyKos, etc ...

Here's a rule of thumb. If a site that claims to be "progressive" and/or "liberal" slants too much towards the Democrats regardless of their actual positions, then they're far more likely to censor and even ban outright.

FreeQuark said...

Has anyone found out why CD started banning people? This censorship seems really strange, given the articles posted there and the freewheeling discussions that used to take place in the comments sections.

Actually, I find their new policy not only strange, but also quite disturbing, given that no rules were posted, and once you get banned, you can't even read the articles anymore.

It would seem almost certain they've been taken over by closet RWers (aka centrist Democrats).