CommunityMy FDL

Bmaz, “Liar”, and Marcy’s Response

Sigh.  Unfortunately, sometimes a thing must be done on principle.

Having been pointed to Marcy Wheeler’s contact by ubetchaiam from my previous post, I contacted her about my issue and my diary. She responded, I later found out her response was also a comment on my previous post.  I engaged in a dialog about the issue with her, which she broke off, and I will recount below.  I’m sadly not finished. It isn’t an option to decide that a lofty blogger with a great site and a large following will just dismiss a subject who kneels in audience to the throne before the issue is finished. The issue is that I did not lie, and bmaz deleted my rebuttal after calling me a liar. Here are the last few back and forths:

From Marcy (also posted):

Oh, I see the source of the misunderstanding. Apparently you believe that the 5 years in which almost everything I’ve written about collection has implicitly meant there were databases that infringed on the 4th Amendment of citizens don’t count because I didn’t use two words you felt were the only valid words to use. I can see how that would lead to misunderstanding. At its core seems to be your insistence that only your paradigm for this is valid.

I hope you can see how from my perspective, the entire comment appeared to be boorish, even if 5 years of my writing didn’t include that implicit assumption. And to then have your response to an aggressive response to boorishness be demands? I can’t say that approach makes me all that predisposed to respond to your “demands.”

We have all just shifted moderation again at FDL. As we move forward from that, I am certainly happy to review the standards at EW on moderation, particularly as regards the deletion of comments. To that degree I’m happy to listen to your concerns.

But I would be much more interested in hearing concerns rather than demands from people.

That’s actually incorrect, neither the allegation of lying nor the rebuttal are about 5 years of writing about databases, they are about a specific complaint of ignoring warnings, 1 about the government already compiling and searching databases and having permission to them from the FISC in advance of the new FISA amendments, which if you look back you will find you did not write about, you wrote instead about basket warrants and permission to data mine, so be my guest and pick any search term you like I’m still not a liar, and 1 about the government arguing in court that people are data repositories.

My response:

No, you don’t. There is no “misunderstanding. I wrote a statement, I was called a liar.  I regard that as a serious accusation, not a “misunderstanding, and your attack dog cum “moderator” is accountable for it. When I prove that my statement is not a lie, he should retract, not delete my rebuttal like a coward and a dictator. As for your “hearing concerns rather than demands”, that is a valid desire for people who have not first transgressed normal polities. Your bmaz has done something he should not have. Demands are perfectly appropriate, as are the narrow proof that I offered, regardless of yur multiple years of writing. You can be proud of that all you like, but that doesn’t extend to calling someone a liar for a comment that was not a lie.

If you and bmaz can’t bring yourselves to admit that calling me a liar and deleting my comments when I demanded that he retract that slur was inappropriate was wrong, you are not honorable and admirable people at all, nor do you hold yourselves to the same standards of accountability that you demand of others. Regardless of any journalism you wrote.  I will certainly write a follow up to say just that if you like.

Harsh words.  But people here do use harsh words. Words like “liar”. In addition, they use those words all the time against people like the President, against political figures and figures in the news. They use them about countries and policies. But not, it appears, about themselves.

Her response:

Sorry, your statement claimed that we had not covered an issue that bmaz and I both believe we covered extensively. Your “proof” of your claim was narrow parsing with which I still disagree. So according to you, it’s cool to come into our space and demand we not only cover an issue we’ve covered for five years, but do so using the precise language you dictate.

That’s a disagreement. I wouldn’t have called you a liar. I would have (and did) just ignore you as being boorish because the point was counter productive and contrary to good debate which is itself a moderation issue.

But to go from boorishness to making demands is not exactly honorable either.

As I said, as we shift back into moderating ourselves, I will aim for fairness. Particularly from people who themselves contribute to productive debate if they do so. Once that starts to happen, I’m happy to continue this discussion.

I am now being ignored. And it is a “disagreement.”  Let me point out something. This is a dismissal. The kind of regal tone used for rabble, the kind of tone I was criticized for ranting about  in my original complaints for which bmaz originally got on my case in the original column.  That was the whole point of my complaints: Lawyers and bloggers are too quick to dismiss, they divide the world into themselves and the rabble, they see their own accomplishments or credentials as entitlement to be listened to, and those of others as nothing, others are to be dismissed and their warnings are to be ignored.  I was originally called a liar because I said such warnings had been ignored and look what had happened.

At any rate, here was my final email which was ignored:

How shocking that you fail on this point.

People are free to call me boorish, or rude, or arrogant all they like. Calling me a liar when I haven’t lied is way beyond the pale. You don’t seem to understand that distinction. You still do not understand the nature of the proof by search, because you do not understand the quote on which he called me a liar. I was talking about the warning about those specific instances being ignored. Calling me a liar requires that you covered those instances. Calling me something else, because you believe by singling out those instances I was ignoring the rich plethora of your vast writings on related topics, might have been acceptable, but lying requires that I made a factually inaccurate statement willfully and knowingly. Any other standard points to a huge problem with bmaz and your standards for alleging ‘lying’.  I have been smeared by someone who then deleted my attempts to defend myself, and you have backed someone who stood as prosecutor, judge, and jury. Nice standards for someone who reports on government punishment malfeasance.

You don’t understand the concept of honor on this matter.  You wouldn’t have called me a liar. That’s comforting. But your partner on the page did. And he used his elite authority to enforce that judgment. That should bother you, but it doesn’t. Not a very good performance for a watchdog.


Why belabor this point ad nauseum like this?  First, being called a liar is not just a disagreement. It’s a slur. Some might call it worse things.  Second, it is precisely this kind of dismissiveness and inaccountability that cripples politics.  bmaz may think my ideas on the rights of internet persona are naive and legally childish, but they are very in line with the kind of ideas that get tossed around at internet standards fora.  And the battle for customary law is being quickly won by the law of war specialists in the military think tanks with their cyber war ideas that are equally strange.  His litigation background will lose to anyone with a publicist/opino juris style of thinking and an ability to be the first to carve out the new territory and fast:  Already such thought has gone from hints and military speculation to being on the agenda at ICRC meetings in 6 months.

If you can’t be inclusive of people who think outside of your box, and you confuse the terms boor and liar, then you won’t be leading any activism anywhere soon on any internet of the future.  I had every right to complain about my warnings not being taken seriously. They still aren’t. No matter how many articles you’ve written. I’m now warning you not to mix censorship with autocracy and fevered cries of “liar”.  You won’t hear the end of it.

Previous post

Water Cooler - Time to Get Funky!

Next post

You Can't Get Fooled Again