Craig Brown says:
"Be Nice to Our Writers..."
That one short phrase gives a clear indication of what will be allowed in the comments section. As our mothers always told us, it's not nice to criticize others. Craig Brown certainly believes that it's not nice to criticize his loyal Democratic Party writers – particularly if your criticisms are forceful and compelling.
Craig Brown adds:
"...we are providing you a forum to debate them."
That is nonsense. The writers on Coming Dreams never stoop so low as to debate the commenters. On a handful of occasions, I've seen a writer post a comment or two – but I've never seen a substantive response to articulate and well-supported criticisms of their work. They are simply too afraid to do that because they realize they would lose the argument. They are propagandists and they know it.
Craig Brown sums up:
"But any posters making personal attacks on our contributing writers will not be welcome in our community."
As Greg pointed out, Craig Brown alone will determine what constitutes a "personal attack". I believe, in Brown's view, a personal attack will be:
(a) any reference to the past activities of the writer;
(b) any reference to the source of the funds that the writer receives;
(c) any reference to the Democratic Party affiliations of the writer;
(d) any reference to misleading or slanted statements that the writer makes;
(e) any reference to the broader historical and political context of the subject the writer discusses; and most important,
(f) any information that proves that the writer is clearly wrong about one or more central assertions in the article.
In other words, any criteria that are normally used to judge the trustworthiness of a writer will not be allowed in the comments section.
It's incredible, really. It shows that the writers favored by Common Dreams simply cannot bear standard scrutiny of their work – so they must be protected from all critics using the draconian censorship methods that Craig Brown has favored for years.
In short, it's an admission that the writers on Common Dreams are phonies – but anyone who points this out will, of course, be banished permanently.
By calling his new discussion forum "The Commons", Craig Brown has also bastardized the meaning of the word "commons" -- which distresses me greatly because this is a valuable tradition in society. It has deep historical roots among people who understand the importance of sharing access to vital resources. By definition, nobody could be banished from the commons -- because they were held in common by everybody. But, as used by Craig Brown, this word is intended only to provide a misleading and pleasant veneer over the latest censorship regime that he has imposed.
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'
How could anyone with any self-respect at all participate in such a heavily-controlled discussion forum?
What honest thing could one say without cowering in fear of punishment?