DU Boothill

A fellowship of unjustly "tombstoned" DemocraticUnderground members. We use this space to talk about our feelings in reaction to the experience of first joining in the wonderful DU community and then expelled with no warning, no reason given and no response to our pleas for reinstatement. We feel this constitutes Anti-Democracy by DU Admin.

JBIE &/or another TombStoned Friend on

Monday, December 20, 2004

Autocracy isn't Democracy, JIE: DU

Originally posted at jamboi.mydd.com Mon Dec. 20th,

JamBoi-In-Exile: Day 3

One of the time honored values of democratic liberalism is fair mindedness, objectivity, courage... break out your JS Mills to see what real, classical Liberalism really consists of.  Liberalism and democracy has and should mean openness, due process, equanimity, humanitarianism, and above all generosity and liberty.  Let see... Liberal...Liberty...hmm... there seems to be a connection between these two words.(!)

I had a professor in college who loved to say something to the effect "If you meet a true liberal, you should take your hat off for them" to honor them because they are so rare, courageous and altruistic. He himself was a conservative who didn't agree with liberalism, but still valued civil discourse.  He believed in honest debate and the ability to agree to disagree. I wonder how his attitude would be met at DU.

Posted today in DU's Ask the Admin forum:

"Skinner  ADMIN

Dec-19-04 09:21 AM

5. Because we consider it a private matter between us and that member.

It is unseemly to post a laundry list of accusations against someone who is not able to defend himself."

Politically I consider myself
Votes: 9

Hmmm.... Again I would agree 100% with Skinner in saying it should be a private matter, except that Skinner has not taken what I in my extensive leadership of on-line forums would consider step 1: informing the member of what this "laundry list" contains and give the "disrupter" an opportunity to change their behavior to match his standards. He compounds this by making a public insinuation of his unspecified misunderstanding and unfounded distrust of me. Is this behavior of dumping a DU donor with no warning or explanation democratic? Liberal?  Where is the honor, generosity, humanitarianism, courage, or in a word liberality in these sudden, silent purges that and are followed by public insinuations of "laundry lists" of fault.  

If it were just me suffering this kind of mistreatment that would be bad enough.  I'd still feel the mourning from abrupt forceful separation and Skinner's loud silent cold shoulder.  But when I start to recieve other people's notes and e-mails telling me that the experience is frighteningly common, I start to feel a whole different level of concern.  This does not look anything like liberalism or democracy to me.  It looks like quite the opposite: autocracy. How can we achieve macro democracy if we do not strive to achieve micro democracy in our lives and our institutions.  Surely we are what we practice are we not?  How will practicing autocratic practices bring us closer to instituting democracy and liberalism?  It simply can't.

I am a very faulty democrat/liberal myself.  As a matter of fact I do not even presume to call myself a Liberal because I feel I'm unworthy of claiming the level of altruistic virtue that would require of me.  To me the ACLU is the gold standard of what it means to be liberal.  They'll fight for anyone's rights whether or not they agree with them.  I don't know if I could be that fair-minded. I am a self-identified "Radical Moderate."  I try to apply a progressive attitude without throwing out tradition and continuity arbitrarily.  So probably I am in no position to throw stones at Skinner having made numerous mistakes in being overly autocratic myself at various points.  Nevertheless it seems to me that I am putting forth a very reasonable reinstatement request to Skinner and DU with full acknowledgement of my faults, sincere promise to alter any behavior Skinner objects to and to strive to treat him and all other DU members with respect.  I am trying to practice liberality, and extend a generous application of forgiveness towards him and the Administration at DU.

At the same time there is this disturbing fact that others are experiencing very similar autocratic behavior from the DU administration. Not_Without_A_Fight was unceremoniously dumped simultaneously as me.  She wrote an angry but well-reasoned comment to one of my previous diaries.  Since that has not gotten very much exposure I'll represent it here.  I was loathe to express these kinds of criticisms when I didn't have experience beyond mine to point to.  But when numbers of people report similar problems I start to sit up and take notice.

Her comment follows below.  Though a bit on the harsh side I think she has a good point.  These accumulating reports would seem to question the very underpinnings of DemocraticUnderground.com when alternative points of view are suppressed and driven truly underground.  Is this democracy/liberalism or is it autocracy?  If we can't practice democracy among ourselves how will we ever be able to lead our nation in a democratic way?


Not_Without_A_Fight posted:

The DU Brand of Censorship is Unacceptable

I too was recently ejected from DU -- without benefit of explanation. I find this DU practice ('tombstoning') exceptionally arbitrary with a tendency toward the paranoid.

One would assume that DU would support investigation of voter fraud. However, if the comment above (from deepthroat) accurately characterizes the reason for JamBoi's ejection -- it would seem that only certain avenues of investigation are allowed in their forum. I can assure you, my dear readers, that in the normal course of an investigator's work, many blind alleys are traveled in order to piece together the truth.

While on DU, I never once posted on the issue of Madsen. Far from being a disrupter, my last post titled 'Are we pivoting away from 'our cause' in trying to figure out Bev Harris?' wherein I simply wanted to encourage people to refocus on the issue at hand -- the voter fraud issue and the ongoing fight in Ohio -- rather than spending so many cycles trashing or guessing at Bev's motives was to my mind an uniting effort. Frankly, it is inconceivable to me that this would be unacceptable to the DU PTB (Powers That Be).

If there is a certain flavor of Democrat or certain caliber of thought that must be maintained by DU participants -- then that should be spelled out in the rules. I read the rules on 'disruptors', and while I do not see how any of my posts qualified, the description of a disruptor is far too vague to offer adequate guidance for one to self-censor well enough to avoid DU rejection.

This simply means that DU maintains the right to be arbitrary, unfair and censor-at-will. Funny, I would have predicted that the last stand, on freedom of speech rights, would be made by the liberals.

The fact that DU seems to want to play the 'Man Behind The Curtain' Game -- guiding discussions in certain directions and shutting down other discussions -- is well scary. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might draw some conclusions from this behavior. However, the mere the fact that DU does this as a practice should be quite clear to everyone.

For me, the DU brand of censorship and manipulation is unacceptable.

I have been a registered Democrat for more than 30 years. However, my short but educational experience with Democratic Underground, has made me very seriously consider re-registering as a Green.



Anonymous said...

(Comment thread moved from jamboi.mydd.com)
I agree with Not_Without_A_Fight (3.00 / 1)

Not_Without_A_Fight, I agree with you. DU's behavior is arbitrary and unfair, and I'd like to add, bizarre.

Banishment is a form of rejection. Rejection alone is very painful, but, when it is coupled with no explanation, the pain is compounded by bewilderment. I don't know, but to me, this feels like being punished for being seen as "bad" or as having "bad intent". My my, when I signed up, I thought I was signing on to a large, welcoming, knowledgeable community. I couldn't have been more wrong.

As I see it, they are protecting themselves by not providing reasons for banishment. If there were tangible reasons (i.e., "you were disruptive in this particular thread", "you have been continuously disruptive in these threads", "you have maligned another member in public (here is proof)"), it would be easy enough to provide the reasons to us. And, to avoid conflict, all they would need to do is say something like "based on this behavior, we are revoking your membership at DU." "This is our final decision". Period.

But, if their reasons are based on suspicion (i.e., we think the member is a RW plant, a "freeper", a "loose cannon", or a member of a radical progressive group, for instance), they would need to prove this, and, since I know they can't (in my own case, I know who I am and any suspicion to the contrary is false), they can't give us a reason. It would open them up to legal action for defamation of character (they are acting on false information or belief about a person). So, they say nothing, and, by saying nothing, they protect themselves.

It really doesn't matter. As far as I am concerned, most of the threads in the forum I participated in were inflammatory (Kerry bashing, Bev bashing, stop-bashing-Kerry, stop-bashing_Bev etc.), trivial ("what do you think about this"), or informative (genuine news articles,statistical analyses, and broadcast info). Since it is only the latter category that is of interest to me (and there was far too much of the first two categories), I don't need to be a member of this forum in order to benefit from this source of information. And, I must say that it is a relief to be "out in the real world" again where you trust that people are who they seem unless proven otherwise. In the world of DU, it is just the opposite -- newer members are viewed as "guilty until proven innocent", and there is rampant paranoia about "freepers" and "Rove plants" infiltrating DU's hallowed boards.

Crazy, crazy paranoia - and very contagious. Some of this is the result of life in a nearly-closed, albeit large, community. Closed systems often experience inflated self-importance. I saw evidence of this in the statements of various members such as "Without DU, such-and-such couldn't have been done"; "The "freepers" fear us", etc.. Because DU is SO important, of course it is just ripe for invasion by unfriendly forces. Hog wash. Some disruption does occur, of course, but, from what I could see, not enough to warrant the overriding paranoid tone of the community.

To sum this up, I would say that, since everyone has access to the positive DU has to offer (news), there is no reason to be there at all. In fact, I think it is preferable to join a more mature, perhaps smaller community where the focus remains on what is important, and where membership is not subject to extreme scrutiny and censorship.

BTW, just got my DU sticker today. Does anyone want a free DU sticker?

by helpisonthe way on Mon Dec 20th, 2004 at 02:55:18 PM PST
[ Reply to This | ]

Re: I agree with Not_Without_A_Fight (none / 0)

I think the truth is that there are both aspects to DU: the large, welcoming knowledgable community aspect, which I certainly appreciated, and the small minded controlling seniority rules, don't rock the boat and paranoid aspect. They sort of coexist side by side. If you don't rock the boat too hard as appearently I did, or are not overly effective which maybe I was, then you can hang out there and be happy. Truly I would be happy to change whatever it was that I was doing "wrong" even if it is some kind of drastic cutback in my freedom there if the admins would just tell me what they didn't like. I would happily even limit the topics I persued, and take topics that don't "fit" elsewhere if I only could get an explanation and second chance. :-(

helpisonthe way please e-mail me (my e-mail is in my profile).


by JamBoi on Mon Dec 20th, 2004 at 04:03:04 PM PST

2:44 PM  

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