Until recently I was content to let bygones be bygones in a heated debate with Nix Manes on his Texas Execution Looms After Jury Consult Bible blog post. The conversation was sidetracked by Nix Manes due to his accusations that lawyers and judges cause strife. I took exception to his sweeping generalization and called him out on it. Meanwhile, Jen attempted to question the original post with questions of her own which were ignored by Nix throughout the whole ordeal.

Well, I do admit that I did get a bit snarky as Nix refused to address several major issues with his arguments and relied instead on straw man arguments and ignoring pointed questions directed his way. I asked him to please address these questions and he simply refused, opting to instead repeat his mantra of "analogies prove nothing" over and over and over, despite the fact that no one asserted that they did.

Eventually, Nix decided that everyone needed to simply agree to disagree (something he has done very rapidly before when challenged) and leave it there. Well, I admit I like to argue and when someone asserts something and will not defend it, I tend to go for the kill. So I pushed and Jen kept asking questions and finding new facts about the original post. What does Nix do? He deletes our last comments and sets his blog to have comments moderated. I accused him of running away during the back and forth, but I was really trying to goad him into answering simple questions. His latest actions have shown that he actually was running away from it.

What is the point of this? Well, I really do not like being censored. I have eaten crow on this site before in debates and I have seen others do so as well. It is not something tasty, but when you are wrong, even on a small point of a larger issue, if you are honest, it is something that you simply must do if you have any integrity. Perhaps Nix Manes doesn't believe he was wrong at any point in this debate. Perhaps he thinks it was beneath him to answer questions, cite his sources for his made up facts, or defend his arguments. I don't know and I doubt he'll ever honestly say. And I would have not even thought to try and publicize this dispute if I had not been censored by him. Well, it is his blog, so he can. But this is my blog, so now I can speak freely.

Watching the debacle across the pond in the UK with Simon Singh, it pisses me off to no end to see how the English libel laws are used to silence critics. Many thoughtful skeptics, atheists, academics, bloggers,and journalists are fighting against censorship. They are not allowed to criticize anyone because they will be subject to threats of lawsuits from their targets that have the potential of bankrupting them. In England, when you are accused of libel, you must prove your innocence. The burden is on you and even if you know you are right, there is still a small enough chance that you'll lose and then you will be bankrupted. Most folks back down, retract their statements, and avoid the risk. Meanwhile, people wholly deserving of the criticism get a free pass.

My criticism of Nix Manes is not really about the details of the dispute. It was the manner in which he chose to carry on his part of the conversation. The intellectual dishonesty and cherry picking he performed was a ghastly affront to honest discourse and I called him out on it repeatedly. Yet, he ignored even that. He finished up the discussion by typing a long post comparing my position and argument to that of FOX News. It is exactly the type of thing you would expect from FOX News; to commit such blatant dishonesty and then turn around and accuse your detractors of it. It was quite surreal, but his deletion of my following post as well as at least one more simply demonstrates that he didn't want to face valid criticism.

All too quickly Nix Manes bemoans that he has grown weary of repeating himself and bows out of discussions where people challenge him. If he would simply address the questions raised to him and heed my plea to strop reciting his mantra, he would most likely find himself with fresh words to type. Instead, sadly, he chose the low road of ignoring and then silencing his critics.

Nix Manes ends things by stating:

(I won't be following this particular blog any longer. Any posts from this point are simply poisoned beyond usefulness—as are most of them up to this point.)

Well, turning on moderation is a terrible way to "not follow" the blog. There is a link that says "stop following" that once clicked, will stop emails from notifying you of new comments. Turning on moderation only shows that you are still following the blog, you just are not allowing new comments that you disapprove of to be posted.

Views: 12

Comment by Dave G on October 19, 2009 at 2:16am
I'd noticed that Nix had turned on comment approval. In general, I despise such systems, as they are far too often used to silence all criticism of the author's point, only allowing comments that agree, or at least do not disagree, with the original author to get through.
Comment by Reggie on October 19, 2009 at 7:05am
And this is exactly what he is doing, Dave. I find it interesting that he says in his last post of that thread:

I got caught up in trying to return to my original points, which became fruitless, as I kept getting led in new directions with points I answered dropped for new ones and me following along. Now that I know what happened, it won't happen again. I apologize and hope everyone who reads this has learned something, too.

This is interesting because Jen was addressing his original post the entire time, politely bringing new facts and arguments to his specific position and he simply ignored them.

He then goes on to malign me for being so upset at his dishonesty by comparing my repeated challenges to the "FOX News Effect". Perhaps when he was a newsman, he suffered from the CNN effect?

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
CNN Leaves It There
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Ron Paul Interview

Make up facts and leave it there.

I am not a fan of moderation or deletion of comments and if he had not done that, I would have never made this post. This isn't really my play at continuing that same argument, because frankly, I don't care if I was right or wrong nearly as much as I care about honest and free debate.
Comment by Wendy on October 19, 2009 at 8:57am
I've been known to say that I like being right so much that I will change my mind when proven wrong, just so that I'm still right. Another contrast between the scientific method, and blind dogmatism... if a question can't be answered with a pre-approved, rote memorized response, it's unworthy of consideration.

RE: comment moderation - IMO, this is useful ONLY as a method to stop spam (advertisers), and reduce flooding effects (posting the same comment repeatedly to try to drown out any actual debate). This should not be used to make it look like all commenters agree with you. But then, we're open to debate, discussion etc, and they are not.
Comment by Galen on October 19, 2009 at 8:34pm
Well, to be fair, I suppose everyone has the right to back out of a fight if they don't feel like arguing anymore. What you interpret as cowardice or pettiness, maybe is just him being sick of talking about it. C'mon guys, can't we all just get along? :)
Comment by Reggie on October 19, 2009 at 8:55pm
Well, to be fair, I suppose everyone has the right to back out of a fight if they don't feel like arguing anymore.

And that is fair.

However, my main problem is not that he didn't want to argue. He certainly didn't mind making his points for awhile. My issue was the smugness in which he lectured the rest of us about how we don't understand certain minutiae of language and finer points of debate, all the while ignoring serious objections and valid criticisms. It is much in the same manner that Ray Comfort continues to preach blatant falsehoods and misrepresentations after being repeatedly challenged or corrected. He just carries on like no one said a word. When a seemingly intelligent atheist pulls these stunts, I take greater offense than when the Ray Comforts of the world do it.

If I make any claims on this site and you think I have it wrong and you present me with facts, examples, and even analogies all to help show me my error, then please, please, please, do not let me get away with ignoring it all while I dogmatically reassert my positions and call every other position "nuts".

And if this thread is that place to do that in regards to my anger at such dishonesty, then so be it. But I feel I have good reason to take exception, especially after the deletion of comments and the censorship of the thread, and I will at least address your criticisms head on. And I will not delete your comments or turn on moderation, no matter how vehemently you oppose me.

But that is just me and maybe not him. But as I have said before, he is perfectly within his right to do that on his blog. And I am perfectly within my right to bitch about it on my own. Although, I admit, that won't win me many fans. However, I will confine my grudge here to this blog post. And maybe a mention a time or two in future posts if it is relevant, but I promise I won't dwell on it.


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