freedomconscienceFrom time-to-time I hear someone complain about censorship. I get some complaint or see some complaint on another blog that looks like this.

The exchange between Mr. Z and our Insanitybytes seems spirited and engaging. I don’t see any real deviation from the standards of politeness that define the spectrum of the blog world. They each appear to do a good job with their positions.

As to the moderation barriers you have set up: the word “Z….” causes your blog to throw up walls? How very strange. How very fearful. How very contrary to the exchange of ideas. How silly and unnecessary. I suspect my views on these subjects are much closer to yours, Tom, than to Z’s. But it’s difficult to engage ideas related to Z’s positions if you have fortified your site against the mere mention of his name. (from here)

The writer of that remark is novascout. I had observed John Zande is impolite, to say the least. novascout disagreed. Then he complained about my judgement.

Here is my reply to and others who have made similar complaints of censorship.

I have a post on why I banned Zande, WHY I BANNED TWO TROLLS FROM CITIZEN TOM. I see nothing to gain by discussing that aspect of the matter further.

Some, such as , have no discomfort with the way Zande observes the rules of decorum. That is a different subject, and that I will address here. I did not ban Zande from my blog because he is impolite, and I do not know if I would have done so. In retrospect, however, I think it would have been appropriate.

What makes the issue of “politeness” a more difficult judgement? I suppose it is the fact that Zande meticulously observes today’s rules of decorum. In this day and age, deliberate and calculated blasphemy does not violate the rules of decorum. Nevertheless, blasphemy violates the spirit of decorum, especially when it is delivered with mischievous glee.

Because a lawful society is by definition rule-bound, required to give everyone the due process of law (which the devious insist upon making ever more cumbersome), we find it difficult to use the government to control/sanction the behavior of those who know how to disobey (or evade) the spirit of the law without breaking the rule of the law. Need proof of that? Look at what our leaders have done. Look at what they are doing in our nation’s capital.

In our private lives, we can and must take care to distinguish between those who obey the “standards”of good behavior and those who comply with the spirit from which those standards were derived. Just because our government won’t do anything, do we have to personally condone vile behavior? Don’t we know that a thief who knows how to avoid being caught is still a thief? Is not a liar who knows how to avoid charges of slander, libel, or perjury is still a liar?

Yet what is happening? Our society has become so rule-bound — so dominated by a huge and still burgeoning government — that it abounds with clever thieves and liars.

Consider the significance of the Democratic Party’s leading presidential contender. It is open secret she violated the law. She had a server, a private email server, with government secrets on it. If any ordinary civil servant or government contractor had been caught doing such a thing, they would already be in jail. And that very likely is the least of her misdeeds.

Think of the questions we should be asking.

  • How can substantial numbers of Americans reconcile their support for the candidacy of a known scoundrel?
  • What do the supporters of that scoundrel expect to gain?

Back to the subject. What about who we allow to post on our blogs? For the time being, our blogs still remain private affairs. Our government has yet to take them over. We still don’t have reams of Federal regulations designed to paralyze debate. On a blog, we are still not required to give everyone “equal time” or the due process of the law before we ban them. Therefore, the spirit of one’s conduct still matters. Where we generally see that most evidenced is in the truth of an old aphorism.

Birds of a feather flock together. (from here)

Is it inappropriate for those of like mind to seek each other’s company? Yes and no. It is true we should try to try to understand those who differ from us. Nevertheless, would it not be foolish to do something or tacitly condone something evil just to understand the behavior of those who habitually do evil?

In fact, we must as much as possible call attention to the difference between good and evil.

Luke 6:43-45 New King James Version (NKJV)

A Tree Is Known by Its Fruit

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

As Christians — believers in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ — we must bear fruit. We have an obligation to protect the treasure that pours forth when we strive to understand, preach, and obey the Word of God. Therefore, when someone wants to mix blasphemies into our blog, we have a responsibility to say no.

28 thoughts on “ABOUT PROPER DECORUM

    1. SW: In the link you equate the size and proportion of the lawyer population in this country with the existence of the First Amendment. I doubt that. The First Amendment generates relatively little litigation, frankly, although there are certainly occasional high profile First Amendment cases. I would attribute the number of lawyers in our society more to a variety of factors, factors that include our federal structure, where we have 50 sovereign jurisdictions, each with their own peculiarities about how law is applied; our reliance to a large degree on the English common law system, which settles disputes inductively, case-by-case, as opposed to some sort of national civil code (as in France, for example); our respect for the rule of law as a means of settling disputes; our constitutional protections of criminal suspects; and the extensive reach of the insurance industry into all aspects of American life. I suppose one could also add the early and rapid industrialization of the country in the mid-to-late 19th Century. That phenomenon in itself generated a fertile climate for lawyer proliferation.


      1. I agree.

        Regardless, there are too many lawyers in my opinion who become cats paws and exasperate matters which could be settled by an arbitrator and the parties without a lawyer and a jury.

        King Solomon

        Fight your own case with your neighbor, and do not reveal another’s confidences. (Proverb, 25:9)

        Where your own interests are directly involved you should press your case with all the energy and skill you can muster and that you should carry the fight to the neighbors or friend with whom you have your disagreement. The point would then be that others should not be involved in your dispute and their personal relationship with your opponent compromise or impaired. There should be a direct and honorable confrontation, and resort should not be had to devious and cowardly maneuvers in which others are used as cats’ paws. The converse would then be that you should not consent to being so used, thereby divulging the confidences which another has reposed in you. (Proverbs Mc Kane)

        Regards and goodwill blogging.



  1. I am of the mind that people who habitually hallucinate in order to get atheism to work out for them, are much more in need of mercy than condemnation.

    But then again, what can be done with people who try to blow up Paris?

    Mercy only inflames their evil passion.

    1. @silenceofmind

      Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is one of my favorite passages. Yet it presents a problem. There may be a season for everything, a time for every purpose, but how do we know the purpose of this season?

      We can only guess the nature of a man’s heart from his words and his deeds.

      Matthew 7:6 New King James Version (NKJV)

      6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

      We all need mercy, but when people abuse mercy and detest the merciful, what is the point of offering such people mercy?

  2. I fully agree with the idea that blogs have an absolute right to exclude whomever they please. I don’t see that as a “free speech” issue and I am surprised that some of the commenters above seem to think it is. But those decisions about exclusion say at least as much about the excluders as the excluded.

    But my point in this context was that it seems terribly insecure and vulnerable to set your site filters so that commenters who mention Z’s name in full, particularly when such mentions are completely in context with the post and other comments, have their comments shunted into moderation. That strikes me as unnecessary and fearful. JZ seems to worry you more than he worries many of us other believers.

    The jump to Hillary’s server seems fairly acrobatic, however. We’ll find out soon enough whether she violated the law. Calling her a “scoundrel” at this point on that issue doesn’t seem particularly decorous or polite, if decorum and politesse are the themes of the post. If the ongoing investigation shows that she committed crimes similar to those committed by Deutsch and Petraeus, I think we can expect a similar result and, at that point we can call her a felon. For the nonce, however, we need to see how that turns out.


    1. @novascout

      Given what certain people have done in the past with respect to free speech, I think your lack of concern is naive. I think that not standing by what we believe is an act of cowardice.

      Exodus 20:7 New King James Version (NKJV)

      7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

      I don’t have much interest in having a conversation with people who take the name of the Lord in vain. If someone insists upon calling God evil, I think that qualifies.

      Therefore, I don’t have much interest in discussing JZ. If comments about him slip into moderation, I consider that a tolerable “problem.”

      Your comments about H. Clinton are silly. We are well past the “if” stage. The issue is why hasn’t the Justice Dept done its job. With respect to Deutsch and Petraeus, they acted.

      1. I have no doubt they will act if a violation of law occurred, Tom. A lot depends on what is (was) on the server and how much she knew about what was there. Deutsch and Petraeus had full knowledge of their security breaches. It may be that HRC did also, but I certainly don’t know enough about it to make that judgement yet. You may know quite a bit more about it than I have been able to glean from the various media, but I think, if that is the case, you know quite a bit more about it than does the FBI and DOJ. I do think they will catch up with you eventually, however.

        I agree completely with you that people should stand by their beliefs once they have thought them through completely. No one advocated differently here. However, one of the advantages of this medium is that it enables folks who would not otherwise come in contact with each other to share ideas, test them, assess their validity, and modify or evolve their views as an outgrowth of these discussions.


        1. @novascout

          I don’t claim any special knowledge. I just choose not to wear blinders.

          Due process of law requires a courtroom process that assumes the defendant is innocent until proven guilty. In other words, before they convict, the jury has an obligation to carefully review the evidence first. That doesn’t mean jurors should not have an opinion about the case beforehand. It just means they have a responsibility to seriously consider the evidence.

          Consider. When the police arrest someone, they are fairly certain of that person’s guilt. Therefore, if we trust the police, when we see them arrest someone and bring them to trial, then as a juror we will have a presumption of guilt. Nevertheless, due process requires us to do our best to impartially review the evidence.

          In the case of Hillary Clinton’s illegal email server, there has been enough evidence reported in the news media to assess her guilt. That includes her own words. She quite obviously handled classified information in a manner inconsistent with law.

    2. @*scout:

      Not one of the “some of the commenters here” you accuse suggested that the exclusion was a free speech issue. We all know recognize that.

      How can you be so transparently, consistently wrong?

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    3. @*scout, who wrote:

      The jump to Hillary’s server seems fairly acrobatic, however. We’ll find out soon enough whether she violated the law. Calling her a “scoundrel” at this point on that issue doesn’t seem particularly decorous or polite, if decorum and politesse are the themes of the post. If the ongoing investigation shows that she committed crimes similar to those committed by Deutsch and Petraeus, I think we can expect a similar result and, at that point we can call her a felon. For the nonce, however, we need to see how that turns out.

      Astounding. This sets up a world in which you believe that Lois Lerner committed no wrong, despite all the evidence, because she was let off by this extremely partisan justice department. And thus will not tolerate Hillary Clinton being called a “scoundrel” despite her long history of lies, including lying under penalty of perjury in California for which the plaintiff against her was thrown in jail, and one of her own people was sacrificed to do hard time for the largest Federal Election Commission fraud in history because Hillary didn’t know what she was signing. Her obvious lies have been demonstrated in the email fiasco, which Hillary likely is happy about as distracts attention from the even worse financial scandals of the Clinton Global Imbroglio.

      Your basis for complaining about calling your candidate a “scoundrel”? Because it was in a thread on proper decorum — and you registered this complaint seconds after insulting Citizen Tom as “fearful” and decrying him as just as bad as JZ because Citizen Tom chose to exclude him from his personal blog.

      You are a piece of work.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

        1. Thank you. A month ago, I thought I was done. My complete immunity to all pain medications (at least, the dozens that have been tried) means that I have zero relief when things go bad. But I got through it, and am fighting my way back. And doing rather better at the moment, just planning a bit this morning for a future that did not seem possible a short time ago.

          I’d sure like to see you doing better. Converting to become a limited-government conservative would be good — wonderful, even. But I think this is too much to hope for. Instead, just an openness about your actual goals and motivations would be a substantial improvement, and a straightforward willingness to debate the real issues under discussion, and eschew the intentional misunderstandings and distraction techniques that have marked your commentary here.

          You are intelligent, knowledgeable and articulate; I’d love to have you on my side.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

    4. @*scout, who wrote:

      But my point in this context was that it seems terribly insecure and vulnerable to set your site filters so that commenters who mention Z’s name in full, particularly when such mentions are completely in context with the post and other comments, have their comments shunted into moderation. That strikes me as unnecessary and fearful. JZ seems to worry you more than he worries many of us other believers.

      It’s simply a filter for a word, *scout. There’s nothing “fearful” about it. Citizen Tom got tired of the poster, and blocked his name. It happens to block uses of his name by others, something of an artifact. It is Citizen Tom’s prerogative.

      Of course, it is unsurprising to see you defending JZ; you’re also in the same comment defending Hillary Clinton. You can be reliably counted upon to take up the progressive, leftist cause.

      Citizen Tom runs a private blog, with no pretense of being a news organization, and certainly not a government agency. He can do what he wants. Wait till you get a snootful of the “safe spaces” against “microagression” now in vogue at universities, lest those delicate little barely-post-fetuses be exposed to ideas that are not what their indoctrinators want for them.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

      1. @Keith

        Thanks for the defense you offered with these three comments. I appreciate it.

        I suspect others do as well. There is a growing realization, I hope, that modern Liberals don’t offer real arguments. Unlike the Founders who really were Liberals, what they do instead is attack the character and the credibility of anyone who disagrees with them.

        Since it had formatting errors, I deleted the duplicate post. Figured you would want that.

  3. Citizen Tom, you are exactly right–it’s your blog, and you have the right to control what other people post as comments upon it. Censorship by the government is one thing; maintaining control of one’s own intellectual property is completely different.
    Now, about the political candidate you mention–don’t you remember that Nietzsche wrote that moral rules are tools used by the weak to control the strong, but that some people are above the rules? Once we are ready to say that person X did wrong but no one was really hurt and X is otherwise doing a great job, well, then, Y is going to expect to exist outside the moral code as well. J.

    1. @Salvageable

      That is a good point. The is a distinct difference between censorship and the control of one’s own intellectual property. That is something I would expect somebody who wants to be an author to notice. Unfortunately, some people don’t think other people have any rights.

      Those who think themselves above the law tend not to respect the rights of others. When laws are not enforced, such people notice. Such people will then do whatever they can get away with.

      Thanks for visit and commenting.

  4. Well said Tom

    People cry free speech, free speech! Well, I hate to inform them that the government doesn’t run my blog. There aren’t actually any rights to free speech on it.

    My blog exists for two reasons: One, to teach believers. Two, to reach non receptive non believers. The frank truth is I am well withing my rights to restrict speech that interferes with those two goals. It may not sound fair, but then again life is not fair.

    Besides, what would happen if every Christian went to an atheist blog and started evangelizing? Well, we would be banned, of course! So, why would it be ok for atheist to conduct atheist evangelism on a Christian blog?

    1. @Wally Fry

      Thank you.

      We must enjoy and make good use of the control we have over our blogs while it lasts. We live in times when our rights are in peril.

      To too many people words are just weapons. Spin matters more than facts. The goal is to get what is desired, not to do or protect anything good. Hence we have hypocrisy, and we have leaders increasingly unconstrained by any desire to obey the law.

  5. Good stuff CT. It has been observed not to argue with a fool, as some may not know the difference. ‘Equal time?’ For what? To propagate absurdity and to serve as food for the weak who may not understand the difference between poison and Poseidon?

    How many times do we need to print the lame excuse of ‘written by ignorant, superstitious, bronze age priests.’ No, I get it, once is enough, the point is made, don’t bring the garbage to a well set table.

    Your ‘mischievous glee’ idea is a product of discernment, and unfortunately, many are not aware that the angel of light actually has very good manners; such is the nature of deception, and the need to be alert to certain devices.

    When a slippery creature said ‘hello’ to Eve, there was a whole lotta ‘light’ suggested, but was in fact the very best of darkness.

    Now a word as to Ms. Clinton, aw nevermind. 😉

    1. @ColorStorm


      Discernment is problematic in a courtroom. You are, of course, familiar with the problem of defining pornography.

      How would we prove ‘mischievous glee’ in a courtroom? And yet can we not easily discern it? Leads one to wonder why our lawmakers do not wish to trust jurors with decisions like that.

  6. Beautiful, Tom. I think a blog is a bit like our living room and we get to have authority there. Unquestioned authority, as in I need no reason to toss you out if I don’t feel like dealing with you. I say this all in good humor, having been tossed out of perhaps a dozen blogs myself.

    As to accusations of oppression, of violating free speech, there are some 58 million blogs on wordpress alone and people can always get their own soapbox and speak all they wish.

    I tend to enjoy a bit of debate and don’t mind confrontation, controversy. It strengthens my faith, like the way, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” There is a fine line there however, and I like your focus on good manners.

    1. @insanitybytes22

      Blog? Living room? That’s a good enough analogy. Who we each choose to invite into our home is a personal decision, but we have people who would like to make that decision for us too.

      Like you, I have been ejected from a blog or two. I didn’t question the right of the blog owner to eject me. I just decided they were afraid of a real debate.

      Of course, I have ejected some people from my blog, and I explained why. If people cannot see the difference — if there is no difference — then my reputation suffers. Otherwise, the exercise of such judgement improves the quality of my blog.

      You get some self-serving complaints, but I don’t think moderating the comments of some people has hurt the quality of your blog. For similar reasons, I suppose you and your friends also have a good time in your living room.

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      I thought about using Isaiah 5:20. Yet something urge me to look further.

      Luke 6:43-45, Jesus, makes the point that being a Christian is about what we do, what we stand for, not just what we are against.

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