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I am making an extraordinary statement to the forum. Mark Knight is one of the four owner admin members of this forum - Kathy Beckett is presently on holiday and David Butler has yet to comment.

My comment which gave rise to this reflection by Mark was a comment by me - to the admin team-  about being unable to contact David Joseph about his contacted.

Hi all,
There was a complaint about David’s arrogant attitude a little while ago. I tried to PM him but he has blocked any PM’s Actually is something we can change??
Anyway since I could not contact him I placed him on moderation, thinking that he would get in touch asking why. But no, and his attitude continued and I just did not approve any post.
Any way I have removed his privileges. Maybe when he can no longer post he will ask why and I can then explain that his attitude needs some improvement.
James

I have released David for the benefit of this conversation. Mark made the following comment to me which I publish - in whole - without seeking his consent. However I wish to make clear it is because of his statement that I am creating this thread. If Paul Bracato has indeed exited the forum because of current behaviour on the forum - and I believe Mark is also referring to admin behaviour I totally agree with Mark. And if a member of his standing has decided to leave the form then it is not something we should ignore Or Assume that there are not other members who feel exactly the same as Paul.

The text of Mark’s email to me:-

I think we may have a problem here.
Paul Brancato is one of the most reasonable and thoughtful forum members we have...or had, if he follows through.
David Josephs is on vacation from the forum...but Thomas Graves is not. While Mr. Graves may not be making personally insulting posts, most of his recent posts certainly insult the intelligence of the average forum member.
But Mr. Graves remains, mocking the entire purpose of the forum.
So does Michael Walton, whose incessant carping at Chris Davidson without actually citing any errors in his calculations is getting quite tiresome, at least to me. Is Chris Davidson on the right track? Perhaps, and perhaps not. But as he's working out his evidence, should we continue to allow Mr. Walton to, essentially, question Davidson's intelligence?
Now, I am certainly not a rabble-rouser. But Mr. Brancato's proposed departure tells me that we are doing SOMETHING wrong in the way we are handling this forum.
So what's the answer? If I had it, with 100% certainty, I'd share it with you. But I don't know.
What I do know is, if we run off the Brancatos and keep the Graves' and the Trejo's, what kind of forum will we have in 6 months, or a year? Probably not the kind we want to have.
Discuss, criticize me, whatever. But we need to be doing something differently, IMHO.

I feel very strongly that language does matters even on a forum whose purpose is to exam the brutal murder of an American President. It has been my position that conduct of members- whatever the criticism of that members - by other members may have been towards them - should not be excused. And maybe I - and I stress “I” - have not been consistent on this matter.

I leave it to members to discuss what the future of this forum should be. And be in no doubt that the future of this forum is the point. If respected members are voting with their feet and are leaving this is an issue we ALL should be concerned about.

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I had no problem with the belief that if an Admin cannot contact a member  that moderation may be the only way to get their attention. Mr. Josephs is not the only one who has done that in the past.  It would seem reasonable that if one were to suddenly be moderated, one would ask why.  As I understand it, the only thing James was  going to tell him was to please watch what he was writing, and not being able to  relay that to him caused James to come up with a way to get a response, which evidently backfired.  What is he supposed to do? I see that David Josephs is off of moderation, which is fine. But, OTOH, he needs to leave a line open so Admins can contact him. Everybody does.   And while we are at it, moderation is not banning. Banned means you cannot log in--you are no longer a member.. Moderated means that ones posts are reviewed before being made public.

Then we have to go through  the threads which ask "why" and say we need to be more transparent.Folks starts saying things about how this or that is wrong, only to find out that it was just that they couldn't be contacted. But of course, shoot first and ask questions later. 

I guess we could reopen the thread that tells the posters what the Admin/mods do. 

 

I also understand about problem posters here, and there are some who repeat the same negative pattern over and over. I'm up for what the majority thinks there.  We have rules we may have to change. It's a loose set of them.  Folks can pretty much say what they want, provided they don't abuse other members. If that needs to be changed, we can do that.  We, as admins, have to work with the rules we have.

Once again, James is trying to do the best he can, and I don't think his actions with respect to trying to contact Mr. Josephs were unreasonable. 

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I have been involved in Internet communications for a long time – even before Windows was invented, and people were communicating in community bulletin boards using DOS.

 

Haters (I won't use the “T” word) exist for one purpose; to steer the conversation so that it's about them, and not for whatever the discussion is about at the time. It doesn't matter what the Forum is about, or the form that it takes. The moment the Forum, or discussion group, or newsgroup or whatever changes so that the dialog becomes about him or her, and not about what the Forum was created for, the hater wins. You can't win against a hater, because they live for the combat. They thrive on it. The best you can do is not give it food.

The alternative is to leave, which is a loss for everyone else because intellectual thought dies and all you are left with is desert sand.

 

Steve Thomas

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I feel language does matter and I agree I - speaking only for myself - have been inconsistent here.

I admit - and I am embarrassed to admit it - but I did not know until this morning that Paul had opened a thread on why he was leaving the forum—17 hour ago. I have a business that is the main focus of my attention and I have not given sufficient attention to this forum.

Regarding David Josephs when the member makes it impossible to comment on his behaviour I felt moderation was my only option rather than allowing that member to continue his behaviour.

Accepting that I am inconsistent I believe that language does matter. In my view the conduct of members - provoked by fellow members - is not an excuse. This point I make in response to what Steve Thomas has made. Language was a principle  position of JFK and I believe we should feel the same. If members are unable to express themselves without the use of such expressions then I feel that is a problem for this forum. And because such expressions are allowed elsewhere on the internet is not a an acceptable excuse. . And here is where I believe I have been inconsistent because on many occasions I have dealt with a particular member and not with those who provoked that member.

I agree we will - not may - need to edit our rules. We must always have a means to contact fellow members other than discipling them - which I admit I have done up till now.

 

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I emailed you James a number of times with no response... Asking just that... 

On moderation you cannot send or receive PM... Or at least that what it seems.

2 Or 3 of us represent the only real defense and ongoing push back to the trolls...  I invoked the COINTELPRO doc as the postings of both tommy and Dub'ya surely fit the tactics designed to derail a thread they want derailed...  

If you cant recognize an attack on the forum and its members, why moderate at all?

I stood up for Armstrong and for Lifton for a pure sense of respect for the effort involved... These 2 playing like deaf children and running rampant over the history, present and future of JFK research is a shame... Even worse you all stand by and watch from the sidelines and remove the only defense offered.

Why should the membership need to suffer through the fools just to read something in which they're interested ?

Where is YOUR stand for the rights of those who are not these 2, when repeatedly attacked with nothing more than generic links and shallow observation...  Math Rules especially.  I have degrees in Finance and Math yet Chris thinks at a level way beyond most... And luckily, with effort, I get it.

Why should Dub'ya be allowed to infect intelligence with his inability to understand even WHY we have the discussion in the first place?

Grow a backbone moderators and nip this in the bud.  Free speech is fine, censorship not.... Respect has been earned by many who post here... If you can't rebutt with something more than a generic opinion, doesn't that person owe it to this forum and its members to stop acting the disruptive fool and chill?

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When someone is on moderation, they should still be able to get a PM.

I am glad that Mark Knight helped get some transparency on the issue.

There is an advantage to having disparate voices in a forum.  But I also agree with Mr. Gordon that the way one uses language does matter.

I have always tried to be as civil, and as fact based as I can in these arguments. I have been on the receiving end of some of this questionable behavior, having been questioned about, among other things, whether or not I thought the Russians had hacked the DNC server--as if that had anything to do with the JFK assassination.  And Paul B was classy enough to intervene there and question the tactics.  Which is one reason I hope he reconsiders his decision to leave.

Some of us think that it is utterly necessary to battle each and every argument with which we do not agree. If not, the Barbarians will be at the Gate. Can I suggest a little distance.  There is an ignore function that Kathy showed me how to use.  I have Trejo and Lifton on ignore.

In my opinion, we have to measure the standards and frequency and places where we  choose to fight tooth and nail. For good reason, the Caufield book that Trejo trumpeted has had little or no impact on the JFK case. Apparently,  Lifton has a book coming out.  I will wait until I read it to pass judgment on it. 

Anyway, I thanks James for making this public and I would hope now that the mods will straighten out heir issues with David Josephs. I also hope that Paul B will now reconsider his decision to depart. 

 

Edited by James DiEugenio
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I visit here about once a month to see if there are any threads of particular interest, so I have no great vested interest in the future of this forum.  I do, however, have a great deal of experience as a participant on forums of all types, dating back to the early days of the internet.  The first one I participated on, that of the International Association for Near Death Studies, followed a trajectory very similar to this one before IANDS finally decided the solution was to pull the plug.

I really do not believe there is a "solution."  To keep an internet forum consistently on point and respectful, the moderators would have to rule with such an iron hand that it would be more than a full-time job.  You'd have to pre-approve every post, the way some bloggers moderate comments.

Every forum of every type develops a culture and, over time, a group of "old-timers" comes to dominate.  I've never see any forum that wasn't dominated by a comparative handful of characters, each with 100,000 posts.  Until you prove that you share the culture and respect the old-timers, you will remain an outsider.  Challenge the culture or show insufficient respect for the old-timers, and you are a xxxxx [oops, the forbidden "t" word].  One man's xxxxx is another man's fresh perspective.

I've certainly seen intelligent and substantive posts from Tommy, and I thought Michael was one of the more reasonable folks on here (admittedly, I've seen comparatively few of his posts).  As I've pointed out previously, I - a garden-variety, elderly lawyer whose credentials you can easily check - have been accused of being not a lawyer at all, some sort of shill for the Dulles family (because my grandmother distantly knew them on a social basis!), a rabid Lone Nutter, a disinformation agent and other species of insanity.  Beloved Paul himself questioned why I was here at all, since I did not seem to be sufficiently liberal in my politics or worshipful of the memory of JFK.  I, like Paul, more or less gave up and departed - which was, of course, the desired result on the part of the clique.

Some JFK conspiracy theories strike me as the product of a species of mental illness.  Why they are tolerated and allowed to detract from intelligent discussion to the extent they are, I have no idea.  It's as though all theories are equal on a site such as this.  I would do what some Christian forums do in an attempt to limit the fighting - let each theory have it's own little sub-forum, where at least those who think Theory X is nonsense can avoid discussion of it, while those who are fascinated by it can talk of nothing else.

Some of the high-profile participants strike me as driven by things other than a sincere interest in how JFK was killed - typically, the egomania and self-promotion that characterize many internet forums.  Some strike me as "not quite all there," to put it politely.  The vast majority of the discussion falls into the category "My pet theory is correct and your pet theory is nonsense" rather than "Where does the evidence really lead?"  Yet how does one police this?

How do you achieve an internet forum where the participants are at least reasonably sane, reasonably respectful toward one another, and capable of staying reasonably on point?  I don't think you do.  For one thing, this just isn't human nature.  For another, it's not the nature of internet forums.  They inevitably bring out the worst in everyone, including me, even when, as here, they are not anonymous.  For another, it's not the nature of the JFK research community, which is more fragmented and confrontational, with a far larger and more high-profile lunatic fringe, than any similar community I've ever been associated with.

If I were running this forum, I'd probably divide it into more focused sub-forums, appoint one or two moderators for each sub-forum, and adopt a fairly intolerant policy toward personal insults, disrespect and staying on point.  I participate on one Christian site that does precisely this, and still about 1/3 of the threads end up being closed down or deleted.  Right now, my overall view of this forum is that it is a hopeless mishmash of threads, competing theories and vociferous proponents of those theories, together with excessive tolerance of lunatic fringe thinking and lunatic fringe thinkers.

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I think this has nothing to do with backbones.  I could care less what folks think of me--something I've learned as I've gotten older. The  original problem was with the language, i guess. I wasn't here to see it.  After that folks started throwing stones.

Quote

If you cant recognize an attack on the forum and its members, why moderate at all?

As far as an attack on the forum, i don't know.  I think alot of it  is  ego driven, but that just my two cents.  All the Ed Forum has ever required  (since I've been a member here anyway)is try to make sure that folks are not too far out of line. if you go back and read the old threads from years past, you'll see that. I think it is OK to question someone's position (that is what debate is about), and  it is hoped that questioning it is not considered a personal affront. But if someone is being baited, that is entirely different.  OTOH, some folk also become irate when their work is questioned. There has to be a happy medium.

 

Lance, a while back we created subforums. They are rarely used because the front page is where your work is seen. Everybody looks here.

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24 minutes ago, Kathy Beckett said:

Lance, a while back we created subforums. They are rarely used because the front page is where your work is seen. Everybody looks here.

I'm not sure what you mean.  At least at the Christian site where I participate, when you open the main forum page (here, "JFK Assassination Debate"), you see a variety of sub-forums and the latest posts in each (for example, "Harvey and Lee," "Lone Nut," etc.).  There is also a master list of the 100 newest posts.  I post in almost all the sub-forums, and I've never had any problem with my posts not being seen or read.  Another (massive) Christian site is divided into so many sub-forums and sub-sub-forums that it's almost comical and counterproductive ("Southern Baptists Who Reject the Virgin Birth").  But I realize that each forum is limited to the platform on which it is based, and I have no idea how this one works.  Even I were a more regular and interested participant, however, I would find the way this one is organized to be pretty frustrating.  I do think this is part of the problem - it encourages participants to view the first page or two of threads and weigh in with snarky comments on topics on which they have no real interest.

Edit:  One advantage of the sub-forum approach is that posts can be much more easily moderated.  You appoint moderators who are at least familiar with the topic of that sub-forum, and they are responsible only for that sub-forum (and perhaps one other), so the task is not so overwhelming.

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Language is not as critical as patterned intent Kathy....

"With all due respect" is as offensive as "trust me" and carries as much meaning.  None.

"Due" respect is completely subjective... A backhanded insult in reality...  You see that, right?

When capital "t" is more important than the content of his post Or the subject at hand... Who is showing the disrespect ?

Without the expectation and enforcement of intellectual honesty, what is the basis for moderation?  A bad word or ongoing trolling of a topic?  Opinions stated as fact or spelling/grammar?

Free speech in a membership setting Still requires the expectation of respect with intelligent disagreement... Setting up a soapbox in every thread to scream "the Russians did it" and then provide nothing but the color of the soapbox brings everyone down...

One wonders if there is any perception of awareness.... Or does this bull in a China shop get to thrash around until everything is broken?

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30 minutes ago, David Josephs said:

Language is not as critical as patterned intent Kathy....

"With all due respect" is as offensive as "trust me" and carries as much meaning.  None.

"Due" respect is completely subjective... A backhanded insult in reality...  You see that, right?

When capital "t" is more important than the content of his post Or the subject at hand... Who is showing the disrespect ?

Without the expectation and enforcement of intellectual honesty, what is the basis for moderation?  A bad word or ongoing trolling of a topic?  Opinions stated as fact or spelling/grammar?

Free speech in a membership setting Still requires the expectation of respect with intelligent disagreement... Setting up a soapbox in every thread to scream "the Russians did it" and then provide nothing but the color of the soapbox brings everyone down...

One wonders if there is any perception of awareness.... Or does this bull in a China shop get to thrash around until everything is broken?

Yes, "With all due respect" inevitably means "No respect is due, you're an idiot."

But again, this is all a matter of perspective.  I do not happen to believe - others do, I realize - that a theory like Harvey and Lee has any "intellectual honesty" associated with it in the first place.  To politely discuss it as though it did is to give it a dignity that it, in my opinion, does not deserve.  When it is addressed substantively, for example by pointing out clear errors in Armstrong's work, the proponents just churn out more of what I at least believe to be blatant nonsense.  In my opinion it deserves to be ridiculed; ridicule is often an effective strategy, even in my legal briefs.

There is really no solution to this conundrum - the proponents of something like Harvey and Lee believe the theory has merit and should be discussed seriously and with respect, while others like me regard it as essentially the equivalent of the Flat Earth theory and believe it deserves to be laughed at.  How much intellectual honesty and respect do the Lone Nutters get on this site?  Yet the Lone Nut theory has far more plausibility, is far better supported by the evidence and has survived much closer scrutiny than Harvey and Lee.  It all depends on whose ox is being gored and who is doing the goring.

There is, of course, a difference between ridiculing a theory and ridiculing the believers in that theory.  I am fascinated by the psychology of belief in general and constantly agog at some of the things people at least claim to believe, but it would be beyond the pale for me to characterize those who believe in Harvey and Lee as mentally ill, stupid, etc.  In the main, people who promote what I consider lunatic fringe theories are anything but lunatics, tending to be very intelligent and dedicated - which is part of the fascination.

It appears to me that all of these theories, even the more mainstream ones (even the Lone Nut one), become more like "religions" than "assassination theories."  This is why I thought it might work to give something like Harvey and Lee its own sub-forum, where believers could congregate and the discussions could be more closely monitored.  Someone who just wants to mindlessly ridicule either the theory or the believers could be banned from that sub-forum but not necessarily the site as a whole.

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1 minute ago, Lance Payette said:

But again, this is all a matter of perspective.  I do not happen to believe - others do, I realize - that a theory like Harvey and Lee has any "intellectual honesty" associated with it in the first place.  To politely discuss it as though it did is to give it a dignity that it, in my opinion, does not deserve.  When it is addressed substantively, for example by pointing out clear errors in Armstrong's work, the proponents just churn out more of what I at least believe to be blatant nonsense.  In my opinion it deserves to be ridiculed; ridicule is often an effective strategy, even in my legal briefs.

3 little questions Lance.... I completely respect you've formed an opinion, a conclusion about the evidence....  I hope you think these are fair as they tend to help us understand an opinion based on a 5% exposure and a closed mind and one based on 90% and some level of acknowledgment that the cold war produced many things thought to be improbable...

Your or anyone's acceptance of the supported theory is not the goal Lance... John and I spoke at length about this.... When finished in the late 90's H&L was to be an entry point for others to carry forward... To prove, disprove, advance or revoke evidence.  It was never a thought that the community would not accept the far out plans of the CIA with regards to the Russians.   

"No matter how paranoid one is, what the government is really doing, is much worse "....  :huh:

Have you read the entire book?

Have you investigated the sources beyond the opinions written here?

If you were shown convincing evidence of their simultaneous existence... Would you reconsider your position?

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32 minutes ago, David Josephs said:

3 little questions Lance.... I completely respect you've formed an opinion, a conclusion about the evidence....  I hope you think these are fair as they tend to help us understand an opinion based on a 5% exposure and a closed mind and one based on 90% and some level of acknowledgment that the cold war produced many things thought to be improbable...

Your or anyone's acceptance of the supported theory is not the goal Lance... John and I spoke at length about this.... When finished in the late 90's H&L was to be an entry point for others to carry forward... To prove, disprove, advance or revoke evidence.  It was never a thought that the community would not accept the far out plans of the CIA with regards to the Russians.   

"No matter how paranoid one is, what the government is really doing, is much worse "....  :huh:

Have you read the entire book?

Have you investigated the sources beyond the opinions written here?

If you were shown convincing evidence of their simultaneous existence... Would you reconsider your position?

I'm 101% sure the moderators do NOT want this to become yet another Harvey and Lee thread.  I used Harvey and Lee because I was addressing you and know you are a proponent of that theory, and because you characterized those who ridicule the theory as "fools."

You now characterize my views as based "on a 5% exposure and a closed mind."  Do you not see that you are doing PRECISELY what you accuse others of doing?  Do you not see that you are making my VERY point, that there is no solution to this situation?  You do not see this because Harvey and Lee is your religion, and I do not share your view the Pope is infallible.  True Believers can never understand why others do not share their views.  The only possibility can be that the others are uninformed and close-minded.

As I've pointed out repeatedly, I've been buying and reading JFK assassination books like popcorn since at least the publication of Lifton's and Groden's first books.  I must have bought and read at least 200 books on the assassination.  I've read Walt Brown's ENTIRE, million-word Chronology - how many on here can say THAT?  I duly plunked down my $80 for Harvey and Lee and read it with great enthusiasm.  I bought and read the massive book on the General Walker theory that Paul Trejo endorses.  If this constitutes "5% exposure" in your mind, so be it.

At one time, having been steeped in conspiracy literature, I was a confirmed conspiracy theorist.  I actually thought David Lifton made sense, so you know I was off the deep end.  I thought the Lone Nut theory was too silly to bother with, so I didn't bother with it.  When I did finally decide that I owed it to myself to bother with, after some 30 years of exposure to nothing but The Latest Conspiracy Theory, I dived into the Lone Nut literature and discovered that it not only made sense but was compelling.  If this is your notion of a "closed mind," so be it.

The current state of my closed mind is that the Lone Nut theory is BY FAR the most compelling and best supported by the evidence.  The solution to all of the supposed mysteries, such as LHO's motive, are to be found in the history and psychology of LHO.  But I remain open to the possibility of a small conspiracy in which LHO was either the organizer or a participant.  If this is your notion of a "closed mind," so be it.  The Mormon missionaries who visit my house every month think I am uninformed and have a closed mind too, even though Christian theology has been my main focus for almost 50 years.

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In an attempt to bring this full circle, and back on topic...

We all have demands on our time outside this forum. I see no need to "bump" a post addressed to another forum member; if they use the "go to first unread post on this thread" shortcut, they WILL see your post. Then again, I see no need for moderators to have to police the forum 24/7. I have a family member who is suffering from dementia, and my wife and I are full-time caregivers. Plus, I have a 40-hour-a-week job. As moderators, we try to do the best we can with the time we have. We try to be fair. I know that, before I place anyone on moderation, I try to contact them and communicate why I see an issue with a post. That part should NOT have to be public. Same thing with the other moderators; if we feel there may be an issue we need to discuss, we should be able to do so privately.

In case you weren't aware, we have the ENTIRE Education Forum, and not ONLY the JFK discussion forum here. There are MANY subforums here. Personally, I keep my bookmark on the JFK forum because that's my primary interest. But there are parts of the Ed Forum dedicated to other historical matters, including the RFK assassination. I encourage you to check them out.

This forum isn't about me. Not is it about Mr. Josephs, Mr. Graves, Mr. Trejo, or any one person not named John Fitzgerald Kennedy or the persons possibly involved in his murder and the investigation thereof. We all need to keep this in mind.

If you criticize a particular theory, it might be wise to criticize the particular part of the evidence being presented with which you have a problem, rather than the person making the argument for their theory. And if you don't understand a particular theory, it's more productive to either question the parts you don't understand or to refrain from commenting until you can research the matter more fully on your own. This is an example of my advice, and not the setting of forum rules. 

Many of you have no idea how close we came to having this forum closed much more recently than you might imagine. If you value this forum as a resource, I would suggest that members show that through the tone and demeanor of their posts. If we all do that, there would be little reason for moderation. Keep your PMs open so that mods can communicate about any problems they may have with a particular post or series of posts. 

And if you think a certain theory is a complete load of crap, the best approach is to cite the evidence or conclusion that is the source of your disagreement, and make your case.  Don't expect immediate abandonment of the theory by the proponents; that rarely happens. Make your point, make a rebuttal or two, and then move on; to continue what turns into a feud is counterproductive, and borders on T-R-O-L-L-I-N-G. If the tone of your post begins with, "Jane, you ignorant slut...", it's time to walk away.

Thanks for hearing me out.

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Thank you Mr. Knight, Mr. Gordon, Ms Beckett, for your thoughtful response to my thread. Your transparency is reassuring. 

Many here are not aware when their mailbox is full. I cleared mine out once, and it’s probably time to do it again. As I posted just now on my thread about leaving, I’ve decided to try another way. Even though I agree with Mr. Josephs in his complaints about particular individuals, I think it’s too much to expect the moderators to police the forum. We could try to do that ourselves. I certainly don’t wish to limit discussions to theories I personally agree with. But I do think that annoying behavior should be met with resistance, and if that proves unproductive we could just not engage. The latter is what I’ve decided to do for now. 

I really appreciate the responses, the support, the involvement of the moderators, the private messages. It wasn’t my goal to elicit compliments. I was hoping that there would be a clearing of the air, accountability by the moderators, restoration of posting rights, and yes, maybe discussion about disruptive behaviors. 

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