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Postre: WAIS: on Ad Hominem Attacks (Jordi Molins Coronado, Spain) (John Eipper, USA, 04/06/09 2:54 am)
Jordi Molins Coronado writes:
In the last few days, there have been several posts with the subject of "Ad Hominem Attacks." Some of these posts blame John Eipper, WAIS E-i-C, for posting wrong information, or not allowing the publication of some posts sent to him by some fellow WAISers.
From my personal record, even though I have sometimes written posts with controversial facts and opinions, John Eipper has only once refused to publish a post of mine (in fact, only a part of a post), and I now believe he was completely right in refusing to publish it: when I wrote that piece, I was furious for something and the resulting tone was too aggressive, but after letting the time go by and reflecting coldly about it, I reached the conclusion John Eipper was right and I was wrong. I want to thank John Eipper for all his efforts about editing WAIS. I believe he is doing a great job. I just want to remind two phrases I believe have appeared in WAIS before: "Perfection is the enemy of good work," and "All you need is love."
I want to raise a question about freedom of speech: what does freedom of speech mean in the framework of free media?
My analogy is with GNU, the famous license for free software: under this license, any individual can do whatever he wants with this program, but he is not allowed to perform trivial changes to the software and then distribute copies in proprietary form (usually selling it at a price).
This license believes freedom is something more than individual freedom, at least when there are other people related to the subject who could be affected by these actions without having the possibility to react (externalities). If one person, using his own personal freedom, restricts "future" freedom for others, he is curtailing "global freedom." Instead, "global freedom" requires in this case a limitation of individual freedom (ie, no individual can make trivial changes to the code and sell the resulting program at a price). Why? Because the designers of the GNU license believe what is important is not to restrict the "future path of all possible freedoms," even though this implies restricting (slightly?) current individual freedom.
The analogy of the GNU and WAIS is as follows: WAIS allows a wide scope of individual freedom in expressing our own opinions (in fact, some of the opinions I have posted here are possibly very difficult to publish anywhere else, especially in "standard" mass media in Spain). However, we have the responsibility of protecting the "future path of all possible freedoms," and this means (among other things) not putting off other WAISers.
An example: if an offensive post of WAISer A puts off WAISer B (who ceases to post in WAIS as a result), then WAISer C, who used to enjoy reading posts written by WAISer B, has his freedom curtailed by WAISer A, even though WAISer C has nothing to do with the "offensive" post and cannot do anything about it, ie, this is clearly an externality.
As a consequence, I believe the WAIS E-i-C has the right not to publish certain posts if he believes these opinions go against the "future path of all possible freedoms."
JE comments: Well stated, Amic Jordi. I want to reassure WAISers that I take the issue of "spiking" or excising major parts of a post very seriously, and would never do so for frivolous reasons.
For information about the World Association of International Studies
(WAIS), and its online publication, the World Affairs Report, read its
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John Eipper, Editor-in-Chief, Adrian College, MI 49221 USA