The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Moderation in All Things

December 19, 2008 | 1 Comment

Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly debate whether Washington State Governor Chris Gregoire acted lawfully in closing the capitol building’s holiday display to further submissions after an atheist group’s “religion-is-myth” sign triggered offerings from a host of imitators, detractors and satirists. Proposed displays included messages from the Flying Spaghetti Monster lobby and the Santa-Will-Take-You-to Hell crowd. O’Reilly accuses the Governor of viewpoint discrimination, while Kelly accepts the official “space limitations” excuse. I haven’t researched the law, but I suspect it comes down to a question of intent.

The spectacle resembles a flamewar as much as anything else, so it might be helpful to analyze it in bloggy rather than legal terms. In this case, the capitol building was the blog. A few weeks earlier, the blog owner had invited its readers to submit seasonal pictures. Accordingly, the original assemblage of religious displays was the main post.

The atheist sign was a comment. There was some debate over whether its contributor should be considered a “troll.” However, because the message was sincerely meant and related directly to the topic evoked by the pictures, the blog owner let it stand. In fact, the owner posted an “update” as part of the main post quoting the comment.

The update provoked a flood of reader comments (equivalent to the capitol building visitors), plus comments from other blogs large and small (the media). A consensus developed that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was most certainly a troll, but people were divided over the Santa/Hell display, whose contributors seemed most sincere. Seasons greetings from car dealers were deleted as spam. After 500 or so comments, the blog owner concluded that the discussion was getting too nasty and that the contributors weren’t reading each others’ comments anyway. The comment section was thus closed, with dozens of messages caught in the approval queue. It’s now up to the mods (courts) to decide.

I realize that much of the analogy is flawed because blog owners are generally private individuals, whereas the Capitol rotunda is a public space. But whatever questions that distinction raises, it’s still up to the mods.


One Response to “Moderation in All Things”

  1. Rev. J.P. Wieloch
    December 19th, 2008 @ 3:55 pm

    I can’t be bothered to read all of your blog as i have to conduct choir practice at a 6th form girls school in twenty minutes time. All the best though.

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