There has been some controversy lately on the Isaac Brock Society with some people posting and making comments that some others find just go too far. I’ve struggled with this myself, as I personally don’t agree with some of the parallels drawn, some of the wording used, and I am frankly uncomfortable with some of the thoughts expressed.
From what I understand, the Isaac Brock Society was formed as place of support and resources for US persons affected by the United States government, particularly as it pertains to the travails of the US model of citizenship-based taxation. And that certainly seemed to be the focus when I first found this site back in February. In the words of the founder, Petros,“The Isaac Brock Society started as an informal group of Canadians who began meeting in person and through email to discuss their US tax and citizenship problems.”
Scrolling back through all of the posts, past or present, I find they do manage a tie-in to either the plight of US persons abroad, or the issue of citizenship-based taxation. Over the last couple of months, in my opinion, the focus has become fuzzy, with some of the later posts using what I consider pretty specious reasoning in linking back to the original issues.
For several months, after I first found the site, I think I was almost addicted, visiting many, many times every day. Checking for updates was the first thing I did in the morning, and the last thing I did at night. Part of that was likely because I was still in shock and was in vacuum cleaner mode, hoovering up all the information I could find, and part of it was the relief in finding out that I wasn’t alone, and that there was a large group out there that understood, were empathetic and had much more information than I did. I will never forget what this site did for me in the first few months of finding out that the US probably still considers me a US citizen.
I haven’t been quite so engaged the last couple of months.
The shock has worn off and I’ve realized that this is going to be a long haul, with no quick, and certainly no easy, resolution. So, sure, that’s part of it, I no longer feel compelled to haunt the site looking for something that will magically make it go away.
I think the larger reason, though, is that I don’t always like what I read here. Frankly, way back in the early days, I wasn’t comfortable with the term ‘jihad’ being used in the context it’s being used at Isaac Brock. But, I learned to live with it and no longer find it as jarring as I once did, and I realized that I just mentally skip over it.
One of the more controversial issues lately has been the drawing of parallels to the Nazis and, in particular, the video of Hitler, with the subtitles. I do not equate what the US is doing to what the Nazis did. However, I have to guiltily admit I found the subtitled video very funny, and just didn’t read any subtext into it, political, racist or otherwise. Perhaps it wasn’t in the best taste, but then often humour just isn’t. (I love George Carlin, too.)
I’m a moderate, always have been, and suspect I always will be. I just don’t see anything wrong with moderation, with compromise, with tempering one’s words. I think that’s what it takes to live successfully in a society, to live (relatively) peacefully with other humans. And that’s how I speak, and I write, and pretty much how I live my life.
This site was founded because of censorship at another site, a perfect example of something good that can come out of something bad.
I fully support the right of people to express themselves as they see fit, even if I disagree with them, or the way they’re saying it. Sometimes the back and forth arguing over the controversial issues actually makes me think a little bit harder about my position, and my uncomfortableness, and where that might be coming from, and that’s not such a bad thing. A little self-analysis can be positive.
Do these radicalized posts and statements (as I see them) diminish the importance of the Isaac Brock Society to me? I can only be honest and say, yes, a little bit, but not very much.
Most of the people posting and commenting on the site are intelligent, articulate, empathetic, and well meaning. Those that I consider in that light will be the people I continue to read. I have my favourites, as I’m sure everyone does, and just the fact that they continue to post and comment will be enough to draw me back.
So, I will keep visiting the Isaac Brock Society. I may take exception to some of the posts. I may or may not find it worthwhile to comment on them. Depending upon the nature and tone of future posts, I may reduce the number of my visits, and I know I’ll just skip some of the posts, and I’ll skim read through some of the comments.
At the end of the day it’s my choice on whether I read them or whether I let someone’s words bother me. I’ve decided that I will just accept that we are simply not going to all agree with one another, and that the important thing to remember is that, at the end of the day, we all have a common cause, no matter how it’s expressed.
Goodbyes have never been my strong point. And, frequently, I might even err on the side of trying to persuade someone to stay beyond what they consider good for themselves. While you may not even read this piece, as you may have already exited for good, I want you to know that I have often looked in the comment list to see if you had made a comment on a post, and, when you had, I would take a look because I have appreciated your fighting spirit which gave me courage to not bend on matters that I view as crucial as I seek to protect those closest to me.
I will continue to look for your name and I hope that you may, on occasion drop by the IBS. Thanks for your contributions to my journey and I hope for the best for you and your loved ones.
@Blaze, if it is the talk about Nazis and stars which is getting to you, I’ve been discussing the middle east conflict for years and what I’ve seen here is innocent and harmless compared to that elsewhere. Some Zionists are among the worst abusers of the memory of the Holocaust, using Nazi-talk to defend crimes against humanity against Semites and this problem is strongly knitted into US politics. Thus, I fear that no matter where you go, you’ll encounter language on the topic far more critical from what you’ve seen here, coming from every direction. I’d recommend to just suck it up and drive on because one can’t run away from the problem, but one can work with it and change it to one’s advantage.
Even if you continue on as more of a “lurker” (new terminology to me tonight) than your former role of contributor, I hope you stick around and check in on us. I know you will be proud of what us Brokers accomplish as we renouce, relinquish, etc. I’ve only been around IBS for a few months, but you did us proud. Thank you. Keep fighting the good fight.
@blaze, I would really miss you and your comments as well.
I re-read all the comments above and some of the ones that offended over in other threads and it seems to me that we, as a group, are trying to work out some community standards. That’s not censorship – it’s more about how we express ourselves in the group. It’s like a party among old and new friends where we come to a consensus about appropriate behaviour to make sure most folks are comfortable without throwing our deeply held opinions out the window or self-censoring.
I *like* a rip-roaring everything goes discussion but I’m OK with the idea that not everyone does. I used to chain smoke at parties and complain loudly and bitterly about those who preferred that I smoke outside. (I used to call these people all kinds of names). These days I just quietly excuse myself and go out on the porch.
So perhaps the group conscience here has decided that certain references (like the Nazi analogies) are second hand smoke that would be better off outside.
Just my .02.
*When I found IBS it was a light at the end of the tunnel. I felt completely alone with the “US person/FBAR etc” problem, and had no idea where to turn. IBS has been a wonderful source of support, and for me, the most important thing is information. I value the different opinions, because it is helpful to understand where people are coming from, even when I don’t agree with them. I particularly value the input of Steven Mopsick, the perspective he has brought. and his willingness to listen to us, share his expertise, and eventually support the cause of minnows.
This site has benefits for us not only in an support and infortmation sharing place, but it is also presenting the face of the IBS community to the rest of the world. I see we are now starting to be mentioned in articles as the place to go to find out more. The concern I have had about some of the more extreme posts or analogies is not so much that they offend me (I’m a big girl, I can take it) It’s that it may chase away people who we would otherwise want to hear our message. If my first exposure to IBS was one of those, I might never have taken a second look.
Free speech is important, but just because you can say anything, it doesn’t mean you should. If, for example, someone posted a message in which every other word started with F…, it wouldn’t matter what they said, it would alienate many people, who would not even pay attention to the content. It’s not so much about being PC, as in being considerate how we express our opinions, so as to respectful of other people’s opinions as well.
*The need to compare US actions against US citizens to other historical events is understandable.
The analogies to the evil of Nazi Germany is way over the top.
A better example would be the transsition from Repulican to Imperial Rome, when the legislative process became hopelessly corrupt.
For the US identifying star: blue is such a positive colour representing trust and honesty many people would find using flag motif degrading to the principles that country represented.
I suggest a black background, better to convey the darkstar negativity associated US personhood,
I’m a practical and pragmatic person. I see Brock as an information source, a support group, and I’d like to see it develop into a major advocacy group. I want Brock to help people, provide information and effect positive change.
I’m all for free speech, but I’ve been thinking about it in relation to consideration for others. Even in daily life, we often temper how we say something, out of courtesy for others or how to best to get our point across with someone.
And being pragmatic, I’m also am thinking about free speech in relation to getting things accomplished. This leads me to consider:
How does Brock come across to the first time visitor, who may be in a panic seeking information and help?
How does Brock come across to other advocacy groups? How does it come across to our opponent? Does it make them take us seriously?
When I write a post, I keep in mind that is that this is a public site, where I am communicating to I-don’t-even-know-who, so I write accordingly – not because I’m afraid the US govt will figure out who I am –– but because I want to communicate to the mass public. So, I try to avoid stuff that might turn off part of my potential audience as I want everyone to read what I have to say.
I try to avoid being controversial also because the more we debate the appropriateness of a given comment, the more we get sidetracked from matters of substance.
So, I tailor my comments with my audience in mind, and here I have a mass, very diverse audience of unknown people.
Before anyone writes me off as a wimp, I have expressed myself very bluntly in a letter to the US State Department, under my real name.
@Pacifica, @Patricia, @Victoria, @Canuck Doc,
Thanks for expressing what are, too, more of what my concerns over current dissension.
Yesterday, offline, these were my conflicted thoughts:
I also agree with Em that there could be deliberate attempts made to cause this controversy and throw us off track. I deplore that thought. I want to be part of a site with great credibility and I want to be a support to others, as I have been supported. I understand the analogies. I don’t want censorship. Saying that, I would like our efforts to get back on track. I don’t want to have anyone turned away by the tone. There is too much to learn here with the efforts of a lot of excellent contributors. So, yes, mostly it makes me sad we’re at this point. I trust we can get back to more reasoned discussion.
@ calgary, et al. Part of the problem that I see is that we are not here to make the United States look good. Yet certain apologists, either for the United States or even for the Obama adminstration will say that our manner of describing the suffering that we are experiencing is over the top and excessive. This is called “blaming the victim”.
We are experiencing serious and grave injustice, and those who come along and say we are getting off message, do not understand the severity of the problem. This has a tendency to trivialize our issues. Just as the United States government has begun to lie about the number of people renouncing their citizenship and handing in their green cards, it trivializes and downplays our plight. A good example of this is the recent comment by Bankei–for him it is merely a political/economic issue. My response is that economic slavery is a serious injustice, please stop downplaying the injustices that have been perpetrated against us by the Obama administration. This is the same tendency that we saw at the Expat Forum which said we could not talk about renunciation calling it an extreme measure. Renunciation is not extreme, and nothing that we’ve said on this website thus far has been extreme.
Thus, we just need to buck up and stick to our principles. We are here to fight, and we must get the message out what the United States is doing to us.
The last thing I want to do is make the US look good. I agree that economic slavery for those of us living outside the US and immigrants within, no matter what our financial resources, is a serious injustice. I know that renunciation, if that is our decision, is anything but extreme! I relate to every individual story here, every injustice.
I also feel there are many out there not yet tuned in to what is going on, many with few financial resources to hire the professionals they might need and some, too many, with no voice. I don’t want them to turn away; I want them to research here to inform themselves to best make their own decisions. I want to help give them support and develop the strength they will need to see this through. They are just beginning their journey. I’ll be the last one to blame the victim. My opinion only and I know I’m a bit of an idealist, I don’t want to have other victims leave without a good look around at what is offered here. No, I don’t have any good answers; I am not a literate debater and don’t have expertise in any of what we face. As always, I just go with my gut and I put myself in the place of a newcomer coming to our site and how they might see it and immediately decide to look elsewhere, failing to take in all the resources and experiences of others provided at the site you, Petros, have so generously pretty much given the bulk of your being for the time it has existed. I’ll always thank you for that and all your efforts have helped.
*I am a Canadian married to an American (who is considering renouncing). My children are trapped as duals until they are 18 and can renounce their citizenship. No I am NOT a moderate…I am a anti-American radical who would like nothing than to see the United States spend themselves into financial collapse. I am the type of person who says “Woe be you who tries to financially or physically harm my family. I have lost several American friends who were “butthurt” over my anti-American comments on Facebook. My response to them was this: https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/387088_10151134868615295_851944985_n.jpg. Rest assured I will be always hardline anti-American. I suggest to any American that wants to reside in Canada…that they renounce their US citizenship. The more the American government has control over you; the worse this situation will get. Renounce and get out now while you still can.