Six Canadians, who took part in a doomed conversation at the Expat Forum, started the Isaac Brock Society on December 12, 2011, in order to create a safe place to have a discussion about US expat tax issues and renunciation of citizenship. The Expat Forum considered renunciation an extreme measure and began to censor our user-created threads. Furthermore, they were impervious to arguments that there was a need to allow the discussion. Seeing this coming, I made contact with our committee members, suggesting that we create a new blog that would cover our issues and where we, not some disinterested party, would be in control of the parameters of the discussion. Thus, part of the DNA of the Isaac Brock Society is a distaste for censorship.
Over the course of the months, various critics have demanded that I shut down one aspect or another of our conversation . Always I could make the case that the videos, threads or comments were relevant and useful, even if they were objectionable. The committee’s five remaining members have always supported me, until now.
In the last few days, one notorious abuser of our open policy has provoked the ire of not a few. I’ve been in constant discussion over the last three days about the abuse of this policy by the commenter ConfederateH: he has continually ridiculed and mocked other commenters on this website. My view was that we should not worry about the reputation of the website, because we cannot be responsible for the opinion of an idiosyncratic commenter. Yet still, time after time the complaints came to me, and now the committee could not find any justification for retaining CH’s odious comments, and I found myself growing weary of defending what I too found offensive. Then CH showed utter disdain for the rules of decorum in all human society and told another commenter, who justifiably objected to his crass and offensive comments, to “fuck off”. Now, I don’t object out of hand to profanity and have used it in the past. But this is different. This was a direct attack at another and a flaunting of the good graces of the hospitality that the Isaac Brock Society had extended to CH. I am bitterly disappointed in his continually offensive comments, and I began reluctantly to take down certain comments.
Members of our committee and several other bloggers have sent me complaints about CH, in addition to numerous complaints in the comments themselves. I have tried to shrug it off with the following justification: (1) We have our Administrative Notice. No commenter, no matter how stupid or offensive, represents the “Isaac Brock Society” and so it is no reflexion on the website; (2) free speech requires allowing objectionable opinions; (3) CH is a genuine expat whose experience is informative to us; (4) many other much more famous forums and informational websites which allow comments have similarly stupid and offensive comments (see e.g., HuffPost, Zerohedge, Business Insider); (5) no one is forced to read CH’s comments or any comment for that matter.
Yet I must bow to the pressure of the nearly unanimous outrage. I do however grant that this man’s atrocious comments, intentionally mocking and insulting others, is unacceptable in human society. If it is a choice between his company and those who have complained, including members of the committee and several other friends I’ve made through this blog, then it is a not a hard choice at all.
Therefore, I have put CH in moderation. But I prefer not to continue with this aspect of the job. So I’ve asked one of the members of the committee, Pacifica, who has already been involved as an editor on this site, to become the Comments Editor and she has graciously accepted. From henceforth, I ask that any complaints about comments be sent to pacifica@ this domain name (i.e., isaacbrocksociety dot ca) . I will remain as administrator but it is my intention to be “hands off” when it comes to comment moderation. Pacifica has my full confidence, and she shares the concern of finding the right balance between open discussion and moderation.