Until now, I’ve been cheeky and sarcastic in my tone. Now I just want to say a few honest words about what has happened, and the history leading up to it.
To the great sadness of many who participated at the Expat Forum, the Tax Forum was closed two days ago. The Tax Forum is now open again, but with such draconian rules as to make it impossible to have any meaningful conversation. Apparently, some of the important threads have also gone the way of the dodo bird. I saw this coming over a month ago.
I started to participate at the Expat Forum in November–partly because I saw so many people struggling with issues on which I had done some fairly interesting research. In my first post on the subject, 25 February 2010, I announced my intention to relinquish my United States citizenship, and I’d had already written my first article, with Monty Pelerin, at the American Thinker. So I hoped that the other participants at the Expat Forum, who had come lately to the subject, would benefit from my participation.
Then, around the beginning of December a few things happened at the Expat Forum that alarmed me. First, all the threads related to US tax, FBAR, FATCA, and renunciation of US citizenship were shunted to its own sub-forum, taking it off the main page of the Canadian Expat Forum. Secondly, the Expat Forum completely erased two threads: (1) Nobledreamer started a thread, critizing American exceptionalism; (2) the second (if memory serves) criticized a new law which would endow the President of the United States with the power to arrest terrorist suspects, even US citizens, and to suspend their habeas corpus rights. When I saw these actions by the moderators, I concluded that the Expat Forum was an unworthy venue for our discussion. We were bringing a lot of traffic to the Expat Forum, and traffic means money in the internet world, when you run a commercial site like the Expat Forum. But they were determining the limits of the conversation.
That is when I began to contact other members about creating this website, so that we would have a safe place to carry on the conversation. On December 12, we launched the Isaac Brock Society website.
Now let’s be clear. The issue isn’t one of some rule breakers, as Bob Sheth, the Expat Forum owner, has announced. It is about censorship. If ignorant moderators, who know far less about our concerns than we do, have the right to come into the threads of our conversation, insult us and our concerns as “hysteria”, and they also have the right to determine that our conversation is “off topic” and eliminate or marginalize our threads, then the Expat Forum is obviously not a safe place to hold any conversation (even about Nanaimo cookies), much less one as important as ours. As a writer, I will not tolerate the arbitrary editing or elimination of my posts by a moderator or a forum owner. Moreover, I will not place myself in voluntary submission to anyone who knows so little about my problems and/or who disagrees with me on political or commercial grounds.
I believe that the Expat Forum has made a tactical error. Perhaps it would lose certain sponsors offended by our conversation, but then it could have gained others, e.g., lawyers and tax accountants or alternative vacation resorts outside the United States, who would have been able to exploit the conversation with content-related advertising. Instead, it has damaged its own business reputation and has lost the trust of many people; it did this by creating an internet space for an open conversation but then arbitrarily censoring it. Such an action is repugnant to all free people everywhere.
There are plenty of venues on the internet where this conversation can take place. This site, the Isaac Brock Society, is one. But the Expat Forum can no longer be the place for any conversation whatsoever, not even Nanaimo cookie recipes. It is time to move on and forget about any grievances that we have with the Expat Forum.
What can we learn from this? Someone has suggested we move the Isaac Brock Society off of our WordPress host and onto a server outside the United States. Frankly, we have no idea why the owner, Bob Sheth, has done what he has done: is it complaints from the United States government, from expats loyal to Obama, or from commercial interests with ties to the US Federal Government? The real reason can’t be my telling Expat Forum Moderator jokes,–can it? Since they have not told us the real reason, I think we need to be careful about ever trusting a third party host again.
This thread is now open for comments.