After discussion with the rest of the moderation staff, I’ve banned Huey Freeman as a troll.
Based on the other ATMB thread about Huey, and the numerous reports I’ve received about him from the BBQ Pit, I thought I should take a minute to explain why he was banned, and why it took so long to reach this decision.
First off, I should say that he lasted for so long because, for a while now, he’s been posting exclusively to the Pit, so he’s really only been on my radar among the moderating staff. It’s mostly on me that he wasn’t booted earlier, and I didn’t act on the reports I was receiving because there weren’t any clear, bright-line rule violations in his posts.
The two things he was most consistently reported for was hate speech, and “going too far” in his insults. On the second point, I’m very much opposed to the idea of moderating people because their postings in the Pit are too mean. It’s the Pit; it’s supposed to be mean, and “too” mean is very much in the eye of the beholder. At any rate, there’s no codified rules against insulting someone’s family, or making fun of them for being on psych meds, or any of Huey’s other posts that got reported for being mean. There’s obviously a discussion we could have about whether those things should be against the rules (my vote: no) but I wasn’t going to hand out notes or warnings for posting that stuff before there’s a formal rule against it.
The hate speech complaints are trickier. Huey was unquestionably racist. It is, however, not against the board rules to be racist. We have, in the past, allowed people to start threads in non-Pit fora arguing that black people are inherently less intelligent than whites, or that observant Muslims are inimical to liberal democracy, or that letting gays marry will lead to the collapse of western civilization. These are all bad, bigoted positions that we allow people to argue for. If “black people are genetically inferior” is acceptable grist for GD, I don’t see that I can forbid the color-swapped version of it appearing in the Pit. Certainly, Huey was being far more aggressively insulting in presenting his views than would be allowed in GD, but… it’s the Pit. Aggressively insulting is what we do there.
(We do, as someone will surely note, have a rule against hate speech in the Pit rules. In keeping with the idea that anything you can argue in GD, you can argue in the Pit plus swears, I’ve interpreted that rule as forbidding calls for violence, or use of slurs. Slurs, in this case, being stuff like “nigger” or “faggot,” and not just, “I hate people and also fuck you.”)
So, why is he banned now? When we started discussing him in the mod loop in response to the ATMB thread, I took a look at his posting history, and it turns out he hasn’t posted anywhere on the board except for the Pit since October, excepting a couple posts he made to the ATMB thread about him today. And, near as I could tell, 100% of those Pit posts were attacking other posters. As it turns out, we have a Pit rule that explicitly covers that behavior:
Three months and change of posting nothing on the board but invective-filled screeds against other posters seems about as clear a violation of that rule as you could ask for.
I’m going to leave this open for now, in case there are any questions. I might not be able to get to them until tomorrow, though.