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Well, my experiment in seeing how long I could survive in a toxic, brain-damaging environment (a.k.a. Conservapedia) is over, and I can settle down and be rational again.

If you want to read any of the stuff I posted there, it was under the user name DinsdaleP.

Poor Justice[edit]

It seems appropriate to start my postings here with the epilogue to my time on Conservapedia. I was put on a permablock by Ed Poor back on 4/18/2008 for having the audacity to edit a pet article of his, for the movie Expelled. I had added a section describing the alleged copyright infringement by the producers for an animated sequence, and how the Expelled producers responded with a lawsuit claiming no infringement. Ed deleted this as being biased, and when I restored it asking him to show where my sources were invalid or I was stating anything but fact, I got a 1-week block for my troubles.

What followed is the set of emails below, which I've edited in only two ways: I've removed the actual email addresses used for privacy reasons, and I've inserted some commentary between the emails in italics.

I apologize for being so wordy - the writing style I used as "DinsdaleP" was ridiculously polite, especially in the face of stupidity, and a lot more verbose than I prefer myself.

Here's where it starts, after I had sent Ed an internal CP email asking him to clarify why I was blocked. I thought it was about an exchange between us on the main Talk page...
From: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 9:51 AM
To: Ed Poor
Subject: Conservapedia e-mail
Wow, a week-long block for expressing an opinion about respect, in a respectful way? I'll probably have my block extended for this, but I believe in the First Amendment, too.
Okay, so I was blocked for a "false claim of showing showed both sides of the issue." How is this true, given what I wrote?
I didn't knock Christianity, in fact I complemented Philip R. on how it must be a source of strength in his life? All I said, in essence, was that other people have beliefs that are as deeply-held, but different, and that it is not my place or anyone else's to pronounce judgment on them. (I'm a practicing Catholic, by the way, in case you think I'm promoting atheism)
This does not mean that I'm stating that "Christianity is incorrect" to you or Philip - if you guys want to go around telling others that their faiths are invalid, have a party. I'm the live-and-let-live type, and I judge people by their character and actions, not by the books they keep on their desk.
So in my posts, I suggested that devout Christians might find it offensive if a teacher kept a copy of The God Delusion on their desk. He wouldn't have to say a word, but if he was well-liked and respected, don't you think his students would notice, or maybe even ask about it?
I never said people should be "forbidden to talk about or act on their religious beliefs"; those were your words, not mine. I find it ironic that you chose to block me for alleged false neutrality and a disrespect for the First Amendment, when you put non-neutral words in my mouth and then censor me for a week.
If I've shown actual disrespect to anyone, then show me where. If I was blocked because you just don't like what I was saying, then in the interest of fairness I'm asking you to unblock me.
I've had several contentious exchanges with ASchlafly here because we differ in ideas, but he's never blocked me because I always keep the exchange civil, thoughtful, and ultimately informative for the readers. Please follow his example and show respect for the expression of different ideas.
...and Ed responds by explaining the actual reason for the block-spanking, along with a recommended penance...
From: Ed Poor
To: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 9:55:52 AM
Subject: RE: Conservapedia e-mail
What you added to the article was unbalanced, and gave the impression that there was merit to the claim. You did not give the other side of the issue, which was the producer's statement that they had generated all the animation themselves.
If you will acknowledge your mistake, I'll ask the project director to reconsider the block - otherwise, perhaps an extension would be preferable.
While you're at it, please submit a writing plan outlining how you intend this project to achieve its goals. That would be a better use of your time than insinuating that I have suppresed your ideas.
Ed Poor
My response is an overly-wordy, "I'm playing by the rules - show me where I'm breaking them"...
From: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 10:49 AM
To: Ed Poor
Subject: Re: Conservapedia e-mail
I see. I thought I was blocked for my comments on the main Talk page, not the article on Expelled.
I have no problem elaborating on the merits of the countersuit by the producers of expelled. I'm interested in fairness, and that's a fair edit which makes a lot more sense than removing the lawsuit section in its entirety. I'm in full support of elaborating on the statements in the producers' lawsuit to provide balance to the article.
In a similar situation, Philip Rayment restored a comment in another article that I had removed because it seemed to be unsupported, but he added a citation the second time and I agreed with it. That's the real beauty and power of the wiki format - the constant revision and (hopefully) improvement that comes from statements and ideas being presented, challenged, and ultimately improved.
Tell me though, why couldn't we have had this exchange in the Talk page for the Expelled article instead of emails because you blocked me? I was left with the distinct feeling of being slapped down like an insolent child, instead of being talked to like an adult.
As for a plan of how I want to improve Conservapedia, I'll refer to the comments on my user page:
"Just a guy who believes in accuracy, honesty and fairness.
Having a conservative or liberal point of view is fine, but an encyclopedia, even a conservative one, needs to be grounded in the principles above.
I was disappointed in the bias and censorship of dissent I found when first reading the articles and talk pages at CP. When you disagree with something you can either complain about it or do something about it, so I've chosen the latter. I'll be contributing edits and articles of accuracy and substance for as long as I'm allowed to, or until I get too frustrated to continue."
I'm beginning to add edits to articles in this spirit. I will always be civil and respectful, and will embrace any encyclopedic edits to my contributions. Where I seem to get into trouble is when my ideas about fairness conflict with others.
For example, ASchlafly and I disagree with his statement that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. He's acknowledged that the underlying reason is because childbirth lowers the risk and abortion doesn't. He does not agree that it is misleading to state that abortion raises it when the rules of logic and math say otherwise. While he disagrees with me, and properly criticized me for pushing the 90/10 rule to it's limits, he never blocked me or deleted my comments, and I respect that.
What I am working for in the end, then, is two things - that CP contains an ever-growing collection of articles that follow a conservative perspective, but are edited without unfair bias or vandalism since both are counterproductive. Second, that the respectful exchange of ideas and thoughtful commentary in the various Talk pages provides a reference of valuable insight into the different sides of issues, regardless of the views the readers hold.
(For what it's worth, I've seen a clip of the material the plaintiff said was used without permission, and it's both technically impressive and very detailed. I haven't seen Expelled yet, but I'm guessing that the sequence in the movie is either going to be so identical that it's clearly a copy, or so obviously different that the infringement claims are dropped immediately. I can hardly imagine that two different sets of people using complex graphics software to animate the inner workings of a cell would come up with identical results by coincidence. Instead of pre-judging either way though, let's just see clips from both sources side-by-side and decide on the evidence.)
Ed's response - where's my penance? Oh, and there's logic, and then there's OUR logic...
From: Ed Poor
To: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 10:56:07 AM
Subject: RE: Conservapedia e-mail
I see no writing plan here, just an accusation that CP is unfairly biased.
If you want to point out differences between conservative and liberal viewpoints, you may - provided you do so in a trustworthy way. Insisting that the project director endorse your views of logic and math is not going to win you any points. (I teach SAT math and am an expert in logical proofs.)
If you want to submit an outline of an article or a draft, please write to me and/or Mr. Schlafly. Perhaps an examination of the statistical studies regarding elective abortion and maternal health?
Ed Poor
I try to point out that I didn't break any rules, and what happened to respecting other views instead of "Liberal Censorship"? Oh, and screw your penance while we're at it...
From: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 11:26 AM
To: Ed Poor
Subject: Re: Conservapedia e-mail
I didn't state that CP itself is unfairly biased; once again, you're putting words into my mouth.
What I've stated is that within CP there are many examples of unfair bias, which is to say that because it's a wiki, you're going to find all sorts of content of varying balance and/or quality. As I said on my User Page, you can either complain about it (as the critics of CP do), or get involved and do something about it (until this morning, that is).
I did not insist that ASchlafly endorse my ideas - I was complimenting his tolerance for different ideas being expressed on CP, provided they are respectful and presented in an academic spirit.
I didn't see my edits to the Expelled article as a violation of any commandments, since I stated that the charges were being categorically denied , and included a reference linking to the full lawsuit notice. I would have been glad to edit the article as you suggested if you had simply asked, but you've apparently decided that I deserve censorship instead. Is this because you didn't like my views on the desktop Bible issue? I was accused of non-neutrality there as well, when my comments there show otherwise.
If you're now insisting that I have to submit my edits to you via email instead of being unblocked, no thanks. That would be an endorsement of your being judge, jury and censor of viewpoints you find objectionable, even if they're presented in ways that follow the CP guidelines.
Ed - "We don't censor, and here's more penance before you're allowed to speak again"...
From: Ed Poor
To: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 11:30:35 AM
Subject: RE: Conservapedia e-mail
You said you were "disappointed in the bias and censorship of dissent I found when first reading the articles and talk pages at CP". Below you accuse me of censoring objectionable viewpoints.
This project welcomes description of all sorts of viewpoints. You might want to write about logical positivism, which dismisses the ethical concerns (which so keenly interest both of us) as mere metaphysics.
Let us know if you change your mind.
I thought I'd fish for Ed Poor's definition of "Censorship" before he cuts the conversation off...
From: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 11:48 AM
To: Ed Poor
Subject: Re: Conservapedia e-mail
I said I was disappointed in what I read in the articles and talk pages - I never said I was against the idea of CP (why else would I have joined, then?).
As for my case, yes, I feel like I've been censored by you via the blocking mechanism. If the key issue you had was with my edits to the Expelled article, then you could have asked me to revise them via the talk page. There was no reason or purpose to put a block on my account, other than to remove my ability to contribute or edit until I met your conditions for reinstatement (one week of waiting, or submitting my edits to you via email).
That sure looks like censorship to me..
At this point it looks like he's blind-copying these emails to others, based on the new subject line. I like how this whole thing started over a supposedly non-neutral view, but how his blocking me for expressing it is not censorship. Nothing like ending on a threat, either...
From: Ed Poor
To: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 12:18:13 PM
Subject: DinsdaleP's complaints
Censorship means not letting certain views be expressed. That is not the same thing as refusing to endorse a view.
If you want to write about a particular view which has yet to find expression in CP, I would expect you to describe it for me. Otherwise, I must call into question your reason for signing up in the first place.
Ed Poor
P.S. This is your last chance - if you don't make a substantive reply I will refer this matter to the project director.
Okay, one last shot...
From: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 12:36 PM
To: Ed Poor
Subject: Re: DinsdaleP's complaints
Here's a simple, substantive reply:
- I'm not asking anyone to endorse my views, and never have. Agreeing or disagreeing with them is the privilege of the readers and members of CP.
- I've stated that the reason you cited for blocking me would have been easily resolved via the Talk Page for the article, and than blocking was an unnecessary and excessive response.
- I'm saying that I've been censored because with your indefinite block I can't express any views on CP, regardless of who agrees or disagrees with them.
- My edits to date are examples of where I believed improvements in CP could be made, and my contributions to various Talk pages are examples of the respectful expression of my views in that context.
- The Project Director encouraged me to contribute instead of giving up on my User Talk page, so please feel free to refer this to him, and let him decide.
...and finally, the moment of insight we've all been waiting for! Non-conservative views are allowed when they are silly or noxious enough to make good examples of "bad thinking" to hold up for ridicule by the True Believers. I wasn't "censored" either - I've just had my views "permanently non-endorsed".:
From: Ed Poor
To: DinsdaleP
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 12:45:41 PM
Subject: DinsdaleP's complaints
Perhaps I was unclear about "expressing" views.
CP is not a forum for expressing views - other than in the Debate Topics of course. Posts there are not counted in the 90/10 rule, by the way.
What we're about is "describing" views. Even a noxious view such as abortion advocacy or evolution may be of interest to our readers. Primarily they want to know what is wrong with it, so they can rebut advocates. So it helps them to know the reasons advocates give in support of those views.
Censoring an article, so that it leaves out the reasons an advocate gives in support of a view - merely because that view or reason is distasteful - is something that Wikipedians do (in violation of NPOV by the way). Refusing to endorse a view is not censorship.
If you are planning to describe "opposing views" on some controversial matter, you have only to say so, and I will unblock your account. Or you can appeal to the project director, Mr. Schlafly. He may be less quick to give up on you than I am.
Best wishes,
Ed Poor