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How Free is Free Republic ^ | Mon Dec 29th, 2003 at 09:53:55 PM EST | felixrayman

Posted on 12/31/2003 12:12:28 PM PST by visagoth

I didn't find this posted here on FR - so here we go.....


How Free is Free Republic?

By felixrayman
Mon Dec 29th, 2003 at 09:53:55 PM EST


Free Republic is an online story and discussion site similar to, but with an explicitly conservative bias. The site proclaims itself to be "an online gathering place for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web." Intrigued, I proceeded to offer some comments to stories there, addressing some factual errors and dissenting with some conservative views. The result was a quick lesson in the right-wing view of free expression. The experiment left an open question - where do you go on the web to engage conservatives in open debate? Where is the right-wing version of k5?

One article on the Free Republic site entitled "Dean Finally Shoots Self Somewhere Other Than Own Foot" attacks Howard Dean for his statement that "The capture of Saddam has not made America safer". The poster of the article goes on to claim, "If any of the Left is paying attention, Dean has just officially proven the he is DEFINITELY clueless when it comes to foreign policy. Another in a long line of RATS that just doesn't get it".

My reply that "Actually it's pretty obvious that the capture of Saddam hasn't made the world safer - international airline flights had to be cancelled a few days ago due to threats of terrorism and in Iraq the last few days have been as bloody for coalition forces as the days before Saddam's capture" was removed by a moderator within a few minutes.

A comment posted to another Free Republic story, "Howard Dean: The Mayor of Milwaukee", in an attempt to belittle Howard Dean's fiscal record claimed that the budget of one county in Illinois was larger than the budget of the state of Vermont. It claimed the budget of the County of DuPage, near Chicago, to be $1.6 billion, and that the budget for the entire state of Vermont was $73 million. After a quick google search, I found this assertion to be incorrect. The reply I posted 'The "$73 million" figure you quote is for the Vermont Municipal Employees' Retirement System, not the entire Vermont budget. Vermont's budget calls for 1.8 billion in state spending with another billion in federal spending', was removed within a few minutes.

The Free Republic claims in its help section that, "While Free Republic is not edited or censored, it does reserve the right to remove any postings that are considered inappropriate. Examples of inappropriate posts are those that are off-subject or contain advertising, pornography, obscene material, racist material, Nazi (or other hate group) material, materials promoting violence, threats or illegal acts, etc". It would be interesting to know under which category my replies were considered to fall.

For another example, a response to the story "You Might be a Leftist If . . ." read, in part

"The only meaningful difference is between those who believe in the original intent interpretation of the Constitution and those who do not. Those who believe in the Constitution believe in individual liberty. Those who ignore or rewrite the Constitution do not believe in individual liberty. This is the only difference which matters. "

I responded to this poster with the comment "Individual liberty? Didn't the constitution as written specifically allow for the continuation of slavery as an American institution"?

Within minutes, the post was removed by a moderator. In addition, after this third reply, my ability to post comments on the site was revoked.

So obviously, the Free Republic is not free, except in the sense that the German Democratic Republic was democratic, or the sense that supporting the PATRIOT Act is patriotic. Web site operators certainly have a right to set whatever rules they choose for their users. And a quick test showed that there are sites with a left-wing bias that are just as cowardly as Free Republic when it comes to allowing an actual debate. The question remains, are there any sites with a conservative bias that allow such debate?

Full discussion:

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To: Jim Robinson
And blessings to you and your family in the new year.

Can't imagine a better website anywhere!

41 posted on 12/31/2003 12:50:02 PM PST by OldFriend (Always understand, even if you remain among the few)
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To: Jim Robinson
I've posted quite a few things that are not necessarily within the FR scope, and have never even been warned. However, I've also been around here for a while, and it seems to me that long-time posters get more leeway. I can't think of any forum where you can go in and start throwing bombs immediately, and not be banned. Sometimes I disagree with a thread being pulled, but I've noticed that sites that don't have any active moderation degrade into the lamest fringe elements that have little to do but post all day. There are a pretty big contingent of anarchists who believe in no government who would love to take over FR, because of the wide exposure. LibertyForum, it seems to me, is having terrible problems keeping the site sane.

The scope of FR allows a pretty wide range of debate. If I were to characterize it, though, I'd say it's closer to libertarian-anarchist than conservative. I've also noticed that liberals are allowed to post, so long as they maintain a certain level of civility, and don't try to make the entire forum a blog for the communists. I also suspect that many of the people who are banned are people who have been banned multiple times, as determinable from their IP address (although I have no access to this information). Whenever someone comes in and on their first day posting prints a Mother Earth News indictment of capitalism and uses the term "bushbots" and "WOD'ers", I pretty well suspect that this is their third or fourth screen name.

I think the quickest way to destroy freedom is to abuse it. The statement frequently made is that the only way to protect freedom of speech is to defend that speech which is most indefensible. This is garbage. It is similar to saying that defending the "right to drive a car" is only protected when we defend the most irresponsible driving. Also, FR sends no one to jail for printing their beliefs. However, it is not obligated to give anyone a podium. The arguments made in the article are silly. It implies that the keepers of this forum are not moral agents who have any authority to run the forum as they see fit. To the writer of the article: Start your own forum. Run it without any rules. Watch the nutballs show up. Give equal time to people that write "blah, blah, blah" or post gibberish until it becomes impossible to follow a thread because of the incoherence injected by people who want to destroy debate, not create it.

42 posted on 12/31/2003 12:50:25 PM PST by Richard Kimball
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To: All
I agree with you all in principle but I am a little disappointed that FR didn't keep the thread up so that all of us could pound this Bozo into the ground. Don't forget we have objected to the Lefty's not allowing US to post or debate on DU or any on of the other sites they have. I would have loved to have been able to shove that in their face...
43 posted on 12/31/2003 12:52:59 PM PST by Mr. C
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To: winner3000
The only way Dean and the liberals who worship him can claim that America hasn't been made safer by the capture of Hussein is to contend that you stop being a part of America once you leave our shores. Otherwise, how else can Dean contend that the American troops who are serving in Iraq have not been made safer by the capture of Hussein. Simply put, every single Baathist who is captured in Iraq makes the American military and, by extension, America safer.

When you think about it, Howard Dean's statement about Hussein is really quite scary because the statement has unintentionally exposed Dean's philosophy on foreign policy which is that if you are not on American soil, you are on your own as far as Dean is concerned.

44 posted on 12/31/2003 12:54:24 PM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: Jim Robinson
Exactly right.Take your left wing agenda elsewhere.This is not a debating society.This site is for people who believe in America,not those trying to tear it down.Hope Jim gets rid of you & your other confederates who are trying to disrupt this site.
45 posted on 12/31/2003 12:55:36 PM PST by whizzer
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To: NormsRevenge
I'm drinking a beer followed by another beer, imported of course, anybody want to debate about that? ;-)
Quite obviously, you're a member of the Fifth Column, drinking imports when so many fresh local brews are available.
Myself, I'm leaning towards taking in a few drams of my favorite...
Islay's Finest
There being no domestic equivalent, MY Patriotism remains in tact.


”Guns Before Butter.”

46 posted on 12/31/2003 12:59:39 PM PST by South Hawthorne ("Fire can be our servant, whether it's toasting S'mores or raining down on Charlie" –Ppl Skinner)
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To: Tall_Texan
Not quite true. A person can be banned without all of their posts coming down. However, when someone is trolling they tend to get nuked, as do people who have been previously banned and are trying to sneak back. When nuked, all posts come down.

And as it happens, this guy got nuked by one of the staff. Reviewing his posts, I am confident it was a good nuke.

All the best, LM

47 posted on 12/31/2003 12:59:54 PM PST by Lead Moderator
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To: vbmoneyspender
Or, more importantly, Dean's attitude towards our military.
48 posted on 12/31/2003 1:01:44 PM PST by bolobaby
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To: visagoth
Thank goodness there is some control over posts, otherwise it would be impossible to maintain any kind of theme here. This board would become valueless if the usual liberal bullyboys could take over here and set the agenda with their vicious attacks and ideological nonsense. The liberals know their business, and it is suppressing conservative voices wherever they can. That they begrudge a place like this - one of the very few of its kind - just shows their own lack of tolerance for ideas that conflict with their own.

As for where to argue conservatives, go to yahoo, fella. Anyone can post there. If we don't go there, it is because liberals' ideas of "debate" contaminate it and make it worthless.
49 posted on 12/31/2003 1:02:59 PM PST by KellyAdmirer
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To: NormsRevenge
>> Now if ya want to debate libations...>>

Not a good idea... I once lost an argument to a bottle of 151. Dang near knowcked me out and left me with a headache (HHOK!)
50 posted on 12/31/2003 1:04:08 PM PST by dangus
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To: bolobaby
No, probably not wrong to feel that way, although I think you are missing what went down here. It wasn't that post which got the dude nuked. It was all of his posts, taken together. It was clear from them taken in aggregate that he was here to troll (I particularly liked the post which denounced any claim the founding of the US had to liberty to be null and void because slavery existed- I guess we need to repudiate all the wisdom of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle as well).

When a newbie is trolling, they get nuked. It removes all of their posts. And looking at the Abuse log, I see that the post you are mentioning wasn't one of the ones the moderator listed as evidence of the trolling.

51 posted on 12/31/2003 1:04:54 PM PST by Lead Moderator
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To: visagoth
Free Republic is an honest and free site.

As anyone can search and find I disagree with all of W's domestic fiscal policies.

I am rarely attacked personally for my views and my posts are responded to honestly and with some good debate.

It’s a great site that is open to honest debate.

Its does not however put up with nonsense and disruption.

If one signs up at DU for instance, you cannot post until you have some time and any and all dissenting opinions are pulled.
53 posted on 12/31/2003 1:05:39 PM PST by Kay Soze (I am so old that I can recall when the GOP was a conservative political party!)
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To: Jim Robinson
Thanks for all you do, Jim.

Happy New Year!
54 posted on 12/31/2003 1:08:37 PM PST by Right_in_Virginia
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To: ChuckHam
If I want to wallow in the sewer I can go to DU.

"Hey Ralph! If this keeps up they'll give sewers a bad name."

55 posted on 12/31/2003 1:08:51 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts (Give me my sweater back...or I'll play the guitar.)
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To: visagoth
"but with an explicitly conservative bias."
No! He doesn't say!
And this little gem:
[I responded to this poster with the comment "Individual liberty? Didn't the constitution as written specifically allow for the continuation of slavery as an American institution"?]

Interesting fishing expedition he was on.
If anyone had -God forbid- agreed with him, he'd have been saying that conservatives were racist rather than whining about his stupid remark being pulled.
His trolldom and provocation was bad enough, but to claim that FreeRepublic isn't free is idiotic.
Guess his reading comprehension of the opening page is about zero.
Besides, his slavery comment goes counter to this little reminder below the posting button:
"Please: NO profanity, NO personal attacks, NO racism or violence in posts."

What did he expect would happen?
We'd all hold hands with him and sing Kumbaya?
What a whining dweeb he is.
Must've had his lunch money stolen one too many times when he was a young larva.
56 posted on 12/31/2003 1:09:08 PM PST by Darksheare (Democrat is between Demise and Demon in the dictionary.)
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To: visagoth
We've had a constant stream of trolls from that site posting hit-and-run rants right out of the Socialist Workers' handbook.

That site = insignificant.

This site = a vibrant home of conservatism on the web.

So they whine and cry... what else is new?
57 posted on 12/31/2003 1:09:30 PM PST by thoughtomator ("I will do whatever the Americans want because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid"-Qadafi)
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To: visagoth
A good answer is, how long would a post like this survive on the democratic underground. Or better yet how long your posting privilages would last when you deviate from the democratic talking points memo?

Be a democrat who supports the war on terror and things going into Iraq was a pretty good thing strategically and see how long you'll be allowed to post.

Democrats don't care about debate and free exchange of ideas, only that you stick with the party line.

You get it all here on free republic, the good the bad and the ugly. Which means I not only know all the democratic talking points about how dean was right that we're not safer today because of Sadam but I also know exactly why all those talking points are wrong because they've been so thouroughly disected and dismembered here :)

Democratic leaders allow their followers only to parrot and not disent (see the ostrisization of Zell Miller for an example -- in fact go over to the DU and make a post about how mabye Zell Miller is right and see how long the post and your account lasts) and Republicans tend to encourage coherent thought, at least in my experience. This is one of the great reasons why Democrats are in such a terrible bind right now.

So how free is the free republic? Not completely free, but while the democratic underground is busy calling the FR nazis (while a post like this debates the very nature of the board itself) the moderators over on the DU actually are over there busilly burning posts and thoughts and disent the moment they stray from the party line.

I think that's a pretty good answer.
58 posted on 12/31/2003 1:12:43 PM PST by pcx99
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To: visagoth
I will try to be as polite as possible here...

Me too ... I believe in peace .....

but please read Post 9

I did. My question was not for you but rhetorically for the person whose comments you introduced in this forum. Reread your title for this thread. If you don't want people to respond to your thread, why did you bother to post it ?

59 posted on 12/31/2003 1:20:31 PM PST by af_vet_1981
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To: af_vet_1981
Reread your title for this thread. If you don't want people to respond to your thread, why did you bother to post it ?

Simple... because it was the original title of the 'article' of the source. I recall that using original titles is SOP here at FR.

60 posted on 12/31/2003 1:23:51 PM PST by visagoth (If you think education is expensive - try ignorance)
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