My first ban

After his behavior in Monday’s post about the Geiers, I’ve reluctantly decided to issue my first ban ever on a commenter. The one on the receiving end?

Fore Sam. Is anyone surprised?

His rhetoric has become increasingly violent-sounding, with his posting comments suggesting that Kathleen Seidel should be taken out and horsewhipped. That’s over the top. I cannot tolerate threats, either explicit or implicit, against others in the comments on this blog and have come to agree with Kev. I thought about it a bit after Fore Sam’s remark above, and I’ve decided to ban him for 30 days. After that, I’ll lift the ban on an experimental basis (if I remember to bother). If he gets on my nerves too much again after that he’ll be banned forever.

Enough is enough.

I’ve been ridiculously patient with Fore Sam, so much so that it may have hurt the blog experience for the rest of my readers. I don’t mind vehement disagreement with me, but Fore Sam is either a Troll or a Ferrous Cranous, or perhaps a combination of the two, with a touch of Troglodyte thrown in for good measure.

I’ve come to realize that my desire to be fair may have overridden my better judgment and that I probably should have done this a long time ago. Certainly my wife would agree. (She’s been asking me for months why on Earth I put up with him.) Perhaps so do some other bloggers who have also banned him. Whatever mild amusement value Fore Sam’s idiotic ramblings might have provided, they’ were not worth putting up with increasingly violent rhetoric.

If anyone wants to see examples of what Fore Sam has “contributed” to various blogs and posted on his own blog, check out a compilation of his “greatest hits” compiled by Joseph.

I’ll give him one more chance in a month.

For any questions, see my comment policy.


  1. #1 Greg P
    April 12, 2006

    But there’s perhaps a bit of obsession on both sides. Sometimes I wonder when I see you go back to a troll-infested well when I don’t see anything new on either side of the topic, just a rehash with back references.

    Of course, it’s obviously shades of grey — self-censorship can be an insidious process. And there’s no reason to give the obnoxious a readership they don’t deserve.

  2. #2 BronzeDog
    April 12, 2006

    I’d say Ferrous Cranus.

    Unlike him, it doesn’t take many real blows for me to reconsider and reshape my position. If only he’d bother trying real blows.

  3. #3 Joseph
    April 12, 2006

    I’m torn. I can see why you would want to ban John. On the other hand, why not let him spout his nonsense the way he usually does? It hurts his side of the debate more than the other.

  4. #4 Joseph
    April 12, 2006

    This is John’s take on the ban:

    Orac was probably just looking for an excuse to boot me off because he can’t defend his position, just like Kevin and K Seidel. It’s funny to me to watch them all call me a troll and try to answer my questions with questions and appeals to logical fallacies. I don’t know why they think they can keep convincing anyone that mercury did not cause the autism epidemic in the face of so much proof. Their gang attacks on me make them all look foolish so they resort to name calling, ad hominem, misquoting me, etc..

    Summary of his claims:

    – He’s able to argue the facts.
    – He has “proof” that mercury causes autism.
    – Unlike his opponents, he never resorts to ad hominem.

    Funny, as always.

  5. #5 Bartholomew Cubbins
    April 12, 2006

    Best is a diversion from productive discussion. People like him run block: they don’t want facts known that contradict their beliefs. I’m sure the person hurt most by the banninantion is Dr. Nathan Null. Engaging FS/JBJr and his kind is kind of like what the woman was doing in the MRI chamber in order to get the 20 minute afterwords shot (see the PZ meyer link).

    threadjack – did they mop out the chamber like in the NYC stripper booths? Not that I’d know, but I’ve heard, uh.. yeah.

    ibid – Albert Mexico? Ron’s brother?

  6. #6 hollywoodjaded
    April 12, 2006

    Orac: I think this is a fair and proper decision … and frankly I’ll be glad for the 30-day break from his brand of ‘rhetoric’. Having to go back-and-forth with him only stagnates serious debates — imo, it prevents new ideas from being expressed and inhibits more expanded ways of thinking … that may occur via reasonable and logical discourse. I can think of one particular troll on another blog who could do with a 30-day hiatus as well ; } Also, his blathering may very well hurt ‘his side’ of the debate, but (from where I sit) it really does do harm to the community as a whole.

  7. #7 TheProbe
    April 12, 2006

    Now I will be forced to read his blog for my daily chuckle.

    I do hope that Orac restores his posting rights. Sammie needs to see that his threatening behavior is unacceptable in any manner, and, the most effective way he can be shown this is to ban him.

    I think I will visit his blog and point that out to him.

  8. #8 TheProbe
    April 12, 2006

    Posted on Sammie blog:

    Sammie, your hold on reality is quite tenuous…Orac banned you for the reason that you have become quite abusive. In fact, you posted a specific threat, “Seidel should be taken out and horsewhipped” where you are clearly instigating violence.

    If either of my children engaged in such behavior and antics, they would be subject to discipline. Your antics are unacceptable in intelligent circles.

    As for your claim that you have irrefutable proof that mercury is the cause of the so-called autism epidemic, first, you have to have some real proof that an epidemic exists, and then provide the proof.

    I have read your comments for a while, and find that you do not have anything but bilge and bluster to bleat and bray about.

    Now, be a real man and post this comment. I suspect that you are spineless, and will moderate it into oblivion. I will post this in RI, for all to see.

    Prove me wrong.

  9. #9 BronzeDog
    April 12, 2006

    It’s funny to me to watch them all call me a troll and try to answer my questions with questions and appeals to logical fallacies. I don’t know why they think they can keep convincing anyone that mercury did not cause the autism epidemic in the face of so much proof.

    Surviving irony meters should be turned off before you continue reading.

    “Appeals to logical fallacies” Funny. Is he calling the pointing out of bad logic bad logic? It’s kind of like the accusations of sophistry he was so fond of: That is, in itself an act of sophistry: Rhetorical techniques that are logically invalid.

    Also funny is the effort to shift the burden of proof while claiming he has proof, despite it being clearly demonstrated he has none. All he has is an unverifiable anecdote of a kid with a condition improving, when said condition always improves, regardless of action. As for burden of proof, well, I don’t have to prove that ethylmethylmetallicionic mercury doesn’t cause autism. It’s up to him to prove that it does.

    Their gang attacks on me make them all look foolish so they resort to name calling, ad hominem, misquoting me, etc..

    Riiiight. “You’re ignoring facts A, B, and C, therefore you’re an idiot” is basing the argument on the person, and distracting from A, B, and C.

    Oh, sorry about the sarcasmometers. They really need to install surge protectors or whatever in these thing.

  10. #10 idlemind
    April 12, 2006

    You really should be employing Eneman much more liberally.

    There are several blog comments sections that I’ve simply given up reading due to uncontrolled trolls. (Not enough con-troll, see?) I guess it reflects my taste in blogs that yours has never been that bad (relatively speaking), but it was heading in that direction, thanks to Fore Sam. I’m all for free speech, but I’m also for the freedom from being forced to listen. FS can speechify on his own blog until the sun explodes for all I care. But he doesn’t have the right to force others to publish his rants and misperceptions.

  11. #11 EoR
    April 12, 2006

    I’ll miss Fore Skin. He’s the best argument for how closeminded, ignorant, defensive and desperate the antivacc brigade are.

  12. #12 BronzeDog
    April 13, 2006

    Yup. Especially since he’s gone for a rather long time without defining what he means by “mercury”, kind of like hammegk of the JREF forums avoided defining what he means by “macro-evolution”, since he’s obviously not using any dictionaries I’m familiar with.

    Maybe when he comes back, we should do what I once did with ol’ hammy: Keep asking what he means by “flarschnikit”.

  13. #13 outeast
    April 13, 2006

    I’m didided. On the one hand FS was annoying, snarky, and tended to disrupt debate; on the other, he was annoying in the way a whiny child is annoying – not really that hard to ignore. It’s Orac’s blog and Orac’s right to ban, of course, and I’m no surprised that he tired of the insults. (I wonder if Tara, too, will eventually tire of the sniper on her patch?)

    However, I’m having a very hard time construing Fore Sam’s comnments as threats – a bit of a can/ought conflict here, methinks? This is cyberspace – horsewhipping’s a definite meatspace thing:) Plus Fore Sam may be ignorant, hard-headed, and paranoid, but I really, really doubt he’s a psychopath…

  14. #14 Abel PharmBoy
    April 13, 2006

    I’d weigh in that Orac has been/is doing what my preschooler’s teachers do with the 3- and 4-year-olds. You are warned several times that certain behavior is unacceptable, you continue to exhibit the unacceptable behavior (and even expand the scope of that nonproductive behavior), and you then have privileges revoked – not permanently, but for a certain period of time.

    As the teachers would say to Fore Sam, “I’m very disappointed in you. I hope this will give you time to think about what you have done.”

    I look forward to FS/JBJr’s first comment after the 30-day probation.

  15. #15 Joseph O'Donnell
    April 14, 2006

    May I play some sad violin music to mark his passing?

  16. #16 Julia
    April 15, 2006

    Maybe I’m being pessimistic, maybe Fore Sam will surprise me, but I saw similar behavior elsewhere that went over the top when the pseron engaging in the behavior was banned, and when he was finally reinstated, went back to what he’d been doing before. (The person making the call had a lot more patience and a lot more reluctance to ban than I would have, in that case, and was entirely too forgiving, IMO. But that’s just me and that particular case.)

  17. #17 David Harmon
    April 16, 2006

    As I’ve said before, Orac is a lot more tolerant than I’d be in his position. My suggestions are:

    0) Set up a set of standards, publish them, and hold posters to them, thusly:

    1) Start with a shorter leash and shorter bans, say a week or two for the second clearly abusive post (first one gets a warning).

    2) Each time he (or someone else) goes over the line you’ve drawn, they get banned for longer periods.

    3) Once the ban period reaches six months (say, after 4-5 major offenses) you might as well make it permanent.

  18. #18 David Harmon
    April 16, 2006

    Oh yeah, here’s another suggestion:

    4) It’s entirely possible to get abusive comments out of the main discussions, while still allowing the curious or masochistic to see what’s being zapped. Just create a “Bozo Box” forum (or a series of open threads), and transfer the crudograms there.

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