I’ve spoken to a couple of you about this today, to bounce some ideas around. I spoke at some length this evening to MemoryVault, who has a background as a professional journalist and whose opinion I trust. Finally, I spoke to my wife. And it’s clear the increasing amount of time I’ve been forced to spend administering this site, instead of researching new articles, has eaten more and more into my time, to the point where it is affecting both my career and my family. Something had to give.
As long as this forum was self-moderating—a point you may recall I made early on—the thing was manageable. And for a long time, it seemed to work very well. But I’m told that blogs like this, with a core group of posters, are inherently prone to divide into factions, or sub-groups of perceived interest. It’s clear to me, particularly from comments posted over the last couple of days, that some people on this forum felt an ownership stake in the blog. Any opinions expressed that were not in accord with their own, were clearly beyond the pale, and resentment was directed towards me personally, for permitting them to be expressed at all. For allowing this perception to develop, I have no-one else to blame but myself.
The fact is though, I’m just one guy, and LibertyGibbert, which started life as a labour of love, an unobtrusive Libertarian blog with only one or two readers, like Topsy, “just growed”. After the software meltdown at the Daily Telegraph, I invited James Delingpole’s regular posters over here to a kind of online wake, which just seemed to keep rolling, like a snowball, picking up more and more lurkers and regular members as it gathered speed. I was happy to do so, even though taking up cudgels against the warmists detracted from my core interest of Libertarianism. More on that in a moment. I was also happy to give a number of members a forum to display their own wares and promote their own literary aspirations. Again, I was happy to do this and asked nothing in return.
I blame myself for not emphasising that this was a Libertarian site, and educating my online community more closely as to what are the full ramifications of Libertarianism. I naïvely assumed everyone had read my explanation, and were here because they embraced, or at the very least tolerated, Libertarianism’s basic precepts.
Often conflated with right-wing politics, two of the litmus issues that differentiate the true Libertarian are drug law liberalization and gay rights. Dave’s article explained, far more articulately than I could, what is more or less the standard Libertarian position on the drugs issue. Watch any television forum on the subject (I’m sure you all have) and you will quickly see the “hysterical grieving parent syndrome” suck all commonsense from the debate, which quickly descends into a quagmire of emotion; shouted, strident, and nonsensical.
But for all that, I apologize to those—Blackswan in particular—who have been offended by the Libertarian position on this issue. Not because of what that position is—because I truly believe a Libertarian decriminalization will lead to less grieving parents than the current approach, which has manifestly failed—no, I apologize for not making the position clearer earlier. If I had done so, those who felt uncomfortable could have left, and a great deal of anguish averted.
Can I offer my heartfelt thanks to the many messages of support I have received these past two days. You have convinced me not to close down LibertyGibbert permanently, but to re-work it into a more manageable format. I’m afraid in future I am going to have to recognize the difference between Libertarianism and anarchy. The problem, as many of you have said to me, is that far from not allowing dissent, I let far too much go by. What else could I do? I’m not James Delingpole, who doesn’t have to moderate his own threads (or have any control over the moderation either, remember). And I’m not Anthony Watts, with teams of assistants working 24/7 to moderate my blog. There’s just me. And I’m already a very busy man.
So if you have any constructive suggestions, feel free to let me know. And those who have already sent abuse and threats aimed at me and my family, know that I have alerted the authorities, and you are being watched.
When all this dies down, I will write to each of my regulars individually, and let you know the new arrangements.
Thanks once again