The Bad Harvest forum was closed at noon PST today. The reasons why I shut it down were detailed in my announcement from 1 January.
During the forum’s final month, I looked in from time to time to see whether anyone was going to accept my advice and start a new forum, and to check for spam and other vandalism. No one started a new forum; instead most of them bleated angrily about my decision to shut down Bad Harvest, though a few conceded they understood my reasoning. Apparently most members migrated to Redspinoff, which had been set up last summer.
I can’t imagine why people got so upset about my decision, especially since the Bad Harvest forum admittedly had many deficiencies, and it is not at all difficult to set up a better one, especially if you are smarter and more capable than almost everyone else on the planet, as most Bad Harvest posters insisted they were (my original farewell message, posted on the site, explained in some detail how to do it; a wasted effort on my part, obviously).
As I said, there were a few who knew where I was coming from. This trenchant bit of emoticon theater was posted anonymously about mid-month (long-time redboarders will recognize the archetypal emotes; everyone else will probably be a little confused):
And sure enough, a great deal of the traffic of the final month of Bad Harvest was dedicated to discussing how the Jews must have got to me. That was the only rational explanation, apparently. Those dirty Jews. They win again.
Well, to set the record straight, no Jews were involved in my decision.
The death of context
The Bad Harvest forum lasted as long as it did because I assumed that no matter how outrageous the content was it didn’t really reflect on me because I wasn’t posting the content, other people were. I never claimed to agree with what was posted there, and I assumed no editorial control. I just hosted and maintained the site.
Since about three or four years ago, that has no longer been a defensible argument. Intolerance is on the upswing in our popular culture, and if we encounter an idea of which we don’t approve the only acceptable reaction is to work to suppress it. Not refute it, but silence it. You sure as fuck don’t host a website where objectionable ideas are freely exchanged.
It’s easy to imagine the eventual interview with some witless paragon of the Fourth Estate:
Cathy Newman: You claim you have nothing to do with the opinions expressed on your web forum?
Me: No, I don’t, I simply host the forum.
Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is racists and anti-semites should have free forums?
Me: Well, I think if you are hosting a “free speech” forum, you shouldn’t tell people what they can and cannot say, as long as they are not being defamatory or otherwise breaking the law.
Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is only racists and anti-semites practice free speech?
Me: Eh? Anyone can practice free speech. It’s a free speech forum.
Cathy Newman: Do your customers, especially agencies of the US Federal government, know that you support racists and anti-semites?
Me: I don’t support them, I simply let them say what they want.
Cathy Newman: So what you’re saying is we are lobsters?
Me: Is there someone else there I can talk to?Channel 4 interview with Mitch Barrie
There’s no explaining it. We are also living in a world where context, which used to be vitally important for complete understanding of any utterance, now means nothing at all.
Remember, the Bad Harvest forum was probably illegal in some English-speaking jurisdictions outside the US. Certainly people have gone to jail in several European countries simply for questioning whether or not the Holocaust happened, or even how severe it really was. Probably the same fate awaits “climate deniers” in the future.
Simply being offensive is a crime in Britain, at least in Scotland:
Luckily for Count Dankula, he was merely fined £800 and didn’t have to go to jail. But even an £800 fine is more than I care to risk for the sake of a gang of anonymous emotionally stunted shut-ins who would never lift a finger for me (or anyone else, as far as I can tell; they hate everyone, except Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin).
Wailing and gnashing of teeth
What’s most odd about the reaction to the shutdown is how so many of these people believed I was in some way obligated to give them a place to post their nonsense, in perpetuity. Now keep in mind, in the ten-year history of the Bad Harvest forum, not one person ever offered to help pay for it. I had a couple (2) offers to assist with moderation, but that’s it. Many, many people had all kinds of fabulous suggestions for making it a better forum, but again, no one ever offered to help code any of these fabulous ideas.
And then they lost their shit because I suggested my livelihood might be put at risk by hosting their racist drivel. Of course, none of them had anything to lose if some nasty person or future atrocity was traced back to the Bad Harvest forum. Only I did. I accepted 100% of the downside for hosting the forum, and they enjoyed 100% of the upside. And I was a bad guy because I decided that was a lousy deal. And once I decided to pull the plug, there was literally nowhere else they could go (aside from Redspinoff). I had silenced them. And silencing a free people is wrong, wrong, wrongity, wrong!
As you can see, a lot of the people on Bad Harvest were little children; or at least they had the emotional development of little children.
Keep in mind, nearly everyone on the redboards is completely anonymous. I never was because back when I got started on-line, on USENET in the 1990s, there was no anonymity. Everyone’s IP address was visible and everyone included their full name and e-mail address in their posts. Why not? Why would you post something you didn’t wish to have your name on?
What’s that word they have for someone who won’t sign his name under his opinions?
But I’m digressing. Anyway, once again I was confronted by the phenomenon I experienced back in 2016 of people who would never think of inconveniencing themselves in the slightest over an issue, not just asking but demanding that I accept huge risks on their behalf. I’m frankly baffled by this. Personally, I am simply not capable of the thought process behind such an attitude. It’s alien to me. And I keep running into it.