Re: Johnson's Removal from Anthro-l

Adrian Tanner (atanner@MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA)
Tue, 14 Mar 1995 15:41:29 -0330

On Mon, 13 Mar 1995, Ken JACOBS wrote:

> Thank you Hugh, for an insightful explanation of our `rules of
> order'. In light of the explanation, I, for one, feel that you
> have acted appropriately. My previous comments in this affair,
> having been made without benefit of such insight, no longer
> pertain and I retract them.
> Keep up the good work.
> With best wishes, Ken Jacobs Anthropologie U de M

If the only reasons for kicking Johnson off were libel/slander and posting
other's messages without permission, then in my view something about the
process went seriously wrong. For several days sides were drawn, sharing
a common (miss-)assumption about what was the issue we thought we were

Like Ken, I expressed myself without being fully aware of all the facts.
Now we are told that there was actually no censorship involved. I have not
made up my mind whether this claim is true or not - as Hugh says, the
proof lies in the list's archives (apart from his private messages to
Johnson). But I imagine Johnson and some others are now convinced, and not
without reason, given the outrage expressed towards him for matters having
nothing to do with Hugh's formal charges against him, that he was actually
censored simply because people did not like what he wrote.

I suggest that the way kicking him off was done has allowed this
conviction of injured innocence to be cultivated. Surely, it is a bad
thing for a list to be perceived (whether accurately or not) to have
kicked someone off, not for breaking the rules, but because certain people
did not like the content of his messages.

Another unfortunate consequence for me is that several people whose views
I have up to now respected advocated Johnson's removal, without doing so
on the basis of any claim that he broke a specific rule we all accepted in
advance. I was disgusted to read all this talk about 'Hugh can kick off
anyone he likes any time', an argument so bereft of principle that it has
to rely on nothing more than the assertion of raw power. Thank you, Hugh,
for not stooping to that level of justification. I am certainly relieved
to find that most people (by my guess) finally spoke up against kicking
Johnson off the list, and comming down against censorship. But to those of
you who advocated dropping him without any refererence to any clear
principle, such as his claimed libel/slander or reposting crimes, I have
to say I lost a lot of respect for you. That makes me sad.

After the time when the discussion on the list turned to dropping Johnson,
I think it is very unfortunate that the censorship debate, which all on
both sides who contributed assumed was Hugh's reason for dropping him, was
not diffused immediately. This could have been done by posting the real
reason behind the list-owner's problem with him. There was an opportunity
then to take a principled stand away from even the *perception* of
political censorship.

Sorry to be so wise after the event, but we have to be wise some time,
don't we?

Adrian Tanner