Thursday, June 14, 2007

Muzzled By Muzzle Watch

Personally I feel the mission on MuzzleWatch is a bit suspect; by its existence alone the JVP and others are clearly not being shut out of the conversation. But they are entitled to their opinion when it is right and when it is wrong. However, they believe that those who visit the above mentioned blog shouldn't opine on the ludicrous nature of whatever or whoever was muzzled for the day...So they have cut off all comments.

Could this be anymore hypocritical? MuzzleWatch and friends, it is time to face the music; you aren't being cutout, you are simply more fanatical than a majority of people who support your view of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is true most Jews support a strong Two State Solution and many many Jews in the US have problems with Israel and it is government. Most however do not want to be in bed with the folks like ANSWER or groups that call for the destruction of Israel. You are now the ones muzzling.

Not only will you continue to complain when others who disagree with you say so in the media or on their own blogs, you will not allow them to use the form you created to discuss--or even argue--the details of this complicated situation. You are painting a master piece with extremely board strokes; you can't expect to get a Monet or Picasso if you use a paint roller. The beauty of the jblogosphere is that there are blogs like Little Green Footballs, KesherTalk, Jewschool and MuzzleWatch. All but MuzzleWatch permit moderated comments.

There is no place for personal attacks in commentary, but the entire point of a community blog is for people to talk and fight and even say you are wrong. This move to cut off comments only weakens the position of a fringe group. On a very regular basis I agree with a majority of what is on the MuzzleWatch site. It is true that much of what it says is only said by MuzzleWatch, but still telling people that they can't leave comments on a blog defeats the purpose of a blog.

MuzzleWatch, this only makes your mission seem selfish and petty, but what do you care, I am just a lowly blogger who will not be muzzled.


Annie said...


Mister Goat said...

POLJ, I have to wonder if you fully read the Muzzlewatch post you cited at The Muzzlewatch post you cited in your post. It makes clear that the issue here was that they were being inundated with comments that were "anti-Semitic in particular, and also other bigoted and racist comments, as well as ugly personal attacks."

This is a real issue. As the Independent Media Centers and various other open-source sites with unregulated comments show, it's really easy to paralyze or derail a blog through comments. And it can create sucha negative atmosphere that people don't read it.

There are, of course, ways to deal with these issues, particularly comment moderation. That's the route I'd go with if I ran MuzzleWatch, and the one they originally went with.

But I can also see why they chose to "to avoid moderating every single post and playing the role of politically correct police." Comment moderation in particular takes a lot of time and work, as well as tough decisions about what you'll allow and what you won't. And frankly, it's not fun to have to wade through a lot of anti-Semitic, personal, and racist crap.

Look, you're welcome to criticize their decision to eliminate comments. But your critique would be a lot stronger if you engaged their stated reasons. As it is, with its suggestion that JVP is in bed with answer and your closing which suggests that Muzzlewatch is trying to muzzle you, your critique misses the mark.

Liberal Jew said...

Mister Goat:

I read the post and it is cover for why they don't want to deal with those who fight with them.

MuzzleWatch does good, but they can't expect that everyone will agree. If you look at any place were people, like me, can hide behind fake names and no credibility. But if MuzzleWatch is to be credible they need to allow comments. There is a reason why many major Jewish orgs don't have blogs; they don't want to deal with the comments.

JVP is not different and even more so if they believe they wanted to be a place of openness and fair exchange. It is hypocritical.

I have received anti-Semitic threats as POLJ and as my non-blog persona. That doesn't mean I control or stop the conversation.

Mister Goat said...


Your argument seems to rest on two main themes.

1) A blog must have comments to be credible. While I prefer comment sections, I don't see how the lack of one invalidates the content of the blog.

2) Muzzlewatch's post is "cover." On what do you base this? You mention that you've gotten anti-Semitic threats, and I'm sorry to hear that. But are you sure that the experiences are equivalent? Have you received 2500 comments in 4 months?

Liberal Jew said...


But Mister Goat, it is a cover. Outside of my personal experiences in anti-Semitism and lack of comments I can say without a doubt that the lack of open source and user generated material makes a "blog" a mouthpiece of an organization.

That is all, no more no less.

Mister Goat said...

Well, POLJ, it does take away the interactive component of a blog. But that simply puts it on the level of a great many other websites and publications. A loss, perhaps, but I'm hard pressed to see how you're being muzzled, let along what ANSWER has to do with it.

Muzzlewatch has changed format. So be it.

Liberal Jew said...

mister goat-

If you go back and read my original post you will see that what I was talking about was the fact the MuzzleWatch works with people don't like, that will lead to bad name calling.

JVP works with people like ANSWER who are anti-Semitic which leads people to be defensive. I am not being muzzled but the idea that a group that is fighting censorship by starting a blog, would then cut off user generated commentary is hypocritical.

That is all...but thanks for going back and forth with me.

Mister Goat said...

You too, POLJ--the back and forth has been good. I'm glad to hear that you don't really feel that you're being muzzled, despite the title of your post and your closing.

Liberal Jew said...

mister goat-

Well everyone is muzzled on MuzzleWatch but I am free to do and say what I want here.. got to love the free market of blogs

Tia said...

I ONLY visited Muzzlewatch for its comments. No point in going back now....

I went to JVP's annual conference in Oakland a few months ago as an exercise in masochism. Its clear that they have a public face that is almost neutral and middle of the road, but they have a positively frightening private face- they had a special session of their conference that was only open to "vetted" or "known" activists, to discuss the marketing of their public persona.

You can read about some of what was said in the comments section of

This group is weaseling its way into senior centers, democractic clubs and other venues trying to claim that they are the voice of mainstream Judiasm. They aren't- and thats the problem. Any group that will hold the hand of International ANSWER and Al Awda is not commited to the survival of Israel as a Jewish state.

Withdrawing comments from Muzzlewatch is a tactic. They could block known spammers, for example, rather than preventing all comments. They real reasons that comments were blocked is obvious:
* They were attracting anti-Semites and anti-Semitic arguements
* more importantly- they were being exposed- they role in fiasco of the Islamic Society of Boston was exposed, as was their participation in anti-Israel rallies

drmike said...

Tia got it exactly right; as a frequent poster there, my goal was to shine some light upon their hypocrisy. But what made it so much more obvious was the fact that the hard-core anti-Semites were attracted to this site like moths to a flame.
My personal belief is that this was so embarrassing to them that they had to shut down the comments. Considering that they didn't shut it down after Jon Haber exposed their role in the Boston ISB suit (and I then enthusiastically echoed the drumbeat about it), I think the arrival of Joachim Murtillo and others of his political persuasion was what did it. But then again, why should they have been surprised considering the likes of whom they demonstrate with?
Tia was also kind enough to link to a blog that I contribute to. Specifically, this piece was a finalist for a JIB award; and to think that I had an acceptance speech all written: "I have to thank the folks at Muzzlewatch for making this all possible...."

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