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January 24, 2006

Idiots Need Not Apply

François-Marie Arouet, the French Enlightenment writer and essayist perhaps best known by his nom de plume, Voltaire, wrote in his Essay on Tolerance, Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too. As someone who enjoys not only Voltaire's sharp wit, but also admires his unrelenting support of free speech, I have, in the past four years, never censored a single comment on this blog, regardless of how ridiculous, disparaging, or libelous, provided, of course, that it's not for online poker, porn, or Viagra (bastard spammers!). However, as I was doing my weekly purge of comment span this weekend, I came across several comments that would perchance be better served by a oft-quoted aphorism not by Voltaire, but by Hubert Humphrey, U.S. Vice President under Lyndon Johnson, who said, The right to free speech does not imply the right to be taken seriously.

As someone who has never shied away from controversial topics -- in fact, I revel in assailing our culture of romance (if we can have a culture of life, why not romance?), much to the chagrin of hopelessly deluded romantics everywhere -- I understand that my sometimes strong opinions will inevitably draw strong responses. More than just understanding that fact, I expect it; I want strong responses. Anyone who knows me in person can attest to my love for debate, and even moreso, to my argumentative nature. However, arguments are only intellectually satisfying and debate only academically valuable if the debater brings up valid points, which unfortunately, cannot be said about the bulk of comments posted to this site that attempt to refute my claims.

In analyzing comments posted to my blog that directly or indirectly contradict or challenge statements I have made, only a handful of ones come to mind that actually present valid arguments, notably one Patrick made on my last post and a thread Jim and I had a year ago. Regretably, however, these arguments tend to be the exception rather than the rule. For the most part, my controversial posts tend to draw only the vitriolic rantings of barely literate morons, laden with questionable grammar, dubious structure, and logical fallacies, which while potentially entertaining, as I proved in my open letter last year to one such idiot, are ultimately just as worthless a contribution as the person contributing.

To combat this ever-growing problem of intellectual dilution, I have established the following guidelines for people I do not know posting on (if I know you, you can post whatever the hell you want), referred henceforth as the Idiots Need Not Apply policy:

  1. If you have not read my entry in its entirety, don't feel compelled to write some half-baked, off-topic, nonsensical, irrelevant, or otherwise incoherent comment.
  2. If you are going to comment on the length of my entry or my so-called pretentious vocabulary, don't. This is my blog and I will write in it as I please; if you are too insouciant to get through my entry, or too stupid to comprehend it, don't read it; you are probably not part of my target audience anyway.
  3. Ad hominem arguments, in addition to being logically fallacious, also serve no purpose. The fact that you, Wes, think I ridicule popped collars because I have gotten turned down by well every girl or you Messr. Shinholser think your job at AE is better than mine has no bearing on my entry; it only serves as a testimony to your own incompetence, and moreover, wastes the time, energy, and bandwidth of everyone else reading this site.

The Idiots Need Not Apply policy hopefully underscores a delicate balance between two important ideals of freedom of thought and unabashed elitism. While I will never delete a comment that violates the Idiots policy, that does not implicitly mean that imbeciles should continue to produce idiotic responses that waste everyone's time. I have never claimed this is a site for everyone -- if you are too illiterate to understand me or too puerile to properly disagree with me, I don't want your input! Please save me the trouble of reading your dumbass comments and yourself the embarrassment, and in many cases, public humiliation of my response; we'll all live a bit more happily. In short, idiots need not apply.

Comments never cease to amaze me good sir. how are things going by the way? i actualyl never got to read that one about the american eagle dood, i just did (as time till my paper is due whittles away.......) and that's the funniest things i've read in a while (next to my transcript, lol). are you still commuting all the way out here? becasuse i'd have to say that's a friggen long as trip.

This post gives me a wonderful idea: a honeypot for idiots. A site that contains every possible offensive idea and allows people to comment. Only true idiots will post, and their IPs and names will go into a giant blacklist. Then blog owners like yourself can check this blacklist when scrubbing incoming comments. The best part is what to do when you detect such a post, you could:

  • "I'm sorry, but you are a complete idiot, now go away"
  • An endless string of captchas to which any response is incorrect
  • Idiot-proof captchas (e.g. "What's the cube root of 216?")
  • Automatic counter-argument generator to see how long the idiot will argue with a robot.

Patent pending!

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