from jms re: the debate

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at
Fri May 22 06:14:27 EDT 1998

From: jmsatb5 at (Jms at B5)
Date: 21 May 1998 09:55:02 -0600
Lines: 78

If I can be allowed a moment's indulgence...this won't take much longer than

This whole discussion began when someone posted a message noting that some of
my messages of late have not been as chipper as those posted in earlier days. 
I responded, and in some considerable detail, pointed out some of the
shortcomings and problems in being on-line.  

Never once in that note, or any of those that followed, did I say one word
about not wanting criticism.  Not wanting to be stalked, sure, not much liking
it when I get deliberately sandbagged or lied about or ambushed, absolutely. 
But not one word about criticism.  I did not ask for changes in the moderated
group, did not ask to have anyone booted, did not ask for a new charter or
group, did not suggest that criticism be eliminated...did not do any of those
things.  I have only said that, because of the problems that exist, after B5 is
over, I would be pulling back (though not eliminating) my online presence,
which is, after all, my right.  There is no written contract requiring that I
remain on the firing line forever...let the next guy take his or her turn in
front of the sniper nests for a while.

But it's nothing to do with honest, fair criticism.

For six years, I have answered honest criticism fairly, evenhandedly, and as
objectively as I could.

Those raising the flag in this current fracas, however, do not seem so

It's like this: do I, or do I not, share the same right to free speech as
anyone else here, especially those who raise that particular banner at a
moment's notice?

If so, then do I not have the same right to express a critical opinion as
anyone else here?

I have, for six years now, announced to anyone within listening range the
benefits and the positive aspects of being on the nets.  I am not, however,
blind to the faults and flaws of said correspondence, and said so, when someone

I raised a critical opinion.

And for that, any number of folks have jumped up and down loudly announcing
that this is somehow unfair, or a sign of censorship, or just generally, garden
variety wrong...dumping all over that original message.

Or, to quote Franklenstein's monster, "Criticism good.  Criticism of criticism:

So it seems to me that we have a logical contradiction going on here, in which
it's okay for people to voice critical opinions of me or the show or anything
B5...but it is NOT as right to voice a critical opinion of the nets and/or some
of the people and/or gatekeeping processes involved.  Frankly, if I had been as
brittle and quick to fire off flames in response to simple criticism as those
here have done in answer to my opinion about the nets, I wouldn't have lasted
five minutes.  

So I would suggest that these same individuals try to apply a little of the
patience toward criticism that I have had to show.  I've had to put up with
positive and negative comments for six years, surely you can do so for a few
days, in relation to the nets.  Or should no one criticize these things?

It's real simple.  Either I have the same right to a critical opinion as
everyone else, and the same right to express same, or I don't.  If I do, then
those who argue in favor of open criticism should have nothing to complain
about...unless they're upset because it's their ox being gored instead of mine
for a change.  If I don't...then I would suggest that that is massively unfair
and totally inappropriate to a free and open exchange of ideas.

It's either a level playing field, or it's not.

Let me know when you've decided.


(jmsatb5 at
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