Tool Talk

The April 20 Pixel Scroll quoted several paragraphs from Declan Finn’s blog post “The John Ringo and ConCarolinas issue” (see item 13) ending with this one —

On THEIR OWN TERMS, I should be concerned to even walk the halls as a regular attendee carrying a John Ringo book. While I have no problem defending myself, I to go conventions to have a good time. I don’t want to spend the majority of the con in cuffs because some dickheads decide “You’re a Ringo fan, therefore you’re [insert cliche lefty insults here]” and therefore I have to beat them senseless.

Today Robert D. Ries smugly chastised me in comments:

I am curious: Is your misquote of Declan Finn intentional, or simply incompetence?

Because the omitted “in self defense” gives the statement an entirely different tone and meaning.

Don’t worry, I don’t expect a retraction, correction OR apology. Your history of such incidents is obvious.

Why? Because that paragraph in Finn’s post now reads like this

Finn has rewritten the line since I quoted him.

However, the Google cache file at this hour still has the original text:

Will Robert D. Ries be more surprised or disappointed to learn it is possible to document the original quote? Surprised enough to apologize?

183 thoughts on “Tool Talk

  1. Dangit, you’re right! Believe me, I was sorry to see it happen, especially with all the amazingly cool guests that were also present.

  2. @Jim Hague

    Holy crap.

    You know, this is just like so many other scandals in the news. (Bill Cosby is on my mind right now, since that SOB finally got his well-deserved comeuppance.) Once the dam cracks, all the nasty behavior that was in the past swept under the rug comes gushing out.

  3. Dear Contrarius,

    Huh???

    A Manhattan (New York State) Supreme Court case isn’t remotely relevant to our Favorite PLA’s lawsuit!

    PLA’s suit asserts that Worldcon 76 is subject to CALIFORNIA’s Unruh Act (almost certainly true – it doesn’t come anywhere close to being a “private club” under the definition of the Act) and that “political affiliation” is a protected class under the Unruh Act.

    That probably isn’t true (I don’t have the Google-fu to fully investigate the case law). If it isn’t true, a California judge is not likely to declare it a protected class, based on this particular lawsuit. To say it’s a weak case would be a hyperbolic understatement.

    If California case law already does support political affiliation as a protected class, what any court in New York decides is irrelevant.

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  4. Following up to @Ctein: Random footnote for people from the rest of the United States: the New York State Supreme Court isn’t the state’s highest court, but one of its lowest. That ruling not only doesn’t apply to California, it isn’t even a precedent in any other county in New York State, including the rest of New York City..

    More detail: A case starts in “supreme” court, rather than in civil or criminal court, if it’s a more serious offense or a lawsuit for more money. There are a couple of levels of possible appeal: the highest court in NY is the state Court of Appeals.

  5. Sorry for my delay in responding — I was out of town visiting my folks —

    I’m rolling my eyes a little at both Ctein and Vicki.

    Yes, the case is relevant. No, I never said it was a direct precedent or otherwise determinative of anything about California law. I merely presented it as evidence of how some US courts are tending to think about the matter, in the same way that we (in this case “we” means “people actively involved in debates on the issue at the time”) kept track of various states’ court rulings on same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court got hold of it — or in the same way that more recently we’ve been keeping track of various state and circuit court rulings on Trump’s travel ban.

    Don’t try to read too much into my post. It was just an informative post, not a declaration of inviolable nationwide legal principle.

  6. @Ctein —

    PLA’s suit asserts that Worldcon 76 is subject to CALIFORNIA’s Unruh Act (almost certainly true – it doesn’t come anywhere close to being a “private club” under the definition of the Act

    I’m still not convinced of this claim, but of course we’ll find out more about how California courts feel as time goes on.

    Remember, even the Boy Scouts of America qualifies as a “private” club despite having thousands upon thousands of members and a very open membership policy. BSA won multiple discrimination suits against it based on its private club status. It finally changed its membership rules about allowing gay scouts not because of lawsuits, but from prolonged public pressure.

  7. Dear Contrarius.

    I am not building a straw man. You misused the word “relevance” when talking about legal cases. It has meaning in legal contexts that you chose to ignore, And it misleads the law-challenged readers (of whom there are many) who think that means it has some bearing on the case. You have clarified that it doesn’t. You had not done so originally.

    The Boy Scouts have many membership requirements and restrictions, they are not charging the public a general admission fee, and there are obligations that have to be fulfilled once you join to remain a member. They are not and never have been open to anybody who simply pays the annual fee.

    The question before the Court was whether their membership requirements were sufficiently broad and the obligations sufficiently minimal that they would fail to qualify as a “private club.” The Court decided they did, but it was not an easy call, as can be seen by reading there (and the lower courts’s) opinions. Definitely a boundary case.

    Worldcon lets in anybody who’s willing to buy a ticket. There are no obligations or requirements/restrictions involved. The presence of a business meeting there, which 95% of the attendees do not care about (in which the convention, for other good reasons, does not make it easy nor encouraged to attend) is not sufficient to change that status. There is case law on that point.

    Broadly, if Worldcon doesn’t fall under the Unruh Act, neither would any other general admission venue.*

    Really, there is a whole lot of case law on the subject, and if you’re not going to go to the trouble of looking it up, don’t tell me that I’m wrong. Or that I’m creating strawmen.

    And, finally, YOU are the one who decided to argue about whether or not Worldcon fell under the Unruh Act. Not me. I just mentioned what was a pretty damned obvious legal fact in passing. You decided to argue.

    (* Yes, because humans are involved, it is not impossible that a very clever attorney and a sympathetic judge might somehow carve out an exception for Worldcon. Not impossible, aberrations occur. But sufficiently unlikely, that I’d be happy to give anyone here 10:1 on their $10 bet that that’s not the way it’ll go.)

    – pax \ Ctein
    [ Please excuse any word-salad. Dragon Dictate in training! ]
    ======================================
    — Ctein’s Online Gallery. http://ctein.com 
    — Digital Restorations. http://photo-repair.com 
    ======================================

  8. @Ctein —

    I am not building a straw man.

    Of course you are. You are taking me to task for claims I never made about that NY case.

    You misused the word “relevance” when talking about legal cases. It has meaning in legal contexts that you chose to ignore

    This is a discussion forum, not a court of law. Merriam-Webster Unabridged works fine for me.

    Relevance: 1: relation to the matter at hand
    Relevant: 1: bearing upon or properly applying to the matter at hand

    You had not done so originally.

    So freakin’ what? I also have never clarified the color of my eyes, or the name of the building in which that specific decision was made. I simply made a casual informative post, which you have chosen — after two days passed since the original posting — to jump on for some unfathomable reason.

    The Boy Scouts have many membership requirements and restrictions

    Quoting from the BSA website: “Scouts are what make Scouting. Lets invite every boy to be a Scout.”

    Yeah, real restrictive there. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes again.

    “they are not charging the public a general admission fee”

    Neither is Worldcon. Remember: general admission fees do not allow attendees to vote on the business conduct of the hosting organization; membership fees do.

    “and there are obligations that have to be fulfilled once you join to remain a member.”

    And there are also obligations to remain a member of Worldcon. One of those obligations is to not be a jackass to other attendees to such an extent that you draw the ire of the Worldcon admins.

    (BSA) Definitely a boundary case.

    And again, as I mentioned in a previous post that got wiped out by the host change — whether or not BSA is a boundary case, it shows quite handily that restrictive admittance of members is not an absolute requirement for a group to be considered a private club.

    The presence of a business meeting there, which 95% of the attendees do not care about (in which the convention, for other good reasons, does not make it easy nor encouraged to attend) is not sufficient to change that status. There is case law on that point.

    Cites, please. I’d love to learn, and cites would be much more productive than your current harangue.

    Really, there is a whole lot of case law on the subject, and if you’re not going to go to the trouble of looking it up, don’t tell me that I’m wrong.

    Sorry, but that’s not how discussions work. If you make the claim, you get to provide the evidence.

    And, finally, YOU are the one who decided to argue about whether or not Worldcon fell under the Unruh Act.

    Actually, what I did was to provide the reasons why I thought Worldcon would qualify as a private club, **including not only citing specific case law, but providing detailed excerpts from it** — and then very specifically stated, and I quote: “I’m still not convinced of this claim, but of course we’ll find out more about how California courts feel as time goes on” and “only time will tell what the California court thinks about this specific case, if it even ever makes it to court.” I am perfectly willing to be proven wrong by a judge who actually sees the case, if any ever does; and in the meantime, I am happy to agree to disagree. I have no idea why you’re evidently not.

    And again — I have no clue why you have decided to get so (as we say here in the South) “exercised” about a simple informative post that was already two days old by the time you decided to jump down its throat. Yet again: it was just a casual post. I thought people would be interested in the case. I did not make any claims about the NY case’s applicability to CA law. Please, for heaven’s sake, get over it. As you yourself stated — we’re supposed to be on the same side.

  9. @Contrarius–

    Quoting from the BSA website: “Scouts are what make Scouting. Lets invite every boy to be a Scout.”

    Yeah, real restrictive there. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes again.

    I see you’ve never been a Scout.

    Also, that in viewing advertising, you interpret its meaning in a literal manner and no awareness of puffery being a thing.

    Boy Scouts want every boy to because Boy Scout. Girl Scouts want every girl to be a Girl Scout.

    But being a Scout, in both organizations, means a good deal more than being the right gender and paying a membership fee. Anyone can join, but to remain, you need to enage in the activities, over the rules, and uphold the standards. Being a Worldcon member doesn’t even require you to vote in the Hugos or attend Worldcon.

  10. At the risk of stating the obvious, most people aren’t eligible to be Boy Scouts (not being boys); about half of us were never eligible even to apply. That’s not irrelevant, given that they have claimed “we’re a private organization” in order to defend their policies of discriminating on the basis of gender and religion. (Requiring members to believe in God, or at least to claim they do–though I suspect “I’m an atheist but I’m willing to say that part of the oath if it makes you happy” wouldn’t make the average Scoutmaster happy–is religious discrimination even if the organization accepts Jews and Muslims.)

    As you probably know, in many US jurisdictions it’s still legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. That includes but is more complicated than “egal to exclude people for being gay”–the same policies mean an organization or company could refuse to hire people who weren’t lesbians, or exclude only bisexuals.

  11. @Lis —

    But being a Scout, in both organizations, means a good deal more than being the right gender and paying a membership fee.

    Of course it does. Member participation, however, is an entirely different question than member **acquisition**, which is the subject I was discussing.

    Anyone can join

    Dingdingding! Correct. And that’s the topic I was discussing.

    Being a Worldcon member doesn’t even require you to vote in the Hugos or attend Worldcon.

    So what? I’ve been in multiple clubs that didn’t require anything of me aside from paying dues. That doesn’t make them not-clubs.

    Again, as I’ve stated in various forms multiple times already: determining whether an organization gets considered a private club for legal purposes is a complex issue; it depends on the gestalt of all the organization’s policies, not one specific criterion in isolation from the others. I’ve posted evidence of this fact at various points already. I **believe** that Worldcon passes the bar with its unique gestalt, but IANAL and none of us have been in this specific situation with this specific organization. The only way we’re going to find out for sure is to wait and see what an actual judge says, IF this case ever makes it to court — which I strongly suspect it won’t. Until that time, we’re just speculating — on both sides.

  12. Y’know what? I’m giving up. C can just keep rolling his eyes and spouting legal misinformation and ignorance, and doubling down each time he gets it more wrong. I’m moving on. People trying to argue about legal matters using “common sense” meanings of words and concepts, such a magnificent failure of understanding.

  13. @Ctein —

    C can just keep rolling his eyes

    Her eyes. 😉

    Thanks for finally deciding to drop it. And I really would love to see the cites on that case law you referred to, if you ever happen to come across any. The specific case I cited and excerpted previously in this discussion is something like 20 years old, and I’m well aware that the outlook of the courts may have changed since that time.

    And in the meantime, we’ll all just have to wait and see what actually happens!

  14. @Contrarius, et al:

    I’ve stayed out of this ping pong match to this point (and will likely come to regret commenting now) but something Contrarius said in re definitions cannot be ignored by me, as it’s wrong.

    You’re discussing a legal matter and bringing up a case to bolster your argument. It doesn’t matter that this is a comments section and not a legal forum. The appropriate definitions apply. Words mean things-and they can mean different things in different circumstances.

    In normal circumstances, the Merriam-Webster definition of the words relevant/relevance would be adequate. That’s not the case here. The words, in their professional context have connotations not found outside those professional areas. If you talk to a lawyer or an accountant about “relevance”, it carries a different meaning in their arenas than it does in a general sense.

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_401

    The above is the legal “Test For Relevant Evidence”. Legally, Ctein is correct-no local decision made in one state in a legal matter would be relevant on its own in a legal matter in another state. You used a word incorrectly within the context, Ctein pointed that out and you keep digging instead of admitting you made an error.

    I typically find your comments worth reading and engaging. Not in this case. You should really put down the shovel, climb out of the hole and find another hill. Your choice, of course. Further Deponent Saith Not.

  15. @Robert —

    You’re discussing a legal matter and bringing up a case to bolster your argument.

    No.

    This seems to be the central misunderstanding here.

    I did not bring up the NY case to “bolster my argument” in particular. I brought it up because I thought it was relevant **in the sense of “oh, look, a court that has had to deal with the issue of supposed political discrimination recently, isn’t that interesting?**

    I have already quite thoroughly explained that I was NOT making any claims about any supposed influence of the NY case on CA judges. Therefore, the legal definition of relevance is, ahem, irrelevant to my post.

    Seriously, does nobody here have anything better to do than argue about the definition of the word “relevant”?

  16. @kathodus Mike belatedly removed Jim Hague’s libel of John Ringo, from this page and the second page Jim posted it to. And the date on the archive shows that he left the libel up for three days after John’s lawyer attempted to post a response, a comment that somehow never made it out of moderation. Such a shame that moderation games like that cause the DMCA’s Safe Harbor protections to go away…

  17. Funny how you’re imputing suspicious motives when everyone on the site knows Mike has been dealing with the *entire site breaking down* over the last few days, including comments disappearing, multi-posting, and several threads which lost older comments when the site got migrated.

    But no, it has to be that Mike deliberately left something up as part of a conspiracy.

  18. As usual with you guys there is a remarkable logical disconnect — this comment is very bad, and so you’re doing your utmost to propagate it all over the internet.

    Luckily I don’t have to understand your psychology, I only have to get it off my site.

  19. @J.C. – Oh, you mean the comment that was removed after Ringo posted his refutation?

    Dunno about the moderated post in question, as I obviously can’t see posts that aren’t here, but you missed a “may” before “cause” in your DMCA statement.

  20. Oh sheesh, and silly me assumed the DMCA must apply here because someone on the internet said it did. Looking it up, the DMCA covers copyright infringement only. Should’ve immediately questioned a fedora’s grasp of law, but what can I say, I’m a cat.

  21. What’s interesting is that someone who’s not Mike posts something here, and the reaction is to throw blame largely at Mike for it. Almost as if the issue isn’t the comment, but the opportunity to bash a perennial target.

  22. I stand corrected: the safe-harbor provisions come from the one law the ’net hated even more than the DMCA: the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

  23. Beginning a couple of weeks ago with all the attempts to brief the Unruh Act I started to wonder why so many fans think they know as much about law as they do about pornography, but I wasn’t expecting to see a literal demonstration in a reference to something like the Communications Decency Act.

  24. Ironically, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which does address torts such as libel, has a long case history of protecting internet content providers even when failing to remove 3rd party provided content long after they have been notified it is defamatory. As I understand it, the impact is the exact opposite of what Mr. Salomon asserts. All the foregoing to be taken with a grain of salt since I am not a lawyer.

  25. J. C. Salomon on May 1, 2018 at 12:50 pm said:
    Mike belatedly removed Jim Hague’s libel of John Ringo, from this page and the second page Jim posted it to. And the date on the archive shows that he left the libel up for three days after John’s lawyer attempted to post a response, a comment that somehow never made it out of moderation. Such a shame that moderation games like that cause the DMCA’s Safe Harbor protections to go away…

    I find it fascinating that your main concern in this is not the libel itself or the person who posted it, but threatening Mike.

  26. J. C. Salomon on May 1, 2018 at 12:50 pm said:

    @kathodus Mike belatedly removed Jim Hague’s libel of John Ringo, from this page and the second page Jim posted it to. And the date on the archive shows that he left the libel up for three days after John’s lawyer attempted to post a response, a comment that somehow never made it out of moderation. Such a shame that moderation games like that cause the DMCA’s Safe Harbor protections to go away…

    I’m glad to see you are concerned about possible libels left in comments of blogs. It would be terrible if a blog left up a comment for weeks (months even) implying somebody was abusive towards children. I assume you’d give such a blog a really hard time if it did that. Your friend Dave Freer for example.

  27. @rob_matic

    Well, you know, slander is slander, and libel is libel, but scoring points in an internet teapot tempest… Priceless.

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