NOTICE: In re Res Ipsa Loquitur (

To all our shared audience,

In the future, all complaints about either Jonathan Turley or the goings on at his site should be addressed directly to him at

Yes, I am sympathetic to your plight.

Yes, I understand the rank favoritism and bias shown in how he runs his site.

Yes, I have followed up both privately and publicly about those matters.

No, I don’t approve.

No, such inequity in the face of brazen trollery will not be tolerated here. Our rules are formulated to preserve not only your right to free speech but your right to self-defense as well as the utility of the commons.

But most of all . . . RIL is no longer my problem. While I am honored that a great many of our shared audience feel comfortable enough to contact me personally about what is going on over there and their dissatisfaction with it, I resigned my position there in January and for many of the same concerns you’ve expressed to me.  If you seek advice on general tactics for dealing with trolls, I’ll be glad to help, but all complaints about that blog need to be made directly to that blog’s owner. His responsiveness or lack thereof to your concerns is his alone.

Gene Howington, Editor-in-Chief, Flowers for Socrates

About Gene Howington

I write and do other stuff.
This entry was posted in Blogs, Media, Trolls and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to NOTICE: In re Res Ipsa Loquitur (

  1. Anonymously Yours says:

    Damn….. When are nick and Paul guest blogging here?

  2. Mike Spindell says:

    As an Editor/Writer at Gene’s blog I want to state that I am 100% in favor of this statement. I quit Turley’s blog on January 10th and up until people started writing here about the goings on there a few weeks ago, I never went to that site at all. We are starting on a new blog at FFS, one which has been informed by our experience at RIL. For those who we enjoyed reading to at RIL it makes us feel so good that you’ve chosen to visit us here and we want you to stay. Please though, let’s leave the dysfunction at Turley’s there. Let’s instead enjoy what has been created here and help it grow. This past month has been the best month of this blog’s history by a wide margin. I believe that is because people have liked what we’re doing, not because of the tempest at RIL.

  3. Haven’t been back. Don’t miss it.

  4. Tony C. says:

    RIL posts are piling up in their dedicated email folder, unread. I recently deleted a few hundred…

    I think this is appropriate; IMO RIL should be deemed equivalent to any other blog by any other person. If Taibbi or Greenwald should say something interesting, I am not opposed to a reference to their blog. If Turley ever writes something interesting (like a case he is taking on, or resolution of one, or testimony before Congress or something) I am not opposed to hearing about that on FFS. But complaints about other blogs or their management or trollery all seem like inappropriate fare. If you don’t like living in that country, emigrate to this one.

  5. Tony,

    What prompted this notice was more email than anything else. What started off as an odd complaint here or there eventually grew to several per day after about four months. Content based censorship (as opposed to methodological constraints as used here) is still censorship. I understand why people are upset. A subjective standard like “civility” cannot be compared to an objective standard like denying pure ad hominem (which to be clear is not the same thing as insult) or shutting down certain verbal tactics favored by trolls and spammers. At FFS, we have – as Mike noted – formulated policy so there are objective standards. Objectivity ensures equity. I don’t care if it was my mom posting it, if she was single issue spamming every time Lincoln was mentioned regardless of context, she’d get the boot. If she offered rebuttal that was pure ad hominem devoid of substance, she’d get the boot. If people are unhappy there, they are more than welcome here. It saddens me in a way that the dissatisfaction there is boiling over to here, but in the end, it is not our problem. We can provide an alternative venue for discussion designed to not have some of the aggravating factors driving the complaints received, but that is the limit of our mitigation.

  6. swarthmoremom says:

    Sounds like a good plan. The obsession with nick is over the top and only feeds his ego. The professor suspended two more liberal bloggers for breaking his civility rule, while the conservatives remain. That is the way it is. Accept it. Argue with them about legal matters or public policy if you want but don’t have any illusions about changing things and leave the disputes there. I am glad you made this statement, Gene. The other site was bleeding into this one.

  7. Thanks, smom.

    And to enhance our readers ability to contact us, I’d like to announce that a contact email account has been created and added to the “About/Contact” page.

    If you wish to contact a specific editor/author, put their name in the subject line of the email and it will forwarded.

  8. swarthmoremom says:

    Thinking about it, Jon Stewart would probably be deleted and suspended from the other blog.

  9. lol . . . Probably so, Smom.

    And Lewis Black wouldn’t stand a chance.

  10. Smom,

    One of the funny things is though is that I’m sure there are some who take what happened to me there as victory in some way, not realizing that I got exactly the response I wanted.

  11. Anonymouly Yours says:


    And for that one reason alone I get a little furious inside….. They think they won….. Interesting enough…. He just lambasted that Paul for critiquing Elaine in posting too many comments or links….. I like this site as well, but I wish he’d took up for you excellent posters and bloggers.

  12. Mike Spindell says:

    “And for that one reason alone I get a little furious inside….. They think they won…..”


    Screw what they thought. In my last 6 months there I was becoming very unhappy and it was with JT, more than with Nick. I came to see that JT wasn’t the person I thought he was and guest blogging had become a chore. I can’t express adequately how happy and more relaxed I am being here. Gene has made possible a place where I can write, where I can enjoy good discussions and most importantly a place where I can feel like I’m sharing in the success, rather than basking in someone else’s celebrity. I was thinking about leaving for a long time, but I had the pleasure of picking my spot and proving my point.

  13. What I find amusing it that some people really don’t understand technology. Even though deleted from the site, the counter-argument that feynman had a comment deleted not for being uncivil, but for daring to challenge the evidentiary practices of some poster who seems to enjoy a protected status still made it out. Deleting a comment doesn’t redact the email feeds. And that I got banned on a site that allegedly supports free speech challenging a deletion for “civility” as a proper attack on methodology? Well that says volumes now, doesn’t it. Attacking your opponents evidence – and insufficiency is valid grounds to attack it – is not just at the core of the adversarial process, it is at the core of the scientific method and the marketplace of ideas.

    Make no mistake about it.

    This is a marketplace of ideas first, ideology be damned.

  14. Anonymouly Yours says:

    So true, so true….

  15. RTC says:

    I disagree. I believe that, post-Goldwater, nearly every American resides in one of two ideological camps, thanks in large part to Fox and Limbaugh.

  16. RTC,

    I get where you’re coming from, but in this place the best idea wins. To paraphrase that English dude who wrote a buncha stuff, “The marketplace is the thing.” Or to be more to the point:

    “I’ll have grounds
    More relative than this—the play’s the thing
    Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”
    Hamlet, Act II, Sc. 2

  17. Slartibartfast says:

    Like Gene, I wouldn’t have known about this if the final act didn’t play itself out in my email inbox, like Mike, I’ve suspected that the Professor doesn’t measure up to his ideals for a long time and, like Tony, RIL posts have been moldering in their folder. The latest post, however, seems somewhat apropos of this whole situation: The Professor has his feathers ruffled because Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi called Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom” (and said he hates being black) and other Democrats aren’t denouncing him. It doesn’t seem to have even occurred to the Professor to ask himself whether or not Justice Thomas is, in fact, an “Uncle Tom”…

    While RIL may not be the problem of those of us who left, it should remain a cautionary tale of the dangers of cargo cult thinking like confusing civility and politeness.

  18. pete says:

    While RIL may not be the problem of those of us who left, it should remain a cautionary tale of the dangers of cargo cult thinking like confusing civility and politeness.

    that and making appearances on foxnews tends to bring in a whole new crowd.


  19. And once again, pete wins the Internet.

    FAUXNews and cargo cult thinking go together like chocolate and peanut butter . . . if you’re allergic to both chocolate and peanut butter.

  20. bron98, BBB, B, Byron, Bron, BHP says:

    Eh, whocares about all this stuff anyway? The economy is slowy improving and there is money to be made, people to fire, houses to be built, bridges to be erected, NBA teams to be stolen, doctors to be subjugated, part time workers to be exploited.

    So much to do so little time.

  21. Gary T says:

    Hello all, after seeing a recent post by Mike Spindell at JT, I was puzzled at the whole megillah, and am curiously ignorant as to what had and is happening at JT.
    I am piecing together that there was some kind of favoritism to political viewpoints there, and that there was some kind of censorship or uber-sensitivity rules or something?
    Could someone clue me in, and give be a more substantive backstory as to what happened and is happening, please?
    I don’t even know if you’all here would consider me one of the extremist right leaning, Fox New watching, Sarah Palin loving trolls 🙂

  22. Nah! You’re okay with us, Gary, even though some of us disagree with many but certainly not all of your positions. Personally, I think of you as a center right fairly moderate small “L” libertarian, but hardly an extremist. Certainly not a troll or even trollish though. You’re always welcome here. I’m a bit pressed for time today to fill in the blanks, but maybe Mike S. has the time. Good to see you though. Thanks for stopping by.

  23. Anonymouly Yours says:

    I like types to Gary…. Apparently all of the intellects moved here…..

  24. Mike Spindell says:

    Gary T.,
    The question had nothing to do with politics, left, right, or as in your case libertarian. At issue was one particular commenter Nick Spinelli. Nick came to the blog with a disruptive agenda and his main targets were myself, Gene, Elaine and then Chuck (when he defended us). The disruption wasn’t an expression of political viewpoint, it was his continual posting of one or two sentence, personal attacks on threads posted by any of us, sending the direction of the discussion spiraling out of control. He would also make inflammatory statements about various issues citing statistics, but refuse to supply links where he found his figures and instead respond with ad hominem attacks for being asked. He would attack female bloggers with ill-disguised misogyny.

    We engaged with him vigorously and he complained to Turley that WE were ganging up on him. JT’s response to us was that we shouldn’t engage with him, although he kept constantly attacking us. What finally brought things to a head is that this man, who is a private detective, made vaguely ominous threats to us, disclosing personal information, such as the location of where I lived, implying who knows what? JT not only refused to take action, but he chided us, stating that “freedom of expression” was a guiding principle for him and that “civility” is of prime importance. Yet seemed miraculously ignorant of Nick’s own lack of civility. We complained that our own freedom of expression was being curtailed if we could not reply to direct attacks. JT’s reply was as “guest bloggers” we “worked” for him and he forbade our responding to attacks. As for me personally, I define working for someone as getting paid by them, or their supplying me with some benefit of value to me personally. I felt (I’m speaking only for myself as the others can speak for themselves) that I supplied as much “benefit” to the Turley blog, as I received from it. Even before I retired I never let anyone abuse me personally and that included those in positions of power over me. In this instance my work at Turley’s had been a labor of love, that had been poisoned by Jonathan’s lack of attention to his own blog, by his preferential treatment towards Nick and finally by his refusal to establish blog rules other than he being the final arbiter of the discussion.

    I left voluntarily and Gene left on his own the following day. Gene contacted me and the others about setting up his own blog and we jumped on board. You will note above that Gene conceived of “8 Simple Rules” that established the basis of this blog’s operation. Had Jonathan promulgated similar rules, Flowers for Socrates might never had been born. As for myself, I am much happier writing here since I feel a part of a joint venture, under Gene’s leadership. Additionally, I am able to write when I want and am not limited just to weekends. Those of us who write here are not easily boxed in by political categories, which knowing your own bent I think you can appreciate.

    As for you personally, as I’ve told you many times in the past, you are a pleasure to discuss/debate with, because you capably defend your positions without ad hominem tactics. While I might not always agree with your positions, you defend them well and it is fun to be tested by someone who can present a coherent argument. FFS is meant to be a “Salon” of ideas, not an ideological defender of the political status quo in this country, that limits ideas to two quite similar political parties. You are more than welcome to participate and we would benefit from your presence.


  25. Gary T says:


    Well that absolutely does clarify things and clears up the mystery.
    I will check out the 8 rules too; they don’t sound particularly onerous and probably serve to clean things up and set fair boundaries.
    I will visit often and see what you guys are up to, sounds like prime pickings for good commentary and repartee.

  26. Blouise says:

    “So much to do so little time.” (3B’s)

    Ain’t that the truth. Wall Street types are trying to screw the world economy again even as we speak so get busy folks, before we all get Greeced.

  27. Gary T says:

    Here is a theory:

    John Stossel was considered the darling of the liberal left, and a staunch promoter of government solutions to social and business problems. He won all kinds of awards for his work and accolades from the media and progressive organizations.
    Then, something happened to Stossel, he began acting strange, spouting things that seemed suspiciously conservative or pro-business, he started saying things like ‘government should get out of peoples’ way and life”.
    The accolades and awards began to dry up, his colleagues who previously respected him began to look at him suspiciously whenever he gave his opinion. Liberal and progressive pundits wondered what mysterious brain virus took over him and his personality. He was considered a sellout to the political right, which was cemented in stone to many people’s eyes when he actually moved from ABC 20/20 to FoxNews.

    Could something similar be happening to Jonathan Turley?

  28. Gary T says:

    posted reply, but not seen.

  29. Slartibartfast says:

    Gary T,

    Apart from the fact that Professor Turley seems to be selling out his principles rather than his politics, I think Stossel is a fair analogy. The biggest difference being that while the focus of this kerfuffle may be someone with right-wing views, the issue is the Professor’s double standard for civility rather than the ideology of the views he expresses or censors.

  30. Mike Spindell says:

    “John Stossel was considered the darling of the liberal left, and a staunch promoter of government solutions to social and business problems. He won all kinds of awards for his work and accolades from the media and progressive organizations.”

    Gary T.,

    Your analogy has some value but with this small difference. I first became aware of Stossel as the consumer protection advocate for CBS Channel 2 in NYC. I began to dislike him early on because he really was a poor consumer advocate and picked easy targets for “gotcha” journalism. When he moved to 20/20 it was more of the same. With JT, he has done some good things in the field of civil liberties and certainly during the Bush years was active in denouncing their policies. When Obama was elected JT spared him no criticism either and on most war, torture and war on terror issues he was on point. There were certain things that did surprise me in terms of his support, Citizens United being one of them. Sadly, I believe that JT’s move to FOX News and the handling of his blog are more about his “brand” and career and less about points of principle. The other thing I personally noticed about him was that he seems somewhat bemused by Black people and their behavior. He has been quick to call some Black athletes “thugs”. I’m specifically talking about Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks.

    Thug these days has become the modern version of nigger as it is applied to black men in sports and elsewhere. That Jonathan called Sherman that, given Sherman’s impressive background, was to me quite unfortunate and indicative of where he is coming from on the issue of racism against Blacks, which as you know is a very important issue for me. Politically, I would put Jonathan in the libertarian camp, which I don’t see as always a negative, as you might remember from our past discussions. There are many libertarian viewpoints with which I agree, including the interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. However, Jonathan’s testimony before Congress favoring Bill Clinton’s impeachment was disappointing to me when I discovered it later in the game. I despise and despised Bill Clinton. However, the impeachment was bullshit and the premise that the President, while in office could be called upon to testify in a private civil lawsuit is not only bad precedent, but can be used to defenestrate any administration. That Jonathan favored this certainly was a mark against him in my mind.

    Nevertheless, what Slarti said above is the reality of the situation:
    “while the focus of this kerfuffle may be someone with right-wing views, the issue is the Professor’s double standard for civility rather than the ideology of the views he expresses or censors.”

    This separation wasn’t about political ideology. There have been “holocaust deniers” and there have been and are people who simply don’t like Jews and I’ve defended their right to hold their opinions. While I strongly disagreed with them, they at least made an attempt to muster an argument for their position. Nick uses spurious personal anecdotes, virulent misogyny and nasty ad hominem to state his positions. He is either incapable, or unwilling to construct an argument for his viewpoints. Finally, he blatantly lies.

    One great instance of that was when he was caught red handed using a sock puppet to support his attacks. This was found out because it came from his I.P. address. His response was that it was from a homeless, Black friend of his that heard he was being attacked and begged Nick to use his computer so he could support his good friend Nick. Nick claimed it was badly written because his friend was a “little slow”.

  31. pete says:

    stossel always struck me as being from the geraldo rivera school of journalism.

    with a minor in 70’s porn star mustaches.

  32. Slartibartfast says:


    Isn’t that a required minor at the GRSoJ?


    Thanks for quoting me using the word “kerfuffle”. I believe that kerfuffle should be used gratuitously as much as possible.



    *shakes head*

    You owe me a monitor cleaning for that one…

  33. Blouise says:


    I would have said Icelanded but those good folks managed the mess US Banks and Wall Street gave them with a discipline seldom seen today, so Greeced it was.

    How are things progressing?

  34. RTC says:

    ‘(M)aking appearances on foxnews tends to bring in a whole new crowd.”

    I have to say – that can be a good thing. I’m not supposed to complain about “the other site”, so I won’t. Turley, through his estimable reputation, has attracted an audience of diversified opinions across the country to engage in a dialogue concerning politics, religion, and justice. That is a forum that holds tremendous potential.

    Although the quality of debate/discussion has dropped considerably, there are some commenters over there that I like quite a bit, like Karen S. I thoroughly disagree with everything she stands for, but I love the way she says it. She’s sincere. And as someone who loved “Firing Line”, I miss not seeing her debate her ideas before “The Schism”.

    By the way, you guys may have already brought this up but I just heard that Michael Kingsley has become a contributing editor to Vogue…. My wife subscribes!

  35. RTC says:

    Oh, and I’d like to add that I’d like to see FFS become the type of forum that Turley’s blog could be if it didn’t have its Troll Protection Act diminishing it.

  36. Mike Spindell says:

    “Oh, and I’d like to add that I’d like to see FFS become the type of forum that Turley’s blog could be if it didn’t have its Troll Protection Act diminishing it.”


    Fear not FFS is on its way towards being that type of forum, though probably never achieving its popularity. Karen S. sounds nice especially her sincerity. I must admit to never much liking “Firing Line” because I couldn’t stand Buckley, but then I never much cared for Kingsley either. Buckley seemed to be a good debater because of his large vocabulary and cultured speaking pattern, but to me his logic was shallow and I don’t mean that because he was Conservative. Buckley at heart was a “Royalist” to the right manor born. I wrote the following at RIL in 2011 about the magazine Buckley spawned:

    I also wrote this one in 2012 and had some words in the middle about Buckley and “Firing Line”.

  37. Troll Protection Act 😀

  38. BTW, criticism isn’t complaining.
    It’s critiquing: A detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory or to evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way.
    Trolls don’t like applied critical thought.
    It exposes them and the sand their castles are built upon.

  39. RTC says:

    Mike: I suppose shallowness is relative. I thought “Firing Line” provided a pretty good exposition on how to argue, conduct a reasoned debate, for America. Look at the state of the national dialogue now. Plus, I thought both Buckley and Kingsley had good senses of humor. But, I’ll look further into what yoou’re saying in those links.

    Do I understand that you commented “over there”? Is that right?

  40. RTC says:

    “criticism isn’t complaining. It’s critiquing….”

    Agreed. I always thought Dick Button got a bad rap.

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