Dear Club Troppo

11 Feb

The decision by Club Troppo and Lavartus Prodeo to cut OLO loose.

I think these decisions are regrettable, though predictable.

As Ken Parish acknowledges, OLO publishes on “hot button” topics and from a wide range of perspectives. This is its strength, and what makes it interesting to those who are not dedicated to the pursuit and validation of particular point of view.

It’s unfortunate that the decision to distance from OLO is based on one comments thread. I cannot agree that Muehlenberg’s article shouldn’t have been published – it was soundly rebutted by myself a few days later,as it was also soundly rebutted by many of the comments. Had it been left to stand alone, or if it had been one of many such articles,that would have been different.

In fact OLO has been responsible for publishing what’s been described as “two of the most powerful and persuasive arguments for gay marriage published to date in this country.”

It’s my understanding that Young is running OLO alone at the moment. That means he is responsible for putting up six or seven articles each day, and moderating the comments on every one of them. This is no small task.

Perhaps if Young did not feel so under siege, he would be more amenable to discussing moderating differences. People tend to harden their attitudes when overwhelmed by opposition, and nobody wants to be seen to be abandoning their principles because of pressure. Young’s commitment to his mission is quite extraordinary, under threat he is likely to defend, even against his own best interests.

It might have been wiser, more considered, and dare I say kinder, to allow some time to pass and for the initial turmoil to settle before cutting him loose. It is not as if he has acquired a long-standing reputation for publishing unacceptable comments. Had this been the case, the actions you’ve taken would be more justified.

I think the aspects of the affair that trouble me the most are – that this decision has been taken at the height of the battle (never a good time to make any big decisions), that it is based on one comments thread, and for some, one article. That it is taken against a publication that has been very popular for a long time, without, as far as I know, any previous history of these kind of complaints.

I’m surprised that some kind of negotiation process couldn’t have been organized with Young, giving heated emotions a little time to settle first, and the decision to maintain the status quo or to cut Young loose being allowed to emerge from that process.

Not as dramatic as what has happened, of course. Not the kind of stage upon which others can strut the high moral ground, as they can and have in choosing this “solution.”

But reasonable. Fair. Just. Calm. Considered.

Second comment to Club Troppo

I make this comment separately as there are so many aspects to this furore, it’s necessary to at least try to distinguish between them.

The complainants have stated that they approached all OLO’s advertisers to withdraw from the site as a “last resort,” when Young proved intractable.

Does this mean they have never heard of the anti discrimination board? A legal body specifically organized to deal with exactly these complaints?

The complainants are not entirely truthful when they state that going after Young’s advertisers was the “last resort.” It was in fact their first.

Had they chosen the anti discrimination path, and had the verdict been in their favour, OLO would have been fined, and a message sent to all those who host comments pages that they are vulnerable to prosecution and punishment. This might have gone some way to cleaning things up across the board. That would have been very useful activism.

As it is, only ONE publication is affected, and it will all be forgotten next week except for those primarily involved. Sites that don’t carry advertising, or don’t carry the kind of advertisers who care, are entirely unaffected and free to carry on as they please.

All in all, an opportunity missed, I’d say.

7 Responses to “Dear Club Troppo”

  1. Steve at the Pub February 11, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    Larvatus Prodeo has always been devoid of intestinal fortitude.
    Club Troppo was a bit of a surprise.


  2. Jennifer Wilson February 12, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    Yeah, I came across a thread at LP the other day that was entirely devoted to what they watched on tv the night before. Everybody totally agreed with everybody else, and their “critique” consisted of bitchy comments about someone or other who they didn’t think had the required intellectual capacity to do whatever….

    Water cooler stuff for the educated water cooler person.

    Oh, and they finished up the thread with this hilarious university snobbery riff – like, this one isn’t a real university, they don’t even do PhD’s at that one – and so on.

    I didn’t realise people even talked like that anymore. What are they over there? Dodos?


  3. Michael Barnett February 12, 2011 at 2:16 am #

    You talk about “the complainants” and “they”. Who are these people you refer to?

    Why must they go to via an anti-discrimination path? That’s ludicrous. A letter to the advertisers proved far simpler, effective and expedient. Any other consequences were unforeseen.

    Why are you so defensive of OLO? As a contributor you clearly have a vested interest in it’s success. Hardly impartial.



  4. Senexx February 13, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Michael, the end result was expedient for the complainants only and that is the issue. Other options don’t even appear to have been considered.

    If all of these consequences were “unforeseen” it shows that the decision the complainants reached were not thought through rationally. I could only begin to speculate why that is so but I am sure we can all make some educated guesses.


    • Michael Barnett February 13, 2011 at 9:11 am #


      How Graham Young structures his business is of no consequence or concern to me or many of his readers.

      Perhaps he might like to think twice before dismissing our genuine concerns about his moderation style.

      He might also not want to take his advertisers for granted in future.



  5. Senexx February 13, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    I would add what caused the withdrawal of advertising is just another form of hate speech, the very thing that the complainants are fighting against – thus undermining their own cause.

    Beyond that I stand by my comments at CT:

    As for the vitriol that may exist in the offensive comments, all that needs to be done is show them up for the fallacies they are. In the past we have defeated many insular ideas by subjecting them to the appropriate ridicule (counterarguments) they deserve.

    I presume this has NOT been done hence the advertisement withdrawals. And the subsequent withdrawal of contributing blogs.

    OTOH If this has in fact been done I cannot comprehend the furore [or the issue].


  6. Jennifer Wilson February 13, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Senexx, there were indeed very many comments on the thread that ridiculed both Muehlenberg’s article, and the anti gay comments.

    In my opinion the forum did what one hopes forums will do, that is expose the crap for what it is without a nanny deleting anything.

    A few days later Young also published my article rebutting all Muehlenberg’s claims.

    The whole affair has been presented by some as if nobody contested Muehlenberg or the comments. This is entirely untrue. Young did what he claims to do – offered both sides of the argument.

    Cheers, Jennifer.


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