Topic for discussion: why Political topics have not worked out well


Oleg Volk
November 7, 2008, 01:28 PM
Politics -- the process of fighting the domestic cold war -- is important to RKBA. It would make sense to add a broad-based Political forum here. In fact, the original name of the Legal forum was "Legal and Political". Why don't we have L&P now?

It became counter-productive. Most topics are not about zero sum endeavors. If you buy an AK and I buy an AR, we aren't infringing on each other. A Catholic who likes baseball isn't a threat to a Wiccan who prefers watching tennis. The moment we get to politics, that perception is replaced with the certainty that a win for one viewpoint is necessarily a loss for the other viewpoints. Tempers flare up and we end up fragmenting instead of bonding. Since we are up against dangerous game, that's not good.

A few forums or blogs manage civil discussions of politics because informed commentators are posting with some professional detachment, acting as analysts more than as debaters. That attitude did not take on THR back in the L&P days. The results were squabbles, bans of long-time members and hurt feeling all around.

Your thoughts and ideas on this topic are welcome. I am posting this on both forums because the outcome of the discussion may eventually affect everyone.

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November 7, 2008, 01:35 PM
Oleg when you say WE are up against dangerous game it leaves me at a loss. Mainly because it's hard for me to believe that the people who voted for Obama are on our side. I'm sure his usual supporters will be here in a second or two to tell us how he didn't mean any of his anti-gun statements though.

November 7, 2008, 01:45 PM
Look, I can certianlly understand where you're coming from.


Don't you think it's bit of an oxymoron to try to discuss RKBA and NOT talk politics. The grief comes from this wishy washy blurry imaginary line betwixt RKBA and politics that's dawn by the powers that be. This is where YOUR headaches come from.

You must decide to do one of two things

A. allow any and all political discussion as long as it pertains to firearms ownership.


B. Forbid all discussion of a legislative/political nature and strictly focus the site in hardware and tactics.

but either way it's impossible for one group of moderators to stay on top of this undefined middleground this site has been trying to maintain.

The only things truly in the middle of the road is that double yellow and a dead armadillo.

November 7, 2008, 01:55 PM
"He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows nor judge all he sees."

---Benjamin Franklin

November 7, 2008, 01:57 PM
Oleg when you say WE are up against dangerous game it leaves me at a loss. Mainly because it's hard for me to believe that the people who voted for Obama are on our side. part of the problem. Reasonable people can come to different positions when given the same set of facts. Many of the people who voted for Obama probably did so because they were considering policies other than gun ownership.

If gun rights were the only factor in choosing a candidate, Ron Paul would have won handily around here.

In order to discuss politics rationally, we have to be willing to consider other peoples' points of view (all of them--there are more than two sides) and listen to their reasoning on multiple issues, sometimes issues that don't even seem related.

In any event, "us (or WE, or our) vs. them" is what got the board locked down.

November 7, 2008, 02:01 PM
In my arrogant, prejudiced opinion:), we wouldn't have any problems if political discussions were limited to members over age 35.

November 7, 2008, 02:07 PM
You're right Flyboy i'm sure Obama has some redeeming points. In the 3 years he ran for president he just forgot to mention them.

November 7, 2008, 02:10 PM
The problem has always been that political discussions turn partisan. Those rapidly become passionately partisan discussions and almost instantly turn completely sour.

ArfinGreebly gave a great explanation a couple of days ago about why these things go into the ditch.

November 7, 2008, 02:11 PM
Oh and yes Oleg we do need a place for this sort of thing. Maybe we won't always be nice to each other. But that's how it is in the real world.

November 7, 2008, 02:15 PM
In my arrogant, prejudiced opinion, we wouldn't have any problems if political discussions were limited to members over age 35.

You're right, it is prejudiced, because in my experience those over age 35 are generally the worst, especially when they should know better. :p

I don't visit APS, so maybe I don't know what is kosher over there, but I thought the whole point of APS was to talk politics? I mean, if you want to talk about how evil a president or senator is, isn't that the place for it?

November 7, 2008, 02:32 PM
ArfinGreebly put up a great post in Technical recently trying to answer all of the "Why can't we talk politics" questions. It's an eloquent version of what we've been saying since before the Politics forum was closed. Unfortunately, there's no evidence that anything has changed to make me believe that we'd be any more successful taking, yet again, another run at a general political discussion forum. APS has some success at discussing politics and Activism was created to try to focus on taking action instead of fighting amongst ourselves.

The Great Politics Purge Of 2007
Some of you may not have been here for the Great Politics Purge.

Some of you may not have had time to read Oleg's sticky describing the changes at THR from around that time.

In the brief time I've been a moderator, I've managed to track down the reasons and causes for the migration and the purge. Kind of a self-imposed homework assignment.

One of the principles of The High Road is civility. Passion is fine, argument is fine -- but attack the argument, not the arguer, and spirited discussion is invited -- but not personal attacks and slurs.

Now, that's a bedrock principle here. If you can't be civil in your conduct here, you'll be cautioned and, if you still can't be civil, you'll be gone.

Something we learned the hard way was that -- for whatever reasons -- it is simply too hard for people to be civil in political discussions. Very much like civility in religious discussions. Sooner or later, someone who's a valuable forum member is going to just lose it and brain some complete moron loser idiot waste of oxygen with a frying pan . . . and we wind up having to ban the valued member. Often we wind up banning the oxygen thief, too, but the collateral damage -- to rational, reasonable, experienced, valued members -- is often great and tragic.

Professional trolls -- really well-disciplined provocateurs -- would show up during the run-up to elections and cause havoc. The noise index in politics got to the point where moderators gave up trying to keep order in threads, and just locked them, banning offenders who threw insults or other personal attacks.

After seeing that pattern too many times in the realm of politics, we (actually Oleg and the moderators & admins at the time, I was not yet a mod) decided it would be better for the board to lose the incivility attendant with politics than to continue to lose friends and valued members because they were suckered into a serious rules violation.

I'm sure most of you consider yourselves stable, rational, reasoned people.

In the face of a person whose practiced vocation is provoking others, with seemingly "reasoned" but outrageous premises, politely-stated blatant distortions and falsehoods, it's easier than you might believe to just call the guy the name he really has earned. And suddenly you find yourself banned. For a personal attack.

The other guy might also get the hammer for trolling, but not always. Some of these guys are very smooth.

I've gone back through the archives and seen the frustration and despair among the moderators from that time. I've reviewed some of the material that led, finally, to removing politics in an effort to avoid losing any more long-time members who were, after all, simply calling a spade a spade.

You see, THR is populated largely by self-sufficient folks who don't go running to mommy and daddy every time they see something they don't like. They're more inclined to handle it themselves. They're accustomed to taking out their own trash. So, when they see a troll, they're very likely to pummel him personally rather than "whining" to the moderators.

The professional-grade trolls and provocateurs know this, and it's cake for them to pretend to be earnest and sincere and "misled" as they bait their hooks and trail them in the shallows, patiently waiting for the bite they know will come. Sooner or later, some guy with more than 7,000 posts and four years on the forum will call this troll on it, and speak his name publicly. And then the mods have to issue a warning. And, depending on just how independent the member is, and what his "suffer fools gladly" threshold is, he may simply blow up, and we lose him forever.

So, in consideration of all this, we no longer do religion and politics here.

We have APS for that now. The moderation style there is a little different, and they've adapted to the necessities of dealing with oxygen thieves and trolls.

And, getting killed there doesn't mean getting killed here.

So we continue to have a place here where we can conduct the civil discourse of firearms, their ownership, the rights attendant thereto, their proper use, the development of the skills in their use, and so on.

We do appreciate that activism is a necessary part of retaining the right to keep and bear arms, and the Activism sub-forum was established for that.

We also appreciate the need for a place to discuss the current and pending laws that affect how and where we use firearms, so we have the Legal sub-forum.

What we do NOT have is the place where we can go to rant about politicians, stupid policies, idiotic laws, and the decline and fall of America.

We no longer wish to lose quality members to the inevitable baiting that accompanies these things.

So, really, if you MUST talk politics -- beyond actual activism -- then go to APS. The majority of the membership there are also members here. The moderators are also members here (and some do mod work in both places).

Activism isn't ranting or whining. All ranting and whining about politics and religion has been assigned to APS.

It's a decision that has been long since made and a decision what wasn't lightly made.

Phil Lee
November 7, 2008, 02:41 PM
The problem isn't political discussion, it is factless political discussion (FPD). FPD is endemic on many discussion groups. People view their opinions as scripture, not to be contradicted.

It is easy to distinguish FPD from other discussion by content. Some examples of FPD:
1) What part of "do not infringe" do they not understand?
2) Obama won't (or will) ban guns during his first term (from anyone other than President-elect Obama).
3) The US Supreme Court will (or won't) incorporate the Second Amendment to apply to the states.

Examples of non-factless political discussion (non-FPD i.e., political discussion containing some content other than opinions):
1) Candidate Obama stated the position that he supported banning assault weapons on his campaign web site (preferably with a web link),
2) State Senator Obama (or any other political figure) voted for (or against) some act that bans handguns (along with the documentation allowing the facts to be checked).

A particular annoying type of FPD comes when a person gives his opinion as to what others should do such as: 1) Gun owners should join the NRA or GOA or . . . . Whether or not such actions would be useful, FPD opinions like this are preachy and violate leadership principles. By contrast, a person saying that he'd joined the NRA or GOA and calling for others to follow him, isn't preachy and illustrates a leadership principle ("follow me").

Any political discussion that doesn't result in something of value being created is useless even if it has facts and isn't FPD.

Any discussion that is whining (example: Americans are so ignorant of history that . . . .) whether or not FPD isn't useful (but, by contrast, a statement such as "Advance Placement testing for college entrance in history showed xx% of students didn't understand the Constitution was a compact among the people delegating powers to the federal government" is may give a useful fact [at least it can be checked] for political discussion if for no other reason than it shows how literature supporting action needs to educate).

If you want to have a useful political discussion board, I'd suggest it be limited to a proper subset of members and that some means be adopted to enforce discipline on the members (but I'd allow non-members to see the discussions even if they couldn't join them).

November 7, 2008, 02:55 PM
The reason such discussions often turn into shouting matches is simple. Politics, for the most part, is not an exercise of the intellect, but, rather, an exercise of the emotions. Once we have an emotional reaction to something it is very difficult, if not impossible, to think rationally and objectively on the subject.

Case in point: I was watching one of the cable channels a couple weeks ago and a discussion regarding "political psychosis" came up. The guest was trying to explain how some people get so emotionally invested in a political position or candidate they become divorced from reality and are incapable of being objective or even or recognizing and acknowledging the truth. Just as he was making his point the other guest started raving about how "George Bush stole the election" in 2000. When asked exactly how GWB stole the election the ranting guest said "He lost the recount in Florida but took it to the Supreme Court and they sided with him against the American People." When it was pointed out that every recount, even those conducted by Democrats, resulted in GWB winning the state of Florida, the person acted as if she could not hear the answer. Then, when reminded that it was Al Gore, not GWB who filed the suit which ended up before the Supreme Court the response was "if you believe that you must be insane." Perfect example of "political psychosis!"

Politics is essentially an emotional, not intellectual, venue of discussion. There should be no surprise that such discussions often become volatile. :)

November 7, 2008, 03:09 PM
It seems as though political discussions devolve very quickly into name calling with no forward progress. It's mostly - given the subject matter of THR - mindlessly recycled tripe from moronic "pro gun" websites and right wing spin doctors. I am not saying the left doesn't have those sites - they do, but they are not quoted as much.

This isn't particular to THR - look how a political contest about ideas turned into a mudfest "He's a socialist!" "She's godless!" "His best friend was in the Weather Underground!" "He went a cocktail party with a Palestinian!"

Political discourse in the public domain in America seems to degenerate into name calling very quickly. It's like a 3rd grade playground, but people get paid millions to sling blood at each other.


November 7, 2008, 04:39 PM
Guess I'll jump in...

I know that it's hard to believe, but many gun owners voted for Obama.
For some people, the gun issue isn't the main issue...but one of many. They were convinced that Obama was the better choice on many other positions.

Others voted against Obama on the sole question of 2A/RKBA. I can't really call it voting for McCain for some few, because he's no real champion of our cause. He's just a little further to the right than Obama...but glancing at his voting record shows that he's not a whole lot further.

My prediction is that the gun question won't be in the forefront for a while...possibly as much as two years, or maybe more. I think there will be some sort of legislation in that arena, but it won't be drastic because it will consume too much energy and too many resources for the ensuing battle. The Heller decision sent a message that we won't take it lightly, and neither Congress nor the president wants to get mired down with the gun question while the economy is comin' at'em like a runaway train. That's what their focus will be for a long time. The economic meltdown was the single biggest deciding factor in this election...not guns.

You can probably look for heavy duties and taxes on ammunition and reloading components by July. You can probably also look for restrictions on lead usage. It's already started...and the environment is their poster child. Remember that the power to tax is the power to destroy. Write to your congressman, and write to him often.

In the interim..we have work to do.

We have a president with a strong anti-gun agenda, and we're likely stuck with that for the next four years. Our best hope is to swing Congress in our direction by voting and by educating the people who are in the middle of the road. By and large, the fence-sitters are the ones who sent these people to Washington. Let's see if we can turn the tide, shall we?

Rather than bickering amongst ourselves here...let's spend that time and effort and bandwidth writing our congressmen. Flood their E-mails and their switchboards. Fighting about which man coulda/woulda/shoulda won will accomplish nothing except using up bandwidth.

"Throw the rascals out!"

Let that be the rallying cry for RKBA.


November 7, 2008, 05:44 PM

Haven't we discussed this in Staff before?

Oleg Volk said: Why don't we have L&P now?

I'll ask you that question, but phrased more accurately.

Why don't we have L&P anymore?

You don't remember?

Insanity - Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

November 7, 2008, 09:50 PM
You're right Flyboy i'm sure Obama has some redeeming points. In the 3 years he ran for president he just forgot to mention them.

Well... thanks for an example of the petty squabbling that this whole thread is about.

November 8, 2008, 02:53 AM
I'm going to cross-post some thoughts I wrote ( in response to the "not all of us need parenting" sentiment.

I hope you have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

Lest people get the wrong impression, let me point out that I, personally, enjoyed the days of the L&P (political) forum. I always found it . . . interesting. Some of my favorite work (if one is allowed to have favorites of one's own work) was in L&P.

I, however, was an ordinary member, I could pick and choose the threads in which I wanted to participate, and ignore the really awful ones.

I was not obliged to engage the complete jerks. I could ignore the blatant trolling, because IT WAS NOT MY JOB.

So, because I wasn't responsible for any of it, I could enjoy the enjoyable bits and decline to be affected by the yucky bits.

And then . . .

I was pressed into service aboard the Good Ship THR.

Somebody handed me a mop and a holystone and a bunch of older gents with wooden legs and eye patches started laughing and cackling. "Well, lad, welcome to the crew! Yar har har!"

I was put to work swabbing the puke and bile off the decks. I got to shovel coal. Occasionally, they'd move the livestock from the lower hold and I'd get to shovel other stuff. What had seemed like such a good idea -- hey, who doesn't want an ocean cruise? -- looked very different from the view of the deckhand. The tourists were having a great time, moving from party to party, picking and choosing, buffet style. Every so often we'd have to throw one over the side but, on the whole they were enjoying themselves. And for the crew . . . ?

I did some research in the mod archives. Oh, gawd.

I went back and looked at some of the "less fun" threads that had been the political fodder of L&P.

I was humbled.

I, who needed no supervision (well, not much), no nanny, no zoo keeper, found that I now WAS the zoo keeper.

It all looks rather different when your job includes sweeping up the glass, mopping up the puke, and tossing drunks.

So, have a little care for those of us who don't have the leisure of ignoring the icky stuff.

We're really -- normally -- nice guys.

A steady diet of teh stoopid can, however, make us a little grumpy.

So, if someone resurrects a political forum, I hope a moderator is chosen who is missing the "sympathy gene" and who is possessed of a quick and sardonic sense of humor. Someone whose idea of fun can be described as "nuke the site from orbit -- for effect."

Gentle is not required for moderating politics.

The members of such a political forum would need to understand that the God of Politics is capricious and unforgiving. He throws Ban Bolts on a whim, and laughs a deep and throaty chuckle at the whining and lamentations of those whose feelings have been hurt. He suffers fools not at all. He has a long memory, holds a grudge, and has no sense of proportion.

The proper way to regard the God-o'-Politics is with fear and trepidation.

Only in this way will the darker passions that normally slither 'round the centers of political discourse be kept at bay.

Failing that?

"Bad idea" seems to be the most apt designation.

But then, I'm not in charge.

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

November 8, 2008, 11:53 AM
we forget to remember that mods are people too.
nice post.

Just Jim
November 9, 2008, 01:44 PM
One of the reasons the Repubs lost the election is they didn't really point out the differences between themselves and the socialist. They quit drawing a firm line that says "this is us and that is them".

Both parties run as centrist till they get elected then persue the real direction they want to go after they get power.

Power to change and is such power going to change our gun rights? If you want to keep your rights you must bring people to your side who can BELIEVE IN those rights. It matters little if people leave when they personaly won't stand up for our rights.

I ain't going to beat a tired horse to death here. We choose our own path. Yet when Schumer has said that talk radio is like porn and should be controlled how long will it be before THR is called porn and shut down??

The power is in civil persuasion and getting those to your side who will fight for it. You have to show the differences in the sides and what they stand for. Like it or not we will all live or die by our beliefs. Freedom isn't free.


November 9, 2008, 07:26 PM
And that's why there's APS and Activism. They have plenty of room for that breed of dead horse over at APS (perhaps politics could be considered an APSaloosa). Here we deal with beating other dead horses like supporting RKBA organizations, recruiting new shooters, working to correct the press, etc..

Just Jim
November 9, 2008, 07:31 PM
Room at the FAL files too.

You can't have thin skin and post there though.


Art Eatman
November 9, 2008, 08:54 PM
Q: Why IS THR? A: More than one reason, but a large part of Oleg's idea is that we advance the cause of RKBA.

So: Part of that advancement is to persuade the uncommitted, the mildly anti-gun and/or the neutral VOTERS that gun owners are not knuckle-dragging Neanderthals, given to grunting insults and incapable of rational thought.

Unfortunately, a forum with political discussion rather commonly goes 180 degrees to what Oleg's hoped for.

Just Jim
November 12, 2008, 11:10 AM

Not a personal attack here but you just don't make sense. You can never convince voters unless you talk politics. How can you ever convince voters to come to your side if you don't give them the political reasons to do so???


Highland Ranger
November 12, 2008, 11:26 AM
That was exactly my thought Jim - removing politics cripples the site's effectiveness as a tool for RKBA and basically makes it a hardware site - much less interesting and effective.

If we break a few eggs along the way, I'd have to imagine that the cost is worth the benefit.

I would also submit that if APS can successfully do it, then it can be done here.

Jeff White
November 12, 2008, 04:56 PM
You can never convince voters unless you talk politics. How can you ever convince voters to come to your side if you don't give them the political reasons to do so???

That's a very easy question to answer. You convince the voters by showing them that we are people just like they are, that we aren't the ignorant rednecks clinging to our guns and religion that the elites like to portray us as. That's what THR is all about. Unfortunately, political discussions go a long towards reinforcing those stereotypes. There are other places that we can talk politics at. Here it runs counter to our mission.


Highland Ranger
November 12, 2008, 05:37 PM
So Jeff, when we express our views about the second amendment, which are inherently political in nature, we are incapable of not sounding poorly? And the only way to convince folks who are not familiar with the issue that they too should respect and exercise their second amendment rights is to show them that we are "like them"? That doesn't sound right - pretty round about way to achieve an end. I can't imagine it will be even marginally effective.

I believe this paragraph in the forum rules lists the mission:

Welcome to The High Road, an online discussion board dedicated to the discussion and advancement of responsible firearms ownership. It is the declared mission of this board to achieve and provide the highest quality of firearms discussion on the Internet, a standard set by the discussion board The Firing Line from 1998-2002.

I don't see how you can advance responsible firearms ownership while neglecting all things political. If firearms discussion refers to things technical, I guess you can still do that . . . . .

Bottom line - THR helped shape my views on the second amendment. It's a shame it's not there anymore to help the next crop of folks who would have otherwise come here to learn and discuss.

Jeff White
November 12, 2008, 05:58 PM
So Jeff, when we express our views about the second amendment, which are inherently political in nature, we are incapable of not sounding poorly?

Exactly! All you have to do is go back through the archives and read some of those threads. The new person to the firearms community who surfed into THR for information would click on legal and political fins all kinds of "proof" that we were all right wing, anti government, militia types who needed guns so we could win the next revolution as soon as the time was right. And if it wasn't that, it was members who were perfectly rational in the technical forums going absolutely ballistic in L&P and getting banned for misconduct.

Politics is a dirty nasty business and it's too emotional a topic for a forum the size of this one to maintain civility while discussing it.

When TFL and then THR were both small forums, political discussions often sent members searching for links to things that supported their position. As we grew things trended towards shouting and the espousing of totally non-mainstream, radical views. The gun culture is it's own worst enemy when they get online and act like they are standing around the counter at the local gun store on a rainy Saturday morning talking with their buddies. They forget that the rant their buddies thought was so witty is now in the public domain where people who have bad intentions would take it and use it to further their fight against RKBA.

Go over to Glocktalk, or any of the other big firearms forums and wade through the political forums there and tell me what you'd think about gunowners if you were sitting on the fence about gun ownership.


November 12, 2008, 06:01 PM
THR experimented with poitical forums. Twice. Neither experiments worked out well. Despite all the promises by members to behave, politics by its very nature is just a subject that turns even the closest friends into adversaries.

How can you ever convince voters to come to your side if you don't give them the political reasons to do so???

You won't do it on-line. Not in any sort of numbers that matter. You need to go do that in person. And you don't do it by your words, you do it by your deeds. I know I get sick of the guy that wants to turn every Thanksgiving dinner into Meet The Press.

We're the choir. Even the best of us get tired of being preached to after a while. There are places to have your political discussion. THR is here to persuade the fence-sitters and the families out there that are considering gun ownership for the first time.

The atmosphere needed to accomplish those goals gets tainted with the excessive political posturing and rants that subforum brought with it.

There is a place to go talk politics - APS. The Staff has encouraged anyone who wants to have those sorts of discussions to go there. It's a separate board. It's not hard to find. It's easy to use; just go sign up. We've seen what happens when the board has tried to keep the septic system so close to the well. It leeched into where we get our drinking water from.

If politics were such the popular subject I'd expect the population of APS to exceed, or at least meet, that of THR. That's not the case. It appears this board can get by without it and still be successful. But we did find having it was detrimental to the Board's overall mission.

Art Eatman
November 12, 2008, 06:11 PM
Emotions: A woman I've know for over a dozen years, a beer-drinking buddy, is a handgun-owning sorta-liberal type. I made a casual comment in an email that I thought that Sarah Palin was the most interesting person of the four in the presidential race.

I got an email back wherein she said she was going to have to rethink our friendship. Duh? I don't have a clue why she had a mad on against Palin. Not a clue.

Now, if people can get all bent out of shape over something that trivial, what about those who come here and read the various political rants with name-calling? The raw hostility which has been shown here against somebody for having a different view of the world?

Since we've been unable to keep political discussions away from Grammaw's lye soap and broom, we stopped them.

Highland Ranger
November 12, 2008, 08:02 PM
Art, with all due respect maybe it's ok that she find new friends? I mean not a rationale response, right?

Are you saying with your example that everyone else can foam at the mouth, but conservative, freedom minded folks have to stay quiet for fear of losing their friends?

For my part . . . bye-bye to friends and family who aren't tolerant. Tolerance works every way and all ways.

Thread evidence aside, is it possible that the good that has been done is not reflected in the threads? Maybe the threads show the evidence of the heat but not the light?

In any event, my suggestion would be to change your mission - you need to drop advancement from it, and not allude to anything RKBA as in scope either in the mission or in discussion.

I've been gone for a while - something has happened here and it's not for the better; heavy handed moderation, no politics, some silly fight over commercialization, it kinda bums me out.

But I guess nothing lasts forever . . . . .

January 12, 2009, 05:09 AM
Bad decision, I have enough trouble controling myself with the run of the mill knucklehead, just imagine what manner of chaos is going to appear from the passionately uninformed.

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