[Coral-List] Sarcasm, disagreements, etc.

Jim Hendee jim.hendee at noaa.gov
Mon Dec 6 09:43:39 EST 2010

I take notice and a tiny bit of umbrage at your epigrammatic quote. 
"Censorship always defeats...etc."  Nobody said anything about
censorship as it relates to "sensitive" topics.  My concern is drifting
"off topic" and personal barbs.  Everybody knows that in nature
everything is connected to everything, but this is a "coral" list, not a
coral/politics/nasty-gram/engineering/peripheral-issues list.  I hope
everybody agrees that I've tried to let this be as free-wheeling as
possible...up to a point.  Defining that point is necessarily arbitrary
when one guy makes the decision, but I feel like I try to be
open-minded.  I also have to follow the NOAA, Dept. Commerce, and U.S.G.
guidelines, too.  Common courtesy should be part of these discussions, too.

However, to be more even-handed, I have asked to have others (within
NOAA) occasionally moderate this list, but no takers.  I wonder why...

On 12/5/10 12:29 PM, Steve Mussman wrote:
> Jim,
> It looks like you are about to come to terms by re-examining the scope, magnitude
> and role of the Coral-List. In doing so, perhaps you will end up redefining it's essence.
> Numerous comments reveal a polarized list membership whose opposing perspectives resemble
> the ideological divide that characterizes our populace at large. That is understandable
> since many studies have revealed that attitudes towards issues we've examined 
> (like climate change and offshore oil exploration) often fall along ideological lines.
> It appears that some listers want the list to limit it's function and avoid topics
> that might lead to contentious debate. Still others (me, among them) find value 
> within these exchanges. Perhaps you are getting a glimpse of the difficulties involved
> in governing under today's political realities. It is not an enviable task and I imagine
> your decision will require much introspection.
> I would simply suggest that you consider measuring your response by considering Coral
> List's constitutional format. The list seems to define itself through a concise and
> comprehensive mission statement. "The purpose of the Coral-List listserver is to provide
> a forum for Internet discussions and announcements pertaining to coral reef ecosystem
> research, conservation, and education. The list is primarily for use by coral reef 
> ecosystem researchers, scientists and educators, but is of course open to everybody."
> Included among the list of "appropriate" coral reef ecosystem related subjects for
> discussion are "climate change" and "controversial topics in reef ecology".
> My interpretation of the above described design of the Coral-List would assume that it 
> would in fact encourage what some critics have described as digressions or useless 
> excursions off topic. (How myopic does one have to be to describe climate change or oil
> spills as unrelated to coral reef ecology?) But why are these discussions beyond the
> mundane considered problematic? I can point to a number of such exchanges that have proven 
> to be informative, educational and enlightening. I have certainly learned much through 
> the observable interplay of the scientific community that helps me to better understand 
> the impediments to what I see as vital and necessary policy shifts on a myriad of critical
> issues affecting our marine ecosystems.
> It is in this light that I hope you will resist the impulse to curtail an important function 
> of the list and keep it's spirit broad and inclusive.
>   Steve
> Censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society
> that is incapable of exercising real discretion.--Henry Steele Commager 
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