The musings of one Andrew Langer - defender of liberty, passionate protector of individual rights, foodie. (Note: Said Musings of Andrew Langer are his own, and the views represented herein are likewise his views, and not the views of any other people, entities, foodstuffs, etc [unless otherwise specifically and explicitly noted].)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Why I Stopped Posting To Usenet....

As the regular readers of the Liberty Blog know, I used to do a lot of writing on the text-based side of the internet called "Usenet" - mostly on environmental issues, generally about the intersection of environmental policy and individual rights, as well as common-sense approaches to environmental policy. A lot of discussion about libertarianism, too.

Well, we all know about the "Queen Kook" (who shall remain nameless at this time), perhaps my biggest fan, who up until late last month continued to spew venom about me online. But I haven't talked about some of the other "fans" I'd gained (and yes, I use that term facetiously).

As I said, the tenor and tone and general lack of any sort of civility in discussion ultimately made me decide that spending my free time on Usenet was probably not a good thing to do. I had made some good friendships online, and had great discussions with people, from which I learned a great deal. But those moments, and those discussions, had grown few and far between.

Taken in turn with a few episodes on par with what Jeff Goldstein recently experienced on his "Protein Blog" (check out for a summary), and I decided enough was enough.

I still occasionally read Usenet - sometimes I look to see if anyone's mentioned me or the Liberty Blog, and it happened that yesterday I came across a post:

It was written by a guy named "Donald Ferry" one of my original fans. Donald, well, Don's got issues. I don't want to dwell on his background, but suffice it to say that once I learned more about him, the more I decided that he had to be treated differently. Let me put it to you this way - Don spent some time in Southeast Asia in the late 60s, early 70s, and it left him, well, missing a few puzzle pieces upstairs.

The point is, Donald has some very real reasons why he doesn't quite understand English - I honestly feel badly for him. The problem is, Donald tends to write as though he does understand everything, and he tends to get things very wrong as a result.

The post that Donald was commenting on was my recent one on Evolution - a post clearly poking at the extreme creationist newsletter I received, and demonstrating (quite plainly, I thought), that I am a firm believer in evolution.

Now, one of the things I'm never happy about is being misrepresented - especially when that misrepresentation is purposeful (ie, a lie). In this case, I chalked it up to Don Ferry's "special circumstances" - but because it was "out there", I felt a correction was in order. So I broke a 13-month hiatus from posting to Usenet, expecting it to be a one-time thing. My correction is here:

I had hoped that would be the end of it. But within minutes some (insert colorful negative metaphor here) named "Thomas Lee Elifritz" pops in with a truly obnoxious and uncalled-for remark - including a somewhat homophobic insult that I won't repeat here. Now, as clear as I can tell, I'd only had one or two interactions with Mr. Elifritz in my previous participation in Usenet, and that was when he placed me on a "crank list", despite the fact that he and I had never interacted online.

I wrote him off then, and let him know that I hadn't given him any thought in the last three years. Rather than leave that alone, he continued to prod.

So I gave back, calmly and cool-ly, including posting a link to the article from the Hill on the transpartisan summit (illustrating that I am, indeed, interested in having meaningful discussions with people I have widely divergent viewpoints). Rather than resigning, he continued to prod, leading up to these gems this morning (from this post: ):

"There is no debate science nigger."
"But here you are again, posting on the usenet. Notice any contradiction there science nigger?"
"Right, science - it's a vast commie conspiracy, isn't it nigger?"
" I know you're a motherf--king science nigger. "

(emphasis added - and text edited for family viewing)

As someone who believes in equality, who believes in freedom, who believes in civility and civil society, I cannot condone such phrases - they are patently outrageous and their use is indefensible. Even if he wasn't using them as "racial" epithets, they're nevertheless dehumanizing, insulting, simply beyond the pale - in fact, even if he wanted to try and defend the statements as somehow an attack on me as being anti-science (which I am not -- as the son of a PhD environmental scientist and an epidemiologist I've spent too many hours learning from my parents to be anything of the sort), that penultimate statement doesn't reference science at all.

In the end, I repost them for two reasons. First, to demonstrate why I stopped posting to Usenet - it's people like Thomas Lee Elifritz who are working to debase society, to end civil discourse, and to prevent real solutions to real problems from taking shape. They are impediments to problem solving, and should be scorned and shunned by all.

Second, I post them to demonstrate just how bereft of intellectual validity such extremists are. They are wholly incapable of engaging in real discussions. Moreover, like so-called progressives who preach the destruction of classically-liberal, freedom-loving institutions and nations, statements like those show their true colors: their racism, their insensitivity, the overall hypocrisy of their positions.

The only difference between Thomas Lee Elifritz and any other outspoken elitist preaching a paternalistic, I know what's better for you and am going to make your choices for you, keeping the world's poor and ignorant in squalid darkness for their own sakes, statist philosophy is that at least Mr. Elifritz wears his insensitive, racist, paternalistic persona on his sleeve.

I have no use for such people. There is no constructive dialogue to be had with them.

But if you wish to find Mr. Elifritz and let him know what you think of his remarks, his modus operandi generally, or his ultimate goals, you can find him as follows:

- Andrew Langer


Anonymous Betty Wirsen said...

This may not be the appropriate blog entry in which to write this comment, but, never having been one to concern myself overly much with internet 'rules', here goes:

I started reading your blog after a year or so of your name being repeatedly tossed about usenet by the 'Queen Kook', and find that I am in complete agreement, and when I'm not, at least your writing style is amusing, so I stay interested.

I thought I would write and ask your opinion of Child Protective Services.

Do you feel that Child Protective Services is too intrusive?

Do you believe that they clearly step outside the boundaries of the law and their own mandates when dealing with families?

Do you believe that 'innocent' families fall 'victim' to CPS without cause?

What would you consider the number one reason for the failures of CPS, and why?

Do you believe that CPS is a non essential entity? Or do you believe that the goals of CPS are well worth the funds poured into the agency?

I suppose I could ask dozens more questions, but those above should at least get you started.

I thought this might be an area in which you would take great interest, and hope that you have comments to share on CPS.

Betty Wirsen

August 02, 2006 9:36 AM

Blogger Andrew Langer said...

Betty -

I appreciate your comments, and want to thank you for reading my blog. I've decided that the initials "QK" are going to be how I refer to (that person) from now on.

You know, I think it goes without saying that I don't like blanket condemnations - even when it comes to government agencies. I'm a firm believer in specifics - ie, said agency is "too intrusive" because they've done X, Y, and Z.

There are far too many child protective service agencies for me to say that they are _all_ intrusive or _all_ operating outside of the boundaries of the law and their own mandates.

Most likely, like any government program, there are entities which operate far outside of their scope, and those who operate much too conservatively. Generally, we, the public, her only about those instances which fall into those extremes.

Ie, we hear about instances in which children are abruptly seized from their parents without cause, or we hear about instances in which children weren't removed from homes, and yet were seriously harmed by their parents.

To me, it comes down to this: we cede power to the state to protect individual rights, and among those rights is to be free from the direct, proximate, and palpable harm caused by the affirmative or negligent actions of other individuals. This is especially true when it comes to those most ill-equipped to defend themselves.

So, there is an abiding self-interest in the state protecting children from real harm.

Do I believe that this power can be abused? Of course. All power in the hands of the state has the potential to be abused. It always has been that way, always will be. The only ways to protect against it are to severely limit the powers the state has, exercise constant vigilance over the dispensing of that power, and quickly punish those who abuse it.

But this doesn't mean that all agencies are abusing their power, or abusing that power all the time.

Is there a specific state CPS that you want to discuss?

- Andrew

August 02, 2006 2:25 PM

Anonymous Betty Wirsen said...


Thanks for your reply.

Maybe a better question would be 'Do you believe that some CPS/DFS policies, procedures, mandates, and the laws that back them are in need of overhaul?'

It becomes more apparent through news coverage, that CPS is a failing agency.

I attribute that, personally, to many factors that include poor training for workers, case overloads, and higher cases of abuse and neglect due to drug and alcohol abuse...among other, more minor, things.

It seems that you have a fairly firm grip on political issues, and I honestly do not as I have taken little interest in the political side of the CPS/DFS issues.

I believe that it is fair to say that no particular state or county interests me so much as individual cases and the action, or inaction of CPS/DFS.

Often times, it seems, that their failures are due to acting within the law. And at times, actions that fall outside the law (such as committing purjury). I am sure that some of their successes, as well, can be attributed to the same, though we hear about those less often because they aren't quite as sensational as the less favorable outcomes.

One recent case that I find most interesting is the case of Starchild Abraham Cherrix.

If you are unaware of this case, the young man is 16, has cancer, and has chosen alternative treatments. CPS/DFS received a call because he was refusing chemo, and his parents are now sharing custody of him with the state.

Would you be inclined to believe that CPS/DFS and the courts should have allowed him the right to choose his own treatment, or were correct in identifying him as a minor who's parents were guilty of medical neglect for allowing him to abandon chemo in favor of alternative medicine?

It's very hard to grasp a firm idea of where the 'line' is in child protective issues. I value the opinions of others in those matters and wonder, what is your take on this, and other cases like it?

One thing that I find ironic about the Cherrix case is this:

Were Abraham a female of the age of 16, and were his cancer in the reporductive organs, he would be fully in control of any and all treatments for that cancer. There simply would be no CPS/DFS intervention for medical neglect.

In my state a female of the age of 9 and above is completely in control of all reproductive organs and decisions they make concerning those organs.

Were my daughter to develop cervical cancer and refuse treatment at the tender age of 13, and choose alternative treatments I could not be charged with medical neglect because I have no right to decision making in her long as the cancer is isolated to her reproductive organs..the moment the cancer may spread outside those organs the control comes back to me.

This makes little to no sense when you consider that a child of 9 is no more capable of making informed decisions about life threatening issues than a 16 year old is, yet because of the location of the cancer, and the gender of the victim, the decision lies solely with, or not with, the patient.

What is your take on the Cherrix case? (as an example of CPS/DFS interventions on behalf of children)


Betty Wirsen

August 03, 2006 12:28 PM


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