Monday November 27, 2006

What's up with a deleted comment?

screenshot from Babalu: [ED: A PORTION OF THIS COMMENT WAS DELETED BECAUSE IT WAS COMPLETELY INAPPROPORIATE.]OK, so a disgruntled former employee storms the Herald, takes a hostage, and then surrenders. The blogs jump all over it, of course. But one particular thing struck me during all this: a comment left on the Babalu post about the event. Here it is:

“Warning: The Attorney General Has Determined that working at the Miami Herald Is Dangerous to Your Health.”

It’s unfortunate that Jose Varela did not seize the racist Tom Fiedler. Had he done so, Cuban exiles would have erected a monument to Varela at the Cuban Memorial Plaza.

Pretty outrageous comment, and Rick and Bob both picked up on it; at some point in the meantime, the second paragraph of the comment was deleted, presumably by Val, the owner of Babalu. (Rick has thoughtfully archived a pre-deletion screenshot here.)

I find that comment outrageous, maybe even bordering on offensive, but for the life of me I can’t see how it rises to the level of needing to be censored. Now, Val runs a great blog, and I’m not trying to suggest that he can’t do anything he wants with his comments section. But I think the deleting of this comment deserves a little discussion. Many people in the Cuban-American community in Miami hate Fiedler. Heck, many Miamians of all sorts of origins hate him — this is a guy who’s claim to fame is sinking Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign.

But nobody believes that the comment was a serious suggestion that someone harm Fiedler, nor can the “racist” comment possibly be viewed as a factual allegation. This poster was voicing serious dislike of, and doing it in an irreverent fashion. It’s not like joking about violence is considered out of bounds; check out Wonkette’s reaction to this very story:

We hope this is the start of a trend, and expect to see Tom Toles firing warning shots out of Downie’s office window by the end of the year.

And that’s a post, folks, not a comment.

OK, so comments get deleted all the time, right? What’s the big deal? Well, for 99% of the comments that get deleted from blogs, it’s because they’re abusive to the process — we delete spam, commercial messages, and abusive language directed at other commenters (ie “trolling”), which undermine the conversation. We do not, generally, delete comments simply because we disagree with them. But wait a second, if we take the gist of the comment to be that Fiedler is an ass, then presumably the editors of Babalu agree with the sentiment.

So what does it mean that this comment got deleted? That Val actually likes Fiedler? That he thought there was a genuine incitement to kidnap him? Or was it that he didn’t want that comment up because it made his blog’s community look a little nutty?

If it’s the latter, then the implications are troubling. Are they that, once again, the Cuban-American community is supposed to speak with one unified voice? That “extreme” comments are encouraged so long as they stay within certain prescribed lines (note that a regular commenter is named “KillCastro”)? Or that the line between flippant comments and violent actions is still dangerously thin for some?

Again, my intention is not to tell Val how to run his house, or what he can and can’t delete. But unlike zapping a piece of spam, deleting this particular comment had meaning, and it’s worth wondering what that is.

Update:
. . .and a not unpredictable brawl ensued in the comments below. I want to thank Val for correcting a couple of my points and sharing his perspective on this issue. To wit: (1) I was wrong about KillCastro being a regular commenter on Balabu; I randomly came across some old posts that led me to that conclusion. (2) I obviously wasn’t clear enough in saying that I think the comment should have stayed. (3) the comment was deleted by George, after consulting with Val (not a major point IMHO).

But let me jump straight to what I think is the most significant issue, and one which everyone in the comments seems to be ignoring: The comment was deleted to avoid (further) criticism from Rick. What’s up with that?? As much as I think the comment should have stayed, I think the reason for its deletion is even worse. We all have strong opinions, and we have blogs so we can hash out our intellectual differences. So why delete a comment to avoid an argument, if it’s an honest argument?

The rest of my thoughts are more relevant to what’s being discussed in the comments, so I’ll continue there. Thanks to everyone for participating — it’s a little bit of a flame war, but there’s some good exchange of ideas, too.

Update: This comment says something very important. Thanks, Manuel.

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  1. Steve    Mon Nov 27, 09:08 AM #  

    I had the same sentiment myself. Not about deleting the comment, but about grabbing Tom Fiddler.



  2. Val Prieto    Mon Nov 27, 09:54 AM #  

    Alesh,

    First, I did not delete the comment. I read said comment and knew it was meant tongue in cheek and thus I decided, as the blog owner, to let it remain.

    However, given the fact that said comment was immediately seized by the blog police/nannies over at Stuck on the Palmetto and taken not as a tongue in cheek response but misrepresented as “proof” of the intolerance and extremism of the Cuban-American community, when George Moneo asked me if he should delete it I really didnt think it to be such a big deal and said fine, whatever. I personally had no problem with the comment as anyone without an axe to grind or a bug up their ass or whoring for hits or a bigotted agenda would have easily recognized the nature of the comment to be one of gest and not one calling for the execution of Tom Fiedler. The fact that you find that comment outrageous only displays youre misconceptions and pre-conceived notions about the Cuban-American community. It was snark, plain and simple, and I reconized it as such and treated as such.

    Second, my disdain for Fiedler and his arrogance and condescension towards the Cuban-American community is well documented on my blog in numerous posts.

    Third, your refering to a commenter who went by the name of Killcastro also shows just how far some will go to and how the truth can be bent to make an illusory point. Truth of the matter is the Killcastro now has his own blog – which is not on my blogroll, incidentally – and he has not commented on Babalu for over a year and a half. Thus he is no “regular commenter” as you state and commented on Babalu only sparingly.

    I dont have any bones to pick with you Alesh. Ive always respected you and your blog and admired the work you do here even if I didnt agree with any of it. But I find it incredibly tiring and troublesome that you would take an OBVIOUS tongue in cheek comment that was removed simply to take the straw out of Rick’s obvious strawman argument and use that as a basis to judge me and the Cuban-American community.

    With this post you have stooped to the gutteral level of Rick and Stuck on the Palmetto and quite frankly, Ive always thought much more highly of you and Critical Miami.



  3. Alex    Mon Nov 27, 10:07 AM #  

    Wow, Val, I think Alesh is actually coming to your defense here. His point is that the comment should have stayed as it was. I think so too. I don’t think commenters reflect on a blog, but comments policy do.

    The comment per se it may not have been anything more than outrageous from somebody’s point of view (mine included), inciting to violence for someone else or just in jest as Val says. But the timing was absolutely fucked up. It pissed me off because here’s a good guy who snapped, who at that very moment was at risk of losing his life in a shootout with police and the commenter is lamenting he didn’t take Fiedler hostage. I think it makes him or her an absolute ass.



  4. Jonathan    Mon Nov 27, 10:13 AM #  

    “So what does it mean that this comment got deleted?”

    It’s a no-win situation for Val. Either he gets accused of inciting violence or tolerating the incitement of violence, or he gets accused of censorship. As long as he makes clear, as he did, that something was deleted, what’s the problem.

    WRT “KillCastro,” there’s a difference between advocating the murder of a newspaper columnist and advocating the assassination of a murdering dictator.



  5. Val Prieto    Mon Nov 27, 10:31 AM #  

    Alex,

    Again, I stated that I did in fact read the comment and I did in fact find no reason to delete it. George edited the comment for the sole reason of not letting Rick use it as a strawman. And I, personally, found no reason to comment on said comment as it pretty much speaks for itself. You have to be pretty thin skinned or have an ulterior motive to make such a big stink out of an obvious joke made in bad taste. So either grow a thicker skin and stop whining about others or come clean and fess up with the agenda.

    And please, give me a break with your “comments policy” of the blog bs. Had I the time or the inclination I could go through the comments at Stuck on the Palmetto and find plenty of instances of “outrageousness” and “incitements violence.”



  6. Rick    Mon Nov 27, 10:48 AM #  

    There’s a couple things going on here.

    The comment was inappropriate. It was made in the midst of a situation where a man was threatening others and there was no telling how it was all going to end. Maybe it was meant in jest but in that type of situation, it was bad judgment to post that type of comment at that time. I believe George made the right decision to edit it. The fact that it took a while for someone at babalu to come to that decision might be cause for discussion, in my opinion, but the end result was the right one.

    To me, Val’s reaction to this post by Alesh is vintage babalu. Agree with them and you’re golden. Question them and you’re shit. And a hater of the entire Cuban-American community to boot.

    That divisive attitude is the last thing this town needs.

    .



  7. alesh    Mon Nov 27, 10:50 AM #  

    Val~

    First of all, I was googling around your archives and saw “KillCastro” a few times; sorry if it’s a misrepresentation to say he’s a regular commenter. It was based on my ignorance, not any attempt at misrepresentation.

    The fact that you find that comment outrageous only displays youre misconceptions and pre-conceived notions about the Cuban-American community. It was snark, plain and simple, and I reconized it as such and treated as such.

    OK, I guess somehow I wasn’t clear, or you’re misreading me, but the whole point of my post was that I didn’t consider the comment a particularly big deal. I even agree that ‘snark’ may be a better characterization then ‘outrageous’, but I meant roughly the same thing by it. Sorry if I was unclear.

    Since you have multiple moderators, I tried to be ambiguous about who deleted it, but you’re saying that you approved the deletion, so whether you actually did it or not is beside the point.

    I’m glad that you came out and said that it was done in response to the SotP post. I think that is significant, and perhaps unfortunate.

    But again, I didn’t mean to be critical of you or the blog, or even to make any conclusive statement — i’m just thinking out loud.

    Alex ~

    Yes.

    Jonathan ~

    Yes, in some way Val was in a ‘no-win’ situation, open to criticism either way. That’s just the way it goes sometimes, though, and I don’t think it’s a big deal. But again, I don’t mean to criticize, just to explore the issue.



  8. Alex    Mon Nov 27, 10:56 AM #  

    I’m not going to hijack these comments with further discussion of this.



  9. Val Prieto    Mon Nov 27, 11:19 AM #  

    Rick,

    That divisive attitude is the last thing this town needs.

    Man, if that dont take the cake. this statement coming from you of all people. You’re the one that started this whole mess to begin with, Rick. Someone makes a comment on my blog in an obvious attempt at snark, and you, the high and mighty blog overloard, because you find it “inappropriate” – which, not only do I find hard to believe considering some of the personal attacks leveled at me and Cubans in your comments section which you have allowed to take place and in many cases agreed with, but also because you are the official shit stirring gets me hits of the local blogosphere – decide to take it to task not because of the poor guy driven to an act of madness (he is cuban after all, and probably conservative, which must have driven you absolutely ape shit to fake taking his side) but because you recognize it as yet another opportunity to bash that segment of the community for whom the disdain just oozes out of your pores.

    Alesh, I meant no disrespect to your or this blog in my response to you.



  10. Rick    Mon Nov 27, 11:24 AM #  

    As I was saying…..

    .



  11. alesh    Mon Nov 27, 11:36 AM #  

    Rick~

    Inappropriate? Um . . . maybe. I’m from the Alfredo Triff school of unmoderated comments. We believe that the strength of blogs is that anyone can make any comment they like, anonymously or not, and THAT is what makes the conversation interesting. Remember the crazy comment someone left here awhile back? Some suggested that it made inappropriate statements about Alfredo and his wife, and I strongly considered deleting it. But so I e-mailed him about it, and he suggested keeping it.

    The point is that I believe in keeping things. When you have that policy, your readers can be assured of a 100% free discussion. It also takes the pressure and responsibility of the blogger to make tough judgment calls all the time — if it’s not spam, it stays, “inappropriate” or not.

    I do appreciate the way the deletion was made, though — they only took out the part they felt needed to go, and indicated that something had been edited. A less prudent blogger might just have deleted the whole comment.



  12. Steve    Mon Nov 27, 11:45 AM #  

    I agree: it was an entirely inappropriate comment. What he should have said was, he wished Captain Cartoonist had taken both editors duck hunting with Dick Cheney.

    Ferchrissakes people, lighten up.



  13. Duran    Mon Nov 27, 11:49 AM #  

    The comment was inappropriate, if anyone would have said anything about killing Bush or some other Cuban-American idol, you know everyone would have been up in arms about it. It’s a double-standard. It was a bad joke in immensely poor taste. I would have deleted it as well. Then again I don’t think Fiedler said anything wrong when comparing Cuban-Americans to chihuahuas. He just picked the wrong dog that is usually associated with Hispanics, but had he picked a toy poodle or shih tzu no one would have said anything. And before anyone accuses me of being racist, I’m Hispanic myself.



  14. Val Prieto    Mon Nov 27, 12:42 PM #  

    Rick,

    Whats the matter? i cant have an opinion and state it? or is that reserved for non-Cubans and Cuban liberals?

    Instead of the hubris, why dont you just address my comments towards you?



  15. Rick    Mon Nov 27, 01:19 PM #  

    So I can be the subject of yet another one of your unhinged comments? Quite frankly, Val, you just ain’t worth it anymore.

    .



  16. Val Prieto    Mon Nov 27, 01:28 PM #  

    Rick,

    Exactly my point. if I aint worth it, why do you insist on continuing with this petty bullshit?

    Why dont you just leave me and my unhinged commentary alone and mind your own business?



  17. j-j    Mon Nov 27, 02:18 PM #  

    Rick said” To me, Val’s reaction to this post by Alesh is vintage babalu. Agree with them and you’re golden. Question them and you’re shit. And a hater of the entire Cuban-American community to boot.

    That divisive attitude is the last thing this town needs.”

    I agree with this 100% there is double standard in Miami, and you have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see it. I wont even go in there, I know where that train is going, and I have no time or desire to flame the fires of the hard-line camp.

    But to Alesh, I have this to say: Your whole “maybe I’m from the Alfredo Trift school of unmoderated comments” just reeks of stale bong water. Save that hippie free attitude for all brothers and sisters in your commune, dude. The fact is that we need to have some rules, there are bad people outthere, and treating everyone’s comments as if the internet is some kind of utopian dream society is not only naive but also dangerous. The only hippie comunes that ever proved sucesful were the ones that had at least some simple and democratic rules for people to follow. Everything should not be up for endless discucion, some things are and will always be wrong. that comment was charged and dangerous, and if don’t believe in that, then why don’t the person that wrote it wont just walk up to Mr. Fiedler’s house and post it on his doorbell? With his name and address? Why? Because ,we have laws, I may not agree with them but I know that some laws are better than having no laws. Just why can ‘t you (and the Alfredo Trift School):) understand that this also applies to the internet is something that bafles me to no end .

    j-j

    .



  18. Robert    Mon Nov 27, 03:03 PM #  

    Rick,

    You don’t know when to quit, do you? Never mind the fact that your “blog-police” attitude has gotten to point of being ridiculous.

    As Alesh noted but I will expand upon, the fact that the comment editing was done because of your insistence on bringing out anything negative regarding Babalu Blog, and by extension the conservative portion of the Cuban-American community, is significant and a very sad testament to the lengths you will go to in order make people you disagree with look bad.

    Let’s be totally honest Rick. You’ve been after Val and Babalu for several months now. You began by accusing him of blowing off the Vamos A Cuba issue in SoTP posts and in comments left on my blog. A simple e-mail to Val would have solved that problem, but that would have derailed you true intention of publically making him and Babalu look bad. When I called you out on that, you then began to pick apart some of Val’s posts and criticizing his comment policy on SoTP. Then, you decided to use the Babalu header image in a SoTP post that was frankly in very bad taste.

    All this adds up to a pattern of disingenious blog-behavior that you would never own up to. You said above that the last thing this town needs is this type of divisive attitude. Couldn’t agree with you more.

    Problem is Rick, you thrive off being divisive. In that sense, you’re 100% Miami. That’s your right. But don’t get all upset and act all high and mighty when someone calls out your bullshit.

    Your holier-than-thou act has indeed gotten old.



  19. Rick    Mon Nov 27, 05:15 PM #  

    Robert: thanks for finally putting down the disguise and telling me what you really think of me. I appreciate your honesty. Finally.

    The folks over at babalu have a favorite saying when someone disgrees with them in their comments section. “Go get your own blog!” they say, usually just prior to hitting the ban button.

    Well, guess what? I got my own blog and I’m free to criticize what I read on the web. That includes the holier-than-thou babalu who has no problem bashing everyone who doesn’t march in lockstep with their line of thinking but can’t handle the criticism when it’s directed their way.

    That comment was irresponsible. Period. I posted it on my blog and made the comment, “Wow.” From there, George decided to edit it and the rest is history. I didn’t insist on shit and if George or Val are feeding you anything else, they’re GD liars. I said above that George did the right thing. I invite you to show me, Robert, where I directed babalu to remove that post. I invite you to show me where I criticized Babalu for posting it. I’ve even said that blog owners are not responsible for what commenters post. I’m the “blog police” simply because I posted the comment and made the comment, “Wow?” Are you effing serious, Robert?

    First you call out SotP as being “mostly negative” on Miami which I proved is damned untrue, now you’re repeating the phrase of the day, “blog police,” because I pointed out a comment made on babalu. You’re accumulating quite a record, my friend.

    Here’s the deal, Robert. Criticize me all you want. But come at me with something good. Something that’s accurate and something that is a little more that a loud whine. Because if there’s anything I hate it’s wasting my time responding to baseless BS repeated over and over again in a desperate attempt to make it sound somewhat credible.

    .



  20. P.T. Barnum    Mon Nov 27, 05:25 PM #  

    Excellent exchange, gents. Takes the spotlight right off that Art Basil shindig going on somewhere near here.



  21. Robert    Mon Nov 27, 06:17 PM #  

    Rick,

    Robert: thanks for finally putting down the disguise and telling me what you really think of me. I appreciate your honesty. Finally.

    I’ve never been anything other than honest. Let’s just call it a cumulative effect. You know this isn’t the first time I’ve taken issue with your postings and comments.

    Well, guess what? I got my own blog and I’m free to criticize what I read on the web. That includes the holier-than-thou babalu who has no problem bashing everyone who doesn’t march in lockstep with their line of thinking but can’t handle the criticism when it’s directed their way.

    Yes indeed, you have you’re own blog. And you can criticize whomever and whatever you want. Just don’t get all bent out of shape when you get criticized back. You’re guilty of the same thing you accuse Babalu of.

    The comment was irresponsible, but what’s the point of mentioning it in a post, and going as far as making a screen capture of it for posterity? If you knew right away that the comment wasn’t reflective of the thoughts of Babalu Blog, then why even make a point of quoting it in your post? That’s where the doubt seeps in and Val and George have a valid point.

    You actually wasted your time counting posts and trying to prove me wrong? Wow. I’d love to have the same free time you have. Then again, maybe I sparked a little insecurity in you and you had to count the posts to make sure I was wrong.

    Here’s the deal, Robert. Criticize me all you want. But come at me with something good. Something that’s accurate and something that is a little more that a loud whine. Because if there’s anything I hate it’s wasting my time responding to baseless BS repeated over and over again in a desperate attempt to make it sound somewhat credible.

    That’s exactly what I did. I came up with something good and factual. I pointed out the examples in my third paragraph.

    Let’s see your rebuttal.



  22. B.A.C    Mon Nov 27, 07:06 PM #  

    How about moderating comments and not approving it the first place? Then you avoid being accused of inciting dangerous actions and accused of censorship (to a certain extent).



  23. Rick    Mon Nov 27, 07:52 PM #  

    Robert:

    Why make a point of the comment, Robert? It was idiotic, that’s why. There’s a clue there when I said “Wow.” I made it very clear in the post that the comment came from a commenter and I never suggested otherwise. In fact, if you read the comments thread, George brings that same point up and I address it with him.

    I made a screenshot of that comment because I was afraid that it would be deleted and my link would have been confusing at best. At worst someone could have accused me of making it all up. Not that it would ever happen that way at babalu in a thousand years.

    Anytime anyone makes an accusation that I know is wrong and is without merit, I’ll gladly spend 30 minutes to prove their ass wrong. You made a charge with absolutely no merit and you didn’t even bother to try to back it up. Think if someone visited 26th Parallel and said that you never said anything favorable about Anglos. When you confronted them and asked them for proof, they basically told you to go pound sand. What would you do?

    .



  24. alesh    Mon Nov 27, 08:12 PM #  

    I’m going to ignore the back-n-forth between Rick and Robert et al for a moment and respond to a couple of other interesting comments:

    J-J~

    Awesome. Thanks. OK, so I never said there were no rules — Spam gets deleted instantly. So do “Nice blog, check out my business” posts, however sincere. So do posts that fuck with identity, whether it be by impersonation or by outing. Ditto for genuinely threatening messages. And, along a sliding scale, nasty personal comments with no redeeming value get deleted.

    I don’t know whether that sounds ambiguous, but it’s NOT. I know exactly what to delete. Anything more would be censoring opinions. There may be a place for that on other blogs, but not here. Censoring opinions that are different from your own is fine on your blog, but recognize that it’ll have effects on the conversation — it’s going to be one-sided.

    Note: When you read comments on Critical Miami, you can be sure that anyone who had a dissenting opinion has a chance to voice it. If there’s no dissenting comment, it means that nobody would step up, even anonymously, to disagree, or that there is universal agreement. To me, that has some value attached to it.

    B.A.C.~

    From the above, it should be obvious what I think of moderated comments, but I’ll add one additional thought: The generally accepted legal contention is that a blogger is not responsible for libelous or otherwise unlawful statements made in open comments. But in a situation where the blogger approves comments on a case-by-case basis, this changes. If you moderate, you’re in some sense putting your endorsement on each comment that appears on your blog, and the law pays attention to that. (I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. It’s my best guess based on reading the appropriate section on the EFF website a few months ago.)



  25. Robert    Mon Nov 27, 09:04 PM #  

    Rick,

    You didn’t make the point totally clear that the comment was idiotic. And, truth be known, your history of being very critical of Babalu doesn’t help you in this case. You should have been totally up front and clear about it. That’s my opinion.

    If someone accused me of something which I knew had absolutely no basis whatsoever, I would ignore them, plain and simple. The comparison you used is flawed because I have never been critical of any group as a whole, let along Anglos. You on the other hand have been quite negative on South Florida at times. Maybe not most of the time, but at least some of the time.

    BTW, I just read your “Why I don’t like South Florida” post for the first time today. Honestly, it’s the best and most balanced post you’ve ever done on life in South Florida. If most of your “negative” posts about South Florida were like that one, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. In this case, it’s not always what you say (write), it’s how you say (write) it. Some food for thought.



  26. Rick    Mon Nov 27, 10:12 PM #  

    Censoring opinions that are different from your own is fine on your blog, but recognize that it’ll have effects on the conversation — it’s going to be one-sided.

    Exactly. Couldn’t agree more.

    Robert: I believe you like that post so much because I also included the things that I like about SoFla. That’s why you consider it balanced. I’m not, repeat not, going to make it a point to say something positive about Miami every time I say something negative just to satisfy those who can’t stand reading negative things. I think it’s kind of unrealistic to think I would.

    And, by the way, for the upteenth time, I don’t LOVE South Florida. I swear to God, there’s got to be some deep psychological reason why people can’t get it through their heads that’s all I’m saying.

    .



  27. Jonathan    Tue Nov 28, 06:07 AM #  

    Alesh,

    Have you been deleting my important comments about mature herbal viagra playstation loans?



  28. alesh    Tue Nov 28, 07:25 AM #  

    Well, if everybody else has the good shit, it’s just raising the bar for me, now isn’t it Jonathan??



  29. Val Prieto    Tue Nov 28, 07:50 AM #  

    Alesh,

    For the record, when the question of that comment arose, my attitude and my response was not that I agreed with Rick’s assesment, but that I just didnt feel like dealing with this petty crap.

    We’ve all wasted so much time on this mundane issue, an issue created by Rick for whatever purpose, that we’ve had to ignore the many more important things that we could have been blogging about or discussing instead of a tongue in cheek comment made in a single post.

    This kinda shit makes blogging tiresome and frustrating.



  30. alesh    Tue Nov 28, 08:22 AM #  

    (Oh by the way, I added more thoughts in an update to the original post last night.)

    Val ~

    Sorry I’m making a big deal out of this. I know what you mean — rick has been keeping tabs on your blog and posting about anything that strikes him as off. And with his particular frame of reference, that’s a lot of stuff.

    But I don’t see why that should lead you to start censoring your blog. I say do your thing, and let your community do its thing. If a few people have extreme opinions, so be it (and hating Fiedler is not so extreme, anyway).

    I don’t think it should bother anyone when Rick is wrong about something. I mean, I like the guy personally, and I like SotP. But he’s wrong about a lot of stuff. Witness all the arguments I’ve gotten into with him. And there’d be a lot more if I could tolerate his horrible Blogger comment system (it find it impossible to keep track of conversations over a few days). One such argument happened a couple of months ago, and then we met at the blogger thing and had a great time talking and drinking beer. It’s all good.



  31. Steve Klotz    Tue Nov 28, 09:24 AM #  

    Just read your update, ‘Lesh. For what it’s worth, the most troubling piece of this teapot’s tempest is that one blogger should delete something — anything — from his blog to avoid unpleasantries from another blogger. Hell — that’s a reason to highlight something, not delete it. Particularly if you enjoy irritating the party at issue. What happened to Bring It On?



  32. alesh    Tue Nov 28, 09:39 AM #  

    You know, I was thinking about putting this post on digg. Then I realized what the headline would be:

    “Blogger Deletes Comment”

    Kind of silly when you look at it like that. But yes.



  33. Hambone    Tue Nov 28, 11:10 AM #  

    If that’s the reason he deleted it, “26th Parallel” must be where Brokeback Mountain is. Or do I have the wrong blog? All you white blogs look alike to me.



  34. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 11:22 AM #  

    I have always objected to so-called “moderated” forums because it does not seem to me that anyone should have the right to “approve” or alter anybody else’s opinion. I also reject the popular notion that the blog-owner has the right to control the content of his blog. Once he invites the imput of others he has the responsibility to present honestly their opinions even if he does not agree with them, in fact, especially if he doesn’t Otherwise, the blog will become an echo chamber and lose all interest, since it is contending opinions, the crash of intellects, which lends interest to blogs. Without this free exchange of ideas blogs tend to become ponderous and pontificating.

    It is not surprising that the well-articulated and reasonable comments should be shunted aside, even if they are in the majority, as they were on this instance; and an isolated remark, which was by no means outside the bounds of civilized discourse, distorted and spinned into some kind of sub rosa threat, which is then used to besmirch the readership of a particular blog and, indeed, the entire Cuban-American community.

    I well recall that in the aftermath of the Elian federal abduction, CNN kept its cameras for hours on one burning garbage can, conveying the impression to the nation that Miami itself was burning. In fact, there were no riots: no one was hurt (except Elian’s relatives and supporters who were beaten and trampled by the FBI); and not one cent of private or public property was damaged (except the González residence, which was trashed).



  35. Val Prieto    Tue Nov 28, 11:34 AM #  

    Again, I allowed the comment to be deleted not because of “unpleasantries” but because I didnt want to get into another bullshit discussion with Rick. I didnt even give it a second thought. Sometimes its just better to walk away.

    Alesh,

    Rick and I have had full blown arguments and on more than one occassion I have offered the peace pipe, as they say. Including one time inviting him to my HOME, publicly, to have a few beers and watch a Dolphins game. And, if I find something in his blog that I feel the need to answer to I do so in his blog’s comments. I dont go and post an entry being critical of his opinion on Babalu and I certainly dont police his blog looking for entry fodder.

    As a matter of fact, youd be hard pressed to find any entries on my blog disecting and criticizing other bloggers. I blog for a specific purpose and these little blog spats detract from that purpose.



  36. alesh    Tue Nov 28, 12:37 PM #  

    Manuel very eloquently says exactly what I was trying to get at. Everyone should read comment #34.

    Val~ So I have to insult you regularly on my blog to get invited to Man Camp? Is that what it takes?!



  37. Alex    Tue Nov 28, 12:55 PM #  

    Nitpicking: Tellechea is wrong at least in two counts: the famous comment - not outside the bounds of civilized discourse unless civilized discourse now includes wishes for hostage taking - was not used to besmirch the “entire” cuban American community, which Babalu doesn’t represent. And those tires and garbage cans burning cost more than one cent, add to it the amount of police needed to contain rioters (more than 200 arrests were made). No withewashing, please.



  38. Alex    Tue Nov 28, 12:57 PM #  

    No crossing out words intended… forgot the silly Textile interface. Ugh.

    [fixed it for ya... ~a]



  39. Rick    Tue Nov 28, 12:58 PM #  

    Yes, Alesh, I am WRONG about so many things because you are RIGHT about so many things.

    Val: Hey, don’t forget that you privately rescinded that public invitation. Fair and balanced, know what I mean?

    And, if I find something in his blog that I feel the need to answer to I do so in his blog’s comments. I dont go and post an entry being critical of his opinion on Babalu and I certainly dont police his blog looking for entry fodder.

    Never, no you would never, ever…hey, wait a minute!

    Pitiful. Just plain pitiful.

    .



  40. conductor    Tue Nov 28, 12:59 PM #  

    While I respect Manuel’s opinion I disagree somewhat. As the blog owner I implement a comment moderation policy that I think is fair.

    Some certainly don’t see it as fair and it’s their right to not come to my blog if they feel the policy discredits me.

    But as the blog owner I’m the moderator of the discussion and reserve the right to keep the discussion flowing in the direction that I want it to flow. That doesn’t mean eliminating dissent, but keeping the discussion honest.

    I don’t know how many trolls you get, but I get a lot. They want to repeat the same slogans and when you try to pin them down to a topic, they go off on a tangent.

    If it’s obvious that the person has not read what I have written and goes off on a premedited rant, why should I post his or her opinion?

    I don’t like flame wars on my blog. There are message boards for that.

    As for the comment that was redacted at Babalu, I think there was a little oversensitivity to the fact that Cuban-Americans are labeled as intolerant by every other group. The statement could be viewed as intolerant and certainly was in bad taste.

    Bottom line is you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If the comment stays as posted, then Val’s readers (and by extension Val himself) are intolerant reactionaries, when the comment is removed he is a hypocrite because he doesn’t allow free speech.

    It’s just a blog, folks. This isn’t elementary school.



  41. Val Prieto    Tue Nov 28, 01:20 PM #  

    Alesh,

    You have a standing invite to ManCamp. Any football sunday. Drop me a line.

    I agree with Manuel’s comment on moderating comments. However, some thing are a lot easier said than done. Notwithstanding the spam, spambots and trolls there are other reasons that comments need to be, for lack of a better word, “moderated.”

    Example:

    It’s plainly obvious that babalu is an anti-castro site yet I get at least 5 or 6 comments a day on posts that can be a day old or a year old stating “viva fidel castro! viva la revolucion!” bet your ass I will not allow that bullcrap to pe published on my dime.

    There’s also the thread hijackers who will post a link to some story on the Evils of the Bush Administration on an innocuous cuban food post. This happens all the time and when it does, I remove the comment text and add an editors note to the effect that the comment has nothing to do with the post at hand.

    then there’s the agenda trolls who come in all nice and begin participating in a reasoned debate until they are civilly proven wrong and then turn to the ad hominem and foul language and threats. that in turn illicits the same type of responses.

    there are also certain people, like a commenter Ive had known as “leftside” with a clear cut agenda and no matter how much evidence, data, facts, etc.. you introduce into the debate that disproves their theories, will continue spewing whatever the communist propaganda du jour is.

    then there are some that comment just to piss people off and who will continue to do so until they are banned.

    And of course, there also those that turn the comments section into the most disgusting xenophobic, racial and cultural free for all, like we say in Corral’s blog and we still see today in some blogs like the Sun Sentinel’s.

    When you have an average daily readership of a couple hundred or so, comments are relatively easy to read and follow, as only a small percentage of readers tend to comment. But when you have an average daily readership over a few thousand, it is almost impossible to track every single comment posted unless you are dedicated 24/7 solely to the blog.

    i thought about moderating comments at Babalu but realized i would spend a good part of my day doing just that. So I installed comment registration where all you need is a typekey account in good standing to comment. Not one comment posted on babalu waits for approval. they all get published the minute you click post.

    Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that not everyone is interested in civil discourse or debate. And to open up a forum without moderation with people that just want to stir the shit able to stir it freely, you just end up having a hate fest.



  42. Val Prieto    Tue Nov 28, 01:28 PM #  

    Rick,

    Why dont you be honest and post exactly why that invite was rescinded?

    And your link to my post at Babalu is the only time I have ever linked to SoTP negatively and THAT was done soley after you took my blog header photograph and photoshopped the the title and text out, thus using a photo of my dead aunt to further your agenda in a post calling me out FOR SOMETHING I DIDNT POST ABOUT.

    if you dont like it, dont do it to others. You prick.



  43. Rick    Tue Nov 28, 01:58 PM #  

    The invite was rescinded because I disagree with you? I don’t know, Val. Tell me.

    So you have criticized SotP on your blog, after all. Just wanted to get that cleared up.

    And we agreed to end the discussion on the header after I admitted that I had made a mistake.

    You are a man of your word, Val.

    .



  44. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 02:02 PM #  

    Val – You referred me here from SotP for an answer to the censorship that goes on at Babalu but I see no such explanation.

    Would you mind explaining why exactly user “33139” was banned from your site while the user who advocated violence against Fiedler was allowed to stay? Nothing in this dialogue seemed to violate any of the rules you mentioned above:

    http://www.babalublog.com/archives/004300.html

    Again, your blog, your rules, etc., etc., but you post on a number of So. Fla. blogs proclaiming Babalu to be a place where all opinions are welcomed yet the opposite seems to be the case.

    Thanks.



  45. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 02:24 PM #  

    By the way, “Critical Miami” is only reporting part of the story. Not only did Babalu censor a comment, but at 1:21 PM on Nov. 25, Babalu editor George L Moneo announced the entire thread was closed because he didn’t like a couple of the preceding comments.

    A couple people immediately called George on this and pointed out the hypocrisy – after all, Varela claimed his actions were because of censorship – so George left the thread opened, banned the user who pointed out the hypocrisy, and then went back and edited his 1:21 PM comments to delete the “thread closed” announcement, etc., as if it never happened.



  46. Val Prieto    Tue Nov 28, 03:02 PM #  

    Rick,

    This is the last time I will address you.

    I have many friends that disagree with me on any number of issues whom are still quite welcome to the hospitality of my home. The difference between them and you is that they arent malevolent in their disagreements nor are there ulterior motives behind same. It’s called respect. Ive learned that i certainly cant expect that from you, nor should you ever contemplate expecting it from me. I doubt you have any idea how to cultivate it anyway.

    As for the negative post, yes, rick, that’s right. I wont mince words with you any further with your pettiness. I did post one negative link to SoTP. Are you happy now? Both you and I, in all honesty, are well aware of the truth behind that post at Babalu.

    Miami reader,

    To be honest, I lost all interest in that thread the minute it became an issue not about the post in question, but about the moderation of a comment made in bad taste. From that moment on, the discussion on the topic was tainted and since it had not been me who edited the original comment, I felt it appropriate to let George continue with it. I, personally, didnt want to deal with it.

    All of the above may be a moot point, of course. Because the blog is, after all, mine and I will run it how I see fit. if you dont like it, that’s fine. You dont have to read it. The loss is yours.



  47. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 04:15 PM #  

    Val – If you “lost interest” in a thread at your own site, why have you spent so much time here, SotP, etc., discussing that thread?

    Also, why are you refusing to answer Rick’s question about why user “33139” was banned from your site?

    Reading through that thread, it appears that user’s only offense was disagreeing with George about Varela and/or the M.S.M.

    If that’s a banning offense at Babalu, then why do you go around talking about how all opinions are welcome at your site?



  48. Adam    Tue Nov 28, 04:21 PM #  

    Help, I saw a mildly discouraging thought on the internet and then someone erased it!



  49. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 04:32 PM #  

    Miami Reader:

    Blogger “33139” has been banned from Babalu (and other blogs) many times under different monikers; he is perhaps best known as “John Longfellow,” once the “star” of Oscar Corral’s now mostly-defunct blog, Miami’s Cuban Connection. I always judged the intellectual honesty of blogs by their ability to tolerate John. Personally, my happiest (and finest) blog hours were spent excoriating him. And he would always come back for more. Such a foil is hard to find and worth his weight in gold. But do not fear: he’ll come back at you in some other alias.



  50. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 04:47 PM #  

    Manuel – That’s totally incorrect. User “33139” plainly stated that he/she had never posted to Babalu until one of Val’s recent posts ASKED FOR lurkers to start posting (about 3 weeks ago).

    Regardless, what exactly did that user do to warrant getting banned in the Varela thread? I’ve read that thread five times and do not understand why the user was banned.

    Bottom line, Val Prieto keeps coming here, SotP, etc., to defend his site and claim all opinions are welcomed, yet he keeps refusing to say why people keep getting banned.



  51. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 05:32 PM #  

    So-called “moderation” — an euphemism worthy of George Orwell — has more to do with control than censorship. That much I have no problem acknowledging. Many blogmasters have a fixed idea of exactly what they want their blogs to look like and represent. To realize their conceptions they must have control not only of the output but also of the imput. They wrongly suppose that everything said on their blogs will ultimately reflect on them personally. If too many baboons decamp on their website, they fear that their blogs will acquire a reputation as baboon-friendly blogs. Their reams of nonsense would upset their carefully-constructed blog universe, and so they eject all who might mar their original design. Their eye, I think, is too fixed on futurity and their place in it. Sadly, their efforts to shape the present in a manner that will impress the future will likely be thwarted at every turn. The mere fact that they practice “moderation” would call into question the content of the blog. The future will not be easily duped unless the future belongs to baboons!

    It is also useless to delete “objectionable” comments because it is impossible to censor a comment once it has been admitted. Futurity will have the Google caches and the Wayback machine to supply all omissions and deletions if it is even conceivable that futurity would take the least interest in such things.



  52. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 05:43 PM #  

    Alex:

    I see that you are still trying to invent a riot that never was. In the aftermath of the federal abduction of Elián, there were no riots in Miami. A burning tire in a garbage can does not a riot make. Burning houses and looted stores, miles and miles of manmade ruins, is the epitome of a riot, especially in Miami. But, of course, Cubans have never rioted in Miami. Cubans were themselves victims of mob rule in Cuba and have no stomach for it.

    Besides, who would ever lead a Cuban riot? The riot would probably be preempted by the very rioters arguing among themselves about who should lead the riot.



  53. Alex    Tue Nov 28, 06:24 PM #  

    Maybe you and I were living in a different city Manuel and what with the “still trying”? I don’t remember we talked about this before). Wait, no, you don’t live here. But ok, there was no store burning or looting (which I didn’t say there were). There were over 200 arrests. Call it disturbances, protests, whatever you want.

    LOL on the lead of the riot. But a riot, by definition, has no leaders.

    33139 is not Longfellow. His grammar is too good.



  54. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 06:52 PM #  

    Alex:

    Aren’t there at least 200 arrests in Miami every night? The Miami Police force, in expectation of the riot that never was, were out in unprecedented numbers, the police outnumbering the peaceful protestors more than 10:1. Yes, everyone wanted to fabricate a riot: the police, the media, the Democrats. But guess what? There was no riot. If I were as gullible as you presume me to be, I would have believed CNN’s relentless propaganda. Fortunately, I see with my own eyes, and all I saw was a burning tire in a garbage can, like a 24-hour Yule log, surrounded by no one (except the CNN film crew). I should not be surprised if it was CNN that lit the tire and kept it burning throughout this useless vigil.



  55. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 07:04 PM #  

    Alex:

    There is no question that 33139 is Longfellow. What did the mythic Longfellow pride himself on? His supposed residence on Souch Beach. What is South Beach’s zip code? 33139. It really is that simple.

    He crossed swords with me for a long time, and I suppose some good grammar must have rubbed off. Seriously, Carlos Ripoll and I published some time ago a collection of unsigned articles by José Martí which originally appeared in English in the old New York Sun. If I can identify Martí‘s unattributed writings in English, trust me that I can tell Longfellow a mile away.



  56. Rick    Tue Nov 28, 07:06 PM #  

    Yes, everyone wanted to fabricate a riot: the police, the media, the Democrats.

    Ah, yes, now I see who we have here. Now things make sense.

    .



  57. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 07:42 PM #  

    Rick:

    Actually, you have always known what you have in me because I have always blogged on Cuba using my own name.

    Do not make assumptions about my opinions because you will be wrong. I treat Republicans with no less rigor than I do Democrats. In 50 years in this country, I have never cast a vote for either party. In the end, all of them, Democrats and Republicans, have used and defrauded us.

    My contempt for Bush II is especially deep because he has continued the “Dry Foot-Wet Foot” policy initiated by the feckless Clinton.

    As regards the non-riot, Clinton and the Democrats were fervently praying for a violent outbreak that would knock from the front pages the picture of the soldier pointing an automatic weapon at the terrified boy and his rescuer. No such luck. Cuban-Americans didn’t take the bait. I wish that my countrymen were as apt at seeing through Republican treachery.



  58. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 07:45 PM #  

    Manuel – Whether you care to believe it or not, “33139” is not this Longfellow person. “33139” clearly stated, on several occasions, that he/she was a long-time lurker at Babalu who only started posting after Val Prieto specifically asked lurkers to start posting. (This was like 3 weeks ago.)

    Regardless, we’re still waiting for the reason “33139” was banned from Babalu in the Varela thread. It seems his/her only offense was disagreeing with the notoriously short-fused George L Moneo.



  59. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 07:51 PM #  

    Miami Reader:

    Those who know Longfellow know that he is capable of saying anything.

    There is no question whatever that “33139” is Longfellow. However, that is no reason to ban him.



  60. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 07:53 PM #  

    Manuel – At the risk of being called a “commie” like the dissenters over at Babalu, would you please explain what Bush should do INSTEAD of wet foot/dry foot?

    Do you believe it would be responsible for the U.S. to encourage more rafters, many of whom would die at sea?

    Do you believe the U.S. should encourage more smuggling trips by profiteering criminals?

    Do you believe the U.S. is obligated to admit EVERY Cuban who might want to leave? If so, what about the millions of Chinese, North Koreans, etc., who also want to flee communism?



  61. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 08:12 PM #  

    Under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, the U.S. is obligated to accept every Cuban refugee. I should have no objection to having a similar right extended to the Chinese or North Koreans.

    The Cuban Adjustment Act was altered by presidential fiat and can be as easily restored to its original intent. Before Clinton’s unilateral revision no Cuban refugee had ever been returned to Cuba who had sought refuge in this country. This honorable tradition was betrayed by Clinton and that betrayal was upheld by Bush.

    The noble souls who brave the world’s most dangerous waters for a chance at freedom now must contend not only with the predations of Castro’s Coast Guard, which are paid a bounty for every rafter they intercept, dead or alive; but now must also face the tender mercies of its U.S. counterpart, which hunts Cuban rafters for pleasure, sometimes shooting water cannons at them, other times shooting at them with guns or beating them with clubs. And when they succeed in throwing them in the water, they watch passively as the Cubans drown (all these scenes have been recorded on film). There are laws that protect dolphins; but no laws that protect Cubans from such atrocities.



  62. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 08:24 PM #  

    Oh, please. It’s that sort of nonsense that has reduced Cuban exiles to joke status in mainstream America.

    You seriously want us to believe the U.S. Coast Guard is flipping boats and watching Cubans drown just for fun? That’s absurd.

    Further, encouraging Cubans to hop on rafts and inner tubes for a 100-mile trip to the U.S. is the height of irresponsibility. I dislike Clinton immensely, but wet foot/dry foot actually makes some sense.

    And on the larger issue, change will never happen in Cuba if people are encouraged to leave. The best thing that could happen in Cuba (and Mexico, for that matter) is to completely end emigration for a few years.



  63. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 08:45 PM #  

    Miami Reader:

    You are quite right: for 48 years the plight of Cuban refugees has been a big joke for xenophobes like yourself who actually equate refugees from Communist tyranny with migrants from democratic Mexico.

    If you will only take your head out of the sand, you may observe the U.S. Coast Guard trying to beat ematiated Cuban rafters who had reached dry land back into the ocean. That scene was also recorded on film and played throughout the world.

    As I recall, no one who ever jumped the Berlin Wall was ever thrown back.



  64. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 08:57 PM #  

    If the U.S. was really chock full of xenophobes, the influx of Cuban refugees would have stopped long before 500,000 Cuban exiles (or whatever the real number is) had arrived in the U.S.

    Anyway, as usual, you seem to be avoiding the questions at hand. Do you really believe it would be responsible for the U.S. to encourage more rafters, many of whom would die at sea? Do you really believe the U.S. should encourage more smuggling trips by profiteering criminals?

    And if democratic change is the goal for Cuba, how will that be accomplished if every Cuban who wants to leave is allowed a free pass into the U.S.?



  65. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 09:27 PM #  

    Miami Reader:

    I addressed my comments specifically to you. I did not say that the U.S. is “chock full of xenophobes” (though it is). In fact, xenophobia may be the only thing that unites Republicans and Democrats in this country. How did 500,000 Cuban exiles make it to this country? Because the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 made it possible. This Bill was signed at the height of the Cold War and shortly after the Missile Crisis, when Castro attempted to use Khruschev’s missiles to start World War III. Back then, American policymakers actually saw Castro as a threat (which he was then and still is). But let’s not fool ourselves: They welcomed Cuban refugees because they were white and educated: the kind of people the U.S. would pay to come here if it only could.

    The U.S. doesn’t have to encourage rafters. All it has to do is not kill or abuse them.

    “A free pass to the U.S.?” Do you mean the journey through the world’s most dangerous waters, under a scorching sun, without provisions, and prey to sharks, storms and the Coast Guard (Cuban or American, it makes no difference)? It’s a regular pleasure trip, isn’t it? And on a raft, a door, or hugging an inner tube?

    I am sure that you have never done anything in your life to earn your freedom that could compare with the heroism and sacrifice of these noble souls.



  66. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 09:52 PM #  

    Please, let’s ratchet back the rhetoric to something reasonable.

    First of all, if I was a “xenophobe,” I assuredly wouldn’t have moved to Miami from my lily-white hometown.

    Second, you know just as well as I do that 98% of the “rafters” you keep mentioning were really smuggled into the U.S. on fancy speedboats. In fact, I can’t remember the last time genuine rafters were reported to have shown up in So. Fla.

    Third, are you seriously suggesting the U.S. should reverse wet foot/dry foot and encourage Cubans to hop on a raft, inner tube, etc., to journey across what you call “the most dangerous waters in the world”? Does that really make sense to you?



  67. alesh    Tue Nov 28, 10:01 PM #  

    Uh-oh… i’m throwing in a comment without reading all the preceding conversation; please forgive me, but the last comment compels me to kick in my two cents:

    If the US opens it’s borders, we can fairly expect that more Cubans will attempt the trip, and more will die in the attempt. We can also expect that since the most motivated to not live under Communism will come here, Communism in Cuba will continue longer then if we send back everyone. (In other words, immigrants and dissidents are drawn from mostly the same group.)

    Those are both bad consequences, but it’s irrelevant — the right think for the USA to do is to allow anyone who wishes to live here to do so. We should open the doors to anyone who wants to come. That is the moral thing to do, and the real-world consequences, unfortunately, need to take a back seat.



  68. The Masked Avenger    Tue Nov 28, 10:33 PM #  

    TROLL ALERT ! TROLL ALERT ! TROLL ALERT

    The Masked Avenger warns:

    SMEB = John Longfellow = 33139 = Miami Reader



  69. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 10:35 PM #  

    Alesh – With all due respect, you can’t possibly be serious. Are you seriously suggesting the U.S. should feel obligated to allow in every Cuban, Mexican, Haitian, etc., who wants to come to the U.S.?

    Who is supposed to pay for all those people? Miami-Dade County is in the middle of the biggest construction boom in its history, and yet it can still barely pay its bills. Who pays? Where do they live?

    People are already moving out of Miami in record numbers because the taxes and quality of life issues are driving them away. How would more illegal immigrants, or dirt-poor legal immigrants, help matters?

    Open borders might sound good from a feel-good standpoint, but at some point, the bills need to get paid.



  70. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 10:49 PM #  

    A quick postscript to my last post above: I’m not singling out Hispanics, but Alesh seems to be advocating a true open borders policy in which anyone who shows up is allowed in. Such a policy would logically apply almost exclusively to Hispanics, since Chinese, North Koreans, etc., can’t exactly walk across a U.S. border or take a 90-mile trip across the Straits.



  71. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 11:25 PM #  

    Alesh:

    I believe, too, that the U.S. would benefit immensely by opening its borders to all refugees from injustice. However, since the Congress at this time is a hornet’s nest of xenophobes, it is perhaps too much to expect that they would respect this nation’s traditions as an asylum for the oppressed and dispossessed. The best that we can hope for — and even this might be too optimistic — is that it will not shut its doors to refugees from tyranny.

    As for Cuba, everyone there is a dissident. A rare few proclaim that fact to the world and endure the worst that the regime can throw at them. The great majority, however, are too afraid to articulate publicly their dissent, though they do so in a thousand other ways, undermining and sabotaging the regime at every turn. Everyone is waiting for Castro to die and nurturing the fond hope that change will follow. It will not. The military plutocracy that really rules Cuba is not prepared to surrender their economic stranglehold on the island. This criminal consortium, with or sans Castro, will never be dislodged except by force. Even then the regime has the guns, not the people. They can attack the tanks with their fists, as the Hungarians did in 1956, and it will avail them exactly as much as it availed the Hungarian resistance. There is nothing for Cubans to do but wait for the whole fetid revolutionary generation to follow their leader into the grave. Then we will see. Or you will see, because I expect to be long dead.



  72. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 11:32 PM #  

    But Manuel, don’t you think the 20,000 visas per year are a better solution than hundreds of rafters dying every year trying to float 100 miles on a raft or inner tube?

    Reading your posts, it’s like the U.S. suddenly stopped accepting Cuban refugees, but nothing could be further from the truth. Anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 will arrive by visa this year, another 2,000-plus have/will arrive by boat (mostly speedboat), and yet another 3,000 to 6,000 come across the Mexican border every year.

    Why don’t you acknowledge these facts, instead of bashing the U.S. government – the government that apparently welcomed you with open arms – as a bunch of “xenophobes,” and claiming the Coast Guard drowns Cubans for fun?



  73. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 11:37 PM #  

    Miami Reader:

    What did you say? “Take a ninety mile trip across the Straits”? It sounds like so much fun! Are they going to build a bridge or pave over the Straits? Because otherwise the trip for Cubans is more like something out of the Odyssey than something out of Feder’s.



  74. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 11:50 PM #  

    Miami Reader:

    The U.S. does not fill the 20,000 quota. Over the last 10 years, it has distributed less than 2000 visas per year. Sometimes only hundreds. Why don’t you acknowledge this fact?

    As for the U.S. Coast Guard’s savaging of Cuban refugees, it is a matter of public record and needs no embellishment by me. In fact, my words will always come short of the stark reality depicted in those videotapes. Why don’t more rafters reach these shores? Because they are killed in cold blood on the high seas when there are no cameras recording these crimes against humanity.

    As for myself, I am grateful for the hospitality extended to me, but not so grateful for the circumstances which brought me here in the first place. If the U.S. had not installed and maintained Castro in power for 48 years, I could actually hope to die in my own country.



  75. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 11:50 PM #  

    Manuel – I wish you would answer the questions rather than issue more goofy rhetoric.

    You know just as well as I do that a Cuban rafter is about as rare as an honest politician.

    I live in Miami, and I’m telling you, I can’t remember the last time a Cuban rafter arrived in So. Fla.

    Do you really want to go back to the days when rafters were dying, instead of the current 20,000 visas per year for Cubans?



  76. Manuel A. Tellechea    Tue Nov 28, 11:56 PM #  

    Miami Reader:

    “Goofy rhetoric?”

    You don’t know the meaning of rhetoric.



  77. Miami reader    Tue Nov 28, 11:56 PM #  

    Manuel – I’m sorry, but you’re exposing yourself as another wacko Cuban exile.

    Accusing the Coast Guard of “savaging” Cuban exiles is just utterly ridiculous. If I’m not mistaken, over half the Miami Coast Guard staff is of CUBAN DESCENT. You really want us to believe the Coast Guard is killing boatloads of Cubans at sea? Give us a break.

    As for your complaints with the U.S. government, if you’re so principled, why don’t you go back to “your country” and work for change? No one is stopping you from putting your principles where your mouth is.

    Typical Cuban exile nonsense: They all want change in Cuba, as long as someone else signs up for the dirty work.



  78. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Nov 29, 12:00 AM #  

    Miami Reader:

    Give me back my country as I knew it and I will gladly return. But I will not return to the inferno which Castro and the U.S. have created on the island over the last 48 years.



  79. Miami reader    Wed Nov 29, 12:05 AM #  

    Manuel – That’s hilarious, and exactly my point: All you Cuban exiles talk tough but, 47-plus years later, you’re still waiting for someone else to take charge and do the dirty work.



  80. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Nov 29, 12:12 AM #  

    Miami Reader:

    I believe that it is possible to fight Castro, but is not possible to fight Castro and the United States. In the Kennedy-Khrushev Pact, the U.S. pledged itself as the guarantor of Communism in Cuba; and even after the fall of the Soviet Union, it still continues to serve Castro’s interests.

    This is the only promise that the U.S. has ever observed in respect to Cuba, and its practical effect has been to enslave us for 48 years.



  81. Miami reader    Wed Nov 29, 12:26 AM #  

    Manuel – With all due respect, it’s Cuban EXILES who have been keeping Castro in business for the last 15 years. The U.S. government fines people for traveling to Cuba or even for buying Cuban cigars in Canada, so I don’t see how the U.S. has been a big ally of Castro. Meanwhile, Cuban exiles send $1 BILLION per year to Castro via remittances, gifts, phone calls (at $1/minute) and trips to the island.



  82. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Nov 29, 12:31 AM #  

    And the U.S. has legalized these remittances to Cuba.

    Say good-night, Gracie. I mean, John.



  83. The Green Hornet    Wed Nov 29, 12:48 AM #  

    Miami reader, you are the shit. Literally.



  84. Miami reader    Wed Nov 29, 12:59 AM #  

    Manuel – It’s easy to point fingers, but how come Cuban exiles refuse to consider their own culpability? In the last 15 years, Castro has received around $15 billion from the exiles in the U.S. who claim to hate him.

    Cuban exiles have been singing the same song for the last 47 years. Don’t you think it might be time to reevaluate your tactics?



  85. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Nov 29, 08:28 AM #  

    Miami Cuban:

    I have never sent a single dime to Cuba. It has been possible for me to maintain this principled stand because I have no relatives left on the island. If my mother were dying and needed medicine, I am sure that would set aside my principles so that she might live.

    For more than 40 years, Castro has not allowed Cuban exiles to send their families in Cuba medicines, food or anything else through the mail. This is done so that they will have no recourse but to send cash remittances. After taking a 15 percent cut, the money is converted into worthless pesos at an outrageous exchange rate; and, finally, your relatives are able to buy what they need at special government stores where the prices are usurous. This is how Castro has amassed his immense fortune: by trafficking on the suffering of his helpless countrymen. It is, therefore, in his interest to perpetuate that suffering.

    Cuban exiles gladly forgo the luxuries which $15 billion might buy in this country so that their relatives on the island might have the necessities that they need to survive.

    Such altruism is especially extraordinary because in many cases their relatives are Communists or former Communists: the same relatives who disowned them or denounced them when they left the island in order to ingratiate themselves to the regime.

    It is a testament to the nobility of the exile heart that it is able forgive these past wrongs, or, rather, to ascribe them to the man who created the unnatural environment where such betrayal is condoned and rewarded.

    And yet there are those who dare to accuse Cuban exiles of vindictiveness or indifference to the fate of their relatives on the island! While those who do Castro’s bidding in this country denounce the embargo (which denunciations cost them nothing, and, in some cases, are well-renumerated by the regime), 1 million Cuban exiles shoulder voluntarily the enormous burden of keeping 10 million Cubans on the island alive.



  86. Miami reader    Wed Nov 29, 01:57 PM #  

    But what has that altruism bought? 47-plus years of tyrrany. Why not make an effort to cut off ALL remittances to the island and see what happens?

    Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Cuban exiles don’t seem to understand this principle. Maybe if people in Cuba went a little hungry for a few months, we’d see some unrest and some action. Instead, everyone is happy to wait for their next Western Union delivery from the U.S.



  87. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Nov 29, 03:46 PM #  

    Miami Reader:

    There is some truth in what you say. I cannot deny it. However, your advice, in the literal sense, is not applicable to the Cuban case, since ordinary Cubans are not allowed to fish in open waters. Anyone caught in the act faces the same punishment as any would-be defector: 15 years imprisonment.

    It’s impossible to foster self-sufficiency in a Communist police state. Idleness, lethargy and apathy abound, but self-initiative, which is punished severely, cannot thrive.



  88. Miami reader    Wed Nov 29, 04:20 PM #  

    Manuel – I know Cuba is not an easy topic. Believe me, I sympathize with the plight of the Cuban people – and of Cuban exiles who have been waiting far too long for a free Cuba.

    I just wish the Cuban exile community would recognize that after 47 years of the same tactics and party line, it’s time to look at different options.

    I know no one wants their friends and family in Cuba to suffer, but I believe the best thing that could happen is to cut off every dollar that goes to Cuba from Cuban exiles abroad. The Cuban people – and the Cuban govt – are so dependant on the remittances that it would only take a few months, at most, before unrest would begin.

    It amazes me that Cuban exiles in Miami don’t understand that with every trip to Western Union, they are extending Castro’s rule. The Cuban exiles are a smart people – maybe the most successful immigrant group of the last 50 years – but they seem remarkably short-sighted when it comes to the remittance issue. You shouldn’t give money to a drug addict or alcoholic, and you shouldn’t give money to a communist. It’s as simple as that.



  89. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Nov 29, 04:35 PM #  

    Perhaps the reason that I wouldn’t want to shut off remittances is my own strong conviction that sheep will not fight even if starved. Fidel Castro’s only “achievement” is to have crushed the revolutionary spirit of all Cubans. They still have an infinite capacity for suffering, but no spirit to fight. This is a phenomenon that was witnessed for centuries during the heyday of slavery. Why didn’t slaves revolt when they were the majority not only in all Southern states but in Cuba in the 19th century? Because slavery breeds passivity not rebellion.

    My eyes are more open than yours because they have been looking at the world much longer than you.



  90. Miami reader    Wed Nov 29, 04:48 PM #  

    Manuel – I don’t know; Cubans can show a lot of energy when push comes to shove. I just think they need that last little push – and for a lot of Cubans, I suspect being cut off from their monthly cash flow would do the trick.

    The bottom line is, after 47 years, something has to change. When Miami Cubans were dancing in the streets because Fidel is sick but all was calm in Cuba, that should have been a huge wake-up call for the exile community. Sadly, I don’t believe it was.

    It’s just like Iraq: Either do more or do less, but more of the same is not going to get anyone anywhere.



  91. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Nov 29, 05:26 PM #  

    Cubans display immense energy and creativity when it comes to fleeing the island (remember the guys who turned a 1947 Chevy truck into a floating yacht?) They sabotage the regime at every turn, everybody steals from the State which in turn steals from everyone. But what no will do is poner el primer muerto. (be the first casualty). Everybody is waiting for Castro to die, and having already tolerated the intolerable for 48 years, no one sees any point in dying at the very threshold of freedom. But they are wrong. Freedom will not follow Castro’s death because Castro is already irrelevant. It is the military plutocracy that rules Cuba and they will not just fade away.



  92. Miami reader    Wed Nov 29, 06:06 PM #  

    Manuel – Then what’s the answer? More of the same isn’t getting anyone anywhere. (And if no Cuban wants to be the first casualty, then assuredly it shouldn’t be some kid from Iowa, either.)



  93. Manuel A. Tellechea    Wed Nov 29, 06:13 PM #  

    That’s just the point: there is no answer. There has been no answer for 48 years. Now do you understand the pain and frustration of Cuban exiles?

    And, trust me, I would be the last person in the world who would want some kid from Iowa to give up his life for our freedom. Because then our freedom would be severely compromised. It happened in 1898. It should not happen again.



  94. Cuban Democrat    Thu Nov 30, 08:47 PM #  

    I read every single comment on this page and was very pleasantly surprised when the discussion turned intelligent and civil. I think Miami Reader and MAT almost AGREED! That should be the spirit of these blogs and everyone should learn a lesson from the last few comments.



  95. alesh    Thu Nov 30, 09:20 PM #  

    I haven’t gotten much past halfway yet, unfortunately. good thing comments stay open for six weeks. I’ll get into this over the weekend.