I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Simpletons Who Attempt to Put Words in My Mouth Get it Badly Wrong

In a recent letter I submitted to the PNJ, I described a certain type of person who might disagree with my opinions. I used three descriptors to identify persons who might resist random student drug testing--Obstreperous, discordant, and “civil libertarian type”.

Several responders to my opinion piece have each deconstructed my words and reassembled them improperly. I do not label ALL civil libertarians as unruly or difficult to manage. I simply cannot and will not allow the flawed logic of some to distort my words or broad-brush my positions inaccurately. Steve Luther, Mike Horgan, Brandon Harvey--read this clarification, this is for you (and people like you)--read it  v-e-r-y   s-l-o-w-l-y   if necessary.

If I say I do not like pretentious, overpriced, and noisy restaurants—that does not mean I have disdain for ALL restaurants. I love restaurants, worked in them for years, and used to own one.

If I say I dislike disobedient, dirty, and smelly dogs—that certainly does not mean I dislike ALL dogs. I’ve been a lifelong dog owner/ animal rights fanatic.

If I say I dislike obstreperous, discordant, civil libertarian type [people]—that does not mean I dislike ALL Civil Libertarians, because--- and try to comprehend this---I am one!

I am a civil libertarian, a staunch believer in free speech (including anonymous free speech BY ANY AND ALL), the U.S. Consittution and personal individual freedoms.

I simply dislike the fair-weather civil libertarians who embrace left leaning, low hanging fruit type issues, i.e. defense of artists that desecrate Christian Images, defense of Flag Burners, support for removal of crosses from mountains, etc.. Yet these same types run away from less palatable issues like the westboro church lunatics demonstrating at funerals, Rev Terry Jones burning korans, Tom Burlington Case up north, etc.. If you want to be a true civil libertarian chest beater, you have to take the good with the bad--in for a penny, in for a pound. But that's just my take on it

Attempts by some to “put me in a box” will be futile.


John said...

Pertaining to your comment on anonymous free speech and you "Godzilla" posts on the Pensacola News Journal forum:

I agree that the ability to say what you want without fear of repercussion is important, but I also believe that government transperency is an even more important issue. As a fellow libertarian, I'm sure you agree with me when I say we have a right to know exactly what exactly what the government has done, is doing, and intends to do. In a position such as yours, you fall under this category. The people have a right to know exactly what you believe, and in this case, the rights of many over rule the rights of one.

Jeff Bergosh said...


okay, I agree with what you are saying however with respect to the Godzilla issue you raise, the issue is not so clear.

The PNJ outed me and said as a "public official" I had no right to anonymous speech. but anonymous speech is free speech, right--"John" Don't all American citizens have the right to free speech?-----the ACLU has said that anonymous speech is free speech--yet when I was being excoriated by the media locally, the ACLU was silent. Kind of like how they are silent on the Tom Burlington case and Rev. Terry Jones--but if a soldier wants to burn a flag or some whack job wants to burn bibles, the ACLU is all over the place standing up to defend them. I'm just sick, John, of the "fair weather, "anderson cooper" type convenience civil libertarians.

So who has the right to free speech "John." Everyone except "public officials"? But, what constitutes a public official? And who decides what a public official is? and who decides who can post anonymously? Or what anonymous posters can post? Is it Newspaper Editors who out some anaonymous posters (but not all) based upon the content of the posts?

Our local editor here won't answer these questions, and I doubt you will be able to either.

I am a civil libertarian that supports free speech for all. If you don't support free speech for all then you are not a civil libertarian in my opinion, but rather a poser.

John said...

First and foremost, let me apologize for any grammatic or spelling errors I make, as I'm on my phone. I will also avoid going into detail if unneccessary for the same reason.

First and foremost, you need to decide what your stance is on the ACLU. You initially cite their ruling that anonymous speech is synonymus with free speech to support your case (which is in itself fallicious as they are not directly affiliated with the government) and the berate them for not supporting you and claim that they have no spine. Personally, I believe that they are a bad organization with good intentions, but that is besides the point.

Whether anonymous speech is the same as free speech is a matter of opinion, however it is worth noting that the first amendment says nothing about anonymity. Personally, I believe that free speech is a right and anonymity a convenience. The real heart of the matter is this, however: someone running for public office should wear the same face at all times. Public or private, anonymous or know, and no matter whether they're on a podium or an internet forum, any discrepency between what a politicion tells the public and what they personally believe is an affront to governmental transparency. Whether anonymous speech is a right or not isn't an issue. You have lied to the public. Whether the media excaberated the issue or not doesn't matter. They didn't change anything, they merely reflected the common sentiment.

Jeff Bergosh said...

John, no need to apologize, you are simply ignorant of all of the issues that surrounded the Godzilla/PNJ issue. Other news outlets saw and identified that using the paper's database to out anonymous posters was a dangerous precedent. The Columbia Journalism Review (Do you know who they are, John?) called the action by the PNJ "bush league". The local University Newspaper correctly called the PNJ's action Yellow Journalism in a courageous editorial right after this incident occurred. People in the know saw this for what it was--a left-leaning newspaper in a conservative community maximizing an opportunity to make a white conservative politician look bad. In the end, I suspect even the PNJ themselves realized what they did and how they did it crossed a line. It did not set me back politically though-- and if the PNJ and their collaborators wanted to wreck my political future with their histrionics--they failed; it actually went the other direction on them. In the last election I won nearly 7 out of 10 voters in my district as I crushed my two opponents. Ironically, even the PNJ endorsed me in this past election. The reason the PNJ outing bothers me still is because you brought it up, damnit! (No, not really) It irks me because I was outed by the paper but nobody prior or since has been--and many "public officials" post on that site and the PNJ knows that. They still allow anonymous posters, so the whole "outing of a public official" was for nothing; if I wanted to post on that site anonymously again I would--but I won't. And John, I'm pretty outspoken and I say what is on my mind whether at a public meeting or as an anonymous poster. The only difference (and think carefully about this, John) perhaps without anonymity I don't post AS MUCH of what I know and would like YOU THE PUBLIC to know---because I am privy to some information by the nature of my position as a "public official" But-back to the PNJ-- Recently, the same editor that ran multiple pieces and cartoons on how terrible it was for a me, a public official, to post anonymously--he wrote an op-ed celebrating Thomas Paine and "Common Sense" discussing the POSITIVES of anonymous free speech.
What kind of hypocritical B.S. is that??. I posed the same questions to him that I put to you-of course I get answers from neither of you. I get called a liar by you and the editor ignores my email and question to him. John, just answer this simple question if you are able: Is anonymous speech free speech, and assuming it is who can engage in free speech, what can they speak about, and WHO decides which public officials can participate in anonymous speech and what these anonymous public officials can speak about? Think hard about this John, and I'd like a rational, cogent explanation in response.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Oh, and about the ACLU--I don't think much of them, no. I think they are weak and go after low hanging fruit and pick and choose their battles and select subjects to fight that will please their liberal masters. For them to have any credibility at all, I need to see them supporting some really awful stuff as vigorously as they support elimination of prayer, desecration of religious symbols, etc. And no, burying a blurb deep within your website doesn't count, ACLU. I want it on the Front of your website, I want you to go tell Anderson Cooper and George Stephanopoulos that Terry Moore can Burn Korans, Tom Burlington has the right to not be fired for speaking freely, and skinheads can protest during the gay pride or MLK parade! If the ACLU will get back to where they (I'm told) used to be--defending EVERYONE'S civil liberties--Then they might have more credibility. Being the step and fetch of the liberal, secular elite is what they appear to be at present, though. They now just seem weak and anemic in my opinion. Marginalized, ineffectual, with no balls and the wrong ideological direction. It's why I enjoy watching them get beat over and over and over like they have been with the Mount Soledad Cross case, while at the same time being hated by more and more rational, educatied Americans.

John said...

I will not answer the questions you ended with because they are irrelevant. I will disgard your anti-PNJ and ACLU rants for the same reason. This is not about individual liberties, or the admittedly questionable (albeit, in my opinion, correct) actions of the PNJ.

Instead, I have a question for you. I would prefer if you responded with a single word, yes or no, followed by your explanation of why in the following paragraph (if you feel one is necessary).

Do you stand by what you said while posting under the psuedonym Godzilla?

(Also, I would greatly appreciate it if you were to cite your sources from now on, as I was unable to find the CJR article you mentioned.)

Jeff Bergosh said...

John-you don't answer my question, rather call it irrelevant, then request a one-word answer to your question? Interesting. John, typically in a debate when one side evades a question and answers with a question of their own-this signifies either the answer is not known, or to answer it would invalidate the answerer's position. Do you get this? In this instance, I assume both to be the case with respect to your non-answer dodge. Irregardless- I'll be the bigger person and answer your "one big question." The answer is "Yes" 100%. When you look at any and all of my 125 or so postings on the PNJ site within the context of the points being discussed/debated/commented upon, they were all true and represented my feelings on those subjects at that time. But taken out of context, the implied srcasm does not come out. Humor is stripped out, Hyperbole becomes difficult to identify. So, if you do like our local newspaper and others attempted and disect the posts like a frog in a fresman biology lab and then attempt to re-construct them to suit what you think I meant--well then all bets are off. Do you get that, "John"?
By the way, you can find links to the sources I referenced here,

Was Mark Felt a public official?

John said...

Jeff, thanks being clear on that. Your comments regarding context are 100% understandable. I'm capping off a long, difficult weekend at the moment, so you'll have to forgive me for not replying right away. The article you linked was also greatly appreciated, and its understandable if you don't want go back and revise everything to include sources, but Id prefer if you did it in the future, because, like you said, context is important. I'll try to do the same.

Sure, there are some hostilities flying, but I have to admit that I'm enjoying this debate in a visceral sort of way.

I will however, briefly attempt to give your questions an umbrella answer for the moment before returning to the subject later:

Much of this is purely ideological. Did the media engage in some yellow journalism? Sure. But given the controversial nature of the subject, any coverage at all was guaranteed to upset one side or the other. Beliefs on whether the PNJ was right in revealing you are also up to opinion, hence why I deemed them irrelevant. I would prefer to avoid an arguement about that subject, as ideological arguements almost always devolve into a "I'm right!" "No I'm right!" situatuion and god knows I've had enough of those. I attempted to go for the facts here - your frog dissection analogy is suprisingly apt, however I think I'll leave it to the readers to come up with their own opinion.