Who's right? In a troll accusation, is the blogger usually to be trusted?
...do not ever tell a blogger who to ban or not ban. If you think you can do that, you don’t know crap about blogging. It is entirely up to the blogger to make that call, and it is never appropriate to demand an explanation or shame a blogger for their action. Every single comment that is allowed on a post is there by special permission. If someone wants to have a totally open comment policy, then that is their (very irresponsible) choice.I find I hold a somewhat more skeptical view of human nature than does Greg Laden. Many writers don't like to hear viewpoints which conflict with their own, even when politely expressed. When we observe a comment at odds with our own perfect ideology, we are far more apt to label it all of those things listed up above; in addition, inertia leads us to fail to appreciate positive attributes contained within a critical comment--and to feel hostility for the contributor.
Like everybody else, bloggers frequently have ego investment in their all-knowingness and feel affronted when faced with contradictory ideas.
When shunning others, people often assert dishonest reasoning as a means of convincing themselves--and asserting to others--our inner immaculateness. We are hierarchical primates, and the temptation to status-flex--and to shove bipedal obstacles out of our paths, when costless--is often irresistible.
Don't get me wrong--I'm not arguing that banning commenters is invariably bad. I simply approach each ejection on its own merits, recognizing that bloggers and commenters tend to be of similar ethical and ideological fallibility. When a blogger I care about bans a commenter, I am interested in assessing the legitimacy of the decision, and try not to prejudge the matter, independent of the specifics.
When I see a blogger banning a commenter for stupid reasons--or when a blogger bans a commenter for no stated reason--I see no evil in politely asking the blogger to revisit it. If Gavin Sullivan's publicly-voiced displeasure elicits extreme shame in the blogger, I will make every effort to conceal my joy.
I'll give Greta Christina--who I would much like to consider a friend--the last word:
I do, however, moderate my blog, and have guidelines as to what constitutes acceptable conversation here. Among the behaviors that will get people warned or banned: thread derailing, comment hogging, making comment threads all about themselves, not respecting my right to moderate my blog, and treating the fact that I do moderate my blog as censorship or a violation of their rights. Gavin Sullivan has done all of this, in an impressively short time.