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Monday, September 6, 2010

Coffee Party Accused Of "Orwellian" Tactics ... By Supporter

On August 16 I wrote about how a post at the Coffee Party website, titled "Reversing the Coffee Party's decline," had been removed from the Coffee Party website after I called attention to the post on August 13.

The removed post, along with dozens of comments, chronicled the struggles of the Coffee Party as well as complaints about lack of transparency in the organization:
Having visited Coffee Party chapters in two states, and having heard from other city and state organizers, I definitely know we're in decline. Chapters have folded, events are less well-attended, and morale is at a low....
At the root of [that problem] is that the organization lacks democratic accountability. Event decisions are set at the top and conveyed downward. This is totally turning the idea of a grassroots movement on its head.
The post appeared simply to have disappeared.  A commenter just called my attention to some shenanigans with the disappeared post.

The post has reappeared under a different post title, now called Sept. Convention: Reversing Coffee Party's decline, with a date/time stamp of "Wed, 08/04/2010 - 6:01pm.," just like the original.  The problem with the date/time stamp is that as of August 13, the original was still up and visible, so how did someone at the Coffee Party change the post title and url link at some point after that yet maintain the original date/time stamp?  (Perhaps some of you internet detectives can trace the history of the new url.)

The person who made the change was not the author.  In fact, in the comments to the new post, the original author, identified as "Nonpartisan09" was very upset that he did not know about the change, and accused the Coffee Party of "Orwellian" attempts to silence debate.  Here is Nonpartisan09's comment on August 31 (emphasis mine):
My OP was titled "Reversing the Coffee Party's decline"

Nonpartisan09 - 08/31/2010 - 5:59pm

It's now called "Sept. Convention: Reversing Coffee Party's decline." Would the moderator/webmaster kindly explain this Orwellian move? Is the leadership so afraid of the outside world that it's unwilling to invite candid discussion to its own forum?
The webmaster/moderator, identified as "Adam Selene" responded by accusing Nonpartisan09 of making the change (emphasis mine):
I have no idea.

Adam Selene - 08/31/2010 - 7:03pm

*   *   *

At the risk of insult, are you sure you didn't do it? :)

I, personally, cannot imagine what possible, justifiable (as opposed to self-serving) reason there could be for why I would have changed it and on that basis alone am certain that I did not. Plus, I'm pretty sure I'd remember it if I did. I'll query my fellow moderators and others with that level of control in an effort to figure it out and ensure that such changes are only made as appropriate.

Occasionally threads are moved to a more relevant forums or given more descriptive titles so that contributors might have a clue what they're about. This change doesn't feel necessary in that way and so, if you didn't do it, it feels a little creepy, yes. Any change of that nature from us should have been accompanied by a note explaining why it happened at the bottom of the post. (I'm not sure the term "Orwellian" has any legitimate meaning anymore.)

Please accept our apologies. Regardless of why the change was made or who did it, you certainly should have been notified by some means.


The Coffee Party Moderation Team
Nonpartisan 09 responded by again denying he had made the change (emphasis mine):
Thank you, Adam Selene. Plz post your findings here

Nonpartisan09 - 09/01/2010 - 7:49pm

To be clear, no, I didn't change my title. I didn't even know that was possible (and can't think of any good reason why it should be allowed by non-moderators, especially if a thread is well-developed). I also didn't receive any notification of the change.

Please share what you discover here. Like you said, there's no justifiable reason why anyone should have changed it. In my mind, that leaves the many less-than-noble reasons.

I think all forum participants deserve to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that moderators here exercise their authority with prudence and restraint. Thanks for your time and attention.
The effect of changing the post title and backdating the link was to cut off access to the post for everyone who had the url. of the original post, as well as Coffee Party commenters who were discussing how to reverse the Coffee Party decline.  The scrutiny and the dialogue came to a standstill.

Here is how Wikipedia describes the term "Orwellian":
"Orwellian" describes the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free society. It connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past, including the "unperson" — a person whose past existence is expunged from the public record and memory, practiced by modern repressive governments.
I would say the strange circumstances by which some unknown person at the Coffee Party "unposted" the original post about the Coffee Party's decline, changed the post title to reflect a more positive spin, and reposted it weeks later with the original date and time stamp, fits the definition of Orwellian.

Related Posts:
Post About Coffee Party Decline Removed From Its Website
Coffee Party Grows Cold
Coffee Party Parasites
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  1. This whole article is hysterical!
    First, I didn't even know that the Coffee Party was still around. Who even remembers them any more?

    Second, this quote:
    'the original author, identified as "Nonpartisan09" was very upset that he did not know about the change, and accused the Coffee Party of "Orwellian" attempts to silence debate.'
    Um, isn't that the whole point of the Coffee Party? To stop/silence the TEA Party movement?

    Third, the idea that Liberal Progressives would use Owellian tactics to flush information they don't like down the memory hole - why who would even dare suggest such a thing?

    There are just so many ironies here, the problem is finding the best one. Kudos to this blog for pointing this little Liberal tempest out!

  2. If "Orwellian" has lost all meaning, might I suggest "Simpsonian" as a substitute? As in OJ Simpson?

    "I believe in my heart that I am innocent."

    After much soul-searching to ponder the possibility that he might have brutally slashed his wife to death, he came to the conclusion that he believes that he didn't? Usually with these things you know for sure.

    Coffee Party post shenanigans explanation? Same thing. I suspect that the author's motive to challenge the webmaster/moderator was racism. I mean what else could it be?

    Yeah, Simpsonian. Let's go with that.

  3. Heh. And if the moderator, "Adam Selene," got his username from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, then he obviously didn't understand what Heinlein was saying...


  4. Interesting, the "Adam Selene" name is (of course !) the "nom-de-guerre" of the computer in Heinlein's novel "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress". Very Freudian.

  5. For those who don't know, the heroes of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" are libertarians. One of Heinlein's better novels.

  6. the common denominator with all things liberal is that "it isn't my fault....you did it!"

  7. Hmmm...

    Well the Coffee Party is brothers-in-spirit with a whole different group who also got caught trying to "hide the decline".

    (East Anglia's CRU, where emails disclosed the amount of "data massaging" they were having to do in order keep alive the idea of AGW.)