With Great Reluctance

Rule # 4 has just been added to the site:

This site HAS a point of view, generally supportive of transit and compact development, and efforts to reduce VMT (vehicles miles travelled) per capita. This is intended to be the general center of the conversation here. While opposing views are welcome, participation that is of a quality or quantity that combines to undermine the purpose of the site may be restricted or refused.

While my democratic (small ‘d’) instincts have held sway to date and comments have been completing unregulated, it has become clear to me that the persistent and vocal participation of anti-transit folks has come to dominate the site, despite polite requests to respect the purpose of the site.

I fear that this is driving away the very people that Portland Transport was constructed to bring together. Accordingly, for at least the next several weeks I am banning the most vocal of the critics, not because I don’t want criticism, but because I want the community to have a chance to come together as was intended.

Those who find they can no longer comment are welcome to e-mail me directly to discuss their status.

13 Comments

13 Responses to With Great Reluctance

  1. Nathan Koren
    July 26, 2005 at 10:04 pm Link

    (Great blog, by the way! This is my first post here, but certainly not my last.)

    I’m not normally one to stifle dissent, but in this case I must agree with your decision. Frankly, in today’s climate, advocates of alternative transportation ARE the dissent — a bit less so in Portland than in other parts of the world, but it’s still true — and as such, we need to take a bit of care to maintain our boundaries. Compared to the mind-boggling hundreds of billions of dollars which drive the automobile and road culture, we are little more than mice scurrying beneath the feet of brontasaurs. This is a precarious position.

    I am not opposed to criticism. While I personally would prefer that the dialog on this blog remain civil, I would insist, if I could, that it be critical, analytical, contentious, and generally full-blooded. Frankly, I think that better, stronger ideas generally arise from strife than from harmony. I think that my ideal transportation blog would say something like this in its mission statement: “if you are interested in making the transit in our city more functional, more beautiful, more healthy, more environmental,more cost-effective, more efficient, more accessible, and more integrated into our lives, then come to this blog, and be prepared to argue like hell!”

    Notice, though, that this is quite a different thing than inviting the brontasaurs to our party. And those who can’t see anything wrong with the prevailing automotive-based way of doing transportation — like, say, the fact that it has killed more people in the last 50 years than ALL THE WARS ON EARTH COMBINED — are, make no mistake, brontasaurs. Whether or not we can prevail in an arguments with them is beside the point. Given the vast degree to which they outnumber us, they will simply breed more quickly than we can argue; like a war of attrition in reverse. Our only hope is to actually change the world for the better, and let those changes do the talking for us.

    So, for those who feel no need to change the world dramatically and for the better: I say that we point them towrds the nearest onramp with a “ta!”, “cheerio!”, and a “don’t call us, we’ll call you!”.

    Then, while the brontasaurs are stuck in traffic, the rest of us can attempt to figure out how, precisely, those changes should take place.

  2. Ray Whitford
    July 26, 2005 at 10:59 pm Link

    Thank you sir for your patience and also for this decision. The Internet is for all point of views but the individual domains are the domain of the owner. I was feeling like the site was not living up to your goals and was being pulled down to the lowest common denominator.

    The anti-Metro 2040 individuals who were not in the majority back in the 1990s when the citizens of Portland got involved in the planning of our future can start their own domains and their own web logs. The Internet is still open and free until someone decides that the Internet shouldn’t be free and open.

    Ray

  3. rex Burkholder
    July 27, 2005 at 9:03 am Link

    “all the lonely people
    where do they all come from?”

    –John Lennon and Paul McCartney

  4. Francie Royce
    July 27, 2005 at 9:36 am Link

    I am constantly amazed at the number of young and creative people I meet nearly every week who have moved to Portland in the past couple of years because it is such a great place to live. There are lots of reasons why people move to a new city, but in my limited conversations there is a pattern–they moved here because they like the great outdoors so close to the city and easy to get to, the ease of getting around with the city without having to use a car for every trip, and because they know someone who has moved here for similar reasons.

    What the “anti-transit” and pro car, anti-planning, anti-liveable community people don’t get is that most of everything Portland has to offer (except the mountains–which can only be seen today due to a tremendous effort to clean up our air) is due to decisions made and implemented over the past 30 years. Going back to the Downtown Plan, the Portland Comprehensive Plan, neighborhood plans and the Central City Plan that have preserved close in neighborhoods leading to the renaissance of neighborhood shopping areas like Hawthorne, N Mississippi, etc., stopping the so-called Mt Hood Freeway and the highway building craze that would have destroyed many Portland neighborhoods, a decision to build MAX and the Downtown Transit Mall, the formation of Tri-Met and Metro and the adoption of the Urban Growth Boundary, bike lanes, neighborhood associations, a strong committment to public schools, and many many more decisions and activities by people who love Portland.

    So a decision to not let the “antis” use this blog as their platform is fine with me. What we need now is active discussion of what to do next to continually make Portland a wonderful place to live.

  5. PKR
    July 27, 2005 at 5:38 pm Link

    No doubt I am one of the exiled. OK…
    Par for the course. The left has always sought to stifle dissent. I can understand, I suppose. If my worldview was so hard to defend I wouldn’t want to be bothered with someone constantly calling it into question.

    Plus…. what do you people need dialoge for? People who agree with you are in charge, calling the shots in Portland.

    Like Hitler said when his generals told him the Pope was very angry: “How many troops does the Pope have?”

  6. Gene
    July 27, 2005 at 5:42 pm Link

    Nathan and Francie just said what I’ve been trying to say to my parents and friends every since I told them that that I’m moving. Oklahoma City is sprawling, boring, hard to get around in, nothing to look at, and is a veritable frying pan. I seriously think all they did here to advance out of the wild west was trade in their horses for SUVs. When I discovered Portland through a friend of mine who’s moving there as well to attend an art school, I fell in love at first site. It’s true…Portland, from here at least, gazing through the haze of smog and wiping the sweat from my brow in the 105 degree weather, looks like Oz. I guess we’ll see when I get there.

  7. Justin
    July 27, 2005 at 5:57 pm Link

    *phew* Oh thank god. I was really starting to give up that there would be any constructive democratic and constructive conversations going on here.

    I’m so glad that we’ll get the opportunity to talk about real issues & such! Yeaaa!

  8. Bob R.
    July 27, 2005 at 6:46 pm Link

    Congrats to PKR for bringing up the first “Hitler” reference. Good going.

  9. Ray
    July 27, 2005 at 11:13 pm Link

    This from a most likely “Bushco” right winger. Hitler used Christian faith also in his control of the Homeland. When a right winger calls someone else a Hitler, I just shake my head with the lack of historical perspective. Neo-Con and National Socialism are one and the same. Have the last four plus years taught us nothing?

    Ray

  10. cab
    July 28, 2005 at 7:25 am Link

    They’re masters of Projection their problems onto others. Its scary stuff.

  11. Lenny Anderson
    August 1, 2005 at 12:07 pm Link

    Thanks to Francie for her reminder that apart from what was here from the start…mountains, Columbia Gorge, the coast… it has taken a tremendous amount of public effort to creat a community that works on many levels.
    Now, its time to take the next step… dismantling the freeway network that still strangles our town. Let’s start with the Eastbank freeway.
    The Eastbank freeway…just 4 through lanes… no doubt, serves someone well who has made a poor choise to live on one side of the region and work on the other, but it sits on some very valuable real estate. Take it out and essential trips will find another way…I-205 or I-405, and we can get to work on building the other half of Portland…the east side of the river.
    Let’s start with a nice wide public beach where on the warm evenings one can dangle a foot in the river and watch the glow of the setting sun on the downtown skyline.
    When you add up the communities destroyed by the freeway binge of the 50s and 60s…Albina, Goose Hollow, N. Portland, etc., not to mention the property taxes lost, it takes your breath away.
    Freeway removal, as demonstrated with the Embarcardero in SF, is a great way to continue to make a wonderful city better.
    Lenny Anderson

  12. Hank
    August 1, 2005 at 11:57 pm Link

    OK, then how are you going to deal with interstate traffic? Removing I-5 without an equal capacity equivalent somehwere else is just economic suicide for the Portland area. How are goods supposed to get to the port? Remember that freight train tracks have been ripped up in many places now. Right now, two through lanes on I-5 barely cut it as it is (and two on 205, at least immediately east of the West Linn junction). There are no other bypasses of the Portland area. The Embarcadero is a poor example because there really isn’t any through traffic since San Frnacisco is a peninsula. Portland is at the north end of the Willamette Valley.

    As for banning people, couldn’t everyone just ignore the people and have a little option to hide the posts? If everyone stayed with their own user name, through registration or whatever, then everybody could have their own killfile and you should be happy.

  13. Chris Smith
    August 2, 2005 at 6:42 am Link

    Hank, I don’t know of any way to allow a user to selectively suppress viewing comments from some other set of users. And the 4 folks I banned were clearly scaring other people away. A lot more folks have been commenting since I instituted the ban.

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