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Thoughts on Hart Noecker and our community

Posted by on January 27th, 2015 at 10:52 am

In case you have not heard by now, Hart Noecker, a man who was well-known in local bike activism circles and who we used several times as a source for stories over the years, has been the subject of serious allegations regarding his actions and behaviors in numerous personal and group relationships.

I care deeply about our community and the people impacted by Noecker’s actions and I take this situation very seriously. Also, since I’m the one who decided to feature him on this website on several occasions, I want to share my thoughts and offer some clarifications.

In the past several weeks since these accusations have been made public, I have talked about it with many people and have addressed it publicly on several forums including Facebook, the comment section of the Willamette Week, Twitter, and so on. (Note: I attended a community meeting where people told their stories about Noecker but left after organizers said it was over-capacity and only those directly impacted by him should remain.)

Because Noecker appeared on this site, some people in the community feel like I enabled him by giving him a platform to build social capital and gain power. I agree with that to some extent. However, I think more explanation is needed.

Noecker wrote one guest article for us (he was not paid for it) and he was mentioned in 19 other stories going back about three years (most mentions were in our stories about the Columbia River Crossing project). Given how active he was in the events, stories, projects, and policies we covered, it was natural for us to use him as a source. We also published some of the photographs he took at bike-related events.

At the time I used Noecker as a source and published his guest article, I had no idea about these allegations and I failed to see any red flags about his personal life. I did not know him personally and never spent time with him outside of talking to him for a story we were working on. I knew he made people uncomfortable, but I always thought people simply didn’t like — or approve of — his often provocative, brash, and aggressive style of activism. Despite this discomfort, I used him as a source because I’ve always tried to represent all views and perspectives — even uncomfortable ones — on this site.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have never used Noecker as a source nor would I have published his work.

In hindsight, I should have seen more red flags. But I did not. I’ve also learned in these past few weeks that it’s an example of a blindspot of my privileged position that I didn’t see how Noecker’s presence made some readers feel so unsafe that they tuned out anything he was associated with.

Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a lot in the past few weeks by talking to Byrd Jasper (his most public accuser), Noecker himself, his friends, and reading and staying engaged with all the Facebook posts, comments, meetings and so on.

Two weeks ago, I decided to delete every reference to Hart Noecker on BikePortland (an action initially requested of me by Jasper). That’s an unprecedented thing for me to do, but given how many people Noecker has negatively impacted in our community I did it to create a safer place and to make sure he can never use BikePortland as a platform again.

Going forward, Michael and I plan to re-double our efforts to make sure everything we do is as comfortable and inclusive as possible for the entire community. That includes a focus on elevating a broader range of voices, especially those of women and others who are currently underrepresented in our stories and discussions. I have also tightened my comment moderation standards and I’m considering publication of a code of conduct we expect everyone to abide by.

I am happy to answer any questions about this situation in the comments or via email.

— For more background, read the Willamette Week cover story, then read this “Statement from the survivors” and another response to the Willamette Week story (and how to create healthy activism communities) from Earth First Journal.

— Note: I have been in contact with Noecker and he is not making any public comments at this time.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Esther
Guest
Esther

Thanks for addressing this publicly and re-capping the other ways you have addressed it. Thanks for your commitment to making a safer space on this here site too. 🙂

reader
Guest
reader

“Two weeks ago, I decided to delete every reference to Hart Noecker on BikePortland (an action initially requested of me by Jasper).”

As a longtime reader of this site, and recognizing it’s your prerogative to run it how you see fit, I strongly disagree with this piece of your response.

tridork
Guest
tridork

If stuff is being deleted, then I have a few requests myself.

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

agreed… was just going to state that I’m also disappointed in the censorship… but it’s not my site, even if it is the one I visit the most…

Alexander H.
Guest
Alexander H.

I read the abundance of calling out and account-telling in social media and Willamette Week. Unfortunately, this ensures Multnomah County DAs will have very little chance of pursuing charges that stick. Those groups affected did very well coming around the victims and protecting their own, but putting their “anarchist beliefs” first has ensured the accused is free to infiltrate other communities, where he will undoubtedly use his silver tongue to convince people he was simply the victim of a bunch of jaded exes. This is exactly what sociopaths do – move on to find new victims. And they are very good at it.

To make things worse, Hart has zipped his lip, lawyered up, and is now (ironically and hypocritically) using the law in his favor to prevail. That’s sad that he’ll be able to declare victory. I’m guessing in a few years, we’ll hear similar stories of Hart out of Seattle or Oakland.

He is a modern-day Ira Einhorn.

gaslighter
Guest
gaslighter

Hyperbole w capital H.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

“gaslighter”

Esther
Guest
Esther

Jonathan & Michael – I hope you watch comments like this that blame victims for their in/action of whatever variety.
Alexander – Somewhere between 60-90% of rape victims do not report their rape. They have good reasons to including bullying/re-victimization by the police who don’t believe them (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/06/why_cops_don_t_believe_rape_victims_and_how_brain_science_can_solve_the.html), privacy concerns, re-victimization by the court process & losing control or ability to make choices in the process (http://time.com/2905637/campus-rape-assault-prosecution/), and public humiliation, degradation and harssment.

Alexander H.
Guest
Alexander H.

Just because you disagree with what I said does not make it victim blaming. I am blaming the group.

Esther, you have demonstrated a self-fulfilling prophecy. All the reasons you specified do not happen every time a sexual assault is reported. This anarchist belief of dealing with crime without police is extremely misguided, because a social media trial and shunning only protects Hart Noecker from YOUR group. He is free to prey on others outside of your group, and it is 100% likely he will do so. It’s unconscionable that you’re advocating not reporting sex crimes to the police.

See that he operated out in the open for years, and even get to come back to Bike Swarm after being banned makes me not want to be involved with Bike Swarm or anything bike activist in this city. It appears to be more of a social scene that does little to affect actual change.

Esther
Guest
Esther

I never advocated against it. I have directly referred many DV and rape victims to the police and restraining order process, including family members. I was just saying people have perfectly good reasons (self protection being the #1) to NOT engage in that process. If their rapist goes on to rape again – that is on him, not his previous victim(s).

Dan Kaufman
Guest

Alexander H, I really dislike how you blow in here anonymously and snake the narrative around to suit your point of view while accusing your “opponents” of supporting sexual assault. It feels pretty shitty and egotistical to me. You really have no idea and you are certainly no kind of ally. Really.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Too bad we couldn’t run a sexual crimes police division directly in concert with a 3rd party organization like Planned Parenthood which is generally more aware and understanding of women’s issues.

JRB
Guest
JRB

Unfortunately, you just can’t do that. As Esther points, some survivors of sexual violence do not want to involve law enforcement. Establishing some relationship between health care providers and police could very well discourage survivors from seeking help, which I think we can all agree is the last thing we want.

ac
Guest
ac

Jonathan, i think it’s a disservice to delete things, even if they prove over time to reflect badly. It’s part of the history of bikeportland, for better or worse. The reconstruction is perhaps more difficult because it hides the discussion of the issues.
Your article/comments today are just further richness to the website that you author.

Esther
Guest
Esther

I did not support Jonathan’s choice to remove the original post where Hart and others were acussing Krisapon Chaisawat of being an undercover police officer/informant for this reason. (To his credit, he put it back up for the reason of preserving history.) I support Jonathan’s choice to remove Hart’s “work” form his site because it was a request made by a survivor, and because he has stated his reasons for doing so here.

J_R
Guest
J_R

I always thought HN did more harm than good for the causes he advocated mostly because of his over-the-top, in-your face approach and occasional advocacy of illegal actions. I think that the majority of comments on this forum were also opposed to his approach. By deleting the references to him and his comments, you also erase the record in which commenters rejected or repudiated his approach.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

I sat next to this guy for five minutes once…the entire time which he was talking about himself and how awesome he was.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Classic narcissistic sociopath. Unfortunately, many women are attracted to that type of personality…

Allison
Guest
Allison

That’s an incredibly hurtful and sexist stereotype. Sociopaths are masters of manipulation and charm. Women are not “attracted to narcissistic sociopaths,” sociopaths are good at using deception to make them seem like the kind of men women are attracted to.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Sorry. I did not intend to imply that anyone deserves this for being attracted to this type of person. Personally, I am just frustrated that people aren’t better at judging these narcissists up-front. I have had several female friends fall for these types, with the predictable outcome. I knew that the guys were bad news from day one. This has been my experience, but I should have included male victims as well, because I’m sure they are out there.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Chris, people do make judgments about people they date. As Allison stated, the sociopaths or abusers are skilled at overcoming those judgments.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

Abuse is never okay. Even if a woman is attracted to guys like this, it still gives the abuser no right to be abusive.

Kate
Guest
Kate

And unfortunately, many men are attracted to the actual/non-consensual (as opposed to pretend/consensual) pain and humiliation of women.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

I never met the guy so do not know him as a person. I can say though that reading his posts and just seeing how he conducted himself always appeared very histrionic. A lot of his actions seemed very contrived and I was never sure if he really cared about the things he was preaching or if he was just trying to draw attention to himself. Turns out he was just doing it so he could score. Not surprised. And, at the same time I feel a bit for the guy as a human that he felt he had to do what he did.

Pete
Guest
Pete

I think publishing a code of conduct is an excellent step – gives you something to back up your moderation with. (I recognize the technology is imperfect as I’ve had innocuous posts deleted before). Also having authenticated logins would prevent misrepresentations, though I don’t know if that’s been a significant problem for you in the past. I know they’re also imperfect but do a better job of representing the commenter’s identity in ongoing conversations (which the avatars also help).

Kyle
Guest
Kyle

Please add authenticated logins! I would love that.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Disqus would be nice. Especially for popularity sorting and public flagging of comments.
Must cost $$$.

Terry D-M
Guest
Terry D-M

As someone who has also had a guest article published and has been mentioned fairly frequently, I agree with the deletion of his article.

As a historian and a community member who does not want history repeated, the cleansing of history may make it more difficult to learn from this incident. IT IS A VERY difficult call, but I support the decision of Jonathan as it is his site…..plus, I am not a journalist.

was carless
Guest
was carless

This reminds me of the Journalism code of ethics.

http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

Although I am uninterested in the sordid details of this young mans troubled life, I wonder how many other readers care either.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Jonathan, I (having no association other than this site with him or any of these groups) think you have handled the situation more than sufficiently.
I understand that he was a big personality and likely was a large part of the orbit of some groups or people, but in reality he was not a huge player in Portland bike policy. He ran strong (and loudly) in a few groups, but I’m sure that the vast majority of Portland cyclists, and likely even the majority of readers of this blog have either no knowledge of him or just a minimal amount of recognition (Probably a little different after the WW piece).

rainbike
Guest
rainbike

I understand moderating a comment section, when things get too heated, personal or outright vulgar, that’s your prerogative as publisher/editor. But making a person’s name and all of his comments completely disappear goes way beyond this. Making the place “safer” is a censor’s argument.

canuck
Guest
canuck

Better to annotate the articles with some background and explanations than to expunge it all. It is just hiding what should be out in the open and discussed.

I do not condone his behavior but does everything he’s done get thrown out? He was a very polarizing person but at one point you yourself gave him a platform so some of what he stood for you must have agreed with. Do you no longer agree with anything he stood for ?

canuck
Guest
canuck

My bad not meant as a reply to rainbike, meant as a stand alone comment with questions directed to Jonathan.

Lisa Marie
Guest

First: to those taking issue with Jonathan deleting information from the site, I believe he did the right thing. As someone who knows the situation and the accused (though we are no longer friends), not allowing him to promote himself via this site is important. Additionally, those posts have a tendency to falsely imply he was a leader (which he likely encouraged), though from what I know he was not.

Second: I’d like to echo Esther in thanking you for addressing this publicly. It is not simply an “incident” – at its root is a generally discounted female and minority voice in our bike community. To those who repeatedly tell me “but we’re the most progressive city and most progressive bike culture”, I’d agree… and what does that say about the state of female and minority voices in bicycling? If we have difficulty being heard here, where CAN we be?

The realities of being ignored and discounted (and having to have male board members forward e-mails to me, since despite being a chair, people assumed they must really be running our group) has made me, on more than one occasion, want out of the active transportation advocacy world.

Dismissing varied voices sets the stage for accusations like Byrd’s going ignored and doubted and shut down until the tally of accusers is high enough to force acknowledgment. It also allows Hart and others to dominate conversations at the expense of others. Aggressive speech from him was rarely a problem – aggressive responses from women have been met with discomfort and shunning.

I wasn’t going to comment, but silence and silencing has been our biggest problem and it has allowed egregious behavior to go unchecked.

Speaking up, however, is equally unappealing as a woman. Throughout this ordeal, when other women have spoken up, I’ve heard the real-time responses of “she’s too sensitive” or “she’s a bit intense/needs to calm down” or “why is she taking this personally”. Outside of this particular issue, I’ve also seen women promote great ideas and seen them swiftly discounted for their lack of “experience” or “knowledge”… only to see a guy say the same thing and have his ideas lauded. We’ll hold prominent women up as tokens of our inclusiveness, yet fail to integrate them into conversation and decision making in meaningful ways.

This is a systemic problem of which we have only scratched the surface, and I believe it is one of the reasons bicycling has stagnated in this city – many still feel no place exists for them in this world. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who has spoken up and to the men in the community who have shown themselves to be caring, compassionate, and open to examining their own faults. You give me a whole lot of hope 🙂

“Once you know better, you do better.”

I truly hope we do.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Thank you for this insightful comment.

Cory Poole
Guest

Jonathan made a tough call and I respect that it is his to make.
I also am concerned about the Erasing of history. I wonder if each of his statements could have been hyperlinked to an article addressing his abuse. Perhaps that would put bikeportland in a difficult legal situation. I’m sure this has all been preserved on the internet archive for anyone willing to dig. I just hope all of this keeps the next abuser from gaining traction in our community.

q`Tzal
Guest
q`Tzal

Blogs like this toe a fine line between personal free expression and Heir to the throne of The Fourth Estate.
Time will sort it out or make the debate obsolete and academic.

“Sir/Ma’am? Do you have a moment hear about the power and great works of the borg collective?”

random
Guest
random

Your website also contains numerous references to Neil Goldschmidt, who raped a 14 year old girl.

Please delete all references to Goldschmidt from your website.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Jonathan says that part of the reason he took action on this is that to some extent, he agrees he gave Hart some platform and power that he would not have otherwise had. I think it’s arguable that Jonathan has not given Goldschmidt (who was reprehensible, and ruined a woman’s life) any more power than he already had.

Esther
Guest
Esther

also worth noting that groups who DID give Goldschmidt power once his conduct was revealed, repudiated him from their groups. His picture has been removed from the State Capital.

random
Guest
random

“His picture has been removed from the State Capital.”

Not quite the same thing as trying to remove Goldschmidt from the historical record.

Come on, do you think that Noecker would really try to use references to him in Bike Portland to bolster his reputation in the future, given what a simple Google search of his name is going to reveal?

Alexander H.
Guest
Alexander H.

Hart will inevitably try to and use everything available to rehabilitate his distorted self-image through sweet-talking and manipulation. And he’ll likely succeed. That’s what narcissistic sociopaths do, and they’re experts at it. That’s why I compared him to Ira Einhorn. He was a radical environmentalist who murdered a woman, and went on the lam for 20+ years. When he got caught, he was married to another woman who was supporting him.

random
Guest
random

“Hart will inevitably try to and use everything available to rehabilitate his distorted self-image through sweet-talking and manipulation.”

Of course, but unless he decides to go under a different name, he is going to have a hard time explaining things away in the Age of Google.

He’s hardly the first guy to use charisma and perceived power and authority in a social group to get sexual access to young women – I’m just not sure if trying to whitewash the historical record is going to make it easier or harder for other people trying this.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Tried and convicted, right here in Bikeportland.org.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

Ironically enough, it happens to drivers here all the time.

Steph Routh
Guest
Steph Routh

There seems to be very little done over the past month that has sought to remove Hart from historical record. However, like removing someone from the State Capitol, there has been much done to remove him from any place that could be perceived as a place of honor. Jonathan’s decision was a very difficult one, and I applaud BikePortland’s process in weighing the consequences against the merits.

The concern that many have stated—and to which I subscribe—in recent weeks is that we focus solely on one person’s behavior rather than recognizing broader-spectrum cultural/community issues (Lisa Marie White states many of them very well) of which we are a part by dint of being community members, and with that our collective ability/responsibility to change that. Huge thanks to all who have been involved over the past weeks of developing codes of conduct and/or other community guidelines.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. One does not prevent evil things by pretending they never happened.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I think this post is EXACT proof that Jonathan is not pretending that it never happened. He’s addressing it head on!

Esther
Guest
Esther

Yep.

davemess
Guest
davemess

And isn’t it a little early for Godwin’s Law to apply?

m
Guest
m

This guy was the poster child for all things wrong with the anti-car movement and did a major disservice to the often confused but very different (and more reasonable, enlightened, and realistic) pro-bicycle movement of which I am a proud supporter. Good riddance.

Stretchy
Guest
Stretchy

This story has been very thought provoking for me. Too many to list but here are a couple (maybe few depending on how verbose I’m feeling). These thoughts aren’t necessarily about this story in particular, they are just thoughts that have come up as a result of reading this post and the WW article last week.

What do you do when you find yourself on the same side of an argument with someone you dislike? Substitute whatever verb you’d like if ‘dislike’ is not strong enough. What if that person is not just irritating but publicly holds views that are downright offensive?

Do you still work with that person to achieve your common goal even though you risk being associated with them? Do you hinder your efforts at achieving that goal by refusing to work with them?

Do you judge others based on the company they keep? Do you broadly judge all Democrats, Republicans, environmentalists, Tea Partiers, Occupy Xers, cyclists, drivers, global warming activists, global warming deniers etc… based on the very public actions of a few bad apples who align themselves with these groups/movements?

What do you do about offensive speech or, in this case inoffensive speech from someone you find offensive? Is it best to excise it entirely? Does each edit require a note to explain the reason for the removal?

What level of offense is required to remove someone’s comment? (keep in mind, this website is, to my knowledge, Jonathan’s property to do with as he pleases) Does removal of someone’s comments because someone is offended encourage or enable a kind of hecklers veto? (I also understand that the offense alleged here is more than just a little name calling)

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

Plus+1 for a Code of Conduct. Behave decently, or behave elsewhere.

jeff
Guest
jeff

why exactly hasn’t his accuser gone to the police? I don’t get it. Anyone who is the victim of such a reported crime, doesn’t call a public circle together to talk to all her friends about it first in attempt to build some local public consensus against the accused…they go to the police and undergo a rape examination. What a strange decision.

Maus can do whatever he wants with his website. He doesn’t even have to explain himself.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Jeff:
1. ***Esther, I have deleted this portion of your comment. Please treat other commenters as you would like to be treated. Thanks – Jonathan*** Byrd has gone to the police (see the Wweek article citing that).
2. Here’s why people don’t always do or want to do rape kits: http://time.com/3001467/heres-what-happens-when-you-get-a-rape-kit-exam/
3. Why does Jonathan get a free pass on explaining himself but victims of violent crime don’t? Just asking.

jeff
Guest
jeff

I did read the WW article…beginning to end. It reads like the movie sequel to Kids. If I were the this man, I would consider a lawsuit against WW for such an article. Its unsubstantiated he said, she said.

Maus can do what he wants because its HIS WEBSITE. When you have your own website someday, I’d say the same thing.

When did I ever state victims of violent crime should explain themselves? You seem to be getting ahead of yourself. I see no evidence from that article that there was a violent crime. You see, a rape examination and immediate police involvement would actually prove that. Without it really, she’s got nothing more than words and odd approaches to attempting public humiliation and behavioral change.

Esther
Guest
Esther

And victims of violent crime can do what they want with their body & time because IT IS THEIR BODY AND TIME.

jeff
Guest
jeff

you’re talking in odd circles. fact is, without evidence of a crime, there is no actual crime. this woman’s odd course of actions are now documented and would be used in any court circumstance as public record.

the jury is certain here casting stones in BikePortland.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Wrong. Crimes happen all the time without proof. Most types of harassment and interpersonal violence can be without “evidence.”

jeff
Guest
jeff

but it will never be legally addressed. This woman squandered the only recourse she had based on some odd anarchist ideology. If you’re into stopping crime, it typically involves those who have such authority.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

We don’t know that, and we have no reason to assume that. It’s possible that this factored in, but there’s umpteen other possible reasons why Byrd didn’t call the cops. The same reasons why most rapes aren’t reported.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

A crime is committed whether or not evidence of the crime exists. It’s absurd to suppose that a person’s culpability depends on whether it was caught on video or whatnot.

Not all crimes can be be prosecuted, and fewer still will bring conviction. You need evidence sufficient to prove to a jury that the crime was committed beyond reasonable doubt, a very high bar. But just because a person can’t be prosecuted doesn’t mean he didn’t commit the crime.

And while it’s vitally important for the *state* to presume innocence, that doesn’t mean you have to withhold judgment on whether the crime was committed. If Byrd was a voice in the wilderness, then it’s one thing. But ten women came forward and corroborated Byrd’s stories with similar experiences. At that point the only reasonable thing to do is believe them.

Lynn
Guest
Lynn

“Nothing more than words.” Wow. Why is it so hard for women’s words to be heard and honored? 20 some women have spoken up about Bill Cosby’s actions. Why is it so hard to listen to women’s words?

jeff
Guest
jeff

Because, just like words from men, they can be false sometimes.

Kate
Guest
Kate

That is not what is being argued here. The fact is that male sexual and physical violence against females is epidemic and well-documented, while female lying about this violence is not only not epidemic, it is very sparse, a fact that is also well-documented. Yet the myth persists that women lie and that men are innocent until “proven” guilty, which can almost never be “proven” within a culture that privileges male power and authority and sexual expression and denigrates female experience and sexual expression.

jeff
Guest
jeff

There is no problem listening to and honoring women…if what they are saying is accurate and can be proven. What this woman is accusing someone of is a very violent crime. Its not a lesson in behaving badly. Without two sides of the story, you folks really have nothing more than a lynch mob mentality. Sorry if I don’t play that game.

matt picio
Guest

Except you’re saying it from a position of privilege. Who arbitrates proof? You seem to suggest that the accusation shouldn’t be taken seriously until and unless reported to the police and a rape kit test performed. That sounds all well and good until you look at the details – many rapes are not reported to police because women fear not being taken seriously, because they fear reprisal, or feel unsafe, or because police, doctors, family members and friends express the opinion that they “deserved it” based on the clothes they wear, or the fact that they had 1 drink, or because they are pretty, or have large breasts, or because it’s Friday night and “boys will be boys”.

Presuming the police take it seriously, and the woman comes forward and provides the report – you have cases like in Detroit, where over 1,000 rape kits were unprocessed and serial rapists were not caught and prosecuted until they raped others. It’s not that one woman is making allegations (although ANY report should be examined as serious), there are many women coming forward and making allegations. At some point, a community needs to self-manage and self-police if the structures in place fail to protect people.

All that aside – there should never be a problem “listening to and honoring women” ever, regardless of whether what they are saying is “accurate” (again, who decides that?) or “proven”. You listen, you take the allegations seriously – one doesn’t need to convict someone to warrant keeping a closer eye on their actual behavior), and you take steps to ensure that that woman feels safe in that community. This shouldn’t be a subject for debate, it’s plain decency, common sense, and treating people like people.

“I never once insinuated she is lying” – except that you said she shouldn’t be taken seriously until her accusations are proven. That sounds like some serious wordsmithing, and possibly venturing into gaslighting. Women have to deal on a daily basis with being told they are overreacting, that their concerns are invalid, or less valid, or conditionally valid, and that their experiences, thoughts and feelings are subject to debate, reinterpretation, or that they are misremembered (i.e. gaslighting). This is a historical problem. It may or may not still be a “man’s world”, but systemic male bias and influence hasn’t gone away – male privilege exists, it’s still institutionalized, and despite the words of Esther, Kate and others, there will be people reading this thread who will only listen to this argument because a man made it – though the women who’ve spoken up have made this case time and again far more eloquently than I am now.

It’s long past time for the men in the bike community to stop standing in the way – it’s time that we listen to the women around us, admit to ourselves and publicly to other men that their concerns and opinions are valid, and be allies in truth and in fact rather than in name – while not trying to “save” them, speak for them, or otherwise reject their legitimacy.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Thank you Matt!

dreamgalaxies
Guest
dreamgalaxies

Thank you so, so much for this comment. Seriously. I was just starting to lose hope in the depths of the comment section…

SEO
Guest
SEO

I just had an interesting experience reading this.

On the one hand, I was cheering: to finally witness an example of how someone with a privileged voice was using that voice to undermine his own privilege. Matt is dragging into the light that which is so hidden, deeply entrenched and naturalized in our culture that even the nicest guys can deploy its many memes and tropes, dog-whistle style, to reinforce their own privileged position, and still consider themselves (and be considered) “nice guys.” Take note: if you want to up your game and move a couple of levels beyond “nice” to something more awesome: THIS is what it looks like.

Clearly, Matt has already embarked on the important process of recognizing (a) the very existence of (unearned) privileges based on gender, skin color, and/or other factors; (b) the true impact of privilege on one’s position and power in society; (c) how this privilege plays out everywhere, in real time, even in our most minute and quotidian actions; and (d) how privilege, if it remains unrecognized and unexamined, will continue to play out in default mode and have a direct, negative impact on members of our community who have less privilege, for whatever reason.

Basically, what Matt has written here is a primer on ethics; on how to conduct oneself as ethically as possible with the goal of building a safe, egalitarian and strong activist community. We all need to do whatever we can to reinforce and encourage this kind of action, and hence I would nominate Matt’s post as a Comment of the Week.

But then, on the other hand, I also recognize that he is summarizing comments already made by the many women who are chiming in here–who are, given the genuine and tangible dangers faced by women who are vocal on the Internet (such as Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu), truly brave–and realize that my reaction to their posts wasn’t as enthusiastic. Why shouldn’t theirs be Comment(s) of the Week? Or, if we insist on women getting that honor in this particular context, will some claim (or secretly believe) that this smacks of some kind of “sympathy vote”? Yet another example of how the truth value of women’s voices is under constant threat of being called into doubt.

All of this is of a piece with how insidious privilege is, how it has wormed its way into all of our psyches so profoundly that the process of recognizing and naming it is necessarily ongoing. We all need to do what Matt did here, recognizing how privilege will continue to work through us and reinforce its own power if we refuse to engage it constantly, without hesitation or fear.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

even a person in a “position of privilege” can be objective, no? Immediately dismissing the viewpoint of someone else because they might have more wealth is just as bad as dismissing the viewpoint of someone born into poverty, a minority group, etc…..

consider what you are saying – if ‘privilege’ suggests subjectivity and an inability to see things as they are, why wouldn’t a person on the opposite spectrum also have a weighted viewpoint?

I would say the context of the viewpoint varies regardless of position.

matt picio
Guest

“even a person in a “position of privilege” can be objective, no?”

It’s not a “position of privilege”, it’s a state of being privileged, or having “unearned privilege”. I’d recommend Googling the term and doing some reading, because it seems like you’re using the term in a different manner from how it’s customarily interpreted.

“Immediately dismissing the viewpoint of someone else because they might have more wealth is just as bad as dismissing the viewpoint of someone born into poverty, a minority group, etc…..”

I didn’t see any reference to wealth in SEO’s post (or mine) – were you referring to someone’s comment up-thread?

“consider what you are saying – if ‘privilege’ suggests subjectivity and an inability to see things as they are, why wouldn’t a person on the opposite spectrum also have a weighted viewpoint?”

Privilege doesn’t suggest subjectivity. A person’s viewpoint is subjective or objective independent of their unearned privilege. The point is that when the system is inherently biased to weight the views of men over the views of women, when women are encouraged not to participate and told their views are invalid, when the same point from a man is evaluated on its own merits, then the discussion can never be honest, or equitable, without something being done to either provide a more welcoming environment for women to participate, or at the very least a less hostile one.

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

Esther, I was just about to redirect Jeff to your able answer of Alexander H. above.

That being said, it was depressing to read the comments at the Facebook event site because it was taken as a given that nobody would get the law involved. In fact Byrd took some criticism for their restraining order (admittedly from a fairly unhinged Hart supporter). While for the reasons you explained and linked to, any given person may justifiably not report a rape, it is disturbing to me that there are communities where rapists can prey with relative impunity because the community frowns on involving law enforcement.

Even an “if you do decide to go to the police, I will support you” sentiment would have been a good gesture. Maybe that sentiment was expressed at the meeting.

Or maybe everybody is just savvy that rapes are really hard to prosecute in the absence of witnesses or a rape kit, and that bird had pretty much flown.

jeff
Guest
jeff

Jeff. I deleted your comment. Please show more respect and caution in the future. Thanks. –Jonathan

Esther
Guest
Esther

Times like this a code of conduct would be nice. (Name-calling / ad hominem)

jeff
Guest
jeff

agreed, would apply nicely to something like “Zzzzz. Maybe you should read and listen before you talk. “

Kate
Guest
Kate

The problem, Jeff and Shuppatu, is not that the community discouraged involvement of law enforcement. It is that rape and sexual harassment persist within communities whether or not law enforcement is involved at all. A community’s support of multiple victims speaking out about the repeated predatory and violent behavior of a member of an historically more physically and politically powerful majority towards members of an historically more physically and politically weaker minority represents that community’s attempt to not only discourage rape and sexual harassment, but also change the culture in which it is so easily tolerated and covered up.

As for rape kits and “proof”: If you read the comments to the WW article, you noticed that most of the criticism of Jasper was directed towards the fact that Jasper had had consensual sex with Noecker in the past, and that Jasper had engaged in BDSM sexual activities, and therefore, “what did she expect?” She stated that she had set a hard limit against a certain sexual act and that he used physical force and intimidation to persist in that act against her will. In that capacity, what would the contents of a rape kit prove if he still persisted in arguing that it was consensual? The “he said-she said” argument only supports the long-standing and much-disproven myth that all women lie about sexual assault, and deflects attention from the reality that some men use their greater physical power and social capital to force women to engage in sexual acts against their will.

Put another way: drivers injure and kill cyclists on the road all the time, and hardly ever get prosecuted for harm or murder. Does this mean we should not report cyclist injury and death to the authorities, or not take these drivers to court? Of course not. But in our current culture where we privilege car transport over bike transport, where cars rule because they are more powerful and we accept that the roads exist primarily for them and that this setup is “natural,” most drivers do not change their driving behavior based on the fear that they will harm or kill a cyclist. In fact, they are more likely to resent us being there in the first place and question why we are placing ourselves in harm’s way, since “cars are dangerous.”

Not blaming victims who speak out about their rapes, harassment, and abuse– in whatever capacity they choose– is the first step at creating a world where the road is built for everyone, not just for the most powerful. That is what is going to really stop rape (as well as make it easier for victims to report rape and for prosecutors to prosecute rapists).

jeff
Guest
jeff

oh vey…its not an “argument”, its an unfortunate fact. There is no evidence of a crime here and never will be. There could have been, but there isn’t due to a number of unusual decisions made by the woman or personal decisions based on her ideology. I never once insinuated she is lying, but she could actually have a legal leg to stand on if she’d gone through appropriate legal channels, no? Who is blaming anyone? Lying happens, on both sides of the incident, on a very regular basis.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

If it were just one account, I would be right there with you, buddy. But with so many accusers telling the same story, it is logical to believe them. What else could this be? A feminist insurrection cleverly planned to remove him from power? I can’t think of a single plausible scenario where he is innocent here. Maybe you can enlighten us…

shuppatsu
Guest
shuppatsu

There’s much to be commended about how the community reacted to Byrd’s callout. Action was swift and support was nearly universal. And there was genuine soul-searching and self-accountability.

I don’t blame Byrd or any of the victims for not immediately going to the police. If I put myself in their shoes I’m guessing I wouldn’t have either, for the reasons that Esther identified.

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

Kate, when I read stuff like this:

“where cars rule because they are more powerful and we accept that the roads exist primarily for them and that this setup is “natural,” most drivers do not change their driving behavior based on the fear that they will harm or kill a cyclist”

I think that Hart Noecker’s ideas are alive and well on this blog.

Seriously- your portrait of all drivers as not caring about hitting bikers is kinda polarizing and exaggerating, huh? Very Noecker. This idea of the moral superiority of bikes was part of the underpinning of Noecker’s idea that he got to unilaterally rule the streets and rule over girlfriends.

I have seen torrents of words here and in WW, but scant evidence that
the people who purged Noecker will stop Noeckering. The new verb: to noecker.

BTW- I like the little twitter exchange today betwen JM and someone critical of the Bike Swarm traffic slowdown effort that BP publicized in the last 24 hours. I really enjoyed the nudge-nudge wink wink “it’s okay- the drivers support us.” I recall our dear Hart saying the same thing in regard to the shutdown on East Burnside last December. ” Oh, the drivers supported us.” Noeckering means you trap people in their vehicles to make a point, with the nudge nudge wink wink of less radical supporters. Warms my Hart.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Thanks for your criticism, but I think you missed my point. I was myself critiquing the critique that threat of law enforcement alone is enough of a deterrent for rape. It is not. Nor it is enough of a deterrent for reckless driving. Of COURSE most drivers do not wish to harm or kill a cyclist. And true accidents happen that no one could prevent. But the current state of legal repercussions for drivers who do harm and kill cyclists, whether it is truly by unforseeable accident or by reckless driving, is so weak as to be laughable that it really works to prevent most drivers from changing their driving behaviors (And at the extremes, you have those drivers who fantasize about plowing into cyclists who are constantly “in their way”). If you read most news reports about car-bike fatalities, you will see some quote by law enforcement or others about how the cyclist was dressed and a question as to whether the cyclist should have been on that very dangerous road on the first place. That is the parallel I was trying to make. We know there is one thing that WILL reduce cyclist and pedestrian fatalities on all roads: reducing the speed limit. But try asking most drivers out there if they are willing to drive a maximum of 35mph on shared roads, and they will look at you like you are insane. But isn’t a reduction in the speed limit worth saving lives for? Of course. But why at this point in time should car drivers reduce their speed, even the ones who truly don’t wish to harm cyclists? Because we have this idea still, as a culture, that the roads are really for cars and because cars are more powerful and dangerous, then they rule and the onus is on the weaker pedestrians and cyclists to get out of the way. Why isn’t the onus on the cars to do everything in their power to make sure they aren’t going to accidentally kill anyone first? I’m just pointing out this is a cultural choice–I am not trying to demonize drivers. I am not saying all drivers (or all men) are evil kill machines. I am just pointing out a cultural assumption that prevents law enforcement from being a truly effective tool at creating social change.

Oregon Mamacita
Guest
Oregon Mamacita

Thank you for your response- I appreciate the civility.

I bike and drive, and I guess that gives me a certain perspective. Ny takeaway from the Hart debacle is that oppressive tactics like deliberately slowing traffic on Clinton is part of a “control freak” mentality that made the sexual aggression more likely. Also- when you do the “us. vs. them” thing- you weaken your group and invite bad behavior.
Most communities in PDX do not have the problems with patriarchy & sexual abuse you see in the livable streets community. Name another group with a comparable problem. It’s something about the politics and how others are viewed- and if the mentality and tactics don’t change- you will probably have another purge. there are already little rumblings on social media that Noecker isn’t the only one with a bad attitude towards women amongst the anarchist/activist/ livable streets circles.
Rape is in part a lack of empathy. The lack of empathy for long-time residents with sfh and car owners is very pronounced. Maybe seeing things from a drivers perspective would help.

Esther
Guest
Esther

Thank you Kate & Mamacita – it is very refreshing to have a more substantive debate about how our attitudes play–or not– into these types of behaviors and furthering active transportation work and how appropriate certain types of tactics are. I admit to having the same questions about the guerrilla Clinton action when I saw that Hart was photographing (or otherwise involved) – at what point does activism cross the line from supporting the needs of a community to forcing ones beliefs about what the needs of a community are on a community? Not sure, but it’s a good question, I think.

I also think it’s part of the reason Portland moved away from Critical Mass in the first place, because we came up with better, more inclusive ways to do some of the same things (when you think about it, most Pedalpalooza rides look exactly like a Critical Mass ride, but they generally have a positive rather than negative energy and perception associated with them).

Just an aside..keep talking. 🙂

soren
Guest

“oppressive tactics like deliberately slowing traffic on Clinton”

Clinton is a designated bike route with sharrows painted in the center of the lane.

How is riding on a sharrow on a designated bike route “oppressing” motorists?

Is having to drive slowly for a few blocks oppression?

Is being annoyed by slower vulnerable traffic and *choosing* to shift to the newly-paved road one block over “oppression”?

davemess
Guest
davemess

I’m guessing she was referring to the “guerrilla” diverters.

Steph Routh
Guest
Steph Routh

Thank you, Jonathan.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

Surely “HN” is a contrived name.

He will try to be back with another pseudonym.

Allison
Guest
Allison

For what it’s worth, I don’t think this is the right approach, Jonathan, if you’re arguing that bikeportland.org is press rather than a very lovingly curated personal blog. The record is the record and the norms established by the news media community would have decided differently – the error is part of the record, the correction is part of the record.

I understand wanting to wash your hands and pretend you never knew him, but it doesn’t serve you and it doesn’t serve the community and it doesn’t serve to support the the status of this blog as news.

The question always has to be, what happens next time? What happens the next time you accidentally employ or vaguely use-as-a-source someone you might decide you need to disavow? Will you excise them as well? With this excision help you avoid finding yourself in such a position? Will this excision make it harder for bad actors to use this blog as a way to build credibility? I don’t think any of those things are true.

You say this is a one time thing. There is absolutely no such thing.

BIKELEPTIC
Guest

Jonathan already HAS done this before in a certain way. . . back in like 2010? With his intern Griffin from Vancouver. Doesn’t anyone remember that black sheep who was making up information and feeding him bad stats. He was struck from the record.

Dan Kaufman
Guest

Jonathan, Ask why the anonymous cast their cynical stones. Why do you let them?

Huey Lewis
Guest
Huey Lewis

I’ve already forgot who we were talking about.

Anon
Guest
Anon

Ha wow. I’m not surprised. That dude is a piece of work. Never liked him.

J4son
Guest
J4son

Jonathan if you decide to alter history and attempt to remove all traces of a person . . . I truly hope you have absolute certainty that you are on the right side of history.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

If I owned BikePortland, I don’t know what I would do. It’s a difficult decision, and I won’t second-guess Jonathan. I do think that it is better to make this “place” someplace safe for the victims than to preserve every detail of “history”. This thread also becomes part of that history, so anyone interested will be able to find a record that things were removed, even though the content of the deletions themselves is gone. That’s a little different than simply trying to erase someone without a trace.

Beth
Guest

I think that the whole thing is very interesting. The way the “activist community” handled the excommunication of Hart Noecker from their midst and the way Jonathan has chosen to deal with the recorded history of Hart Noecker’s presence on his personal blog both share commonalities of independence from — and perhaps a touch of disdain for — “official” channels, whether they are the police or a more traditional understanding of what constitutues journalism. Both can be seen as examples of a kind of anarchism — one blatant, one more subtle — or they can be seen as a possible future way of handling deep societal violations among groups of people and/or owners of media.
Relying on simplistic black-and-white arguments in either case does little justice to the complexities involved. This goes far beyond the scope of “talking about bicycles” but deserves a wider and more thoughtful discussion than a privately-owned blog may be capable of hosting.

Mark
Guest
Mark

If Jonathan really wants to alter history he’ll have to delete this posting and comments too. He clearly failed by putting Hart’s name in the title and first sentence. It’s almost like he’s trying to “destroy evidence”.

I read many of Hart’s articles and postings here, Blueoregon, his web sites, and maybe a few more. He wrote well, even if I didn’t agree with his point of view. He stood out so I thought he was a leader. It’s easy to see how others outside the activist community would have thought the same.

I’m glad he’s gone.

J4son
Guest
J4son

. . . and the “leaders” deleted the Seven Commandments, and replaced them with one statement: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”

caesar
Guest
caesar

Deleting comments and stories, even the “innocent” ones unrelated to the most recent controversy? Shameful move, IMHO. The argument that this was done to deny Noecker a future “platform” strikes me as spurious and, if I may say so, a bit conceited.
I’d expect this sort of revisionism in a repressive third-world regime, not Portland.

Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.”
– George Orwell, 1984,

daisy
Guest
daisy

Thanks for doing this, JM. It was a great call.

Adam
Guest
Adam

From the little I know of Hart, he seemed to revel in being inflammatory and provocative in his actions in the bike community, which angered me somewhat, as a believer that most of the time, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar when it comes to advocating for bike rights and facilities.

But I also have to say, scheesh… whatever happened to INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.

Amy
Guest
Amy

“Innocent until proven guilty” applies in jury trials. We as individuals are all more than welcome to make any judgments we like based on the evidence we have from people we trust. It’s how society works. Your employer doesn’t have to take you to court to fire you for stealing when over 20 other employees said you did so. They make a judgment based on what they know. This is nothing different.

Craig Harlow
Guest
Craig Harlow

I don’t think Jonathan’s efforts here are to judge Noecker guilty of the actual crimes of which he’s accused. Jonathan’s performing reparations for his own mistakes.

I think Jonathan has judged himself guilty of unwittingly (though he wishes we would have known better) boosting the clout of a person has now been identified almost universally by people who have actually known him as a slippery, dangerous, pathological narcissistic abuser, deceiver and manipulator of the indivuals and groups with which he associates.

Jonathan’s made the admirable personal choice to humbly listen and learn, and to atone for his mistakes by removing postings that give the appearance of support for Noecker the “activist”, which provided social capital that helped Noecker the “mactivist”.

I did the same thing on January 5th across my FaceBook posting history, as soon as I realized I too had acted as an unwitting ally to Noecker’s tricks.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/293708270840115/permalink/317821258428816/

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

Looks like ol’ Hart has gone the way of Dave McFly:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WAQbRFZU7rE

Mark Allyn
Guest

Thank you JM, for doing this. I was not aware of what was going on until now.

One thing that I caught that shocked me. As you know, I had been frequenting Peacock Lane with my lighted outfits throughout the season and I am not aware of what Hart did with his dead police caroling and his confrontations with the motorists.

If any of you were there when this was going on, do you remember also seeing me in my lights?

This one is a bit too close for my comfort.

David Zundel
Guest

Jonathan,

You have made mistakes before. Followed the sane policy of admitting them. And not deleted them.

Such as:

http://bikeportland.org/2013/04/01/activists-suspect-ride-participant-is-an-undercover-portland-police-bureau-captain-84949

Portland needs honest reporting about transportation policy, especially about projects like the CRC.

What did you delete?

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=hart%20noecker%20site%3Abikeportland.org

http://bikeportland.org/2013/04/01/activists-suspect-ride-participant-is-an-undercover-portland-police-bureau-captain-84949#comment-3902731

Please place what you deleted on the Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/) to preserve the record and so we can make an informed judgement.

Did you report Noecker’s speech or action?
Have you now deleted those facts?

Did Noecker’s speech enter the record of discussion?
Did you delete those facts?

Trusted reporting does not choose facts to make a safe place. Trusted reporting does not delete facts because it comes to judge a person a scourge.

Your accountability to the community needs to first stand on honest reporting. You serve the community first as a journal of record. Then as a place of discussion. Deleting someone serves none of that.

You have damaged your credibility.

Get some rest. Reveal what you deleted. Then we can all make an informed and let’s hope calmer assessment.

I care because this has been the best bike news blog in the US.

David

Mossby Pomegrante
Guest
Mossby Pomegrante

Goodbye to a repulsive creep and his despicable treatment of women.

Jeff Bernards
Guest

Hart, Thanks for unfriending me on Facebook over a year ago, you saved me the trouble.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Difficult decision. I see BP as partly news source, partly advocacy blog, partly community gathering place. The appropriate action might differ for each of those aspects.

SEO
Guest
SEO

To those who are upset by Jonathan’s decision (and I for one am on the fence about this too), would something like the following be an acceptable compromise: aggregate all of his comments and posts into one and make it available only upon request (as opposed to easily/instantly available through a simple search/link/etc.)? After all, the compendium of his writing could make for interesting raw material for some sort of analysis and critique of the workings of privilege. Anyway. My two cents on the matter.

Amy
Guest
Amy

I haven’t read through every single one of these comments but as someone that Hart victimized, I agree with Jonathan’s decision and appreciate his receptiveness to sheeting his website. This is indeed a unique situation and one that is unlikely to recur. Also, Hart did very much use his publications on websites as a way to build his activist cred and get people to let their guards down more. I certainly trusted him more than I might have because he talked up his writing here, on Blue Oregon, on Mismanaging Perception, etc, as well as his involvement on the Nick Caleb and anti-flouride campaigns. I figured that such a dedicated and well-respected activist with what I saw as solid (although extreme) radical politics and well-honed feminist rhetoric couldn’t possibly be a complete misogynist. I wasn’t part of the bike scene and didn’t realize how divisive and unliked he was. Obviously he never portrayed himself that way.

I’m typing on my phone and feel my thoughts are a little disjointed, but TL;DR: one of Hart’s victims here, I agree with Jonathan’s decision and am grateful for this post.

Tom
Guest
Tom

I see where Jonathan and the victims are coming from, but it seems to me that not erasing this person from bp actually makes a stronger case for exercising awareness and due diligence when dealing with people who may seem legit from their internet presence.

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

I love to see Orwellian concepts implemented at the behest of social progressives. Big Brother would be proud.

“Unperson” An unperson is someone who has been “vaporized” — not only killed by the state, but erased from existence. Such a person would be written out of existing books, photographs and articles so that no trace of their existence could be found in the historical record. The idea is that such a person would, according to the principles of doublethink, be forgotten completely (for it would be impossible to provide evidence of their existence), even by close friends and family.

Mentioning their name, or even speaking of his past existence, is thoughtcrime; the concept that the person may have existed at one time and has disappeared cannot be expressed in Newspeak.

J4son
Guest
J4son

If only the western world had a few more Progressives with backbones (to stand for liberty and rights against peer pressure), or Conservatives with hearts [to acknowledge that profit (and/or their god) is not supreme] we could accomplish many things as a society.

It is not recommended that you hold your breath waiting for either group to evolve.

Esther
Guest
Esther

It’s hard to think of Hart as erased when there has been more discussion about him on this thread than on any previous on BikePortland.

redhippie
Guest
redhippie

Will this post be deleted also?

Kate
Guest
Kate

Really, you can’t actually believe that is what is going on here. That is exaggerating to the point of ridiculousness. Neither Jonathan nor anyone in any of the progressive communities Hart associated with is trying to “unperson” Hart. They are merely taking steps to remedy their own error of helping position him as some sort of valid representative of their own views/movements, and helping make sure he is unable to use them to bolster his own credibility in the future.

Would that they had such power. This really is akin to taking down Goldschmidt’s photo in the capital. It’s a symbolic gesture at best, but an important one.

Middle of the Road guy
Guest
Middle of the Road guy

“Free Hart Noecker” said no one, ever.

lee
Guest
lee

So, only well known people who have done wrong in the bike community will be erased from the site? How will you ensure future contributors and/or people you rely on for information are safe to post? At some point you respected him enough to include him here.
I know of at least one other person you have featured on this site that has a questionable history towards women, but he’s not a prominent bike person and neither am I. However, I never would expect you to remove an article or post – I just choose to not look at it.
At what point do you make the call? X # of complaints? It has to come from someone you “respect and care about”? How can it ever be fair?

Bc
Guest
Bc

Yes! Silencing is bad! We must all exercise our voices! Yay! Now, let’s go silence and censor HN’s voice!

I really respect everyone’s good intentions here, and I know we’re all trying to do the right thing and protect our fellow BPers. I appreciate the difficult position Jonathan is in here, and admire his clear and thoughtful explanations for the actions he took and his desire to do right by those allegedly harmed. And I also appreciate the mostly intelligent and respectful tone of this entire conversation, which I doubt we’d find on any other blog in Oregon. This erasing of history, though, makes me wonder whether we’re going too far. (Note that although I read the WWeek story, I haven’t had time to read all 1100 comments in all 27 posts here on the subject , so please forgive me if I’m repeating already made points. )

Of course if the allegations are true, the accused is a cad, and of course we should sympathize with and work to encourage and empower those who have been disempowered. But is anyone else uncomfortable with censoring non defamatory, non incendiary speech because we don’t like who said it? Does this lead toward Charlie Hebdo territory? It’s a little reminiscent of soviet leaders retroactively airbrushing out the photos of party members who’d fallen into disfavor. Of course I’m not equating removal of comments with murdering cartoonists or soviet tyranny. But there is a common whiff of censorship.

The remedy for bad speech — or in this case, speaker –isn’t censorship; it’s more speech. If the objection to the comments is that they falsely implied that the commenter was a leader in our community, then the open minded remedy is to post a reply to each of those comments saying exactly that, and listing whatever other objections you have to him or his comments. Jonathan could even write an editor’s note at the top of that one column HN wrote, saying exactly what he thinks of HN. Wouldn’t that — even more than censoring his words– discredit any attempt in his part to use BP to increase his power or bolster his rep elsewhere?

The thoughtful comments here show that our community members are capable of articulate, persuasive arguments. Speak up! Exercise the voice Jonathan has given you. We’ll support you! But excising someone else’s voice, however much we dislike him, feels wrong.

This recent article may be relevant. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/01/not-a-very-pc-thing-to-say.html

I understand the desire to make it all not have happened, and that what he’s alleged to have done caused real pain. But it did happen, he did say what he said in an open forum, and AFAIK (please correct me if I’m mistaken here), no one is alleging that the comments themselves were false or defamatory, just that the guy who made them is accused of reprehensible behavior and therefore we’re now making him an unperson, rather than speaking out to denounce his alleged behavior.

Thomas Jefferson kept slaves. That was a terrible thing. Should we therefore go back and erase the Declaration of Independence?
Of course, HN’s comments and column were hardly that valuable. Actually, we have no idea how valuable they were, because they’re gone, erased from history, and now we don’t even get the opportunity to decide for ourselves what we think of them. I’d restore the censored material–and then say, right next to them, exactly what I thought about the person who wrote it and what he did.