Welcome TOMPAINE members!
Comments: 3 (click to view) Addendums: 1
I want to personally thank those of you who are visiting DeKalb County Online on the recommendation of TOMPAINE List Owner, Dr. Herbert J. Rubin.
I've enjoyed reading the TOMPAINE archives for a couple of years now. I'm not an NIU staff member so I can't participate in your discussions but I do find them interesting.
Dr. Rubin believes I attacked TOMPAINE (see index page of this site). I believe I am attacking Dr. Rubin's public attack of the City of DeKalb's website and his thinly veiled partisan attack on Greg Sparrow. Dr. Rubin and I seldom agree on anything.
For those of you who are totally confused as to what is going on here, please read Dr. Rubin's post on TOMPAINE and follow the unedited string of electronic conversation between Dr. Rubin and I:
Spillover from city politics
Subject: Spillover from city politics
From: Herbert Rubin (email address omitted)
Date: Fri Feb 11 2005 - 20:57:18 CST
As a spillover from city politics, Mac Macintyre who runs his own web site and works for the Developer's Association (and is on the other side of most city political issues from me) has attacked tompaine. (In a letter to the local paper I dared to imply that the city web site might be slanted toward the mayor; admittedly though that it might simply be having some technical problems). In any case Mac attacked. You can see his comments on http://www.dekalbcounty-il.com/
I also wrote him a strong letter that I'm including below:
(Oh the phrase 'rant page' is not me being nasty; it's what Mac calls his page)
editor's note: Dr. Rubin's strong letter is included by order of which it was received in the following emails we exchanged. He had originally requested that our conversation be considered private but has since changed his mind.
From: Herbert Rubin
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 8:51 PM
To: Mac McIntyre
Cc: Herbert Rubin
Subject: Your tompaine comments
In case you do still feel politics requires some semblance of fairness, you might want to rethink your comments on tompaine on your personally controlled website. .You might want to note that tompaine is totally unmonitored. I have only two responsibilities for it. First, to try to handle the technical foulups that occur on any list; i.e. helping people subscribe, figuring out what to do when the list server is acting funny. Second, to double check when people subscribe that they are neither faculty or staff or administrators, present or retired, at the university (with one or two exception who were grandfathered early on).
Unlike the control you maintain on your rant page (in which you do seem fair enough in posting people's reactions, but still it is your page) I have no content control whatsoever over tompaine. I do post on my own but as participant not as someone controlling the list.
Mac, when you attacked me on your web page for my political activities and views on growth, I thought the attack was a bit unfair, but still politics are politics and I am an actor in city politics. Tompaine was set up as a substitute for a non-existing faculty and staff club on campus with conversations ranging from silly jokes, to some hard nosed national political discussions just as they would at lunch.
Attacking tompaine is not quite like attacking a politician's family (rather than the politician himself or herself) but comes pretty close. I think you are being very unfair this time and I would appreciate it if you would confine attacks to areas in which we disagree in city politics, not just make shot gun attacks. Everything I do is not political; I work out, watch a wide variety of classical movies; photograph birds; and, fix (or try to fix) problems that occur on tompaine.
Incidentally, even the city manager of DeKalb admits that there are technical problems with the web site, problems that I believe are being resolved because of pressure from folk like myself. I would have thought you would have joined in on demanding that the city web site works well. (It has improved this week, but from January 24th until a day or two ago was virtually useless). The last problem I found was a 23 meg download of a pdf file (just think what that would do to a modem user). You are a web designer yourself and I hope have sufficient pride not to open up a site with obvious technical defects. For well over a week, only the mayor's page was functioning.
From: Herbert Rubin
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 8:51 PM
To: Mac McIntyre
Cc: Herbert Rubin
Subject: Your tompaine comments
the phrase should be either faculty or staff (not neither) I elided two phrases, sorry
From: Mac McIntyre
Sent: Friday, February 11, 2005 10:04 PM
To: 'Herbert Rubin'
Subject: RE: Your tompaine comments
Your public attack on the city website implied partisanship and that is unfair to the public and whoever works on the city website. Your letter was a thinly disguised attack on Sparrow and being less than honest in stating your intent and purpose when making public statements is unfair.
You have three responsibilities with TomPaine. The two you mentioned plus you are responsible for what you post on it. If you are going to transparently accuse and vent against others for partisanship, for the purpose of playing political games with Sparrow, then the public should be allowed to read your two posts in the current tompaine archive about DeKalb politics so that they may conclude whether or not you are practicing partisanship.
<<<<About TOMPAINE Discussion List (owner: Herb Rubin) TOMPAINE is a discussion group for faculty and staff members of the NIU Community. TOMPAINE provides a forum for members of the NIU community to share their insights on events affecting the university as a place of work and as an institution of higher education. The discussion group is meant to be the electronic substitute for a university club at which conversations between those in different fields and disciplines can take place.>>>>
The above is what I thought the purpose of TOMPAINE is. Based on the frequency and amount of donations NIU receives from current and former staff members there should not be a need for an electronic substitute for a university staff club. There ought to be room in one of the projects going up around Barsema to accommodate that.
If you perceive an attack on TOMPAINE as akin to attacking a politician's family then perhaps the site is 'your baby.' Being a website designer I can then have compassion for its webmaster as well as the IT department and how they must have felt when you trashed their work and accused them of partisanship.
As local government websites go, it is a toss-up between the City of DeKalb and the DeKalb County government site as to which is the best in the county. The city does not have highly qualified website programmers on their staff and I admire them for trying to save the taxpayers money and do their work in house.
I would be happy to make a public retraction for my comments if I can expect the same from you.
PS: I assumed this was meant to be private, if not advise.
Date: Sunday February 13, 2005
Time: 06:02 PM -0500
You are a webmaster who should know the difference between public and private correspondence. We were carrying out a private discussion. You have posted it on a public web page. That is against electronic matters.
On your own web page you do distinguish between public and private comments. You certainly should respect those differences when the correspondence is private.
Mac I offered to let you post on tompaine if you wished. I did NOT offer to make our discussion public.
You and I have had many civil disagreements. I participate in them especially those in the local paper because I feel through such discussions we all learn.
Taking a private correspondence and posting it on the web is not a civil respondence and makes me rethinking whether or not you and I can have discussions.
Please remove the private correspondence
Herb, per your request I removed email correspondence between you and I that you have since indicated were meant to be private. I encourage you to continue using the form provided below in any future correspondence you wish to have with me. I have never and will never post a comment marked private. If you send email directly to me I may not know your intentions regarding the public or private nature of its content.
I originally thought you wanted a private conversation with me, but was not sure, as the above postcript in my reply indicated. But I noticed that you posted your "strong letter" on TOMPAINE on Feb. 11th. That led me to believe that you wanted public dialogue.
DeKalb County Online is a local "newspaper," sort of, and it's locally and independently owned and operated. I encourage you to continue public dialogue on community matters here.
As for your offer to let me post on TOMPAINE. Thank you. I've read a few posts from you and your colleagues there that are in response to this issue. Based on those comments I do not know if I am intelligent enough to respond there.
Oh, well. I can always respond here.
DeKalb County Online
Date: Monday February 14, 2005
Time: 01:09 PM -0500
And, I have checked the public comment box here but not for any continuation of this discussion if you should write me privately. In fact, I am now very reluctant to write to you at all, even though and even in spite of our sharp disagreements I have learned from what you say about some very different pespectives.
I was not complaining about the public post of my first response to your 'rant' on me. You and I exchanged another private series of letters on this topic and you did start to publish them; while there is nothing I'm ashamed of in these private correspondence, private is private and public is public. My post to tompaine was simply a copy of the public letter I sent to you with a tiny bit of background. That's why i offered you the opportunity to post on tompaine so you can argue against my description of the background. Other than that all correspondence was private.
Tompaine is a unmoderated forum with a name that clearly indicates its purpose. I know that your site (which i think technically is a good site) is that of a private business person. But still using names like www.dekalbcounty-Il.com would make a google searcher think the site was official. Remember a few years back when some troubled person used a name very much like the cityofdekalb to post some awful junk about dekalb or the police (I don't remember the details). This person I believe was accused to trying to deceive I know you are not doing this, but still having a site name that has in the county name can confuse.
Perhaps you might want to have some banners on the top pages of your site to indicate that the site itself is strictly a private venture. I know a reader can find this information if he or she looksl but I think it should be made very clear.
And, thanks for promising to remove my posts, though I think the second one is still up and you only had permission for the first.
Incidentally, you need to set up a better system to distinguish private and public posts. Your system for the initial post is fine, but then when you wrote me back privately or so it appeared there was no indication whatsoever that we were having an on-line discussion rather than the private discussion I thought we were having and which we have had before.
RESPONSE: Differences, no matter how sharp, are productive if something is learned from airing them. I, too, do learn from our discussions.
This discussion has challenged my ability to determine what emails are meant to be private and which are meant to be public. You checked the box on this one, indicating public intent, but in your first line indicated maybe you did not mean that. So I apologize for the delay. I hope this is the letter you are referring to that you wanted public. If not please advise.
As for my choice for the URL address of this website. I purchased the URL in 1996 and came on line with it in May of 1997. I guess I will just have to live with the notion that you believe I am being deceitful because I am not going to change the URL. You can also reach the site using the address of dekalbcountyonline.com. I strongly urge anyone who uses the Internet not to rely on an URL address as a source of credibility. Once again, the only thing this site officially is, is mine.
I think the spoof site you are referring to was dekalbcity.com. It attacked Greg Sparrow and just about any police officer. One of its major contributors was a guest contributor on TOMPAINE a while back. I fully support your policy that only NIU staff and retirees post on your forum. And so I will not post on TOMPAINE. I will, however, reserve and exercise my right to copy, post and respond to any comment on that discussion board that contains or refers to my name.
Date: Tuesday February 15, 2005
Time: 01:38 AM -0500
Amazing that Rubin, et al., have time to mess around with a newsgroup on our taxpayer time/dollars--how about a suggestion for Rubin: set-up your website/newsgroup on your own nickel. You have every right to express yourself--just do it on your own funds and time (not my hard earned taxpayer dollars that are going to fund your salary and the NIU).
While I will gladly accept criticism regarding my "net ethics" I will also defend my right to express my opinion. The following are posts made on TOMPAINE that my name appears in along with my responses to those posts. I support TOMPAINE's policy that only members and retired members of NIU's staff are allowed to post messages on its discussion board.
I've now read McIntyre's statement about TP. My reaction? The parallel
McIntyre draws between his private site and TP is informative of what he
thinks of universities. Like so many on the Right (e.g., Limbaugh,
Hannity, O'Reilly), McIntyre does not seem to recognize an open forum
even when he sees one. Is it possible that those on the Right appreciate
free and open discussion -- i.e., debate open to unrestricted challenge
-- as little as they understand and appreciate freedom of speech in
general (e.g., flag burning) and academic freedom in particular (e.g.,
the current reaction to Ward Churchhill)?
RESPONSE: Actually, I think NIU is one of the best universities in the nation and is so in large part due to its staff. I also believe NIU is a wonderful asset for the community and that Dr. Peters is the best President NIU has had since I've lived here (since 1968). Thanks for taking the time to spell my name correctly and with more than four letters.
[McIntyre] is very conservative. I don't mind it when he fairly attacks me
politically. I believe in fiscally responsible, moderated growth. He
believes in rapid growth and does work for the developers' association. our interests differ.
I do get angry at his name calling argumentation. On one occasion he
attacked my signature block. On another, when I was presenting a
statistical argument, he attacked by saying Herb Rubin has degrees in
mathematics (that's true) so you should NOT trust his numbers (that
Anyway, I didn't want to start a thread on this one. I just wanted people
to be aware of how my active role in town politics has been by inadvertence (or perhaps malice) spilled over to tompaine.
Two asides: Once again I'm very pleased by our initial decision not to
monitor tompaine for content. If universities cannot maintain open
discussion lists, who the heck can?
Second aside: : the city web site that had been non-functioning for close to 2 weeks (except for a page that the mayor wrote) is now rapidly returning to functionality. I think it is interesting that the return occurred only after I wrote my letter to the chronicle and after myself and many others called up city hall to complain.
RESPONSE: I am fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Someone posted a link to a political test on TOMPAINE a while back. I clicked the link, answered the questions on the test and scored a direct bull's eye, right in the center.
You once used your signature block as an introduction to a letter to the editor (Daily Chronicle). The Chronicle referenced the quote to an Anonymous source. I pointed out that the source was Fanon and explained who Fanon was.
I believe the quote related to your degrees was: Herb Rubin has a PhD in sociology and a Masters in mathematics. It was in response to a letter in which you attacked me, implying that my statistics should not be trusted because I "work for the developers."
<<the city web site that had been non-functioning for close to 2 weeks (except for a page that the mayor wrote) is now rapidly returning to functionality.>>
That is grossly and deliberately inaccurate. I monitor the city website on an almost daily basis to stay informed of city news, meetings and issues. It has been functioning at a restrictive level due to site redesign. At no time during the two or three week period has "only the mayor's page worked." One other functioning page, available from the Welcome Page of the site says:City of DeKalb redesigns it's website. January 24th, 2005
This is the first major redesign of the website since it's creation in February, 2001. Our website has had almost a quarter of a million visits in its first four years. We hope you find the new design easier and more enjoyable to use to get the information you are looking for. Throughout the renewal process we have kept in mind ease of navigation, quick page download times, and providing the information that our visitors are looking for in a more "user friendly" environment.
We do ask your patience in the fact that this new site will not be 100% accessible for the next few days, as we go through the process of removing the old site, and posting the new one. As you browse our site, you may notice links and pages that are not available. We are aware of this, and again, it is all part of the updating process.
In the meantime, should you have any suggestions, ideas, or comments on our new look, please feel free to let us know by clicking the link at the bottom of the page and send your thoughts to the webmaster.
Again, thank you for your patience during this process, and we hope you visit us again soon.
City of DeKalb-
[McIntyre's] argument seems based, in part, on a stunning ignorance of
the difference between a government-maintained homepage and a
government-owned communal gather spot, such as London's Hyde Park. Whether intended as disingenuous rhetorical ploy or the result of
techno-cluelessness, his comments are consistent with other right-wingers who attempt to stifle free speech.
[McIntyre] apparently isn't aware that a discussion board is just that.
A discussion board. People express opinions. They discuss opinions.
[McIntyre's] argument suggests that he would close down a forum if some of the discussion includes political speech not to his liking. The
implication that, because Tompaine is "tax-payer funded," NIU
administrators should close it down. Would he also close down tax-payer
funded roads on which his political opponents travel? The computer
services (like other infrastructure) are a conduit over which ideas
travel. [McIntyre] would close the roads to limit the spread of ideas to
which he objects.
[McIntyre's] characterization of Tompaine is not only irresponsibly
erroneous, it's dangerous. The conservative right has been making a
concerted effort to stifle "leftist" and "partisan" thought at Universities. Whether [McIntyre] is part of this neocon campaign is irrelevant: His misrepresentation of Tompaine is used to justify his implied call to close it down. There's enough of this "silence the opposition" nonsense, and it's sad to see [McIntyre] as a participant in it.
RESPONSE: So, unless I agree with you I am a neocon or even further radically to the right?
||I oppose President Bush's proposal to privatize social security and will continue to do so until and unless corruption on Wall Street is eliminated. I suspect that will be a long time.
||I support a woman's right to choose on the abortion issue.
||I believe that religious political action committees and organizations, such as the Christian Coalition, is an affront to separation of Church and State.
Mac [McIntyre], the webmaster of what would appear to be an "official"
county-sponsored website but--according to the information there--is
actually a private page designed to appear official--has issues with
the TomPaine discussion group. This would give the page credibility
that it doesn't, in fact, have. Worse, he is using his forum to attack TomPaine, using fallacious arguments to suggest that NIU consider
pulling the plug.
He has suggested that NIU should consider "unplugging TomPaine" until
partisanship is removed. In addition, he has posted Herb's private email
on his public forum, something that--as a "webmaster," he knows is a
serious violation of Net ethics.
[McIntyre's] actions, whether so-intended or not, are among those that
create a chilling effect on free speech, academic freedom, and "community
building" (which, ironically, [McIntyre's] site alleges to foster).
Several issues are at stake here:
1) In the current climate of attempts by the "right" to stifle academic
speech with which they disagree, attempts on an seemingly official page
under the auspices of DeKalb County are dangerous. TomPaine is a forum
for a free-flow of ideas, and there have been contentious discussions
here on a variety of issues. Passion = partisanship. [McIntyre's] call
to "pull the plug" would silence discussion.
2) [McIntyre] has linked the most recent TomPaine archives on his homepage. While legitimate, he appears to think it's "evidence" of TP partisanship. Even a cursory reading of the archives he provides is evidence of the opposite: People here speak their minds, reflecting a diversity of views. To call TP "partisan" and suggest that the plug be pulled because it exists to espouse a specific partisan position is absurd.
3) [McIntyre], judging from his posts on his homepage (see URL above),
seems unable to distinguish between a homepage with an official
imprimatur, such as his, and a discussion forum (an e-discussion group,
a meeting hall, or the BlackHawk), that--while "supported by tax-payer
money"--are designed for interaction. Following this logic, no instructor
opinions could be voiced in class that reflected "partisanship," conversations on campus property should be restricted to neutral topics,
and the free-flow/give-and-take of debate and differences of opinion would be forbidden.
4) [McIntyre's] posts on his homepage argue that, because there are
partisan views expressed on TomPaine that are stored on the archives,
and because Herb's posts are among these archives, TomPaine is
therefore partisan. I'll leave the non sequitor for others to parse,
but the subtext is that discussions on NIU servers that reflect a position
others might not share are not suitable for archiving. By extension, this
would mean that classroom discussion lists, which include a variety of
positions, should also be "unplugged." Given the current climate in
which academic freedom is under attack by the right, this type of
argument should be challenged firmly and unequivocally.
If the [McIntyre]/Herb debate were simply a matter of differing political
ideas, there would be no problem. But, his unapologetic call for
NIU to "pull the plug" on TomPaine is an irresponsible exercise, and that
it's posted on what appears to be an official DeKalb County site is
a dangerous and demagogic incitement to those who might actually give
credence to his suggestion.
Given the recent flap over Kurapos, Churchill, the Pope Foundation,
the "Academic Bill of Rights" pushed by neocons, this issue isn't
what views and positions we teach and discuss, but whether we will
be able to.
RESPONSE: DeKalb County Online is not the official website to anything connected to any governmental unit or any public or private organization. It is my private venture, has been online since 1997, and sometime today, Feb 14th, it will have its 100,000th site visitor since Jan. 1, 2005. I do not pretend or promote that it is any type of official site.
Please don't tell me that you wish to see my rights as a business owner curtailed or my rights to free speech censored?
Satirically speaking, if I was a member of TOMPAINE, and we were members of a baseball team and told to play in the outfield, it would appear that Gilbert Sebenste would be the right fielder, all by himself. I would be in center field, with little competition. And the rest of you would be all ganged up in left field, probably complaining about the injustices of having to share playing time. Of course, I know Herb is not much into sports, so I suspect he would be sitting somewhere left of the left field foul pole.
I did remove, per Herb's request, emails that he said he did not intend to be made public. Based on what I have read on TOMPAINE I thought he intended to carry on a public debate. I found it interesting that he would publish his "strong letter" on Tom Paine without my response. Censorship? You decide. I certainly do not want to become the target of some Electronic Matters Department investigation, if one exists.
Actually, I really enjoy TOMPAINE. It sometimes challenges my critical thinking (you should try it sometime). It sometimes informs me as to NIU and community issues that I have interest in. It's almost always entertaining.
And I am NOT attacking TOMPAINE. I am not attacking Herb Rubin personally. But I am attacking his political strategy of knit-picking and attacking city employees and whoever else works on the city's website with the subliminal motivation of working to elect Frank Van Buer (more accurately, to unseat Greg Sparrow). He should be up front in stating his intent and more considerate of others.
I note that [McIntyre] is not only posting private email without
permission, but he is reproducing the posts on Tompaine without
permission as content for his admittedly commercial enterprise. While it is acceptable to link commentary to public pages, porting over several long complete posts with neither the author's knowledge nor permission is not. The length moves them beyond fair use, and he is profiting from the controversy he is stirring up.
Further, although he acknowledges in posts that his site is for his own commercial gain and not an official page of DeKalb County, this is hardly clear from the page.
[McIntyre's] lack of ethics, and possible violation of copyright, are
troublesome, especially given his public suggestion that Tompaine be unplugged.
Perhaps his actions are those of simple ignorance, perhaps not. But, he seems to have used his political disagreements with Herb to create a controversy in which his actions reflect a lack both of integrity, courtesy, and basic common sense.
This is hardly the way that one who professes to build bridges is
expected to act.
RESPONSE: There is certainly a need for Net ethics and perhaps an Electronic Matters Department should be formed. Maybe an impact fee on each new website could produce the funding. Based on your opinion of me I would not be suitable material for employment at that agency.
I suppose I should hurl insults your way but this is a family site, sort of, so I would never stoop so low as to call you a four letter name like capitalist.
If you think I have violated a copyright law, you should sue me. I hear you can really make out on those kind of things.
But, I will continue to post, verbatim, any link from TOMPAINE that contains my name or refers to me. And I will respond to those posts here. I support the policy at TOMPAINE that only NIU staff members and retirees post to that forum.
The legitimate criticism that you have of me regards my ignorance. I tried to be clever and use satire to make a point. It is my responsibility to make sure the reader understands my use of satire and I failed in fulfilling that responsibility.
It was with satire that I suggested pulling the plug on TOMPAINE.
The following statement was made on the welcome page of this site. It started this whole thing. The author, who wishes to remain anonymous and so I will only publish his initials: Mac McIntyre
Dr. Herb Rubin, professor emeritus (NIU), is demanding that the City of DeKalb unplug its website until "partisanship" is removed. He believes taxpayers should not foot the bill for such a website. He believes the website favors incumbent DeKalb mayor, Greg Sparrow. See website.
Dr. Rubin, an avid member of the anti-Sparrow club, maintains a list serve website called TomPaine that is taxpayer supported (it's on an NIU server) that is about as partisan as one could get. See website.
Perhaps Dr. Rubin, or NIU, would consider unplugging TomPaine until such partisanship is removed?
Several readers have asked why Dr. Rubin and I just don't run for Mayor. Dr. Rubin has told me that he briefly entertained the idea. I've thought about running for U.S. President but never Mayor of DeKalb. Being the astute politician that I am, I quickly ordered a study to determine my chances in a head-to-head match-up with Dr. Rubin. A very scientific poll was conducted by the independent research firm, MAI, Inc. The results of that poll, with a margin error of 0% are indicated below:
Dr. Herb Rubin: 00000
If you would like to vote in this poll click on the name you are voting for below:
I vote for Mac McIntyre
I vote for Dr. Herbert J. Rubin