Media Coverage Of The Reason Debacle

Ken's post of Monday on the overreaching attempt by the Department of Justice, and Manhattan United States Attorney Preet Bhahara, to subpoena the identities of commenters at Reason for silly rhetoric concerning a federal judge, has gotten some traction in the tech and legal blogospheres, and bit of mainstream coverage. Why the political media at large aren't covering this to a greater extent is a question we can't answer, but it's surprising, given that Reason is one of their own. Perhaps they figure that they've got their running shoes on, and they're happy the bear is going after someone else.

Nonetheless, we'd be remiss in failing to point out that a number of voices have been raised in Reason's defense, or at least covered the situation. For those who are following this issue, here's a by no means inclusive list of journalists and bloggers who've covered the story.

Editorial Board – New York Post. (Preet Bhahara's off-base strike at internet trolls.)

Virginia Postrel – Bloomberg View.

Scott Greenfield – Simple Justice.

Glenn Reynolds – Instapundit.

Charles C. W. Cooke – National Review (and on Mr. Cooke's worthy podcast, Mad Dogs & Englishmen.)

Ilya Somin – Volokh Conspiracy.

Russia Today. (Yes, Russia Today. Because Vladimir Putin is all about free press and free speech.)

Andy Greenberg – Slate and Wired.  (I should add that Mr. Greenberg reacted very graciously to my angrily pointing out that he'd incorrectly stated the law, and updated an early version of the story.)

Charlotte Allen – Independent Womens Forum.

Damon Linker – The Week.

Barnini Chakraborty – Fox News.

Jazz Shaw – Hot Air.  (A pro-prosecution take to the effect that some terrorists may actually own deadly woodchippers.)

Ed Morrissey – Hot Air. (A dissenting view, more concerned with the threat to free speech than the threat of woodchippers.)

"Ace" – Ace of Spades HQ. (Who points out that the beast can be trained to attack in other directions, depending on its master, but it remains a beast.)

Mike Masnick – Techdirt. (With more background on the Ross "Dread Pirate Roberts" Ulbricht case.)

Joe Mullin – Ars Technica. (Another site that covered the Dread Pirate well.)

Annalee Newitz – Gizmodo. (This is why Gizmodo doesn't harvest IP addresses.)

C. J. Ciaramella – Buzzfeed.

Tim Lynch – Cato Institute. (Reason's less druggy older libertarian brother.)

Joe Palazzolo – Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

Doug Mataconis – Outside the Beltway. (Noting the interesting timing, just after Elonis.)

"Dana" Non-White – Patterico.

Rick Moran – American Thinker.

Ryan Radia – Competitive Enterprise Institute.  (A scholarly approach.)

Steven Hayward – Power Line.  ("An in-kind contribution by DOJ to Rand Paul")

Pat Beall – Palm Beach Post.

"Alex in CT" – Right Thinking.

Kate Vinton – Forbes.

Peter Ingemi – Da Tech Guy. (On the stupidity of the comments, as well as the investigation.)

Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang. (Covering the "hypocritical braggarts" behind this investigation.)

"The Two Way" – National Public Radio.


Editorial Board – Investors Business Daily.

Jack Marshall – Ethics Alarms.

Virgil Vaduva – Punk Rock Libertarians.

Katherine Forrest – Above The Law.  (Mildly disappointing for lack of substance and focus on the inanity of Reason's commenters, but ATL's own commenters are even worse than Reason's. Perhaps it was "meta.")

Brendan James – Talking Points Memo.

Kari Paul – Vice Motherboard.

And finally…

Nick Gillespie – (Please keep your comments civil.)

We don't endorse or agree with all of the coverage this situation has gotten, but obviously we think it's important. The only surprise is that it hasn't gotten more reporting. If you know of other coverage, from blogs or traditional media, please let me know in comments below, and I'll keep this list updated.

We will continue to cover this matter, as we are able.

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. kps says

    “… as we are able”?!? THEY'VE GOT KEN AND CLARK ALREADY, HAVEN'T THEY? Blink once for ‘yes’.

  2. Kevin says

    Why the political media at large aren't covering this to a greater extent is a question we can't answer, but it's surprising, given that Reason is one of their own.

    Perhaps I'm just stating the obvious, which you intentionally left unsaid for effect, but it seems pretty clear that the reason is that the political media at large don't view Reason as one of their own, due to its incorrigible insistence on propagating badthink.

  3. says

    Hmm. Why am I reminded of C. S. Lewis's statement that "Until Bulverism is crushed, reason can play no effective part in human affairs". Certainly the DOJ isn't trying to crush Bulverism – far from it, I see no sign that anyone (of any political ilk) is trying to do so, nor that reason is generally playing an effective part in human affairs nowadays. But this situation does give that statement a rather odd twist.

  4. En Passant says

    Dave2 June 11, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Depressingly few leftwing sites so far, and I say that as the producer of a leftwing cable TV show.

    A quick search yielded a good bit of typically leftish radio coverage, mostly all based on the same NPR news report. The spin was fairly obvious: they didn't quote the "special place reserved in hell" comments. They only quoted the "taken out back and shot" and "wood chipper" comments.

    They posed the "true threats" issue more as a question, without stating the obvious: that nobody with an IQ above room temperature (and without a political agenda to destroy critics) would feel remotely threatened by even the comments they quoted.

    You'd think that the delicate sensibilities and irrational fears possessing government officials with power to destroy peoples' lives on a whim would keep them constantly trembling and curled in a fetal position. Life must be terribly difficult for those timorous mandarins.

  5. OrderoftheQuaff says

    Popehat should have a warrant canary on the front page. Perhaps a little yellow bird in one of the upper corners, and when you get a subpoena for one or more of your commenters' info, it changes into a pony. Does Popehat harvest IP addresses?

  6. says

    Does Popehat harvest IP addresses?

    IP addresses are stored for each comment, and I believe that server logs also record all IPs.

  7. Ivraatiems says

    Popehat uses DreamHost and Cloudflare; those are the organizations that would probably be contacted if the government wanted to get information on Popehat's commenters.

    You should assume that a server, probably several servers, stores a record of your IP address whenever you visit any site. If that bothers you, I'd recommend TOR or a VPN.

    Though I think it might be unnecessary, I'm in support of the warrant canary idea only because of my amusement at the extension of the pony metaphor.

  8. says

    Except we'd want the warrant pony reversed:

    Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Pony P'paat wgah'nagl fhtagn "In his house at Popehat, dead Pony waits dreaming" is the message you'd want to see.

  9. says

    I think the real driver is the same thing that drives a lot of the absolutist reactions in our current culture of panic.

    If someone actually goes after the judge then news reports will contain every comment he or she ever made online against judges, the system, cottage cheese etc with the question:

    "Given this information why didn't you realize this attack was coming?"

    No matter how small the chance if this happening it is enough to generate fear in people who don't want to compete in the private sector for a job. That fear can be played on by almost any person who wants almost anybody cracked down on, particularly in an era where a secure government job is prized above all.

  10. says

    On the left, it's worth noting that both Glenn Greenwald and Jacob Weisberg (Slate's head honcho)–two very different variants of "left of center"–tweeted my article and also that some of the tech journalists, such as Annalee Newitz fall on that side. On the right, it's worth mentioning that Mark Steyn, sitting in for Rush Limbaugh, talked at some length about the case (I didn't hear it) and that the Drudge Report drove a huge amount of traffic to my piece. But much of the mainstream right has also been largely silent. I'm not holding my breath for a ringing defense from The Weekly Standard and, unless I've missed something online only, even the WSJ editorial page has yet to weigh in. Right or left, there's been relatively little from traditional print journalism or what's sometimes called legacy media.

  11. Nate says

    It's interesting how widely Brendan James at talkingpointsmemo missed the point. He used his short blog to criticize Reason for complying with a subpoena (in the process somhow criticizing them for doing so because they're 'libertarian') while completely ignoring Ken's commentary on why such subpeonas are an issue. Pretty lame.

    Also, given the post from gizmodo I'm left wondering what Popehat's policy is?

  12. albert says

    Yeah, and the perp will be labeled a 'terrorist' by someone in the MSM, I guarantee. Hindsight is all they have to offer, and my hindsight is just as good as theirs. 'Terrorist' is a good umbrella term. Ideally, LE would like all criminals labeled as such. It helps in promoting the War On Terror Theatre™ (see your listings for local air times)
    Judges aren't the most popular public figures, especially among folks being dragged, kicking and screaming, to the gallows. Aside from friends and families, who else wants to actually risk life and limb to harm them? Four federal judges killed (while serving) since 1979 (wiki). Hardly seems like an epidemic. Anyone have stats on how many of these folks posted their intentions online? (stupid rhetorical question, don't bother with stupid answers, unless they're really funny)

  13. Tualha says

    I fail to see how Gizmodo's refusal to harvest IP addresses would protect their commenters when the NSA is harvesting everything anyway. It might protect them from state governments, but I'm sure the NSA would be happy to hand over such data to the DOJ. Am I missing something?

  14. Todd Gakk says

    "[T]he Drudge Report drove a huge amount of traffic to my piece…"

    I saw the quality of that traffic, Virginia.
    I thought I had clicked on Breitbart by mistake.

  15. Edward J. Cunningham says

    For the sake of argument, let's say John McCain or Mitt Romney were POTUSA, and the newspaper in question wasn't Reason but Seattle's The Stranger or The Chicago Reader. Would the mainstream newspapers suddenly pay more attention to this case?

  16. Kevin says

    @Tualha In order to do that, they'd need to come up with some plausible "parallel construction" story for how they managed to obtain the IP address via legal means, which I don't see any obvious way to do. In the Ulbricht case they managed to get away with it because the relevant technical details were sufficiently far down in the weeds that they could wave them away with pseudoscientific gobbledygook, but here it'd just be a situation of an IP address, and a website whose operator says they don't log commenter IP addresses, which is simple enough even a juror could understand it.

  17. Ken Shultz says

    In regards to why the story hasn't received a higher profile from bigger outlets, perhaps they're waiting for an actual indictment.

    Surely indicting someone for saying "there's a special hot place in hell" would be a bigger story to a general audience than the story that some third party received a subpoena asking for information.

  18. richard40 says

    "Why the political media at large aren't covering this to a greater extent is a question we can't answer, but it's surprising, given that Reason is one of their own. "
    But they are not. Most of the MSM is leftist, and pro Obama, while Reason is libertarian. To the leftist MSM ideology trumps the freedom of the press.

  19. albert says

    "…Most of the MSM is leftist, and pro Obama…"
    Either you don't follow the MSM, or you've been sucked into the scam. The MSM was 'pro Bush' when he was Prez. And it matters little who's President, especially in foreign policy issues.
    The MSM is Pro-Gov't and Pro-Big Business. Pretend like it's a big Hollywood Production, and you're watching it on a movie screen. It's all theater, or more accurately, propaganda.

  20. amber says

    Isn't DPRK_News a twitter account that specializes in North Korean satire?

    Regardless, I'm confident that The Brilliant Comrade considers the actions of the United States Attorney to be inefficient, but nonetheless heartily approves of them.

  21. Ken Shultz says

    Surely indicting someone for saying "there's a special hot place in hell" would be a bigger story to a general audience than the story that some third party received a subpoena asking for information.

    I mean, I know the old adage about how even a mediocre federal prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, I just think the story about the indictment will probably attract more editorial interest than the story about the subpoena.

    Meanwhile, the story about the subpoena is competing for editorial attention with stories about NAACP directors pretending to be other races, a Hillary sighting outside of her bunker, Bernie Sanders' nationality, and whatever Caitlyn Jenner has been up to lately.

    Once someone gets indicted, I bet this case is in for a bigger spotlight.

  22. Wick says

    I find Reason's silence on the issue puzzling.

    @Amber DPRK_news is a parody account. More precisely, it is Patrick's parody account.

  23. Todd Gakk says

    So…anything new on Chippergate, or is Reason still bunkering down?
    What did Nick Gillespie know, and when did he know it?

  24. Ken Shultz says

    If Reason plans to contest the subpoena in some way, it hardly behooves them with any judge–now or in the future–to make their case in public before they've even communicated their intentions to the judge. If they end up appealing something, no judge they appeal to is likely to be amused by seeing they've made their case in public either.

    And if they plan to fully comply, I don't see how discussing that in public is necessarily in their best interests. I don't believe Reason is under threat of indictment for what their commenters wrote, and it's important to remember that Reason didn't write the offending comments. Whether they comply or not–none of this is their fault.

    Meanwhile, I see a lot of people (all over the internet) talking about this as if it were all Gillespie's choice whether to comply. Gillespie may be the public face of Reason to a lot of people, but I believe he works for the president of the Reason Foundation. I'm sure Reason will do the best they can for the commenters and the cause of liberty, but I don't know that it's Gillespie that gets to make the call on whether to comply.

    And it wasn't Gillespie or Reason that wrote the comments, complained to the Justice Department about the comments, or subpoenaed the commenters' identities.

    If any injustices have been, are being, or will be perpetrated during this, let's make sure to blame the people who are perpetrating them–and let's remember that those people couldn't possibly be Nick Gillespie or Reason. They're victims of this, too. This is costing them money, and as far as we can tell, they aren't even accused of having done anything illegal.

    Meanwhile, millions of eyeballs come to and never read or write a comment. Commenters create free content and make decent donations, but we'll be lucky if they keep the site open for comments after this.

  25. Todd Gakk says

    "We'll be lucky if they keep the site open for comments after this."

    I was going to say, "No great loss," but that would be piling on. The bigger question here is: when did blog-commenting become an actual lifestyle? Is libertarianism diminished somehow if there's not an attendant peanut gallery hissing and booing on cue? Many more serious political sites have jettisoned their comments sections. Has the lack of chatters made their arguments any less compelling? Lastly, is the increased ad revenues born of squatting, lingering, obnoxious and unmoderated chatters worth the tarnished image of libertarians?

    Reason commenters…often sound like drunk teenage boys trying to one-up each other. They tend to forget that their online pals aren't the only ones reading what they say….Puerile they undoubtedly are, but Reason commenters are also harmless (unless you care about reasoned political discourse or the image of libertarians).
    -Virginia Postrel

  26. Ken Shultz says

    In 2003, when started, I don't want to say there weren't any other news sites that allowed comments, but there weren't many. Also remember that Hit & Run, the comment section we're talking about, was originally part of–going back to 1995. Hit & Run was Tim Cavanaugh's beat, and NIck Gillespie and Tim came over to Reason from Circa 1994, most Americans thought that AOL's website constituted the entirety of the internet.

    This little trip down memory lane is to point out that Hit & Run's contribution to internet culture generally is probably way under-appreciated, and if they have to shut comments down, it'll be a sad day in internet history.

    As far as revenue goes, it isn't just the ads. They have drives a couple of times a year raising money from commenters, and typically more than a thousand people make donations. I forget how much money the last one raised, but I remember it being in the six figures. It's important to understand, too, that, again, the purpose of libertarianism isn't to seize the levers of power through the ballot box and force libertarianism on the masses using the coercive power of the state. We're here to win people's hearts and minds, individual by individual, through outreach, and I think the comment section of can be and has been an effective part of that effort. There are lots of regulars now who are a lot more libertarian than they were when they first came to the site, and I don't think that is by accident. Engage people in libertarian terms, for a few minutes a day every day for years, and they'll start to think in libertarian terms.

    I suspect Mr. White's opinion of the commenters at Hit & Run has been impacted by problems they've had in the past with other commenters saying things that some stories' subjects thought were libelous, in addition to this latest incident. It is also true that becasue is largely unmoderated, it attracts a sizable number of trolls that plenty of people who aren't familiar with the site believe to be site regulars. It is true that a lot of the people who come to the site aren't libertarians and are only there to argue with libertarians. Back in the old days, nonlibertarians arguing with libertarians didn't happen much. In order to find someone who knew enough about libertarians to argue with them, you pretty much had to find another libertarian. In other words, Reason magazine was a magazine for libertarians.

    Hit & Run isn't preaching to the choir. Hit & Run engages non-believers online, and that is why it is so important to the movement. There's going to be a certain amount of anger and defensiveness that builds up in an online community like that, but we still have some of the most intelligent and interesting threads on various issues, better comment threads for a general audience website I'd say than anywhere else I've seen on the interwebs. And it would be a shame if we lost that asset for the movement because the government went after some commenters for controversial, abrasive, and foolish speech–that was also well protected by the First Amendment.

    But I understand why that might happen.

  27. says

    Circa 1994, you may be right about most Americans, but we at Reason were a different story. did not start in 2003. It started in 1995 (or maybe 1994) as part of something called Electronic Newsstand. The original Reason Online website, dating to 1995, was at, because we didn't realize that we owned the domain through EN. Eventually we consolidated the domains, well before I left in 2000. Where you got the 2003 date is beyond me.

  28. Todd Gakk says

    It is also true that because is largely unmoderated, it attracts a sizable number of trolls that plenty of people who aren't familiar with the site believe to be site regulars.

    When Reason's defenders, almost to a man (and woman), characterize its chat culture as "mindless nastiness," "blowhard stupidity," "drunk teenage boys trying to one-up each other," "nasty and stupid vitriol," etc., maybe it's time to finally acknowledge that the real trolls there are Hit & Run's lifers. It's a self-awareness issue of grave importance, but only if Reason's chatters are truly trying to put libertarianism's best foot forward. Thus far, all they have shown the world is their behinds.

  29. G Joubert says


    The MSM was NEVER "pro-Bush," just as it is never pro-Republican. Ever.

  30. says

    If I am using the Wayback Machine correctly, it is telling me that the 'Hit and Run' section of was started in November of 2002.

    For us regulars, 'Hit and Run' *is*; that's our landing page, and the other bits of the website are ancillary support pages.

    By the time I first landed there (2004), it was a pretty happening place. I liked it and decided to hang out there.

  31. Kilroy says

    Above the Law comment section. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

  32. Ken Shultz says

    @Virginia Postrel

    I believe 2003 was when Hit & Run started. I was in the Hit & Run commenting community almost as soon as Hit & Run started, and the archives on Hit & Run start in 2003. If there was an online community at before Hit & Run, most of the current community there was unaware of it. Before then, Reason to me was a magazine I bought at the bookstore.

    The question I was answering seemed to be about whether and why the commentariat at Hit & Run is worth saving, and so I was talking specifically about Hit & Run and the commenting community there. I believe Hit & Run came to in 2003 by way of Cavanaugh and Gillespie and others from, but I was speaking from memory, and I may have some of the details wrong.

    Regardless, I'll stand by my reasons for why the comment section is worth preserving. I believe its impact on the wider culture and thinking on the internet is much greater than is generally appreciated, even if the discussions sometimes get messy. On issues like gay marriage, police brutality, marijuana legalization, etc., I see people online, all the time, who may have never heard of Jacob Sullum, for instance, but somehow they mimic his position on marijuana legalization precisely.

    These people may be progressives or Republicans, and they think they came to their conclusions about, say, marijuana legalization all by themselves. However, I suspect they heard it all from other commenters they engaged with on the internet. They may not have heard it directly from a Reason staff writer or a Hit & Run commenter, but the Hit & Run online community diffuses that libertarian thinking wherever they go. Our influence may not be obvious but I think it's profound. There's an old marketing adage about how you know your marketing is working when your customers repeat it back to you as if they thought it up themselves.

    Suffice it to say, I think Reason's marketing of libertarianism is working, and I think the online community they've built (as messy as it can be) is an especially important and especially effective means by which that "marketing" diffuses. I see Republicans and progressives mimic Jacob Sullum on different aspects of the Drug War, and I just don't think that's a coincidence. Even making people try to defend the Drug War in terms of liberty maximization and individual rights–makes them think in libertarian terms. We in the Hit & Run commentariat bring that kind of engagement to the table, and it would be a shame to lose what I believe to be such an effective tool in the fight for freedom. I think it was Doherty who wrote that the main purpose of libertarianism has always been to make more libertarians, and I think the online community at Hit & Run contributes significantly to doing exactly that.

  33. says

    The question as to whether the comment boards are worth preserving really is dependent on two groups' judgement: the people running, and the the members of the commentariat.

    The Reason staff, I think, welcome the feedback, the audience attracted by the discussions, and of course the building of an audience that the print magazine can be advertised to, and the advertising revenue from selling advertising space to third parties. I don't really think that calculus changes post subpoena.

    As to we commenters, everybody who is a regular reader and commenter does so for their own reasons. There are likely almost as many reasons as commenters. And they'll keep coming back so long as their reasons continue to be valid; i.e. they feel the comment boards are worth preserving.

    In the past, commenters who didn't like what was happening with the site have left en masse. For instance, as the website became more popular, and the trolling started became more pervasive, there was a mass exodus of the more philosophical regulars to a site they founded,

    The reason why *I* hang out there are manifold; I am opinionated and like sharing my opinions. When I am angry, it provides a forum where I can vent my anger and get it off my chest. I enjoy the repartee. I am exposed to ideas that I would likely never be exposed at other hangouts. Some of those people have become my friends. When I found out sloopy and Banjos were getting married, it made me very happy; a feeling that is replicated with each child they have.

    In short, to me it's like a neighborhood pub, albeit one that if very much BYOB, and never really closes. So long as the management is happy, and the clientele are enjoying themselves, I see no reason why it should be closed down, even if to more glamorous people, our beer choices, songs, jokes and discussions are hopelessly vulgar.

  34. says

    Ken, I disagree. I don't think we commentariat have much if any influence at all. To steal a joke from Mel Brooks, we are really only world famous with other libertarians. ;)

  35. Ken Shultz says

    @Todd Gakk

    When Reason's defenders, almost to a man (and woman), characterize its chat culture as "mindless nastiness," "blowhard stupidity," "drunk teenage boys trying to one-up each other," "nasty and stupid vitriol," etc., maybe it's time to finally acknowledge that the real trolls there are Hit & Run's lifers.

    Again, of the comments listed in the subpoena, only two of them are by commenters I recognize, and one of those is the one about how there's a special hot place in hell for rotten judges. From that sample, why would I make such conclusions about the "lifers"? And the second comment consists of idiomatic hyperbole, like "heads should roll for this", which writing within the context of a political debate, shouldn't constitute a crime according to any judge that's ever heard of the First Amendment.

    There's no way Ken or Virginia could know who is and who isn't a libertarian on the site–much less who is and who isn't a "lifer". And they shouldn't be expected to! How would anyone know that so much of the sophomoric behavior on the site is perpetrated by trolls who are trying to antagonize the "lifers"–unless they've been engaged in the community on a daily basis for years?

    Meanwhile, if I have been engaged in the community every day for years, what am I supposed to do–ignore my own lying eyes?

    Non-libertarians from all over the internet flock to Hit & Run to engage with libertarians. Have you ever heard of Newman's Corollary to Godwin's Law?

    Newman's Corollary:
    Libertarianism (pro, con, and internal faction fights) is *the*
    primordial netnews discussion topic. Anytime the debate shifts
    somewhere else, it must eventually return to this fuel source.

    Hit & Run is where they come to replenish that "fuel source". Don't hate us because we're so…interesting.

  36. Ken Shultz says


    It's your right to disagree.

    But just as an ongoing experiment, I'd ask you to consider the possibility that Reason may be successful in getting its message out and that the commenters may be part of the reason for that success–regardless of whether they realize it.

    I'd like you to just consider it as a possible hypothesis. Surely, it isn't an implausible hypothesis. Reason certainly is trying to have an impact on politics and the culture, and if it does so successfully, the site's daily readers might be a good place to look for how Reason's efforts diffuse through the interwebs.

    Please just consider the possibility for now. We can head back over to Hit & Run later to argue about it, roll around in the mud, eat with our hands, and scratch ourselves–like these people want us to.

  37. says

    Oh, tis a fine hypothesis.

    I just don't think there is any evidence it is correct. Most of the ideas thrown around in the comments section are also thrown around in more genteel ways on other sites. For example, I doubt anyone on Rand Paul's staff has read the comments section at all, let alone altered his thinking/plan to market their ideas based on what's written on the comment section at all.

    I'm sure some people have had their minds changed, and become evangelists of their new thinking to others as a result of reading or participating in the comments. I just don't think it's a very significant path of idea transmission.

    Moreover, I think anyone who thinks that the comment boards have to justify themselves as vectors for promoting a political/philosophical set of ideas is being pretty silly.

    If you want to promote a set of ideas, you have to keep all the articles on topic, requiring the editing of articles and a process of managing the pool of writers writing those articles. None of these things are going to happen on any comment board, let alone one that is open to the general public.

    By that standard, Reason should never have set up a comment section at all, let alone one that allowed anonymous commenting.

  38. says

    OK, I now understand where the 2003 came from. That sounds about right for the founding of H&R, which was a little late to the group blog game pioneered by NRO's The Corner (at least in the think magazine world). Nick Gillespie, for the record, did not come from Suck. He came from graduate school (University at Buffalo) and worked for me at Reason. He contributed to Suck after he was already at Reason. But he did know Tim Cavanaugh from there.

  39. says

    I think tarren captures both the strengths and (implicitly) the weaknesses of the Reason comments. They are not outreach. They're community, and some of the things that create that sense of community turn off people who either already sympathize with the political ideas or might otherwise do so.

  40. Mikee says

    RE: G Joubert June 15, 2015 at 6:30 am


    The MSM was NEVER "pro-Bush," just as it is never pro-Republican. Ever.

    You mean, except for Fox News, right? Since more Americans claim to be conservative than liberal, and more Americans watch Fox than any other news channel, that makes Fox the single largest mainstream source of media that exists in America.

    And if you go back through the archives of the intertubez right now, you'll find CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and the rest of the mainstream sources reporting the exact same stories that Fox was reporting at the time. The doubts about the war didn't come from the MSM, they came from editorials and opinion sections, but no major news source was calling the Bush administration out for the lies being told in order to drive us to war with Iraq, they were all reporting the lies as if they were true.

  41. Ken Shultz says


    I'm not sure who you're addressing that to, but just in case, the idea that what we say to each other is influential isn't irrationally self-important. It's more an observation of, you know, when people are influential, this is the means by which they accomplish that. I think it is self-deprecating, however, to think that what we say to each other doesn't make any difference at all.

    And when you look at history, the vector by which change happens isn't by the big men of history, really. We didn't just get rid of Jim Crow and segregation becasue of what MLK said and did; we also got rid of Jim Crow and segregation becasue of what people said to each other around the water cooler and the dinner table.

    Christianity eventually took over the Roman Empire, and it mostly spread by word of mouth. Dictators ever since have been obsessed with what people are saying to each other about them–it scares them to death. Did you see what happened to the dictators of Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, recently, once people started talking to each other online? Have you heard of the Great Firewall of China or the 50 Cent Army? They seem to think that what people say to each other online is important.

    See all those bloggers at the top of this post talking about this case? They have readers, and those readers talk to each other online and other people, too. Thinking that people talking to each other might be the vector by which change happens isn't irrationally self-important. It should be obvious. Reason's mission is to "Go ye unto the world and preach the [libertarian] gospel". Why insist that influencing other people must necessarily be futile? That doesn't make sense.

    Talking to other people isn't futile. If anything is futile, it's trying to change things by voting for different politicians.

  42. Todd Gakk says

    @Ken S.
    The conversations in Reason's comments section seem to be mostly chat-gossip, and chat-gossip isn't going to change the American political scene for the better. It's just a very small choir endlessly and repetitively preaching to itself and reinforcing its own confirmation biases. This dynamic, by the way, is present and dominant on every partisan political site on the internet with a comments section. Chatting isn't doing. Narcissism isn't philosophy. Repeating yourself hundreds of times a day, every day, for 10-15 years, and still expecting different results, is at least one man's definition of insanity.

  43. Czernobog says

    Ken Shultz,

    Talking to people isn't futile, but muttering at your own navel is a lot less effective than you seem to think.

  44. Ken Shultz says

    Last time I saw a stat, it said that gets 4 million hits a month, and that was from years ago. We're not just talking to ourselves.

    Besides, we don't confine ourselves to just Hit & Run, either. I'm talkin' to you, right?

  45. Todd Gakk says

    I may have been too harsh — if not premature — in my characterization of Reason-libertarians as ineffectual gossipers who have had zero impact on the American political scene. A contingent of Reason's chat-room regulars, in a provocative move and at great personal sacrifice, have modified their pseudonyms in a selfless expression of solidarity with the "Reason Six."

    These few, these sarcastic few, this band of chatters…He to-day that sheds his handle with them shall be chatters with different handles. Take that, jackbooted thugs!

    Injun, nonviolent Wood Chipper
    The Wood Chipper 5000
    Catatafish & Woodchips
    Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper
    Enough About Woodchippers
    Irish Says Enough Woodchippers
    Chip Morningwood Esq
    Shpip, Shredder of Cellulose
    Woodchipped Buscemi
    R C Woodchipper
    Woodchippin' 4 Jesus
    Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair
    All-Seeing Woodchipper

  46. En Passant says

    Todd Gakk June 16, 2015 at 8:05 am:

    Chatting isn't doing. Narcissism isn't philosophy. Repeating yourself hundreds of times a day, every day, for 10-15 years, and still expecting different results, is at least one man's definition of insanity.

    Because nobody who comments at Reason H&R, or here, has any life besides commenting. If only they'd ever held a job, run a business, raised a family, worked on a political campaign, done anything besides comment, those narcissistic libertarians might have a chance of changing something.

  47. PaulW says

    A libertarian needs not preface his argument by belittling the victim that had his rights violated.

    Nor does any true defender of liberty.

    My take is that the vast majority of the hatred for Reasonoids stems from people people either being statists or getting trounced and then mocked in a debate over there.

  48. l0b0t the Lumberjack says

    Interestingly, Todd Gakk is one of the pseudonymous handles used by Kizone Kaprow/Mary Stack/White Indian/ etc. to constantly troll the comment section at Whenever he gets called out for trolling, he makes pathetic Youtube videos mocking the Reason regulars.

  49. says

    Bloody hell, l0b0t!

    You are ruining a great yet subtle joke, like the crushinator blundering through a zen garden!

  50. l0b0t the Lumberjack says

    Sorry mate. I just thought the handle was a bit too familiar, so I did a site search through the archives and quelle surprise there it was trolling away in 2013 – 2014; also, stalking Derpetologist just like Mary.

  51. says

    It was a chance to see how long it takes people inexperienced with regards to the Reason commentariat to conclude that Todd is pathetically obsessed verging on monomaniacal about the the commentariat and that much of what he alleges about the targets of his obsession is the product of pure unadulterated psychological projection. Now I guess I'll never know. A microscopic loss to science. :(

  52. l0b0t the Lumberjack says

    Well now I feel like a heel, sorry. I just can't keep the trolls straight anymore, there are so many. Or, maybe it's all just Tulpa, Bo, Mary, and that weird failed musician from upstate NY (I think his name was Ed).

  53. PaulW says

    Ken White,

    No problem, here to help!

    Though I don't quite get you, seems like you would fit right in the Reason commetariat. Or were you being ironic and the joke is on me?

    I'm so confused.

  54. PaulW says

    I think tarren captures both the strengths and (implicitly) the weaknesses of the Reason comments. They are not outreach. They're community, and some of the things that create that sense of community turn off people who either already sympathize with the political ideas or might otherwise do so.

    I think probably the biggest weakness of the Reason commenters is that they are often too quick to label people as trolls, and sometimes they miss a chance with people asking questions that are serious to them.

    Pushing away people who can't take a joke though, I find to be a positive. There has to be a sense of community, and prudish or pc a-holes don't add to that community or the overall conversation in a place where the truth is of utmost importance.

  55. says

    I think probably the biggest weakness of the Reason commenters is that they are often too quick to label people as trolls, and sometimes they miss a chance with people asking questions that are serious to them.

    This is true of some of the commenters. There are other commenters who will happily engage anybody, which is why so many trolls hang around: they get their daily ration of bile (or, in the case of shriek, strings of meaningless characters).

    Hell, there are people who still engage with Tulpa when he regularly sulks back in to do battle with "his enemies" while educating us as to how we can regain freedom by voting for establishment republican candidates who will restrain us from parking perpendicularly to the flow of traffic while dashing off to buy food from an unregulated salmonella infested food cart that commits fraud by passing off kosher coke as regular coke.

    And note how patient people were with Bo, despite the prescient warnings of several well-respected commenters who immediately detected his/her true inner nature.

    Joe, & John, for instance were members of our community for years, and people were happy to debate them. John is still a member of our community and a very passionate and effective arguer of the case for goldwater conservatism (and the outlawing of body armor). Joe is now ostracized not for being a progressive democrat but for the insincere way he accused everyone of racism against Obama when denying that PACA was a trainwreck became an untenable position and he had to chose between his political team and integrity.

    And that brings us to my main point; most of the people ostracized as trolls are so labeled because of insincere behavior. Joe made wild, undeserved allegations; Tulpa ran multiple socks to shape the debate; Bo serially misrepresented what his/her interlocutors were expressing and tendentiously tried to hijack threads and was caught on numerous occasions writing insincerely and lying about his/her knowledge & credentials.

    In contrast, I'm sure Ken and Clark et al would enjoy a legal argument with John, Pro Libertate and RC Woodchipper and not consider it a waste of their time. Most of us welcome someone making a sincere good faith argument; we may tear it to shreds, but we'll still respect someone who is arguing in good faith.

    Of all the communities commenting on current events I have ever encountered, Reason's Hit and Run is the most simultaneously interesting, educational and entertaining one I have ever encountered. Some are more educational, none are more interesting or entertaining.

  56. Todd Gakk says

    Oh my, the chatters take their ineffectual chatting so seriously!
    And the conspiracy theories — those aren't crazy at all!
    I didn't hit a nerve — I hit the jugular!

  57. l0b0t the Lumberjack says

    No Todd Gakk Ed (the failed musician from Upstate NY) not so much conspiracy theories, more like ineffectual trolling. You have, on a number of occasions, forgotten to log out of one account when posting as another sock and you also cross posted pictures of your little stubby, sausage fingers holding peppers on both your Gakk and Kizone Kaprow Youtube pages. Be more cleverer!

    Tarran, you are spot on. I would also add that I am not a libertarian, I am a monarchist, a real, no-foolin' throne and altar type (although Mssr. Moldbug makes a strong case for his patchwork of corporate city-states). I've also been reading the dead-tree Reason since the mid-1970s and been a regular reader/sporadic commenter at Hit & Run for the past 12 or so years and I have never, ever been treated poorly or unfairly by other regular commenters there. We are a most accepting crew.

  58. Todd Gakk says

    @ "l0b0t the Lumberjack"
    Popehat's regulars (I'm guessing) find your chat-gossip fascinating! Please buttress Reason-Libertarians' stellar image by posting more of these not-at-all-insane conspiracy theories and hen-house gossip, this time with legally admissible citations, documentation, testimony, etc. This is a lawyer site, after all. Please be advised that anything you write may be used by the jackbooted thugs at the DOJ to trample your rights as an anonymous blowhard. Thanks!

  59. Hi There says

    Yo, correction.

    For the ATL article, the author is Kathryn Rubino (and that was a way legit article for ATL). You've got the Judge's name up there as the author of the article, which is major click-bait. Sadly, Katherine Forrest has not penned a repudiation of this nonsense on ATL. That would cool. She should get on that.