I’m going to write this article and see if I still agree with it at the end.
The entire issue of free speech vs. good order involves trade-offs. This blog ran for a long time without any bans. Anybody could say anything. But there came a time when some commenters appeared who had the ability to hijack discussions, get everybody angry, and generally make it impossible for the commenting community to function. I banned some people, and in fact I banned quite a few people, and sometimes I banned one person under a host of names.
I tend to ban people who use sock puppets, and people I think are here only to provoke conflict. Whatever the reasons for a ban, they are subjective and of necessity applied in the context of my own biases.
The way a ban works now is that any comment from a banned individual is placed in moderation, not automatically deleted. I see them even though you may not. I generally delete them.
I tried something before called the off-topic dump where banned comments could be moved. The dump was time-consuming to maintain, and it didn’t allow responses. That project was discontinued.
So I’m going to try something else, using the open thread to allow uncensored speech (with the exception that copyrighted material, personal attacks and personal information on non-public figures is not allowed there or anywhere). Under this new policy, folks will still be in moderation, but posts on the Open Thread will be generally approved. Folks in moderation who post in other areas may be approved provided they are polite and not provoking a flame war, or the comment may be moved to the Open Thread when off-topic, or it may just be deleted.