Yes, I know this is murderously hard to keep track of. Last Sunday, we were led to believe that Scottish posts had been subject to an utterly random near-blanket ban on PB. On Tuesday, we were told that it had only ever been intended as a ban for a single thread on Sunday - although that explanation had the distinct feel of a retrospective reinterpretation about it. This morning, however, the writing was on the wall again as a succession of hard-right, Jock-bashing members of the PB Tory Herd returned to their relentless "something must be done, Mike" efforts to squeeze the life out of yet another dissenting group. Note : as you read the following comments, you might be forgiven for not picking up on the fact that the subject of Scotland was actually introduced to the thread by a Labour poster...
SeanT : "So this thread went offtopic and on to Scotland by comment TWO.
I appreciate that it wasn't a Nit Wot Dunnit, but really, guys. pb is like a favourite local pub that's suddenly been taken over by transsexuals.
The regulars are squeezed into the corner while the hairy freaks with their pre-op manboobs dance and jiggle to Barbara Streisand Goes Techno next to the bar billiards.
Can't you get your own place? Really? Or maybe book a room at the back of the boozer, it's called pb2.
Marquee Mark : "Sorry, OGH, I don't press the contribute button so it can be James Kelly's own personal Nit echo-chamber.
It's been great as a site for the past six years I've known it. Probably my favourite meeting place on the web. But its delightful balance of immediate flags for interesting news, insight, whimsy, humour and occasional invective has been lost in recent weeks.
I know the formidable effort you have put into it. But I suppose all good things come to an end. I hope I'm wrong and that it can be rebooted and that balance refound.
But cheerio. I'm out of here."
Slackbladder : "Second post in and it's already hijacked by Scotttish stuff...I'll come back in the next thread.
I really can't be arsed anymore."
RodWarner : "Morning - Scotland again? Goodbye..."
But of course we could rely on PB's right-leaning Liberal Democrat proprietor Mike Smithson to demonstrate his neutrality and independence from his site's Tory Herd by standing firm against such pathetically unsubtle attempts to blackmail him into selectively censoring an ideologically undesirable group of posters, couldn't we?
Oh, don't be daft. Right on cue, we had this announcement at 12.07pm -
"From tonight, unless there is a specific post, discussions on the Scottish referendum shall take place on the NightHawks thread. If posters want to continue during the daytime they will be directed there."
To adapt the old joke about Gwynfor Evans' hunger strike, Marquee Mark barely had to forego his PB lunch before getting the bully-boy website of his dreams back. Admittedly, it's a somewhat more carefully-worded ban this time, but it does still mean that "the Scottish referendum" will, along with the Holocaust, be one of only two banned topics on the majority of threads - absolutely every other off-topic discussion under the sun (cheese, the Zapatista rebels, Katie Price, and above all else 'Ed Miliband is crap') will remain perfectly OK, regardless of the theoretical subject of the thread. And will other Scottish/SNP topics not directly related to the referendum still be allowed? I suspect we won't have long to wait to find out, as the newly-back-in-harness Stuart Dickson isn't the sort to be cowed from posting about whatever he feels like posting about. Unless of course Smithson bans him altogether yet again, which wouldn't entirely surprise me, given the somewhat capricious set of rulings we've seen over the last eight days.
And, as I observed the last time the ban was imposed, this could easily amount (depending on how the rule is enforced by moderators) to a constructive ban on all pro-SNP posts on all threads other than "Nighthawks". Supporters of every other political party in the entire world will not be subject to such a ban. Which makes it all the more gloriously ironic that just before censorship was re-imposed, the ever-delightful Plato was amusing herself by chortling away at my 'paranoia' for writing on this blog about an anti-SNP moderation policy at PB.
She then of course instantly 'liked' the decision to impose a ban. You just couldn't make it up - and luckily with Plato you don't have to.
UPDATE : After the PB poster AlanBrooke made the observation that "lots of people like the idea of free speech until they see what it looks like", I added this comment -
"Not a bit of it, Alan. We've established today that the Tory Herd love free speech. For themselves. Free, unchallenged, undiluted by dissenting voices, unionist Tory free speech."