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Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board

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The Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board was a privately owned website, historically known for hosting controversial discussions on sexuality during its time as IIDB (Internet Infidels Discussion Board). Those discussions importantly did not exclude minor-adult sex, as later covered on sites including LogicalReality.com, Newgon and the defunct Anontalk.com. Towards the end of the 00s heyday of Secular Rationalism/New Atheism discussion boards, the website was sadly taken over by a regressive Feminist child protection officer who imposed an administrative hierarchy hostile towards any discussion of sexuality, particularly its more unusual forms. This was in spite of renaming of the site Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board.

Beginnings

In 1990, the original alt.atheism usenet newsgroup was created, followed by alt.atheism.moderated. As with other newsgroups, discussion was fueled by the Eternal September.[1] Then in 1995, the Internet Infidels (Secular Web/infidels.org) was founded to expand on the static resources available at alt.atheism, shortly followed in 1996 by its very own forum, known as the Internet Infidels Discussion Board (IIDB), right up until 2008, when it was discontinued as a Secular Web resource under "crisis" conditions.

The IIDB era

As IIDB, the discussion board hosted a number of topics on sexuality, most explosively in a notorious subforum known as Moral Foundations and Principles. The persistence of these discussions inspired a spin-off debate: should the Secular Web be seen to condone, or tolerate discussion of topics that would be regarded beyond acceptable by conservatives in "wider society". It should be noted that the founding principles of secularism and their promotion were and still are the Secular Web's highest priorities. Discussion of what were regarded as fringe sexual topics continued unabated, as it was originally deemed to be in line with Secular Web's position on free thought and discussion.

2007 crisis and takeover

Late in 2007, a combination of controversial, high-profile user bans and a general tightening of rules lead to a mass exodus from IIDB, which benefited a number spin-off forums, such as Rants 'n' Raves. The Secular Web secretly agreed to offload its large on-line community, waiting a year until their fundraiser monies were spent. During this time the two future owners, including Jo Apanui, a New Zealanders child-protection officer, contributed to the transformation of what was in its heyday, a free-flowing discussion board, into the top-down, sometimes farcical bureaucracy it then became.

Sexuality discussions

Against the backdrop of this general bureaucratization:

At first, discussion of adult-minor sexuality on the to-be-offloaded IIDB was hushed up after the passing of a guideline on "advocacy", whereby fringe opinions are silenced due to the presumed motivations of their proponents. A number of users were banned because of this, although the ban on discussion was far from comprehensive at the time. General discussion of sexuality was also relegated to a slime-dungeon forum per directive.

During her pre-ownership interval, Apanui, along with Veronique ["Sabine"] Grant, a health aide from Florida, and self-important IIDB moderator, approached a pedophile IIDB member offering to "cure" him of his "illness". Eventually, after growing tired of attempting to discredit such opponents, the ever-opportunistic Apanui passed the following "addendum" into the Moral Foundations sub-forum rules:

Moral Foundations & Principles, like all forums of IIDB, is not a platform for users to promote what would otherwise likely be classified or deemed as inappropriate and/or counterproductive to II's mission. This includes, but is not limited to infantophilia, hebephilia and pedophilia. Any threads or posts which administrators or moderators decide do not fit II's mission may be removed.

Despite this, and the following completion of Apanui's takeover, established members of the community could still be seen quietly protesting the official line on these discussions whenever they are brought up. However, as a place for new members to discuss alternative sexuality topics, the new forum was of very little use, and in any event, its membership was fading.

Takeover

Under the ownership of Apanui, IIDB became the Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board at freeratio.org. Despite its independence from the Secular Web, FRDB continued to enforce strict rules against the discussion of explicitly sexuality-related topics, suggesting that Apanui was the driving force behind IIDB's censorious turn all along.

See also

  • Debate Guide - and its derivatives (this site) were directly inspired by discussions on IIDB during its more liberal incarnation.

External links

  • IIDB Archive - Part of a reformed IIDB. It appears after FRDB collapsed in 2014, somebody created the present iidb.org as "Talk Freethought".
  • freeratio.org - Original URL for the renamed IIDB.
  • IIDB debacle - Broader attention to the problems of IIDB.

References