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Disappointed

I see the criticisms of Rick's latest political forays have been removed from this forum. I believe totally in freedom of speech-Mr. Steves and ours too. If he can be passionate about expressing his opinions, we too should be allowed to express ours. I am very disappointed that the opinions from members of this forum were taken off.

Posted by
8293 posts

I may be misremembering some of the posts on that thread, but it seems to me that most of them were not expressing opinions at all but were roundly criticizing Rick Steves for his opinions.

Posted by
6277 posts

@Norma, I agree. The one I remember basically told Rick Steves to shut up about any of his personal views and stick to travel advice. It seems we can't have freedom of speech without someone wanting to criticize, dismiss, or limit someone else's. And while that's the nature of the beast, this forum is really not the place.

Posted by
6612 posts

I think a lot of folks misunderstand what "freedom of speech" really means. Freedom of speech relates to freedom of interference from government action (i.e. "Congress shall make no law..."). This is a forum run by a private business (not an abridgement of speech by government or a law passed by Congress) that states upfront that all content will be monitored and has to conform to certain guidelines. There is no absolute freedom of speech in a private sphere (just like in the workplace).

Everyone is allowed to express their opinions on RS, but they simply can't do it on this forum...it's his forum and he sets the rules (it's kind of like going to someone's house and then insulting them there and expecting not to get asked to leave). I can appreciate that. Rick doesn't want this forum to turn into a free for all for anyone and everyone to argue against his political views, it's a major distraction...can you imagine if anyone could post anything here and draw the ire of long-time members, former tour participants, etc? It would not be good for his business and he definitely should defend against all speech he doesn't want to be associated with (in the least costly way possible, which in this case is a simple thread delete). When people get turned off or start associating negative things with him, it cannot possibly be a great business strategy to support such things (if he just let everything get published, he'd have to spend a lot of energy defending each and every sling because silence is construed as acceptance).

The OP chose not to write to Rick in private..that would have been the proper thing to do. Obviously, he had a bone to pick and wanted to do it in a public way that involved other people who are not part of his argument, and I could see that approach going downhill fast. And apparently it did...At first I thought Rick may let this stand and write a rebuttal (i.e. the Webmaster would do it on his behalf), but I'm not surprised that it disappeared. It's probably a slippery slope he doesn't want to deal with. If I put myself in his shoes, I can understand his reasoning.

Posted by
1068 posts

Agnes, you took the words right out of my mouth. I also found it interesting the OP had a whopping 1 post, the one which (IMHO) was pretty critical.

Posted by
1790 posts

Deleting posts on a moderated forum has nothing to do with free speech. If you want free speech go start your own unmoderated forum. You might not like what you get.

Posted by
7759 posts

Also, the first response post bashed Obama and all Democrats.

Posted by
1044 posts

Several of the posters, including the original, basically accused Rick and the original speaker of lying about the refugee situation, not simply having a different experience and opinion.
In my opinion, that type of action is not debate and is inappropriate for this forum. It should not be encouraged.
Removing the thread was the right thing to do.

Posted by
12040 posts

I find it refreshing, though, that the forum allows posts that disagree with Mr. Steves' strictly travel-related opinions. Otherwise, a good portion of my posts would have been deleted, and I would have been long since banned.

And yes, we are guests here. If Mr. Steves wants to make a political statement that others find ill-informed or disingenuous, well, it's his company and it's his choice to possibly effect his own bottom line. But I don't see why he, or any other business owner, should be compelled to unquestionably provide a forum for the statements of others that may hurt his own interests.

Posted by
552 posts

I am not at all surprised that the post disappeared. I was hoping it would as the whole thing would have deteriorated into name calling and accusations. The original poster made unsubstantiated claims about refugees, then accused Rick Steves of lying about the situation, But, he never provided any evidence to back up his own claims. This is a travel forum owned and operated by Rick Steves, he can remove any posts he deems are inappropriate for the forum. It was the right decision to remove the post. If you want to express your non-travel related opinions there are many outlets to do that. Go there.

Posted by
25126 posts

Is there some proof that the post was removed by RS staff? Is it certain that the OP didn't pull it after (s)he found that everybody didn't agree with her/him?

Posted by
12213 posts

Norma, I think I am going to agree with you again. If this keeps up I will go and get therapy.

The forum belongs to RS. We are guests. We don't own anything here and have absolutely no rights here. To demand any particular right when you are a guest in someone's home is inappropriate.

I can say this despite the fact that on the subject of politics there isn't much RS and I will ever agree on. There isn't much Norma and I will ever agree on either. But I respect those I disagree with. The problem here, when we begin disagreeing on political issues, any semblance of respect goes out the door quickly. Given that, RS does a good thing shutting down the discussion.

Posted by
31255 posts

I didn't see the offending post, and now I'm wondering what I missed.

The Moderators of this forum have always seemed quite fair in allowing information exchange among people who may not agree on a certain issue. However, if these discussions degrade to the point of personal attacks or similar nastiness, then they should be removed.

Posted by
8293 posts

Aw shucks. JamesE is my new best friend.

Posted by
3882 posts

Ken - same as the 'love locks' one in the France forum (I think you saw that one) where the OP starting personally attacking posters who told him/her what they wanted to do was not cool/illegal/disrespectful. I reported one of the posts by the OP which was really rude (not that most of the OP's replies weren't rude). I'm sure some others reported posts as well, as I noticed a few hours later it was gone.

Posted by
7759 posts

Nigel, there were some who did agree with the OP. The one I referenced above did. I'm confident the webmaster deleted the thread.

Posted by
5550 posts

The fact that someone took issue with Mr. Steve's opinions and countered with hate mongering bull is the direct result of the influence of social media and FOX news. Civility has been lost, vile unsubstantiated accusations prevail. And due to social media anonymity and lack of reprisal everybody believes what they have to say is of the utmost importance and must be shared immediately. .
What was once a brave new world is now ladened with hateful, angry loud mouths. A sad reality of the 21st century.

Posted by
127 posts

I didn't agree with much of the original post and I am quite sure that RS views this from his usual sanctimonious perch.

That being said, Europe is in a full-blown crisis of "refugees" (not all of them acting honorably) and there has been pretty much nothing but silence from RS and his company that focuses on travel to the very places that are under assault. The Munich uproar was a mere two blocks from where my RS tour had stayed. Train travel from Austria to Germany has been disrupted by these so-called refugees.

And for all that, silence from RS. It will be disappointing to me if all we have is a RS lecture pretending that there isn't an undercurrent of danger and radical Islamic terrorism among all those refugees.

Posted by
6612 posts

I think some people look to Rick almost like a paternal guide who is supposed to give voice and solace to their fears with the same intensity, volume and political content as they experience them. The inherent conflict here that doesn't seem appreciated is that Rick is a businessman whose business is getting people to travel to Europe. When he makes a limited statement that he is comfortable with, it feels either inadequate or naive or is interpreted as silence to some people. I think it may be too much to think of Rick as a consoler-in-chief or explainer-in-chief or someone who should constantly wade into the political minefield of accurately trying to qualify and quantify how current and future migrant patterns in Europe (every country in Europe to boot) will affect an average traveler. Does Rick really have the expertise to do that, assuming what is happening now is rather unprecedented? Can he do so without unleashing unrealistic expectations from people? Can he do it delicately enough so that he doesn't dissuade people from traveling or taking his tours?

As far as I see it, his only obligation is that his tours fulfill their stated customer commitments, that he provide a valuable experience to tour members, and that tour members are safe in the custody of their tour guide throughout their tour. I don't think any other tour company is in the business of public service announcements nor making forward-looking statements on the immigration picture in Europe to the public at large. I think whatever statements he makes shouldn't set up expectations that he's somehow shortchanging people and he should do more. He's presenting a limited view of his own chosing and likely trying to walk an incredibly fine line as someone whose business depends on getting people to travel and take his tours. Obviously if his "product" isn't meeting expectations for more insights (or whatever else people expect him to deliver in addition to a great tour experience), people will look to other sources and/or he'll have to change his product to meet the new demands. He is only one (and not unbiased) source of information. Surely there are other inputs one can use to make sound travel decisions.

Posted by
3882 posts

Listened to the podcast yesterday where Rick talks to people in Sweden, Turkey and Greece about the refugee crisis to get their take on things and what kind of impact it may have on tourists...interesting listening. You can find it on the website under 'Listen to the Radio Show' under Watch, Read, Listen.

Posted by
7846 posts

How odd that Rick didn't talk to any of his guides working in Germany, France, or Austria. Since Germany took a such a massive number wouldn't that be the top country to find out information?

It wouldn't matter though. People still wouldn't believe the guides any more than they don't believe those of us who live here and find nothing awful going on at all except from the radical right that thrive in the eastern part of Germany, like in Dresden.

Living in Frankfurt though, with a population that is almost 50% foreigners anyway, I have no fears, have seen nothing bad happening and none of my friends or family have either. Yet, when I posted this information on this forum, I was ridiculed by other posters who seem to think they might know how it "really" is here, better than me.

Frankly, if I was Rick, I would drop Dresden off the tour schedule and add in a different city. One with more amenable and open minded Germans.

Posted by
8092 posts

Ms. Jo, I agree that someone with first hand knowledge is a better source for information than someone who doesn't live there. I always appreciate you good advice and information.

Posted by
1910 posts

Amen, Andrea! I was just about to write nearly the same thing. It's best to get an "on the ground" opinion, whether you might agree with that opinion or not. Thank you Emily and Ms. Jo for posting your first hand observations on the situation.

Posted by
6277 posts

Let me start by agreeing with Emily Andrea and Andi and saying that I'm glad you're back Ms Jo! I do think though that the guides RS talks with on the radio show are locals too and as such would also have a good handle on what's happening in their respective countries regarding the refugees. I think the reason he chose to speak with guides from those three countries is because they are the ones most in the news these days (France, Germany, Austria being 'old news' so to speak) - not saying that's right, just how it is: "the moving finger writes and having writ moves on". And I would venture to say that those are the countries ETBD is currently getting the most questions about safety when traveling in.

Posted by
1743 posts

Just curious... If you have a "hatred" of the owner of a forum... why would you join and post

At least a few of you seem to be on a "witch hunt" just because your "topic du jour" is not being discussed here. LOL!

Posted by
12238 posts

Great post, Ms. Jo. I have friends both actual and virtual all across Europe who are frankly puzzled by all the 'safety' chatter concerning their cities/countries/continent. None of them have any personal gain in blowing sunshine up a skirt if that was not the case, and they report business as usual outside of some temporary transport disruptions/security cautions here and there.

Temporary disruptions and security cautions are not unknown here in the U.S. either!

Posted by
3882 posts

I think he chose those countries because a lot of the refugees are leaving from turkey, arriving in Greece and a lot are going to Sweden. It's a two parter, so either next week or two weeks from now there will be more...maybe then he'll talk to people in Germany etc.

Posted by
4485 posts

We listened to the radio broadcast Friday. Rick announced during the broadcast that Part 2 would be aired in two weeks, with representatives from three other countries - Italy and two others (sorry, I don't remember which.) So the subject is not closed, and the field will be broadened.

Posted by
34 posts

Agreed with the first post by Agnes - this is Rick's house, and everyone plays by his rules. I don't fault him for protecting his reputation (and therefore his business) on a forum that is part of a website owned by said business. I think too many people fail to separate the RS personality on public broadcasting from the RS tour business.

I probably disagree with half of RS' personal political views. That said, make a well-reasoned business decision on whether to take one of his tours or not. His political beliefs had no bearing when I chose to book one of his tours, as I thought it was the best tour available.

Posted by
518 posts

I think this says it well:

"...it's kind of like going to someone's house and then insulting them there and expecting not to get asked to leave..."

I think most find RS to be so personable that we forget he is both a business and an individual and as such he will have his own opinions and politics. To expect otherwise or to expect (or demand) that his views align with your own is unrealistic. Think of all the other products and services we use, everything from the companies that make the electronics we use to the restaurants we dine at, how concerned are you about the opinions and politics of the folks that own those companies? Are you willing to 1.) stop using their services/products or 2.) start a public forum to express your disagreement, if you found that their views and opinions didn't agree with your own? Likewise, if you truly didn't like RS's views and if it truly did bother you that much, why use his products, including this forum?

Posted by
12238 posts

I might be in error but I believe some latitude is allowed for comments regarding certain hot-button topics (or may be hot-button to some) if they're posted under RS blogs on that topic? For instance, I'm seeing 100 responses in the "Don't be Terrorized" blog post of Nov. 16, 2015, and 42 under blog of the same title on Nov 13, 1015.

Not all of those comments expressed agreement with viewpoint of the author but were allowed to stand.

The same rules of civility apply - as they should - but I think the point is not so much what but where certain discussions should occur? They've chosen to focus the forums on travel-related questions - hotels, train tickets, gear, sightseeing, etc. - and the blogs for broader topics. That way if responses do disintegrate into madness, it's not the distraction it would be on the open forums. I'm OK with that.

Restricting topics on the open forums also discourages random angry individuals looking only to start an argument. Any of you who use multiple online forums will know exactly what I'm talking about?

Posted by
658 posts

Is there some proof that the post was removed by RS staff?

I did it.

...There has been pretty much nothing but silence from RS and his
company...

I wouldn't say that. As noted by other responses, there have been several blog posts, Travel News, and Tour News installments that discuss the current situation. As these are our best tools to discuss what's current, and not e.g. in a guidebook or TV show where fast-changing conditions are out-of-date as soon as they're published, we've addressed this as we can. There's also a new radio episode that discusses the refugee crisis.

How odd that Rick didn't talk to any of his guides working in Germany,
France, or Austria.

I can confirm that France, Germany and Italy are in Part 2 coming in a week or two. Our Austrian guides (of which there are far fewer) were unavailable.

I see the criticisms of Rick's latest political forays have been
removed from this forum. I believe totally in freedom of speech-Mr.
Steves and ours too. If he can be passionate about expressing his
opinions, we too should be allowed to express ours. I am very
disappointed that the opinions from members of this forum were taken
off.

Addressing the OP, I would say that many of the respondants here have nailed down our position on why the thread in question was removed. We are accepting of dissenting opinions, but "freedom of speech" is not absolute. Posts intended to enflame and infuriate (aka trolling) in addition to outward disrespect of others' opinions and other violations of our Community Guidelines won't be accepted due to the harm such posts cause. We do our best not to have a heavy hand here, but following our Guidelines is for the benefit of everyone.

Thanks to everyone for those who took part in this discussion.

Posted by
4485 posts

I just checked the notice for next week's radio broadcast. Immigration in France, Germany, and Italy will be topics. There will be other topics on the show, as well. We listened to part 1 last week; we'll be listening again next week.