Want to keep commenting here? Don't derail threads.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m very reticent to ban anybody.  However, in the last week there have been a couple posts where there was very great potential for conversation in which those of us who may not fully understand an issue could be helped to understand it better.  Those comment threads were hugely derailed and it is a damn shame.  As one commenter put it

I’m disturbed by what seems to be reflexive hostility directed toward people honestly seeking information, in a space specifically earmarked for the honest seeking of information. Can we maybe acknowledge that someone in a privileged position has a long educational road to walk before they understand the perspective of a less-privileged person to the point where they’re immune from saying anything ignorant or insensitive, and that they have a right to engage in discussions before they’ve reached that point… especially when they’re not co-opting or derailing an existing discussion, but starting up a new thread of conversation in their own space?


So here are the new standards.  You can insult someone.  You can accuse them of being privileged.  But those things had better damn sure come attached to a response to what somebody actually said, not what you wish they would have said.  Your insults don’t bug me on a personal level (though I can’t speak for others), but their ability to hinder progress and derail otherwise fruitful conversation does bug me.

So far the people who have received warnings are:

Josh, Official SpokesGay
Ms. Daisy Cutter, Gynofascist in a Spiffy Hugo Boss Uniform

Regardless of my past of being entirely on the side of women, gays, trans people and so forth, I’m sure the accusations of me being a woman-hating, cis-hating, privileged, piece of shit who just doesn’t get it will fly.  I am not trying to silence them out of some sense of privilege or allegiance to those who’d discriminate against others (or because I worry in the slightest about them being true), I’m really just sick of the people flinging them about with abandon derailing threads.

I’m also not asking anybody to stop being angry.  I’m asking them to respond to others instead of engaging in behaviors that serve only to destroy conversations.  I realize anger, though productive, can sometimes nudge us into that territory.  That is why these are warnings and not instant bans.  But they will turn into bans if behavior does not improve.

These standards are minimal.  They require you to at least attempt to criticize reasonably.  It makes me a little sad I have to put actual standards in place to make sure that happens.

Comments closed for the time being.

I’ve closed comments on this post.  I’ve not been reading them the last couple days because vacation is awesome.  A couple people who I trust have suggested I close the thread so those jockeying for a ban so they can have something else to gripe about can stop feeding off each other and then reopen it, and it seems like good advice.

For those who have contributed in good faith, thanks.  I’m hoping to learn something from your comments.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.