Friday 22 May 2009

Notice: comments policy.

Okay guys, this is my official response to the debate that's gone on over the last few days about potential comments policies.

This blog is, currently, uncensored except in exceptional circumstances, and I'll be keeping it that way. If you've got something to say, even if I don't agree with you, I will defend to the point of extreme inconvenience your right to say it. Moreover, keeping the blog uncensored stimulates debate, and it's important, if we're going to have any sort of real-world discussion, to allow anyone and everyone in. Yep, I have some unpopular views (and some stupid ones!); so do many people who comment on here. But the haters don't pose any threat to us. They're a pain to argue down - but that's all they are, and at the end of the day it does more active harm to right-wing frothery to leave it up there for the whole world to see it for the patent nonsense it is.

I am totally and wholeheartedly in favour of feminist and other 'safe spaces', where any comments which make the target demographic feel uncomfortable or attacked are deleted. I completely see the need for spaces like that. But this isn't one of them; in fact, part of the reasoning behind Penny Red in the first place was to write a blog in which feminism and equality-based arguments could interact wholly with realtime politics, just like they do in the meatspace. And for that, I think it's essential that we hear all kinds of voices on this blog - even if we don't like what they're saying.

HOWEVER. I also think it's useful if we all know what 'exceptional circumstances' mean, and I will as such be instituting a small but strict comments policy, shortly to be detailed permanently on the left, whereby comments which are blatantly and horrendously misogynist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, ablist or otherwise personally offensive to individual commenters will be deleted. I don't honestly care if anyone tries to insult me personally, in fact I find it quite funny, but I will not tolerate bullying of any kind on this blog. I hate bullying more than almost anything else. I'm sure you'll agree how important it is that a space for free and constructive debate doesn't descend into cruel and meaningless dogfighting. And if you've got a real point to make, there's no harm in putting it reasonably and objectively.

In short, I don't anticipate having to delete comments often, because I trust you guys not to abuse the liberal comments policy we have here. Put your point across well and without deliberate offence, and whatever it is, it'll stay up there. Okay?


  1. I don`t like strangers.

    They scare me.

  2. Poor dear. You're not alone:

  3. Have you seen this...

  4. Ooh, interesting! I wonder how many people will show up...I might go along and do some interviewing if I can muster the trainfare :)

  5. Even this policy isn't especially clear, as it is subjective to opinion, of course. But it is your blog, so it's entirely up to you in the end, really.

    Will there be any note from you when you delete things about what was deleted, by the way?

    And as for that Houses of Parliament protest... it's somewhat unfortunate I can't make that one due to my travel arrangements, though if such a protest is big enough, it'll probably screw up my travel arrangements anyway.

  6. When a comment is deleted, it does show up as 'this comment has been deleted', and I'll add a little note saying why. This all depends on there being few enough nasty comments for me to go into detail on each one, of course!

  7. Well Penny, I shall be there in some fine Libertarian regalia.

    So if you come along and spot me I'll happily buy you a pint or whatever you drink for entertaining me with your many and varied posts.

  8. I don't mean to be rude but the demonstration outlined in the fb group is quite frankly ridiculous - I mean, TNCs, politicians, bankers, etc etc. have been ripping the world apart and ridiculing people for decades and *now* because the majority of the House orders £s worth of sofas and tennis court fixers and whatnot people see a need to get angry? I mean, ignorance is one thing, but this compensating for it is just pathetic.

  9. Georgie,

    Perhaps, but if people are angry it's worth capitalising on the public mood.

  10. If you banned all men from commenting you wouldn't have any trouble at all. Get rid of the men I say! Horrible beltching farting sticky-arsed creatures! Ugh!

  11. Aileen Wuornos22 May 2009 at 17:54

    I'm with Izzy. Delete the male gender! Permanently! The world would be richer for it.

  12. Thank you for saying "I will defend to the point of extreme inconvenience your right to say it" - there is little that I get more pedantic about than when people claim they would defend to the death the right of people to say something they find offensive, because it's OBVIOUSLY NOT TRUE, and there are LOTS OF BETTER THINGS TO DIE FOR if you've settled on the martyrdom route.

  13. So you've read Voltaire's Candide.


  14. Go on you Penny Red. Great Comment Policy.

  15. I'm a little bit bemused by the inclusion of 'ablist' there. I take it you mean 'inappropriately ablist' such as not hiring someone in a wheelchair for a job in marketing, rather than not hiring em for a job in construction.

  16. What about banning Thatcherites from commenting?

  17. I'm currently reading Bruce Bawer's almost-right-wing polemic "Surrender". In it he talks extensively of how the right of free expression is curtailed by those who seek to avoid offense. Even, especially, to those we find offensive. As part of the frontispiece, he lists some quotes, two of which I would like to re-quote:

    "A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares about more than he does his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. John Stuart Mills, The Contest in America, 1862.

    And, "In a democracy, no man's dignity is inviolate, and anyone's pretensions may be mocked." Adam Bellow, In Praise of Nepotism.

    We have to adhere to these, in our private spaces as much as our public ones; we have an obligation, do we not, in our qausi-public spaces, to uphold and adhere to those principles we seek to further, no matter how distasteful the rhetoric, lest we subject ourselves to our own limitations and censorship?

    Or do we, as Voltaire said (and a previous commenter inadequately, perhaps, referred to) "live in the best of all possible worlds"?

    We may like to wish it were so - but it will, surely?, not be realized by curtailment.

    I could implore you to reconsider your policy, but I consider that to be your responsibility, not mine. My own policy is to allow any and all speech, excepting the commercial - my forum is not a free advertising venue! (As an irrelevant side note, I occasionally make efforts to enshrine, at least virtually, the ridicule I receive!)

    The speech we find offensive is surely the speech in most need of protection? Ah - that is quite the question, isn't it?

    Personally, I'm suspicious of any -ism. It usually includes a debate about what is acceptable to say, usually with a conclusion about what is not acceptable. And in truly free speech, what is acceptable? The unacceptable? Or not?

    Carolyn Ann


Comments are open on this blog, but I reserve the right to delete any abusive or off-topic threads.