Comment Policy

Dos:

  • Be kind.
  • Be curious.
  • Be relevant.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t be evil.
  • Don’t be an asshole.
  • Don’t be annoying.

No Tolerance Policy

In the comments section, there is no interest in nor tolerance for giving voice to certain topics, attitudes, and behaviors; and with greatest emphasis on zero tolerance for intolerance, not to mention even less tolerance for bullshit (for example, a pet peeve is false equivalency; just don’t!). Discussion along such lines will only be allowed in terms of criticism, analysis, and understanding or otherwise in adding context and background. The naughty list (that will change over time) includes but is not limited to the following (in no particular order):

  • Inegalitarianism, illiberalism, anti-democracy, unfreedom, anti-leftism, and privatization of the commons;
  • Prejudice, bigotry, stereotyping, xenophobia, misogyny, anti-immigrant stances, hatefulness, and mean-spiritedness;
  • Cruelty, violence, oppression, authoritarianism, social domination, sociopathy, psychopathy, sadism, narcissism, and Machiavellianism;
  • Far right ideology, neo-imperialism, neo-colonialism, neo-conservatism, war-mongering, militarized policing, and police statism;
  • Oligarchy, autocracy, plutocracy, kleptocracy, capitalist realism, neo-feudalism, neo/pseudo-liberalism, and social Darwinism;
  • religious fundamentalism, theocracy, anti-Semitism, anti-Palestinianism, and sectarianism;
  • Ethno-nationalism, McCarthyism, fascism, Nazism, cultural Marxism bull shit, QAnon fear-mongering, and extremist conspiracy theories;
  • Scapegoating, racism, race realism, racial supremacy, apartheid, eugenics, genetic determinism, and faux ‘human biodiversity’;
  • Reactionary rhetoric, doublespeak, dog-whistle politics, corporate media narratives, ‘mainstream’ frames, and pushing the Overton window right;
  • Groupthink, hyper-partisanship, lesser evilism, false equivalency, faux moderate centrism, elitism, and paternalism;
  • Anti-intellectualism, scientific denialism, ideological dogmatism, lack of humility, willful ignorance, and unwillingness to listen;
  • Excessive contrarianism, confrontationalism, argumentativeness, criticalness, antagonism, divisiveness, aggression, and incendiary words;
  • Slander, trolling, trollish behavior, dishonest rhetoric, game-playing, off-topic comments, acting in bad faith, and reactionary co-opting from the left;
  • Et cetera.

Expressing, defending, advocating, or sympathizing with any of these — particularly if blatant, egregious, and persistent — could result in an immediate deletion of comments and possibly a permanent ban. Prior to such actions taken, there may be no warning or explanation given. But, generally, this only applies to extreme cases. Benefit of the doubt will be offered. And no ill will is intended. The purpose is to create and maintain a positive atmosphere for relating well.

Despite what may appear as harshly restrictive prohibitions, there is plenty of room allowed for nuanced discussion. It’s not so much that entire topics are being silenced within and banished from respectable society but that only meaningful and moral dialogue is desired. The prohibitions, rather than absolute and unforgiving, are conditional and context-dependent. Their application will be determined case by case.

That is to say nothing is entirely out of bounds. The prohibitions are less about the topics themselves and more about how they are discussed. So, tread lightly. Besides disallowing bad behavior (e.g., trolling), it is primarily inegalitarianism, the reactionary, and such that is prohibited. Before commenting, simply ask yourself if your words in any way oppose, contradict, or conlict with the basic moral vision of this blog. Ask yourself if you are positively contributing or detracting from those positively contributing. If your intentions match the intentions of the blog, you should be fine.

Let there be no confusion and misunderstandng. If further explanation or clarification would be helpful, please ask. Or if any part of the comment policy seems morally wrong or unfair according to the blog’s stated values, make your case in the comment section below and do so with as few words as possible. This page is not meant for debate. Any decision made is final.

A General Message

Welcome! You have entered someone’s personal space. All commenters are here as guests and should treat this blog like visiting a close friend’s home. There is no reason to keep your guard up nor to treat others as suspect. Be respectful and use your best manners, but also relax and leave your problems at the door. If you do so, the host will treat you with hospitality and graciousness.

Diverse views and new information is welcomed and encouraged. Open debate and challenging positions are tolerated, within the above detailed constraints. Even direct disagreement and harsh criticism can be fine, up to a point. But easygoing discussion, friendly conversation, and fruitful dialogue is preferred. There are no debating points to be won. Truth can only be sought in collaboration, through shared understanding.

This blogging project is motivated by radical imagination and revolutionary vision. It is dedicated to intellectual inquiry, liberal-mindedness, and the public good. If you oppose those values and that worldview, if you are unable or unwilling to keep your mind open and change your views, if you can’t back your arguments with evidence and careful thought, if you lack goodwill and refuse to offer the benefit of the doubt to others, then you are in the wrong place — you are free to voice your opinions elsewhere, but not here.

At the most fundamental level, a moral impulse cannot be logically argued, cannot be scientifically proven. Attempting to do so would be pointless, frustrating, and unhelpful; and so debate on this level will not be allowed. One either shares a common moral attitude or not. The moral vision represented here is of fierce compassion, unrelenting and uncompromising, but specifically siding with the underdog, to speak truth to power, and to stand against oppression and injustice. It is hoped that others will join in this aspiration.

Keep in mind that no space will be given nor time wasted on pointless arguments over basic issues of fact, values, and principles. The territory of topics covered in this blog is immense, but the intention is narrow and focused in maintaining a holding space. Please respect this intention and respect others here who agree with this intention. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.

7 thoughts on “Comment Policy

  1. This made me smile. And I haven’t smiled much in the last couple of days. You obviously share my instinctive aversion to brevity and love of the the perfect, exactly descriptive adjective. I came here via a Facebook link to an excellent article about why an otherwise rational, un-monstrous person might have voted for DJT. Or, anyway, it helped me understand that, though the real point was what allowed his rise in the firs place. I’ve struggled with that. And that struggle has lead me to rethink the entire progressive agenda, or more precisely, the way in which that agenda is expressed. But I come from the privilege world of the white, upper-class, and I know it is hard, if not impossible, for me to truly understand the situation of the poor of any race or creed. It is also hard for me to try to effect any change without not just coming off as condescending, but actually being unintentionally condescending. Plus I have a tendency to lapse into a somewhat pedantic style, mostly out of a serious devotion to… clear meaning, I guess? Frankly, I don’t really know why I am writing this except that I am grieving and in shock and have had to acknowledge the very real role I played in letting this happen. Also, I’ve had a few glasses of wine. I crave real discussion of issues that matter. I really want someone on the other side to engage in a meaningful and constructive way, but in our polarized environment, that is difficult. I really want to believe in the basic goodness of humanity, but DJT has made that really hard. He’s also forced me to take a closer look at the assumptions involved in making that statement. So now I really hate him! It’s never comfortable to confront our own biases…

    • I’m glad I amused you. I amuse myself all the time. But I fear that my amusement is too often one-sided.

      BTW which post were you looking at? I wrote a number of posts where I discussed Trump.

      “And that struggle has lead me to rethink the entire progressive agenda, or more precisely, the way in which that agenda is expressed.”

      That is what I like to hear. I’ve been rethinking many things these past years. I’ve identified as a liberal for as long as I can remember. But I’m starting to wonder what liberalism means or could mean. Maybe there is a flaw within the liberal worldview.

      “Frankly, I don’t really know why I am writing this except that I am grieving and in shock and have had to acknowledge the very real role I played in letting this happen.”

      Also good to hear. I’ve been wanting to see the political left, especially Democrats, to start doing some serious self-questioning and soul searching. As someone on the political left, I want a political left that is strong and has a worthy vision. But at present, we on the left have lost our way.

      “It’s never comfortable to confront our own biases…”

      We humans are complex creatures. It’s easy to get frustrated and to let that let you get cynical. I’m always struggling against that. I’ve been thinking that I’m not cynical enough, after seeing the crap go on this election on all sides. But I don’t want to be cynical.

  2. Mr. Steele, I just recently stumbled across older comments, from 2015 regarding issues of race and poverty and I thoroughly enjoyed them. But, just at the moment when I thought your comments couldn’t be any more on point…you shook things up when you told Stan your ethnicity. I felt like you dropped the proverbial mic and I imagined everyone heard crickets! Like what???? Moreover, you engaged in discussion and shared thoughts about why Hispanics were included in the white category…hence the reason for my comment. In my opinion…there appears to be some code of conduct around force, specifically frequency, type and amount, that delineates for the powers that govern. And my hunch has led me to ask the question of whether or not it’s for the purpose of not confusing or convoluting the current “order” of things. Think about it…adding Hispanics in with Caucasians provide clearly defined lines, for that perpetuate the “black” against “white” mentality. Although statistics show Hispanics are, at times treated disparagingly they, along with Caucasians, are less likely to loose their lives while in police custody. What are your thoughts?

    • I don’t remember that specific discussion. Stan hasn’t been around to comment. Could you share the link or the title to the blog post where Stan commented. I’d be curious to look back at it. But I could imagine the kind of interaction it was.

      As for your opinion and hunch, I get the gist of what you’re getting at. But maybe you could give me some more details. There definitely are codes of conduct… of many varieties, for different groups, and serving one purpose or another. That is how the social order is maintained. Certainly, there is a central “purpose of not confusing or convoluting the current “order” of things.”

      I’ve written about the racial order in terms of ‘black’/’white’ mentality. Almost any group can assimilate into ‘white’ culture, except blacks. I’ve met many Hispanics and Native Americans who could pass as basically ‘white’, at least as ‘white’ as many Southern Europeans. There are also many people with Asian ancestry that more or less look ‘white’.

      In early America, Hispanics weren’t considered a separate demographic category, at least not on the national level. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that issues of national identity became more important in terms of ethnicity/race. It was exacerbated because of high levels of immigration. It later on led the Second Klan, mostly operating in Northern states, to focus more on ethnic immigrants than it did on blacks.

      I’ve written many posts about this kind of thing over the years. I’m not sure which posts may be relevant to your inquiry. Here is one post about a fascinating topic, orphan trains, and it directly relates to the issue of Hispanics.

      https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/orphan-trains-in-context-history-culture-and-law/

      I would add an additional perspective. The increase of Hispanics could complicate the racial order. That is because the Spanish Empire had a different racial system. It wasn’t based on clear ‘black’/’white’ divide. Instead, it involved gradations of skin tone. Unlike the American racial order of the past based on a particular slave system, the Latin American racial order doesn’t have simple categories of ‘white’ and ‘black’.

      There is an anecdote that made this clear. A ‘black’ American traveled to some Latin American country. He was speaking to people who, to his mind, were ‘black’. But they didn’t identify as ‘black’ because to them the label had a specific meaning that didn’t apply to them. It was amusing because the ‘black’ American couldn’t accept the notion that blackness was a social construct and so there was no objective perception of it.

      American ideas of race have been heavily determined by the assimilationist demands, often oppressive persecution, directed at non-WASP ethnic immigrants during the eras of World War and Cold War. Prior to that, those of European ancestry with darker skin, hair, and eyes weren’t treated the same and their whiteness was sometimes questioned. Even the light-skinned Irish were of doubtful whiteness to centuries of the English.

      Race used to be another word for ethnicity. Even earlier, race was applied to class distinctions, treating aristocracy and peasants as separate races. Even what we see today as a single ethnicity, such as the English, is built upon what once was considered dozens of ethnicities. The notion of race that became popular in the US this past century is highly unusual, never before having existed. Multiple past strains of thought went into its formation.

      It’s highly probable that racial ideology will be transformed over the coming century. We might move more toward the Latin American racial order. Also, as socioeconomic inequality increases, a class element is making rigid certain distinctions. If inequality gets bad enough and is entrenched for long enough, we could return to seeing the upper class and lower class beginning to be treated as separate races. It’s always been a powerful element of the Social Darwinian vision.

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