Comment Policy

I’ll keep my main message simple. Basically, do as you were taught by your kindergarten teacher:

Play nicely with others.

I offer no hard and fast rules to follow. At the bare minimum, I expect common decency.

The objective of this blog is truth-seeking and truth-telling, and I take this very seriously. That said, my desire and intention isn’t to force my understanding onto the unwilling (no one here is being held against their will) or to go out of my way to slaughter anyone’s sacred cow (though I take no responsibility for injury to sacred cows that may be incurred). If that sounds like your kind of thing, we should have no problems.

I love quality discussion and want to encourage it. I want to learn and try my best to understand, even opposing views. And I want to attract to my blog those with a similar attitude. But it is obvious that not all commenters share this attitude. Besides trolls, some people just want to argue, criticize, nitpick and complain while others are plain negative and annoying.

I want discussion, but I don’t want negativity which too often brings out the worst in me. I particularly don’t like mean-spiritedness, neither in myself nor others. I want to discuss, not argue or have a battle of wills. This isn’t a place of formal debates and so there are no debate points to be won. Bonus points, however, will be rewarded for intellectual humility, curiosity and insight. When conflicts and misunderstandings occur, offer me the benefit of the doubt and I will do the same.

Quality discussion is honest discussion. I will accept nothing less. I won’t tolerate anyone who purposely or consistently misrepresents my view or the views of others. I won’t tolerate anyone who cherrypicks data or otherwise refuses to deal with all the facts at hand. I won’t tolerate anyone who consistently distracts from the main point of a given post and of the discussion that follows. I won’t tolerate whatsoever any kind of game-playing or wasting of my time.

Whether you agree or disagree, do so nicely, honestly and fairly. If you contribute to worthwhile discussion, then you are free to comment as much as you want. If you detract from worthwhile discussion, then your comments will be deleted and eventually I’ll block you entirely. I may give you a warning and explanation or I may not.

This standard of worthwhile discussion will be applied to all equally. If you think I fail my own standard, you are more than welcome to call me out on it. Still, this is my blog and so I’m the judge about this standard.

As a note of explanation, I don’t like censorship. I resisted coming to this point.

I’ve never had a comment policy before and I had never blocked anyone until recently. My blog operated with an open-door policy for several years now. I’d argue with people. I sometimes even told them to go away because they were annoying me, but I never blocked them outright.

I’m a generally tolerant person in my own way. I can handle a fair amount of conflict. I can argue with someone over one thing and then be perfectly fine with them later. I don’t want to hold grudges, although I’m fully capable of that. I tolerate disagreement, even when it turns into conflict, for the simple reason that I love discussion so much.

Some recent exchanges, however, led me to rethink what I want from this blog and the discussions that happen here.

Obviously, not everyone is worth trying to communicate with. But if a comment is posted, I’m nearly incapable of not responding. I’ve increasingly come to dislike arguments. And too often online interactions descend into arguments, if not worse. I have this immense faith in the worthiness of discussion and so great hope for worthwhile discussion. Despite this, I’ve found that maybe not as many people share this attitude as I’d like. Intellectual honesty and humility seem extremely rare traits.

This is something I struggle with as well, but the important part is the striving. If I sense a genuine desire for intellectual honesty and humility, I can and will be immensely forgiving of any failures in that regard. But if I don’t sense that, I’m not going to waste my time.

For my own mental health, I feel I have to become more discerning in how and with whom I interact. I don’t need any help in being depressed. This blog is my space and I need to take responsibility for the kind of atmosphere that is created here.

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5 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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