Sunday, February 3, 2008

Civil rights and the right to be civil

I just finished writing a note of thanks to a reader of this blog. In the note, I commented that it is the discourse which makes blogging so special to me. Once I filter out the trolls, receiving comments on a blog entry gives me new insight, fresh ideas, and sometimes even changes my opinions. It's awesome for a bunch of people to get together and hammer away at a topic until most angles have been explored, some solutions have been proposed, and a dozen or more people take away a changed consciousness from a single discussion. Because it's in text and sequential, no one's interrupting, no one's screaming, and those who are simply contributing vitriol or stirring up conflict can be removed and ignored.

Of course, there have to be certain ground rules for the discussion. For example, if you cannot agree with a core set of ideas before joining the discussion, then discourse will be meaningless when one side is merely screaming at the other for believing or not believing those ideas. In size positive discussions, for example, if someone comes into my blog and starts ranting that being fat makes people unattractive or unhealthy, that person will not be welcome to continue commenting here, because they are simply not able to overcome their prejudices and have a civil discussion. Essentially, if a person has not read and understood the material in Kate Harding's "But don't you know that fat is unhealthy?" article, then they do not possess the information necessary to meaningfully discuss the topic of fat and health. If a person cannot bring themselves to believe that there are people who do not find fat to be an unattractive trait, they also lack the necessary tools with which to comment on that subject in a size positive blog.

If a person really hates fat so much that they feel the need to troll and harrass fat acceptance blogs, then they are certainly welcome to go and create their own blog on that subject. I'll be more than happy to not harrass them and leave them comments. It is disingenuous to come in here, leave me snotty comments, and then complain that I've curtailed your freedom of speech, or that I'm afraid of discussion, when really, I'm just removing your incivility from my demesnes. You want to be an ass? Go do it in your own blog. You are more than free to spew your hatred there. This is my place, and I don't have to put up with concern trolls, fat haters, and petty bitching from anyone.


Fat Gal said...

Here, here! Especially the last paragraph. Personally I don't understand the hatred but like you I think if they really want to express it, then fine, go do it. But don't think you are coming anywhere near my space!

Anonymous said...

Yea, I have heard other bloggers complain about the same thing...and made a comment policy based on it (I myself have had to create a comment policy though not because of FA trolls).

It isn't curtailing their freedom of speech, because as you said they are more than welcome to start their own blog (many of which are free) to express their own ideas.

It never fails to amuse me how people thing freedom of speech means freedom to harrass and abuse.

If you can't be civil and say what you have to say in a nice way (it is possible people to say almost anything in a nice way) then just don't say it at all.

Joanne said...

You're not curtailing their "freedom of speech" by refusing to let their ignorant bigotry pollute your comments. That's just their stupidity showing. The constitution does not guarantee them the right to peel back their lips or flex their fingers and spew any kind of garbage they want. It only guarantees that they cannot be arrested for it, and that there can be no laws passed that can make them be arrested for it.

You as a private citizen, not a government entity nor acting on behalf of one, are under no obligation whatsoever to allow them a forum for their sewage.

And the fact that they're too stupid to know that pretty much explains why they're stupid enough to be trolling the FA blogs, eh? *chuckles*

Anonymous said...

yeah, that 'free speech' argument is a real eye-roller. where do you even begin with someone that self-absorbed?

i love your blog. your groundedness and honesty are a breath of fresh air. *chanting to self: bush's reign is nearly over, bush's reign is nearly over*

Dagny said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RioIriri said...

It had nothing to do with you. Believe it or not, you aren't a central figure of my entire life, Dagny.