ethics, racist comments, old posts

Over the last three months or so, I’ve gotten comments on a post (well over a year old) on the rise of white nationalism — comments from white nationalists who want to argue with me. It’s interesting to me that someone will comment on a post that old, from some random guy who only posted a link to a video and short commentary (me). Generally, I’m willing to engage someone on old posts. But sometimes, I think, there’s no stasis here, no shared common ground, and having a discussion on an old post isn’t really worth it. And I find the arguments abhorrent and ignorant (e.g., the media is run by Zionists).

So most of them have sat in a cue to be approved or deleted for a while, because I’m not really sure where my ethical stance on this issue is. I could: A) Approve them, and engage with them, which seems like a complete waste of time. B) Approve them, but not respond, but then this ignorant hate speech is sitting on my blog. C) Delete them, write a comment that I’ve closed comments. D) Just delete them.

I’ve chosen to turn off comments on the post (finally — I should have done this a while ago), and right now the comments are sitting in a cue. I’m wondering what others might do in this situation?

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6 Responses to ethics, racist comments, old posts

  1. Ruben says:

    I’m not saying that I receive enough–if any–comments on my own blog, but I do sometimes ask myself what I would do should someone post a racist (or sexist, or homophobic) comment on my blog. I suppose I’ve decided that my blog is both a space for me to work things out “on paper,” with the possibility that someone will read the entry and engage me on these things, as well as a place for me to engage with ideas and texts presented by others, there is the idea, at least, that someone will both read what I’ve written and want to say something about it; because my blog is pretty much “public,” I feel that I should, theoretically, respond to potential comments (when/if I have time; I hardly have enough time to write a sustained blog post entry as it is)–even if it’s with a mere “thanks,” or “I disagree,” or “your comment is racist.” On the other hand, because a) my blog is my space, and b) I do moderate comments, I reserve the right to publish some/none of the comments I receive. Whereas I will engage in worthwhile conversations on my blog, I don’t promise that I’ll publish your comment simply because you offered it.

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks, Ruben. That’s been my stance, generally: I like engaging with ideas that push me or make me think in new directions. But there’s the ones that are too far, and where there isn’t any “push” but only two brick walls (if that’s a good metaphor).

    I should probably write some sort of “commenting policy” sometime.

  3. Chris says:

    If it were me, I’d post it, then respond in a purely factual way, but then not engage in follow-ups. E.g. “I don’t believe it’s true that the media is run by Zionists. Consider such-and-such article in the NYT — hardly something a Zionist would write”. Then, close the comments. Somehow, evidence opposing crazy ideas has got to be available in calm, rational, respectful forms, searchable on the net, for young people raised in those kind of environments to find when they go questioning what they’ve heard at home.

  4. Michael says:

    Thanks, Chris. It seems you’re looking at it from a “who comes to my site” approach, rather than an audience of the commenters — which I like and agree with. I might do this — there’s just a lot in these comments that needs addressed.

  5. Alex Reid says:

    I would go with option C and just ignore those comments. I know some people like to make arguments about censorship, but ultimately this is about your time and effort and where you want to put it. If there are ethical obligations to comments on your blog than those obligations would be a two-way street. It doesn’t sound like the comments you’ve received are living up to their side of the contract.

  6. Michael says:

    Thanks, Alex. I’m not too concerned about “censorship” — there might be a right to free speech in our country, but that doesn’t mean you can speak anywhere. Appreciate the comment!

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