If I were to come into your house and disagree with something you say, that would probably be okay with you. But if I started to cast aspersions on your motives, or devolved into name-calling, that would probably not go over so well. In fact, if I persisted, you would most likely ask me to leave and not invite me back. And you would be right.
This is my blog and it is sort of like an online home. It's not a perfect analogy, I understand that. Nevertheless, I think the same rules apply. If you choose to come here and read and comment, fine. If you disagree with me--fine. If you think something I write isn't funny, or well-written, that's fine, too.
But if you make jumps from disagreeing with what I (or another commenter) write to being insulting, not fine. If you call names or speak in pejorative terms, you are simply not welcome here. I will delete your comment and block future ones.
I've never had any kind of commenting policy on this blog before. I've never needed to. I've loved having readers from a variety of backgrounds, regions, ages, religions, and life experiences. And people have always been great.
But yesterday, that changed. Someone found something I wrote a year ago offensive and posted a link in a discussion group. My traffic went through the roof. Most people came for a minute and left. Perhaps they liked it, perhaps not. But they went their way.
Now, I'm genuinely sorry if anyone was offended, but I re-read the piece three times and didn't see anything I felt was offensive. When I wrote it, I didn't have malicious intent. So, what can I do? I can't apologize for something I didn't intend and something I don't think I did. That would be dishonest and cynical. All I can say is, "I'm really sorry you were offended. That wasn't my intention." I don't know what more I can say.
A few people left comments. One was thoughtful. The commenter disagreed politely--explaining why she (I think it was a she, but I don't know for sure. Sorry if I'm wrong) was troubled by what I wrote. I tried to respond respectfully and explain my intentions. I think and hope we understand each other a little better now. Another commenter made assumptions about my beliefs and the way I live my faith. That's rude, in my opinion, and ineffective in discussions. But her tone was at least civil, so I assumed she was acting in good faith, replied to her and left her comment up. The next commenter was just rude. She assumed bad faith and called names. I deleted her comment.
After that, I just turned the comments off. It was a busy day and I didn't have time to read or reply to comments, was tired of the tone, and decided there was nothing more I could productively say. Since this is my personal blog, I don't feel obligated to provide an unlimited public forum.
I am tired of rude people. A lot of people seem to think that being angry, upset, or offended, entitles them to disregard common courtesy and decency. Many seem to think that disagreeing with them is the same as being offensive. I don't care where you fall on the political spectrum. I don't care how old you are, what gender you are, or where you live. Rudeness is rudeness and there's no excuse for it. Speaking up for what you believe is not license to be rude and seeing something differently is not offensive.
I happen to think that this is one of the more pernicious characteristics of our public discourse and has serious implications for our world.
I can't control what happens in the larger society. But if you want to comment on this blog, please do so in a civil tone. Saying, "I disagree with you completely and here's why..." is fine. "You are an arrogant, stupid jerk..." is not. Implying that someone is an idiot or a knave is not acceptable, either.
I have visited many blogs over the years where people said things I disagreed with--sometimes strenuously. Just the other day, in fact. So, I closed my browser and left. I didn't feel compelled to make a comment in most cases. Frankly, that seems a bit presumptuous to me. But if it was a discussion and I did leave a comment, I tried to do so in a courteous way. You can disagree with someone's position without attacking their motives and character. In those exchanges, I often learned something or at least came to understand someone better.
When I write something, I take responsibility for what I intended to say and for how well I said it. If you think something is badly written, not funny, inaccurate, fine. Writing is highly subjective and I realize not everyone will like or agree with what I say. And if I write something that I feel is actually offensive, I'll apologize. That is the responsibility I assume with this blog.
But I can't--and won't--take responsibility for other people's reactions to what I write. Subjectivity cuts two ways. I can't be responsible for other people's assumptions or the background and frame of mind they bring to reading what I write. I won't argue about my motives or character. If someone chooses to read and comment, then that person assumes responsibility for their responses and must accept that their background and experiences may very well tint their perception of what I write.
Those are the rules for this blog. If you want to abide by them, you are most welcome anytime, like me or not, agree or disagree. If you do not want to abide by them, please leave my virtual home.
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