Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Rules

I decided to take my own annual Lenten advice about not giving up epiphanies for Lent -- and had one -- an epiphany -- about comments on this blog this morning.

It was the result of a particularly nasty ... if sadly not unusual ... series of postings in response to a post about marriage equality reaching a majority approval rating in some national polls.

One blog commenter finally said,
"I'm not in favor of censorship, generally, but the cost is that these comment threads are now hijacked by *** and **, as they repeat and repeat their same tired arguments. Most people do not agree with them and they are mad as hell that they've lost. So they want to hurt us as much as they can. We need to stop feeding their anger, and go somewhere else till they burn themselves out."
And that precipitated my epiphany: we are feeding the fire of that anger by giving it oxygen and it's time to cut that off. It's time for some "New Rules" (yes, I'm a Bill Maher fan!) So I wrote:
There is -- in fact -- a distinct difference between dialogue and diatribe ... as I noted in a post a few weeks ago. And at this point I think it's not healthy for the diaologue on this blog OR for the "drive-by diatribers" to keep that pattern going.

So I hearby declare a moratorium on venom and vitriol -- recognizing that there are those who will hear that as "failing to listen to 'the other side.'"

But here's the deal: after a decade or two in the trenches on this work, I guarantee you there isn't a single one of the arguments out there I haven't already heard. And I'm ready for us to move onto some new territory.

If you want to be part of that conversation, then welcome aboard. If not, go in peace.
Since then, I've deleted a few comments. Will probably delete some more before they get bored and go elsewhere. For the record, this is not about not being open to hearing other perspectives. I'm a big fan of honing arguments and rising to challenges.

What I'm not a fan of are those who come to incite and insult rather than dialogue and discuss. A couple of Exhibit A's are these two comments ... received today ... about the new comment policy. One wrote:
There is no fellowship between Believers and Non-believers. Good manners, politeness, and fairness in business dealings yes, fellowship, no. [see Isaac & Abimelech Genesis 26.]
while another wrote simply
So there you have it. Welcome to my New Rules.


IT said...

Let's give some context, shall we/

I am reposting here, for context, some comments from the thread below:

I wrote:

These are the words you use towards LGBT Episcopalians and their place in the church, harvested from just a couple of threads here:

•people like you
•mad as hell
•people let Satan take over

Look at those words. Those are words intended to do violence--emotional and spiritual violence. You admit yourself you won't say such things face to face to anyone in your own parish, but anonymity of the internet allows you to lash out with the very definite aim to hurt other people.

Those are words that are uncharitable, prejudiced, and full of contempt. Yet you feel justified in using them.

The response was:
Don't give me that "spiritual/emotional violence" tripe. I can't do any harm to anyone here, you got what you wanted and claim to deserve. Sin wins out, for now.

And again,
IT: You've been told over and over that the language you are using DOES do harm -- violence of a sort which you dismiss as "tripe". Your words are full of contempt and revulsion, and in tone come perilously close to actual hatred.

And the response:About the tripe, I know what I've been "told", believe me I do. I just think it's a bunch of BS. That's my conclusion.

Coward? No. Susan has been very generous in letting some readers attack others. They have escalated their insults, and not engaged in any realistic way how to find a modus vivendi with those who disagree on this issue. While I am aware oftheir pain, I am glad I do not longer need to be their punching bag for their anger and frustration.

MarkBrunson said...

Thank you, Susan. Thank you.

You're no coward, that's for certain; you made a hard decision that opened you to bile and racked your own tolerant heart.

Thank you.

Just Me said...

I know first-hand how destructive anger and unforgiveness are; those chains that once bound me were the hardest for me to allow YHWH to break.
I find it so heart-breaking (and scary) that we (as a society) have gone out of our way to fuel the fire of anger. No one "side" is to blame; both have done plenty of damage.
God is God & we are not. He has control & we do not. Nothing surprises Him. Nothing catches Him off-guard. Christ is not sitting on the Throne wringing his hands wondering what to do and how to do it. He's got this.
Personally, I find my rest and His peace in that assurance.

Jim said...

Yup. It is necessary to police the marketplace of ideas or the bad actors take over. I have 3 simple rules and a quick trigger finger on the moderation screen. It would be nice if we did not have to do this but about the 12th time I had to delete the same boring diatribe about HIV I decided it was part of the blogging experience.


Ann said...

Good news -- maybe I will read the comments again - I have been ignoring them lately. Who needs abuse - it was not argument or debate- just abuse of your hospitality.

Rick+ said...

Dear Susan,

     I think you're correct about stepping in and moderating. This is something we have to do at times even among friends gathered in our own homes. The comments section of our hometown online newspaper has gotten so awful, I can't bear to read it.

     It is also amazing how even innocuous postings can attract vitriol. At my blog, I once posted a humorous throwaway piece about chocolate at Easter. Two commenters got into it, and when I tried to calm it down with a bit of humor, the anger was turned on me. That's when I decided at my blog that "I am Oz the great and powerful," and began deleting comments that were hateful. It's tough being the wizard, but there you are.

Just Me said...

I would also like to extend an invitation for those no longer able to comment here to contact me (I'm not hard to find).
I really do understand where you're coming from and how you are feeling. There are sites out there with conversations free of anger triggers. There really is a way to abide by your beliefs without feeling isolated, frustrated and angry.

(Susan, feel free to forward privately if you prefer not to post publically)

danielj said...

I am glad to see a new direction here. and i am in favor of having some new descussions, as Susan+ said.

So, are there some issues that can, or need to, be discussed?

I do admit that it was 'shielding the joyous' which got me posting on Susan's blog in the first place. But i hope that there are other reasons for us to come together rather than just mutual self defense. After all, I have met some pretty impressive people here.

And Just Me...I hope they take you up on your offer. However, some folks are pretty much anger based...the anger keeps them from feeling and dealing with their hurt. And also, some just plain like to fight: it is a hard thing to resist sometimes. anyway blessings to you bro. and let's keep all in our prayers

just my 2 cents

Just Me said...

hee hee ~ actually, it's "sis"

It makes me giggle 'cuz my husband always jokes that I must have been a man at some point in my life.

uffda51 said...

New Rules! Alleluia!

MarkBrunson said...

Sometimes - as I know from personal experience - a person is just an angry looking for a cause.

For me, that's meant having to really strain to keep my emotions in check, but it is much more difficult when you run into someone who isn't doing that and just whales away at everyone. It was seriously becoming an "occasion of sin" for me, so I am grateful I don't have to give up Inch at a Time!

Patricia Brush said...

Dear Susan+,

Thank you for the New Rules. I too want to see honest discussion that avoids intentional harm.

I work in a university chaplaincy. This is something that we are modelling for the students and they get it.

David and John said...

Thank you, Susan. I am now able to come back to read and enjoy the blog without being attacked.

LGMarshall said...

I am looking forward to reading things here that are New Territory. [I would be nice not to talk about sex issues all the time. ]

Lets talk about God and his attributes, let's talk about God's Word, and how it has changed our lives... let's talk about what God's Word means to us as we navigate this world, and wait for his return.

Can we share about how we use our Faith to bless others.... and what we learned today from his Word?

Anyone read Rob Bell's [emergent church] new book, "Love Wins"? ... what do you think of it...?

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."