by Gary Farber
Longtime and valued commenter Uncle Kvetch asked an extremely important question here.
[...] While it was nice seeing a united front of commenters taking on avedis' all-too-familiar mix of dick-waving bravado and abject sexual terror, I do find myself wondering just what constitutes "beyond the pale" when it comes to homophobic remarks around here. I'm not referring to ban-worthy offenses, as the posting rules are clear enough. But I have to say that when the inevitable necrophilia/bestiality comparisons were dragged out and numerous commenters just kept on presuming good faith on avedis' part...well, it makes me wonder.
The answer is that the "New Banning Rules" were last updated, as you can see, by longtime front-pager Edward at 10:25 AM on January 26, 2005.
They include this:
One writer (but only one) from the other side of the fence must agree to the ban for it to move forward (Von can vote as either side of the fence as he wishes). For the record, currently Charles Bird, Andrew, and Sebastian Holsclaw are on the right; Von is in the center; and Hilzoy is on the left.;-) Yes, that's unbalanced...we're working on it.*
This has been discussed many many many times in comments since 2005, by various people. Many emails to the kitty address have been sent since 2005.
The "New Banning Rules" remain as posted until someone with the ability and authority to post new rules does so. Wording has been suggested.
The Posting Rules were last updated 1/19/2007, with a further undated update by an unknown to me user of "SuperUser." I can guess, but so can you.
Again, much email has been sent to the kitty address since then, and there have been various discussions in comments about this since that time.
The Posting Rules remain as posted until someone with the ability and authority to post new rules does so.
None of this will change until the co-bloggers communicate with each other about it, and appropriate action taken by the appropriate parties with the ability to do so. As has always been the case.
As of Wednesday, December 29th, the address to email the kitty has been: ObWings At gmail Dot com
Send Obsidian Wings related email there.
The above address is now readable by
# Doctor Science
# Eric Martin
# Gary Farber
# Jacob Davies
# Sebastian H
The address to reach me personally is gary underscore farber at yahoo dot com
I'll do my best to respond as I can.
I promise no one a response. All I promise is that I'll do my best to do my best.
Each member of the ObWi collective will do their best to respond, I'm sure. Whether there will be any communication between members of the ObWi collective on responses, or how to respond, or what's appropriate to respond, will, presumably, be discussed among them at some future date, or it won't.
If you've sent email to the currently listed kitty address, and haven't received a response in the past two years, I suggest sending a new email to ObWings at gmail dot com
Alternatively, someone with access to that email address might eventually address the backlog, but I don't advise waiting.
You now know the best way to reach a member of the ObWi collective, short of asking for or knowing their individual email addreses, that I'm aware of.
I think a discussion of the Posting Rules, Banning Policy, slogan of the blog, and other elements that have gone unchanged since 2005 and 2007, would be an extremely wonderful thing.
My personal response, Uncle Kvetch, to your entirely appropriate question is purely my personal opinion.
If I knew what the collective opinion was, I'd tell you. I don't, and I can't. Possibly this post may engender discussion of some sort somewhere, whether private or public, here in this thread, or elsewhere. I can't predict the future, or the behavior of others.
So my purely personal opinion which in no way speaks for anyone but me, and does not speak for the ObWi collective, is this:
As much as I can personally manage, I try to view people's speech and acts at a given time, and given set of times, as speech and acts, rather than as identifiers of who they are in a permanent way.
More specifically, I believe that all of us have unexamined prejudices. I believe that all of us are products of our culture, and we've been raised soaked in whatever combinations of culture we've been soaked in, and exposed to.
Therefore, it's my observation that none of us are totally free from some forms of ignorance and assumptions, including those ranging from merely careless, or unexamined, to habit, to not being yet exposed to better information in a way that is meaningful to them, to those who actively resist changing for many reasons, to those who will only change after months or years or perhaps decades of new experience, to those who will die unchanged in whatever ill-thought, or horrific, prejudices and beliefs they have acquired, and in many cases held from infancy, or childhood, or were otherwise imprinted strongly via memorable experience.
Until proven otherwise to my own personal satisfaction, subject to my own variable and subjective and changeable judgement, I try to consider people to be changeable and persuadable.
I consider that, in essence, to be the heart of what blogging is or should be about.
It is, at least, part of what the essence of blogging is for me.
Again, I speak only for myself. But my personal opinion as a commenter who has commented with comments of 5000, 10000, and 15000 word long comments since 2003 is that this has been part of the mission, intent, and goal of Obsidian Wings. It remains my personal opinion as a front-pager until such time as I am not, or I am persuaded Obsidian Wings's mission has been changed while I wasn't looking, or the majority of current Obsidian Wings' blogges have announced a new policy, or Eric Martin makes such an announcement.
In light of that, I do my best, until I can't, to focus on discussing (in no particular order), racist, homophobic, sexist, heterosexist, agism, nationalistic, fascistic, communistic, nihlistic, caste-biased, heightist, Islamophobic, anti-Christian, antisemitic, ableist, weightist, sizist, antifatism, ignorantism, egotheism, accidentalism, nominalism, nomism, tribalism, and every other kind of prejudicial acts and speech, rather than labeling people as being those identities and only those identities.
Until I feel forced to treat them otherwise. But it's always, in the end, my choice, and my judgmentalism, and only mine. Just as everyone must draw their own lines as to that which they can tolerate and can't tolerate.
I believe in the power of people to change. I believe in redemption. I believe in allowing for it. I believe in attempting to encourage people to educate themselves, and I believe blogging to be about informing, educating, and engaging.
I don't wish to speak to an echo chamber.
Crucially, I believe that few people change strong opinions in a moment, a day, a week, or a month. I believe that in most cases, serious changes of opinion usually take place over the course of months, and years, and after a great deal of exposure to that which I regard as incontrovertible evidence, sound logical argument, good writing, and ways of reaching people that they are capable of hearing.
I believe people can only do this through a process of personal evolution, and that we're all undergoing it at all times, unless we are frozen, stagnant, unthinking people, closed to new ideas, and incapable of change.
This is my observation on how human beings largely work.
Crucially, I believe that people have to, often, if not usually, take a long time to consider what they've read, heard, and been exposed to. Often people may only weeks, or months, or years, later realize that something makes sense after all.
And, sometimes, then their perspective slowly begins to change.
It may take years, it may take decades, it may never take place.
Having said all that, obviously when someone is repeatedly, or emphatically enough, over a long course of years, demonstrably not changing, there becomes less and less reason to think that, for the time being, they are incapable of learning, growing, and evolving.
All too often, that's the case for many of us, and to some degrees all of us are subject to it. Few of us will ever wholly change all our important beliefs, and obviously what's important is not change itself, but openness to reconsideration of one's ideas, acceptance of the idea that we all have unexamined prejudices, willingness to engage in fearless self-examination, the ability to do so, and then act on it.
And one's ideas must model reality as much as possible, or they lead us astray.
Reality as I see it includes the fact that all of the above prejudices, and so many others, are utterly unjustified, horrific, and result in great terror, hatred, death, and suffering in the world, as well as constant strain, unpleasantness, justified anger, counter-hatred, fear, and endless other sorts of negative effects, ranging from the Holocaust/Shoah, to the daily sexism every woman in our society is forced to deal with, aware of it or not, the daily racism anyone perceived as The Other is forced to deal with, the daily homophobia anyone perceived as queer is forced to deal with, and so on and on.
In sum, everyone perceived as The Other, by anyone, is vulnerable in the right circumstances to great suffering imposed on them by others.
These are among the fights we as humans must fight to become better people, have a better culture, and a better world.
Having said that, there are plenty of people who make clear immediately just how vicious and intolerable they are, and that's what the posting rules are for.
I would like to see them enforced as consistently as is practical, in every way that is reasonably practical, insofar as mechanisms can be created to facilitate this.
I would like to see ObWi seen as a place that tolerates debate of all nature up to the point where debate crosses the line of the posting rules as they currently exist, until such time as they might change.
Meanwhile, on ObWi, we have the Posting Rules that we have, and we tolerate as much as we can within them, and somewhat beyond, and, yes, there has been very little consistency about that, and... very little, period.
When someone crosses the line, and someone who is a member of the collective is made aware, and can do something about it, something may happen to enforce the Posting Rules.
It's been known to happen many times, if sporadically and utterly inconsistently.
Myself, I'd like to see the Posting Rules clarified somewhat, and the Banning Rules seriously revised. But it's not up to me, any more than any other decision around here is.
Meanwhile, things are what they are. I ABSOLUTELY think that anyone who feels that anyone else has been crossing the line, should feel absolutely free to say so in that thread, and in any open thread, and in email to the kitty, or any ObWi blogger you can reach, and I'd like to hope it will be given appropriate consideration and response.
And speaking only for myself, since all that matters here are words, I'd like to inform everyone that I'm a sissyqueerpansyfaggot gay homosexual African-American foreign born Muslim Jew disabled woman progressive liberal socialistic pro-military anti-military atheistic respector of religion who hates all religions, is anti-Christian, pro-Christian, terrorsymp Arab foreign-born tall short fat skinny old young stupid smart well educated ill educated person who should be treated as any and all of the above. I was also born in Kenya, my middle name is Hussein, I hate America, love America, and am full of multiple identities, apparently. Oh, and I'm mentally ill.
For purposes on ObWi. I'm willing to defend my stances and identify as any or all of the above as best I can.
And when I can, I will argue with anyone who wishes to criticize me on any of the above bases, attack me, regard me as such, until such time as I won't, as time and energy and priorities allow, at any given time, save when I won't, and until I can't, which for all I know will be in ten minutes.
What any other member of the ObWi thinks, you'll have to ask them, and/or they'll respond as they choose. Everything in this post remains my personal opinion, I am not speaking for anyone but myself, and that's all I can say.
Comment away and ask questions as you like, until someone else stops you, or I do.
Thanks for asking, Uncle: it's an important question.
This is an open thread. Bring up any other subject you like, including your day, week, month, whatever thoughts occur to on any topic.
There's no length limit to comments on this thread.
I'm going to write what I want in comments on this thread in this manner, and I hope everyone will free to speak their mind about anything they wish to say, including letting me know any way in which I've offended them, including by writing this post.