A comment on comments
And here’s where the problem comes in, in terms of establishing civil discourse: on the one hand, we feel that TheHicks’s sarcasm and ironic approach could be read as denigrating. But in order to delete TheHick’s comment on that account, we would then be committed to forbidding all instances of irony, or the use of rhetorical questions. And that we are not willing to do. These devices are widely and sometimes very effectively used by people of all persuasions and beliefs, and if we started taking tools like this away from people we would be attacking some important principles of free speech.
So, on the basis of the principles of moderation we are currently using, we let TheHick’s comment stand. But there are a few things we want to make clear in conclusion.
First of all, with comments as with a number of other phenomena, there is such a thing as “cumulative impact.” This one comment doesn’t fall by the axe we have crafted; but if TheHick or any other user makes a habit of dropping in on threads, executing a single ironic or sarcastic stab without engaging in substantive debate, and using terms that while not, in the literal sense, pejorative, are code or “dog whistle” terms designed to enlist the animus of people who share their prejudices, they will be banned entirely.
Second, since we are obviously new to the challenges of moderation, we are open to suggestions by readers as to additional principles we might want to adopt, so long as they are consistent with the goals we set out at the top of this article. We are not, however, open to second-guessing about our individual decisions on comments and users. Posting on this site is a privilege, not a right, and we reserve the right to revoke that privilege.