Sunday, June 3, 2007

Thank You for Sharing - Some Guidelines

Due to recent comments on this blog, I wanted to share a few simple, but non-negotiable rules:

  • Racism, sexism, anti-semitism or any other kind of prejudice or bigotry directed against a person or group of people will not be tolerated, and all such comments will be removed immediately. As this is my blog, it is entirely my decision what qualifies as prejudiced or intolerant comments.

  • In order to avoid removal, please consider the following guidelines:

  • Comments regarding other religions or spiritual traditions not practiced by the commentator should be either (a) referenced to original sources (e.g. "Farid Esack talks about the difficulties of balancing religious and secular concerns in modern politics in his book, On Being a Muslim..."); or (b) couched in terms of personal experience or prespective (e.g. "I have heard..." "I think..." "I believe..." "In my opinion..." "It seems to me..." "I have experienced..." etc.)

  • Comments regarding one's own religious or spiritual practices and beliefs are welcome and encouraged, but should be expressed as personal views of truth or belief, rather than as statements of fact about reality (e.g. "I try to focus my spiritual practice on transcending 'systems' and seeking direct union with the Divine...", rather than, "Religion is about seeking direct union with the Divine, and x, y, and z religions are false because they don't do this.")

  • Readers are asked to show the same respect to other commentators as to the writer of this blog.

  • Anonymous posts are discouraged, but for the most part acceptable. If you don't happen to have a Blogger account, please feel free to sign your name/screenname (and website address, if you like) at the end of your comment.

  • Parody, satire and humor are appreciated, as long as they are clearly facetious and supporting a general attitude of light-heartedness, tolerance and fellowship with the human community (all of it, not just the groups of people who agree with you) (e.g. mocking intolerance for the sake of supporting tolerance--okay; mocking a particular religion for the sake of demeaning its practitioners or converting them to your own--not okay).

  • If at any time you discover that a comment of yours has been deleted for what you think are unfair or misunderstood reasons, please feel free to post a follow-up explanation or clarification of your original thoughts. I will do my best to consider such comments fairly and leave them uncensored, even if I do not agree with them--as long as they do not exacerbate the prejudices of the original comment.

Thank you for your understanding, and please do feel free to read and comment. Discussion and debate are encouraged, as long as comments remain respectful and tolerant of others.


  1. Thanks, Ali. I think you have handled this matter with a certain degree of graciousness--appreciated by this reader, at least.

    I have turned comments moderation _on_ on my own blog, mainly as a way of dealing with this issue: the one reason not to allow a comment is hate speech or bigotry. As a Pagan, I was particularly concerned not to be subjected to Bible-spammers... those who cut and paste lengthy hellfire-and-damnation passages into other people's guestbooks or blogs. But I would be equally offended by disrespect for anyone.

    Happily, I have not had to deal with any such speech at my blog, whether through luck or moderation. I've been contemplating turning my moderation off; if I do, I'll probably post some similar set of guidelines to these.

    Blessings, friend.

  2. Somehow, I managed to miss all of the excitement. I cannot imagine why anyone would target your blog with hateful messages, as I have found only positive and insightful postings here in the past.

  3. Don and Cat, Thank you both for your support. I found it difficult to post guidelines, since I want readers to feel free to comment openly on this blog and I am certainly not interested in censoring anyone unjustly. On the other hand, I feel that in order for this to be a place of open discussion, certain standards of tolerance and respect must be upheld. Hopefully this won't be too much of a problem in the future.

    Don, the "excitement" was mostly regarding my last post, a satire on the new Creation Museum that has opened up in Ohio (as Cat mentioned, there are also some very funny posts about it in Anne Johnson's The Gods Are Bored blog). The offensive comments were, in fact, not directed primarily at me, but took my parody too seriously and attempted to extend my (intentionally exaggerated and ludicrous) accusations to include a number of other religious groups. I wanted to take this opportunity not only to clarify that intolerant or hateful remarks are unacceptable, but to make it very clear that my own original post was not meant to be mean-spirited or intolerant in any way. I was actually very upset that my humor could be so misinterpreted. It has certainly brought home to me the delicate balance that needs to be struck when sending your thoughts and words out into cyberspace.

    I also intend to try to follow my own guidelines more carefully in the future. I realize that I can very easily slip into language that assumes "facts about reality" that are more a matter of opinion. I would like to think that my saving grace, though, is that I am really very eager to be proven wrong. If I make a statement about Christian fundamentalists and one such Christian happens to visit this blog and confronts me about my statement, I am more than happy to discuss the matter and hear them out, giving them every benefit of the doubt (just as I would hope they would do the same for me). After all, that's how I learn. :)

  4. You really do have the right attitude about this, Ali. Like you, I always enjoy reading a creative thought from someone else, even if I disagree with it. Unfortunately, it is all too common practice among bloggers to rant rather than engage one another as people who share an interest in a topic. It is not only religious folk who dismiss others opinions as originating from lower entities.

  5. Hi Ali

    You may be interested to read my friend Ocean's post along similar lines.