The Ethics of Comment Moderation

Some people argue that bloggers have a responsibility to moderate hateful comments, but this abstraction often assumes that the blogger is an able-bodied, middle-to-upper-class, heterosexual, white, cis man who is not the target of the hateful comments. If the blogger is from a marginalized group, is she responsible for protecting her readers from hateful comments directed at her or her group?

When readers ask the blogger to moderate hateful comments, there seems to be an unquestioned assumption that if the hateful comments or trolls are not publicly visible, then these comments and trolls have ‘disappeared’. However, what usually happens for most blog setups is that the hateful comments go straight into the blogger’s Inbox and need to be processed along with other e-mails.

Comment moderation requires time and energy. When I have to read hateful comments closely to press the appropriate moderation button, it is more unpleasant and time-wasting than when I skim and mentally skip hateful comments.

Moreover, banning trolls often has the effect of increasing their bigotry and directing bigoted (e.g., racist, sexist) personal attacks towards the blogger herself. For example, the only commenter I have banned so far goes by the name of “goaler”, “Anonymous”, “brett weir”, or “jerky boy”, a White Canadian man living in Metropolitan Toronto, which is where I live as well. Before I banned him, he at least tried to pretend he wasn’t racist. Now that he is silenced on my blog, I get racist comments in my Inbox calling me a “racist chink”; other comments with the words “chink”, “sp**k”, and “sp*c”; and shameless declarations that white people are superior to people of other races. This White Canadian man also appears to have a predilection for fellatio, and said, more than once, that he would perform sexual acts upon me.

(Dear Journalists: This is why bloggers from marginalized groups want to use pseudonyms. If I blogged under my real name, I would probably quit blogging by now.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

White people think that ‘racism’ means racial conflict.

For the overwhelming majority of white people, if racism is completely eliminated, the ideal situation is symbolized by the image of people of all colours holding hands in peace. The worst-case outcome of racism, for most white people, is a “race war”. However, unlike institutional and systemic racism against people of colour, only the “race war” scenario would directly hurt white people. That is, when white ‘antiracists’ focus on preventing racial conflict over correcting racial inequity, they are acting selfishly to protect their racial group.

In reality, the image of a racism-free utopia should not be associated with peace. The image of a racism-free utopia should be associated with equity. Peace is better than war, but true antiracist efforts should not give priority to peace over equity. Sometimes conflict and confrontation* are necessary to bring about equity.

Read the rest of this entry »