A 2018 Message to Blog Readers

1 Feb

 

 Let me seize the opportunity to say to all who visit this space that I hope that 2018 started as you would wish, at least privately. To feel satisfied publicly these days will require a series of miracles!

 

I am grateful to the community of blog readers, and especially to those whoshare their responses and reflections by way of comments. I have welcomed constructive challenges, including corrections, criticisms, disagreements, and realize that some of the themes addressed by my posts touch raw nerves.

 

I have struggled over the life of the blog to satisfy my wish to have the comments section serve as an open forum for a constructive interactive exchange of views. My main concern, aside from accommodating this wish, is to avoid having argumentative and abusive comments that seem motivated by hostility and a confrontational approach that seems disinterested in the give and take of conversation and dialogue. To a lesser extent, I am reluctant to approve comments that seem to be irrelevant to the discussion or that I find incoherent.

 

As some faithful followers of the blog have made clear in their comments or by private communication, approving such angry and insulting comments, creates a tone for the blog that discourages rather than facilitates the underlying hope to create a space for genuine communication.

 

Caught between these contradictory impulses of openness and civility, I have wavered since the blog began, sometimes leaning toward allowing almost all comments to be posted even if containing personal attacks and insults directed at me and others, hatred toward ethnicities and religions, and over the course of weeks blocking many comments with the goal of enhancing the quality of the discussion. Of course, those whose comments are blocked become even angrier and abusive, resorting to character assault, obscenity, and prejudice. I have had difficulty in finding solid middle ground, and maybe I am seeking what does not exist!

 

Much, but not all, of these difficulties arise in the context of Israel/Palestine. I do not deny that my involvement with these issues occasions controversy, but to question my competence as a scholar or integrity as a commentator is beyond the boundaries of the blog code I wish to affirm. As I have indicated in the past, for those who strongly question my credentials or character have a variety of other venues that would welcome such attacks.

 

In the end, without making this message needlessly ambivalent and confusing,  I will continue my struggle to walk this tightrope between freedom of expression and civility. I invite help from blog readers. It is not a simple matter. I acknowledge that there are times when uncivil rage is the appropriate response. I suppose I am addressing the broader question of setting standards for netizenship, which may become one dimension of a more globally oriented democratic ethos that stresses participation from below rather than leadership from above and electoral rituals.

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8 Responses to “A 2018 Message to Blog Readers”

  1. Ben February 1, 2018 at 9:02 am #

    You’re doing a wonderful job Richard. Free speech is important, but civil, respectful and constructive dialogue is equally so.

  2. Gene Schulman February 1, 2018 at 9:12 am #

    Greetings Richard.

    I guess when it comes to the Israel/Palestine conflict, the ‘Law of the Excluded Middle’ just doesn’t apply. You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t edit comments.

    Anyhow, just keep the blog alive so we can all continue to have the benefit of your insights.

    Cheers

  3. Schlüter February 1, 2018 at 10:28 am #

    Dear Professor Falk,
    I very much appreciate your hard work to keep people informed. I have full understanding that insulting and hateful comments would be erased. I do the same with my blog.
    “Have a Happy and Vigilant 2018! Thanks to my Readers”: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/have-a-happy-and-vigilant-2018-thanks-to-my-readers-ein-glueckliches-und-kaempferisches-2018-dank-an-meine-leser/
    Something which caught my attention again:
    “Mkultra Alive? An Alarm Call”: https://wipokuli.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/mkultra-alive-an-alarm-call-mkultra-lebt-ein-alarmruf/
    Let me express my best wishes for the “New Year” of which already one month has passed.
    Best regards
    Andreas Schlüter

  4. Safiya February 1, 2018 at 10:31 am #

    Please continue as you are doing. I appreciate enormously your blog as well as your concern for civil discourse. Although I seldom if ever post comments, your perspective is enormously important particularly in today’s world. As someone who grew up in the 50’s & 60’s, I believe many things have improved. Yet, society seems to take one step forward and two steps background. Constant struggle and nothing can be taken for granted.
    Safiya

  5. Artie Alfreds February 1, 2018 at 11:44 am #

    Richard, you are a hero to me

  6. Carlos February 1, 2018 at 2:12 pm #

    Dear Richard,
    Thanks for this account of your struggles to explain your wishes for this blog.
    I fully understand and support you.
    It is not hard to see through the sometimes
    virulent responses you have evinced. It IS hard
    to wipe away decades of blinkered bigotry
    and privilege by some.
    I remind all that this planet needs cooperation
    and help.

  7. Vincent Di Stefano February 1, 2018 at 2:49 pm #

    Richard
    In the end, your inherent integrity of character and sustained nobility of purpose towers over all the venom and bluster that seeks to detract and distract from your difficult but welcome mission. Continuing strength and energy to you.
    Vincent
    Inverloch, Australia

  8. Sean Breathnach February 5, 2018 at 1:08 pm #

    Prof, I echo the above comments, long may you run.

    Sean,
    Wexford, Ireland.

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