As a publisher serving readers who identify as both progressive and marginalised (in many different, varying ways), this issue is hugely important to me – I’m protective of the quality of debate on my sites. As a progressive myself, it’s also complex and challenging because while I very much share the political values of the folks who engage in this kind of thing, I’m not on board with the tactics – which essentially amount to liberal bullying, and are way worse than anything I see from the conservatives who swing by my publications. The sad truth is that when it comes to the motivations behind this kind of commenting, it’s basically the same as the GOD HATES FAGS guys – even though the values are the polar opposite.
Common trends in this online behaviour:
• Focus on very public complaints. I can think of exactly one time when someone emailed their concern about problematic language. These complaints seem to be always intended for an audience.
• Lack of interest in a dialogue. These complaints aren’t questions or invitations to discuss the issue. They’re harshly worded accusations and scoldings (which I’ve written about before).
• Lack of consideration for the context or intent. The focus is on this isolated incident (this one post, this one word, this one time), with de-emphasis on the author’s background, experience, or the context of the website on which the post appears.
• And on a more stylistic note, these complaints are often prefaced with phrases like “Um,” and other condescending affectations.Ariel Meadow Stallings writes about online bullying – a new sport for liberal commenters
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