Blogger’s Dilemma

I am alerted when people comment on my posts.

My thinking has been if someone read the blog (hopefully) and took the time to respond, then I should respect the effort and approve them for publishing.

But I received a comment that is making me rethink this position.

It was in response to a post for which I have been accused of being racist.  I posted those comments but this person “agrees” (sympathizes?) with how I feel about gypsies.

It has been a long time since I posted it so I reread it. The post is not a particularly good one (though it is one of the most popular). It is an account of some experiences in Russia that have stayed with me. The gypsy attacks made me a lot less naïve and innocent- much more wary, considerate of my surroundings and distrustful.

But this comment and the comments I “approved” have made me rethink the posting itself. It shouldn’t but it has.

Why did I approve the ones (more accurately one since I am pretty sure they were written by the same person- I give you kudos for using a different name but try emailing from a different address the next time you want to make it look like your comments are coming from more than one source) that blasted me as a narrow-minded racist and not the one that “sided” with my position?

After getting over the initial shock of being labeled a racist, it was very clear to me the person did not read anything beyond the title. To be frank, I was amused by the spelling and grammatical errors (though I am the first to admit that I am not a grammar star).

But this one, even after the initial shock, still disturbs me.

Am I missing the point? Should I be reading the comment with irony? It would be different if I knew this person, understood their background and where they were coming from, but I don’t. Am I just assuming the worst?

Sure, the title of my post is emphatic but do I hate all gypsies? Uh, the answer would be no. I do, however, despise those who prey on the small and weak.

Maybe I should have titled the post “I Hate Thieving Bands of Miscreants” but that just sidesteps my dilemma.

Several dilemmas actually.

How do I decide which comments are and which comments are not “acceptable”? I am all for open discussion and dialogue but over the internet nuance and clarity can be tough. I want to be fair but when is something not constructive in any way and just inflammatory?

And what about my own biases?

I want to believe that I believe in free speech.

I want to believe that I will defend the right of anyone to have their say- even if I disagree with their message.

Especially if I disagree.

Why? Defending an opinion you agree with is like saying everyone should have access to clean drinking water. It’s a “gimme.”

Much more interesting (and much more difficult) is to hear out (and attempt to understand) an opposing view, defend one’s position then counter.

Hmmm…. Conversation? Discussion? Discourse? What a concept.

We like to think things are black and white but we live in a world of infinite grey. A world complicated by a revolving door of “rules” that seem to apply to some and not others- and then (sometimes) only within a certain context.

Now I am making my own head spin.

I discussed this with my boyfriend and he suggested I read an article touching on some of these issues by a journalist I respect. I would never presume to be on the same level as a veteran correspondent from the CBC but I found it very enlightening.

The big “but” is I still don’t know what to do.

I see more thinking, more consideration, more research and more soul searching in my future and for now, no action….

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~ by angryegg on May 3, 2010.

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