I turned off commenting on the Alice Walker thread, since I was very afraid it was veering into excusing Walker’s anti-Semitism. I’ve had a while to think about it.
a. On process: As editor, I’m certainly within my rights to circumscribe discussion that damages the reputation of this site.
b. On the merits, I think I’m right to call it what it is: Making excuses for quite blatant anti-Semitism. And we’re not going to have that here.
(Moving that discussion to another thread is cute, but I will get rid of that too, in due course.)
With regard to a.): There are many things I don’t agree with, but which I think are worth debating, contextualizing, etc.; and then there are things that are just out of bounds and not deserving of any oxygen at all. It’s my judgment that this discussion falls into the second category.
“Alice Walker is a great and beloved author” is context. “Alice Walker’s got a good point in this anti-Semitic poem” is not a discussion we’re going to have.
We do this on a volunteer basis, and at great personal cost in time and money. If this decision isn’t OK with you, Twitter et al are happy to host you, and might be more your speed.
Take it or leave it, as always.
On a broader point, I am afraid — in fact, I know from personal experience and my conversations with others — that the overzealous participation of a handful of people here has driven away good commentary and participation from this site. These folks are the ones most prone to call upon the supposed principles of open debate; even as their own pomposity, verbosity, and hostility shuts down, rather than invites comment in a spirit of inquiry. It’s called sea-lioning, in the parlance — the need to jump into every discussion and inject one’s precious opinion. (I know because I have been accused of such, myself.) It also takes the form of mansplaining, whitesplaining, general know-it-all behavior. And it makes this site suck.
So I ask you to consider if expressing your online opinion requires you to invest your ego; get into protracted fights with strangers; use absurdly overblown invective; and need to dominate a discussion, rather than learn something.
Certainly there is a lack of good front-page, well-informed, highly-sourced commentary on Massachusetts politics here, which is supposedly our role. I blame myself partly for that; it takes me a long time to put together what I consider to be a well-sourced post. But that’s what we need. Not this.
Bad commentary drives away good. And right now, it’s not good here. A re-thinking is in order.