You all know the reason I blog. I blog for the comments. I blog for people who can set me straight, tell me where I’m wrong, encourage me when I’m right, introduce me to new ideas and ways of thinking, etc. bigWOWO is almost two years old, and as far as I can remember, we’ve never deleted or moderated any comments. I hope that tradition continues. And yet we’ve grown big enough–and diverse enough–that we finally have to have a comment policy. People have been complaining in the past few days about certain trends on this blog, and I wanted to step in and say something before it becomes a problem.
So here’s the new rule–any obtrusive and unsubstantiated beliefs need to stay in topic-specific blog posts about those obtrusive and unsubstantiated beliefs. I’m saying this specifically because of HBD, so-called Human Biodiversity, aka modern day racism, but it applies to other obtrusive and unsubstantiated comments on other topics too. If you want to promote HBD, please keep them in the blog posts that focus specifically on HBD (1 and 2). This policy also applies to other outlandish and unproven beliefs, such as Falun Gong and fundamentalist Islam/Christianity. This includes not just the text in your comments but also links to other blogs that might be making obtrusive and unsubstantiated comments.
We have a classic Tragedy of the Commons dilemma. WOWO is a public space for intellectuals to communicate and bond, and as such, we need to maintain a culture that promotes our mission–Asian American intellectualism and activism. We’ve always welcomed diversity–although we’re an Asian American blog, we have commenters of all races, genders, and political backgrounds. We need to maintain a culture where people of all races, genders, and political backgrounds can feel free to open up and share. We can’t allow others to assail our readership with obtrusive and unsubstantiated statements. We need to protect this public space.
Now what is the definition of “obtrusive and unsubstantiated?”
“Obtrusive” describes a statement that attacks or makes a statement about another commenter or another commenter’s heritage or family. Let’s take HBD as an example: if AOR says that “blacks on average are not as smart as whites,” it’s obtrusive to African Americans and people with African American friends/family, even if it’s not directed at a specific African American.
“Unsubstantiated” describes a statement that can’t be substantiated. An example of this would be the same statement that blacks on average are not as smart as whites. In the AOR podcast, for example, AOR tried to back up his statement that blacks on average are less intelligent by claiming that the poorest Whites outscore the richest blacks on the SATs. We later found out via a link that he himself provided that this was inaccurate (although second tier lower class whites did outscore the richest blacks). AOR also claimed that blacks are genetically unable to close the IQ gap, although within the same podcast he himself said that the IQ test racially disparity did in fact shrink after civil rights. He admitted that there was no conclusive proof, but he said that scientists in China were working on it. Until these scientists find proof then, we have to consider such statements unsubstantiated.
In order for a comment to be deemed unfit for standard commentary, a comment has to meet both criteria–obtrusive AND unsubstantiated. One or the other is okay; both is not.
So you can make an unsubstantiated comment. An example of this would be a person sharing his un-provable Christianity by saying, “This is what I believe and how I live” and doesn’t go trying to convert people with threats of fire and brimstone. Such comments are unobtrusive and are therefore allowed anywhere. It’s perfectly fine when Kobu, for example, shares his beliefs.
You can make an obtrusive but substantiated comment too, by saying, for example, that you think Asian guys are less aggressive with women than White guys and then telling a personal anecdote. Urb4n is a master of this when he criticizes Asian men, and he’s usually good by stating that it’s his observation, not a genetic fact. Empathy also goes a long way in justifying obtrusive comments.
But if your comment is both obtrusive and unsubstantiated, please either keep it in the Falun Gong thread or either or the two HBD threads or any other topic-specific thread.
One last note regarding symmetry–AOR brought up an EXCELLENT point in one of the HBD threads. He said that while there is no proof of HBD, there is also no proof of equality. I responded that even though the trends pointed towards equality, AOR was technically right–we haven’t proven equality. I then said that the burden of proof, however, was on him to prove the inferiority of a race if he were to describe that inferiority as a fact. He called BS on me:
Your sanctimonious harping on “burden of proof” is nonsensical and illogical. Why can’t you apply the same burden of proof to sociologists and writers who operate on the equality assumption? Please. If you want to play double standards, then OK.
Of course “assumption” is not the same as “assertion.” These equality writers assume equality rather than assert it, which is not something that HBD proponents do.
Still, he makes a good point. “Burden of proof” is a valid concept, but it’s a concept that is cultural. In America, for example, one is innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is on the accuser, not the accused. Such may not be the case in other countries, such as Malaysia, where a Chinese guy under investigation may have to prove his innocence or face trouble. In America, when one imposes one’s beliefs on another person, the burden of proof falls on the imposer, not the imposed. That’s not the case if you’re living under the rule of the Taliban, but here in America, our society accepts that the burden of proof rests on the one making the motion.
Since this is an activism blog, we’re already against negative thinking–and HBD, with it’s focus on how dumb one race is, how immoral another is, how beta another is, and how certain countries have genetic limitations on how far they can go–is a negative belief system. It’s all about “limitations.” But more to the point, we’re also an American blog, and therefore we retain the American way (and Buddhist way, since we’ve got lots of Buddhists) that gives people the benefit of the doubt and places the burden of proof on the accuser and categorizer, rather than the accused or the object of categorization. This would be true of the HBD proponent who believes that blacks are inferior, the same way it would apply to the evangelist who preaches that non-believers are going to Hell.
So that’s the new comment policy. Obtrusive and unsubstantiated views must remain in their topic-specific threads, and when two unsubstantiated views clash, the burden of proof is on the accuser and categorizer, not the accused or the categorized.
Thank you all for understanding and working with this new policy. If you have any questions or comments about this policy, sound off below like a WOWO.