Why I Pulled the Post

by on 2013-08-15 in Duck- 69 Comments

Some of you have asked why I pulled the post, “Intellectual Jailbait: Networking at APSA,” which I put up last night.

First, a lot of people were obviously hurt by the post. Those of us who blog of course want to be read, and I try to use humor to get my points across. I think that most humor, or at least mine, tries to go up to the edge of inappropriateness without crossing it. You don’t know until you cross it until you do, however. I would have never posted this if I thought that it would hurt a lot of feelings.

Second, I felt that people were missing the main message, which was to focus less on self-promotion with senior scholars and more on having exciting intellectual exchanges, which I generally found to be more likely among younger scholars even if they are less influential.  In the short-term, this will make you feel less cheap. Hence my use of the word “slutty,” still an accurate depiction of how I felt when I tried to attract the attention of those big wigs who were not interested. In the long-term, I think it is better actually for one’s scholarly ambitions as interactions with the most interesting if not the most powerful people will make you do better work. And those interesting young people will eventually themselves be in positions of influence.

So if what I thought was useful advice wasn’t coming through and people were hurt as well, then I saw no point in keeping it up. You can accuse me of censorship or succumbing to the pressures of “the PC police” if you like. I just felt upset at making others upset.

There is a legitimate question still unresolved. Why did I not see this coming? How could I have not seen that this would offend?  Does this reveal something about men in the discipline? I think it does.  Sherrill Stroschein put it exactly right in a comment on the Duck post : “The conference experience is filled with uncomfortable and subtly demeaning experiences for any young scholars, which I think was what Brian’s original post was trying to highlight. This experience, however, is amplified for a young female scholar because of the greater fear that she will be disregarded because she is a woman, and because of a fear of the casual and sometimes subtle sexualization of these interactions (which is part of why Brian’s original post was difficult to take).”  That is exactly right, but would just add that even for men, it is not “subtly” demeaning. It is completely demeaning, and that is the burden I am trying to remove for younger scholars by giving them a different path.

I know the unique challenges for women in the academic business of course but I wasn’t thinking about it. And that is because I will never truly understand what it is like to be a woman in this field. Therefore it is up to women to tell me (and other men). So I thank readers for that although it would be nice if the point could be made without the name-calling. As my wife put it, my post was “clueless.”  She is an academic as well, which should of course made me more attentive to women’s feelings before I posted, but we had never really had a conversation about her experiences with casual and subtle sexism in the field before today. So the sensitivity of the issue is now much better understood by me and, I hope, others as well.

My intent was to undermine power relations between younger and older scholars rather than reaffirm and call up feelings of unequal power relations between men and women. I seem to have failed. For the larger point I was trying to make, see Steve’s post below, which says everything I was trying to say.

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  • Colin wight

    Thanks for the clarification Brian. I never had a problem with you pulling it, as as you say, if it was upsetting some people then why leave it there if that was not your intention. So the arguments about censorship have little resonance with m as ‘delete’ buttons are standard practice on web media. I’m with your wife on the original post, but it’s complex. I got that you were trying to use humour to make a point, and at times I was ok with with it, and at others I was uncomfortable. It’s a really difficult line to draw, but unless we want to take humour completely out if the process (and do we really want to do that), then instances like this are always possible. The web is moving us all into uncharted terrain as we struggle to get to grips with how to deal with it. I’m actually close to coming to a point of withdrawing, as stuff one says can be easily misinterpreted and perhaps the rigorous peer review and editorial control over comments/opinions is as much about protecting the author from themselves as it is about quality control. One final thing about conferences. Academics are still people, much as we might like to think our training, makes us better people we are still people. And as such, academic conferences are going to be suffused with all the stuff that happens when people interact. That’s not a plea to excuse inexcusable behaviour, on the contrary it’s to acknowledge that it’s likely to happen and to be vigilant as to when/how/where it does.

  • oops

    For an apology for sexism, this post still awkwardly rings of sexism.

  • M

    It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Awareness comes in steps, and the first step is realizing that you are clueless. Keep learning and listening. And think carefully about the frame and the context, too.

  • Concerned

    Instead of apologizing for your sexist language and imagery, you apologized for the offense that it caused. Instead of apologizing for contributing to the shitty environment for women in academia, you point out that your true message was lost. This is a textbook non-apology apology.

  • SmallishButt

    Put it back up.

  • amelia

    “I know the unique challenges for women in the academic business of course but I wasn’t thinking about it. And that is because I will never truly understand what it is like to be a woman in this field. Therefore it is up to women to tell me (and other men). So I thank readers for that although it would be nice if the point could be made without the name-calling.”

    I disagree with a couple of things in this paragraph, in particular. First, by saying that it’s “up to women” to tell you when something isn’t right, you imply that paying attention to these things is not your job. Second, you mention “name-calling.” I think the worst thing anyone called you in comments to the original post was “sexist.” (No one, for example, called you an ugly slut.)

    Accuracy aside, the real problem with complaining about name-calling is that tone arguments tend to disproportionately target people with actual personal attachments to a given issue. It sucks when people are mad at you, and people were really righteously pissed at you today. But when you complain about tone, you’re discarding data about the interaction (that is, about how your words affect people). If, instead, you assume that the anger is legitimate, you stand a better chance of understanding what it’s about. (Hint: not “hurt feelings,” which is what happens when we accidentally let slip that we don’t like someone’s new haircut, but injustice, which is what happens when our lack of whatever privilege actually, substantively, every day, affects our life chances.)

  • Broo

    ^^Exactly. This reads less like an apology and more a defense for being insensitive: “I’m not a women, hence I shouldn’t be held responsible for offending their ‘sensitivities'”.

  • joe

    The KEY word here is PRIVILEGE. Perhaps the blogger will reflect on that in their next non-apology.

  • Adrienne LeBas

    I’d be far more sympathetic to this follow-up if the whole dust-up did not remind me of last year’s APSA-in-DRC post (and the also-deleted follow-up). As others have pointed out, you are again apologizing for others taking offense — not for perpetuating stereotypes and modes of interaction that actually have concrete, deleterious effects on real people.

  • Will Moore
  • Anne

    ^What she said!

  • David

    Yes, exactly. “I’m sorry you’re offended” isn’t an apology at all.

  • Mhysa

    I am really surprised that that is all you are seeing. I see someone apologizing for hurting people, and for not recognizing that he was being hurtful. I also see someone big enough to admit it. Kudos to Brian. Let’s move on.

  • Kiera Z

    Brian, thanks for this apology. It’s obvious that some commenters are not going to let this go no matter what but in my book it take a lot of guts to admit mistakes. Lots of public intellectuals just double down or get defensive, but you dealt with this as a learning experience and did your best to fix it. I respect how you handled this and in my view the ongoing criticism reflects more on those who are criticizing than it does on you.

  • Duke

    Double down and defensive are appropriate descriptions of the ‘apology.’ Seriously? Is the academe really this oblivious to the reality of the profession?

  • Colin wight

    No, you’ve misread (or I’m misreading you) Kiera is saying that lots would have just ‘doubled down, or ‘got defensive’, but that he (the person apologising) didn’t. So what Kiera is saying is that in her (assuming gender, apologies if wrong) opinion the apology isn’t one of ‘doubling down’ or ‘getting defensive’. You of course, might disagree about that.

  • aaa

    you (Colin) misread Duke’s response to Kiera (this is getting out of hand!). Duke’s claim is that the ‘apology’ (note the quotation marks) was defensive and an example of doubling down.

  • Adrienne LeBas

    As I said, I would not have belabored this point if I did not have the memory of his follow-up to the Congo post in my head. I was trying to point out that language does generate real-world consequences, and we are all responsible for interrogating our use of language. Some seem to think this dialogue is merely a set of attempts to beat up on Brian personally. I think that’s the wrong way of looking at it. Instead, it seems to me that many people are simply engaging in a substantive conversation about what things mean and about the consequences / performances of particular worldviews. By engaging in that discussion, as Brian suggests, we come to better understand, which is, after all, the role we’ve chosen for ourselves as academics.

  • Duke


  • Colin wight

    I twice acknowledged that that might the case (me misreading). However, I don’t think, that since Duke’s post was in direct response to Keira, your interpretation is as easy to make as you suggest. The quotation marks could simply be to indicate that they didn’t think it was much of an apology. I’m not going to tell anyone to what/how to write, but if the intended meaning was as you (aaa) read it, it might have just been better to say something like: ‘Sorry Keira, but I think that “apology” is a classic case of doubling down and being defensive.’ Whatever, my point still stands, Keira (who I don’t know) wasn’t saying that doubling down or being defensive were appropriate responses, quite the reverse. Whether the apology constitutes either, or something different is a different matter.

  • Colin wight

    Ok apologies. mea culpa. You’re right. probably shouldn’t do this on iPhone. Once again sorry.

  • Colin wight

    And to you aaa. Sorry!.

  • Duke

    Uh…we’re getting off track here.

  • Colin wight

    Well I certainly was, but since the subject of debate is ‘apology’ or not, I just thought I’d better admit that yes I was wrong.

  • zenpundit

    Brian, you are also a Trotskyite counter-revolutionary. And, a witch! Let’s see you apologize your way out of that.

  • Good German

    The “I’m offended” card is one of the most common power plays in academia, and I’m surprised that Brian didn’t see this coming.

    My advice when dealing with my female and minority colleagues is to assume that they will interpret anything you say in the most negative light possible. Keep your conversations with them short and anodyne.

  • a

    That quotation is misattributed to Sherrill Stroschein. The comment you’re citing is from MM.

  • http://thedisorderofthings.wordpress.com Pablo K

    You, Sir, are an ass.

  • Mhysa

    Still belaboring.

  • Mhysa

    I embrace conversations about what things mean and about the consequences / performances of particular worldviews. I just think it’s interesting and kind of too bad that very few of the Duck posts – which are really all about those questions – get this level of lively, substantive debate and discussion, unless a particular person is being attacked. Adrienne you blog here, right? What if instead of continuing to belabor on this thread, you write an actual post on some substantive topic unrelated to Brian Rathbun that contributes to our wider understanding of what things (in IR) mean and the consequences / performances of particular worldviews (in IR)? What if the rest of you spent the same amount of energy debating some of the interesting questions raised by other Duck bloggers in comment threads on robots and climate change and minority discrimination that you have expended arguing among yourselves as to whether Rathbun’s apology was sufficient? Bloody. Fucking. Hell.

  • tdaxp

    This post is offensive and hurtful to me, and to many others, for reasons which would be obvious if you were thinking about it.
    Pull it immediately.
    Don’t take this as a joke. I am serious. I have read the Duck for many years. This post is worst, ugliest, most offensive, and most hurtful work I’ve read on it. Delete it and try again.

  • T

    “I don’t really want to get involved in a big debate about why this post should not offend those who have been offended. I would just point out that this post is not really gendered at all.” – earlier doubledown

    You do a disservice by suggesting no one understood what you were getting at. We understood, it was just couched in a joke about sexual abuse, now wrapped up in a non-apology in passive voice and how you still think slutty is still an accurate depiction. If name calling means calling your post sexist and gross, please count me in.

  • Colin wight

    tdaxp: I’m really trying to reconcile this comments of yours (unless you are just being mega sarcastic and/or provocative, with your original comments on the original post. Maybe they can be put together, but hey, doesn’t consistency matter in science (which I know you know a lot about…cough, cough!)


    • a day ago

    Some of the comments on this page read like a self-satire of political correctness. If you’re reaction to this sort of post is to cry “sexual harassment,” “violence,” etc., you deserve the self-censoring environment you create.

  • tdaxp

    @Colin, thanks for the reply. I hope to write more on all of this soon. This is really interesting stuff for me.

    But I’m being completely honest when I call Brian’s latest post hurtful and painful. It seems a lot of people are agreeing with that — see comments by T, Duke, Mhysa, Adrienne, Amelia, Oops, and others.

    There are a variety of people in this thread you are pained & hurt by Brian’s so-called apology. This number of people covers a variety of perspectives and backgrounds, but there’s a clearly a widespread belief/impression/whatever that Brian’s using rhetoric to cover his tracts, without bothering to make a real apology or explain why he wrote what he did.

    I know I didn’t fully answer your question Colin, I don’t have time right now, but I’ll try to soon. But that doesn’t excuse Colin for treating so many people (Amelia, myself, Adrienne, etc) as dupes to be played with.

    @Brian, take down this post. You said you don’t like hurting people. If you mean this delete the post, try again.

  • tdaxp

    PS @ColinWight:disqus , thanks for retrieving my comment from Google cache. For context, here is Brian’s original post (without which this thread might be confusing for some:

  • Guest

    Brian, as a graduate student, I understood the overall message you were trying to send and appreciate the honesty there. However, I think what struck me is that the original post really did demonstrate the underlying patriarchal culture which permeates society at every level that we–both men and women–need to combat. The term “slutty” for me is part of the so-called slut shaming culture, and the picture which seemed to be an analogy of the younger-older scholar interactions, reduced the younger one to an objectified female body. The last line referring to “candy” and “Daddy” at that point really lost me as a reader. Of course, I understand humor crosses lines, but as an attempt to undermine power relations, which of course takes gendered, racial, and class dimensions, I would much rather see you challenge the patriarchal structures which affect the academy still. Humor does have its place–in a forum which aims to provide genuine advice for younger scholars, including women, there needs to be more attempts to create an inclusive culture–heaven knows we face uphill battles as it is. Actually, I don’t fault Brian so much as our overall culture which makes certain representations seem natural and inoffensive–that’s the sign of dominance or cultural hegemony. To me, if there is a take away, it’s another reason why we still need feminism among many others.

  • tdaxp

    PPS: The original post also included a link to this image http://www.whiteoliphaunt.com/duckofminerva/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Dirty-Old-Man-Best-Demotivational-Posters.jpg, which is still hosted by the Duck

  • Guest

    One more thing: what I’d love to see instead is humor that really challenges culturally hegemonic notions instead of remaining trapped in them. Disruptive humor. The Onion when it strikes gold is a great example. Or even Jon Stewart who tackles issues of race and gender in America with his fake “Senior Black Correspondent” on The Daily Show. Usually, as a comedian, he is not affirming dominant representations but challenging them, and normally (I’d argue) with an underlying quasi-progressive agenda.

  • Colin wight

    Wow, you really are something. The author pulls this from this site and you it put back up with the gratuitous photo. If you haven’t noticed beyond the specifics of gender etc., this is a discussion about ethics. You really just put yours on full display didn’t you?

  • Colin wight

    That’s right you didn’t, well not the consistency part, but the rest of it and your subsequent follow-ups are very revealing. Btw, me pulling up your original comments is not the same because they was nothing to indicate there that you no longer wanted to be associated with them. Indeed, you could have just responded to me by saying something like ‘yes, I go that seriously wrong, and I’ve changed my mind’. But hey, we can all engage in wishful thinking. Respond if you want. I won’t respond to you.

  • Colin wight

    Btw a quick epistemological lesson; you don’t ‘know’ i got your comments from the Google cache, or only ‘think’ it. For what’s it’s worth I didn’t.

  • tdaxp

    Colin, the Duck is hosting the photo, and I thought we were rebuilding that part of the conversation, because you reproduced my comment in full. Sorry that I have other priorities this morning, but I’m jumping back into this because you seem to think I acted unethically.
    If you delete my comment (because the norm here is that we shouldn’t reproduce deleted works without consent) that’s cool. Or if it’s important to provide context for comments that’s cool too. I’ll follow your lead either way. I’m just looking for consistency. :)
    @Brian, Colin and I are having a good time talking here, but please don’t let this distract you: your post is hurtful and offensive to a wide variety of people. By your own standard you should pull it.

  • T T

    Where’s the “I’m sorry for my earlier post. It was offensive and I crossed the line.”? Not so hard, is it? I think people get your point about the discipline; what they don’t appreciate is the way you framed it.

    Leave the humor to the pros like Colbert and McFarlane; your comparative advantage lies elsewhere. And I’d set up a personal blog if you’d like to continue practising humor. The Duck is better served by other contributors.

  • Colin wight

    Nah I’ll leave it there, thanks. Even the offer of a exchange delete from you is priceless. You didn’t delete your comment, it was deleted as part of the original post. No norms were violated. Besides it’s a nice illustration of your inconsistency, which you would rather wasn’t so on display. And no, we aren’t rebuilding that part of the conversation. I’m highlighting your inconsistency that’s all. Since the link to Brian’s post is already up there, and available elsewhere, he, or the Duck, can deal with it. You won’t find consistency btw, well not until you understand it.

  • Mhysa

    How you concluded that I belong in the same category as Adrienne, Oops or “others” befuddles my imagination all to fuck. Did you even read my comments? As a female in the discipline, I am pained and hurt by your dismissiveness of my opinion that Brian’s apology was sufficient, and your generalizing your opinion to mine. You should take down your comment and apologize, and then take that apology down when I refuse to accept it because you are clearly insensitive and clueless for my refusing to accept your apology for being insensitive and clueless.

  • Mhysa

    Ooh! Ooh! The Duck is also hosting this picture glorifying hegemonic masculinity and engendering disrespect for democracy! I’m sure it’s not meant to be at all satirical. For shame! http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Nlj-N_MUKPw/UFy0OMSssVI/AAAAAAAAK4I/2Gc4E3zeACE/s1600/drogo.jpg

  • Good German

    Your attempt to sexualize this conversation by comparing me to a fetishized body part offends me. You owe us all an apology.

  • Guest

    Which we will then tell you is unacceptable.

  • tdaxp

    Mhysa, apologies (but no taking the apology down ;-) ) for misconstruing the weighting of “and for not recognizing that he was being hurtful” in your comment. In the context of your second comment, re-reading your first comment makes its meaning obvious.
    Fwiw my original comment was already deleted by the Duck. I’m very confused as to what their standard is for revoking posts/comments.

  • Charli Carpenter

    I am disappointed at the content of this thread, particularly given the nature of the post. I may or may not weigh in presently on some of the hypocrisy and inconsistency I am seeing in the arguments. For the moment however, I would like to direct commenters’ attention to our posting guidelines which among other things include a requirement of civility in expressing dissenting points of view.

    It surprises me in particular to see Pablo K engaged in name-calling, and Amelia defending name-calling (so long as the person calling the name has a genuine grievance). We would prefer that conversations on the Duck avoid name-calling, put-downs or other verbally abusive behaviors and aim at trying to understand one another, express differences respectfully, give one another the benefit of the doubt as intellectuals, and model responsible deliberative behavior for colleagues and students. It can be hard when there are so many legitimate feelings at play, and it is still required in the interest of open and honest deliberation. If avoiding name-calling and put-downs in an argument is not too much to ask of my 11-year-old son (and it’s not) then it’s not too much to ask of you.

    It is also not the place of commenters to command authors on this blog as to what to post, whether to leave it up, whether to remove it, what style to write in or whether to write at all. If you are confused about any of these points, please refer to our policies: http://www.whiteoliphaunt.com/duckofminerva/about/policies

    Should any of you who have disrespected these guidelines in the course of this discussion wish to apologize to Brian or by extension to me and the rest of the group, I assure you your apology will be graciously accepted no matter how adeptly or clumsily it is produced.

  • Gerard van der Ree

    Thank you, that was helpful,. It was really disturbing to see how a good debate deteriorated in not-quite-so-symbolic violence in such a short time .

  • Myhsa

    Thank you. (See? That’s how you accept an apology.)

    As a point of clarification in case you’re still confused, the clause you mention from the earlier comment referred to his original post on networking, not this new post apologizing which you claimed in your comment I thought was also hurtful (as you are claiming). So I think it’s meaning was obvious to a careful reader even without reading the second comment.

    Anyway I do appreciate the apology, even if I felt that you too laced it with justifications. I only mention this to point out the hypocrisy given your uncompromising attitude toward Brian’s apology, and not because I don’t find your apology worthwhile or adequate. Maybe it’s because so seldom do people apologize at all when they’re wrong, but I tend not to expect people to be perfect about these things.

  • tdaxp


    No problem. And I certainly won’t defend myself as a careful reader wrt your comment. The fault was mine.

    Brian’s not apologized for what he did that was wrong, or hurtful, or painful. He hasn’t come close. You’ve taken an interest here so I owe you an explanation as to why not. I don’t have time for that explanation right now, but I’ll try to post today.

  • Colin wight

    Hi Charli, well if any of my interventions have crossed the line, then yes I apologise. But then again I might be engaging in ‘mansplaining’ there, so… it’s a difficult call. But yes, I’ll upfront apologise now, just in case.

  • Anon

    I love the Duck, and most of the regular contributors. But, I am
    frustrated with the decision by a member of the ‘collective’ to try to
    enforce the rules of etiquette here, and other members to try to
    sterilize the argument (Saideman), or to steer it in productive
    directions (Nexon). And now, on the internet no less, we are told that
    we cannot call a blogger creepy or sexist who wrote a post that was
    creepy and sexist?

    First, Pablo K. called someone an ass who was clearly trolling, and being an ass.

    Amelia’s comment was an indictment of the rules as offered. Name calling–using adjectives to describe someone–is reasonable in this case. The post after all personalized the argument, discussing Rathbun’s networking with specific junior scholars, linking that to jail bait, etc. It’s difficult to discuss that post without using a set of adjectives to describe Rathbun.

    I chose not to comment so far, and will likely not follow up. But, I would encourage the Duck to let commentors say what they feel ‘unmolested’ in this specific case as they apparently allow their contributors to post whatever species of crazy nonsense they choose to post. And, we all know that naming and shaming is an important tool for social activism.

  • Adrienne LeBas

    Wow. Well, I do write posts on the Duck when I have time, but they’re unlikely to be about IR, as I’m not an IR scholar.

  • Anon

    At the risk of belaboring the point, you cannot have a contributor who posts a picture of an old man checking out a woman’s ass on the beach, and then claim that the Duck aims to “model responsible deliberative behavior for colleagues and students”

  • Good German

    >>”First, Pablo K. called someone an ass who was clearly trolling, and being an ass.”<<

    Instead of telling Pablo to apologize you decide to double down with the sexual innuendo. What hypocrisy.

    I am offended. You owe me and everyone else an apology.

  • Good German

    But apparently you can defend someone who compares an individual to a fetishized body part, and then lecture people on sexism.


  • Mhysa

    Fair enough. I should have written “in global politics” which covers IR and CP. Still, I hope when you do write such a post (and I know you’re blogging for free and it’s at your discretion so I also apologize for the tartness) that people on this thread will engage with your academic ideas as seriously and in as much depth as they and you seem to feel the need to engage with the semantic acceptability of Rathbun’s apology.

  • Adrienne LeBas

    I see what you’re saying, but I think you’re misinterpreting what I’m saying. I don’t really understand the idea of “judging” the “acceptability” of an apology, which you seem to be stuck on. I don’t really see why Brian needed to apologize. I was making a point about his post-as-text. It was a substantive point.

  • Anon

    Why are comments critical of the Duck being taken down?

  • Good German

    I’ve also had a critical post deleted.

  • Anon

    Can someone explain the Duck’s policy on deleting comments?

  • Charli Carpenter

    Your comment was removed not because it was critical of the Duck per se but because a) it violated our posting policy by name-calling b) it expressed disrespect for our policy by advocating name-calling c) both of these actions were undertaken immediately after having been reminded of the commenting guidelines and d) because, like many blog administrators, Duck administrators have the right and ability to remove comments at their discretion. In this case, discretion was exercised because a thread was deemed by a Duck administrator to have become vitriolic and unproductive. Two adjacent comments responding to your comments were also removed. If you would like to write a critique of our policy I recommend you do it on your own blog.

  • Charli Carpenter

    “We expect some basic level of civility from members of our community. We will, at a minimum, edit comments we deem particularly noxious or engaged in unproductive trolling. We reserve the right to disemvowel or delete comments; we will exercise this right at our discretion.”


  • Anon

    Thanks. I will try to repost while not running afoul of the comments. I was at the grocery store when this was deleted, so I did not see the follow on comments.

  • anon

    Charli, this is try #2 at this. I hope it will be edited and not deleted if it somehow runs afoul of the Duck’s policies concerning comments. I very much tried.

    I love the Duck. I read the Duck. And I like most of the regular contributors.

    The collective, however, I worry is not engaging the debate in the most productive way, and I worry too that the Duck’s policies, editing, and the way they are crafting the conversation does a disservice to women in the political science community. To do so within the rules (which CC says in pt. B below includes not criticizing the rules) is difficult.

    The central issue is that the conversation on the Duck is being crafted–by the selective invocation of rules that allow contributors to be offensive but not allow commentators to express their outrage–that limits the democratic potential that public spaces like the Duck of Minerva have for highlighting (and yes, maybe changing) attitudes toward issues of race and gender. By one-sided, I mean that in the comments section, comments far less offensive than some views recently displayed on the Duck are being stripped.

    Moreover, sanitizing the conversation, by stripping the sexual content (Saideman) or moving it in productive directions (Nexon), may prevent more effective avenues of social change from being pursued, that may involve criticism instead of shifting the discussion.

    There, I hope that works well? If not, let me know so I can edit it some more.

  • Charli Carpenter

    Thank you for this thoughtfully crafted and respectfully articulated critique. It gives us something to think about, and it’s especially timely since our policy does evolve and will probably evolve a bit especially during this transitional period of incoming and outgoing contributors. While it is unlikely that our civility policy will be loosened to allow name-calling, I think you make some really interesting points and they are definitely food for thought.

    That said, I think your comment demonstrates that it is perfectly possible to express outrage, frustration and even critique the rules in ways that include a basic modicum of respect for those with whom you disagree. I would also add that I felt many of the comments on Brian’s original post communicated a sense of distaste quite respectfully without engaging in name-calling or ad hominems. So I think it is a standard that is possible to meet, though hard when people are upset, and probably especially appropriate when someone has made an effort at an apology. As an advocate of deliberative democracy, civility is something I personally find very important, so I especially appreciate your taking the time to rewrite your comment.