Sunday, June 12, 2022

Comments policy on this blog

I allow posts putting different views to mine to appear on this blog to a vastly greater extent than would be permitted on most blogs run by people involved in politics. For a long time I operated without any comment moderation at all: I eventually abandoned that policy because one or two individuals put anonymous comments on obituary posts making unkind remarks about the individual who had just died. In one case this caused distress to the family of the deceased.

When someone says "This must never happen again," all too often these are just words and whatever provoked the remark can and will happen again, but in this case I can and will make sure it doesn't and that is why I turned comment moderation back on. Unfortunately it can take a few days between a comment post being submitted and my spotting it and approving it (or occasionally the reverse.) 

I welcome constructive debate and comment: and for that reason views expressed in comments posts on this blog do not necessarily represent my own views or those of any of the parties or organisations with which I am associated.

What I don't welcome is anything which is potentially actionable, anything which a reasonable person might find offensive, or would stop this blog from being suitable reading for a "family audience," or personal attacks. I also won't accept comments in languages in which I am not literate unless there is an English translation. (So English, French, German and Latin are acceptable.)

I have been thinking about how exactly I should operate this. I have come to the conclusion that the best way to define what will be accepted as a comment on this blog is that what the Speaker would accept in the House of Commons as language for one MP to use about another, or a Mayor or Council committee chairman would accept as suitable for one councillor to use about another in the council chamber, will usually be acceptable here. However, posts submitted in terms which the Speaker would not accept in the House of Commons when used by one MP about another will usually not be accepted.

So, for example, MPs are not allowed to call one another liars in the House of commons chamber, and calling an individual a liar will not generally be allowed on this blog. I did make a couple of exceptions in the last fortnight, and today's "quote of the day," without pointing fingers at any individual, did use the word 'lie' to make in a humorous way the point that when someone says they are promoting a "narrative" it is all-too-often at best selective and at worst downright misleading. But these are exceptions and will not be the rule.

For the last 25 years too many politicians of all parties have not been as careful as they should have been to ensure that everything they said was true. There are a number of reasons why this is a bad thing, and one of them is that accusations of lying have become commonplace, so commonplace that the first reaction of many people when they hear something which goes against their beliefs or pre-conceptions is to throw an accusation of lying, whether or not the evidence actually supports such a claim.

I explained in some detail three years ago why I think that, if you want to see a society in which people make a real effort to tell the truth, then being too quick to accuse everyone who says something you disagree with of lying is actively counterproductive, in a piece called "Truth in politics - a counter-intuitive view." I stand by everything I wrote back in that post.


Paul Holdsworth said...

Always good to clarify why so many of my submissions here never see the light of day (although often I honestly can't see how I'm breaking your rules).

To that end - you've admitted in the past that you use quotes to make oblique references to what's happening in politics, and on here - they're not just pithy quotes plucked out of the ether at random.

And that recent, snippy Bill Murray quote appears to be calling someone stupid (not me, obviously...)

So I'm thinking, are MPs allowed to call each other 'stupid' in the Commons? The Speaker has in the past ruled as unparliamentary the terms 'stupid cow', as well as 'ignoramus' and 'idiot', so I'd suggest not.

And, should I seek out suitable quotes from thinkers and celebrities to make my arguments on here, so I can finesse your own rules, as you appear to?

Chris Whiteside said...

Bill Murray was not calling any individual stupid, and neither was I.

A comment which made that accusation against an specific individual or particular group of people might well not be allowed, but there was no attempt to point the finger at any particular person or group.

Paul Holdsworth said...

Yeah, right.