img.latex_eq { padding: 0; margin: 0; border: 0; }

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

Yesterday I did something that I hoped I would never have to do. I deleted a comment on this blog.

Pencils Down was created to help me be proactive in my own education. I was tired of waiting around for school to start, and I knew there were plenty of experienced educators out there that I could learn from immediately. And so, this blog was born. Since its inception, I have tried to maintain a congenial dialog, and although the conversation is far more one-sided than I would like (hint to all you lurkers out there,) I feel that I am achieving my goal. I have learned so much already about what it means to be a teacher and about the state of the profession, and I haven't had a single formal class yet. So many of you have become virtual mentors of mine, and I thank you.

As a life-long proponent of free speech, I fully support the right to voice opinions that conflict with mine. I relish the friendly debate that follows and I never take offense. Discussing issues with the opposition helps me to crystalise my own beliefs, which is why the Perpendicular Bisectors roll exists. This is where I link to blogs whose authors, more often than not, are posting things which I either can't relate to or vehemently disagree with. But it's that contrast, that chance for learning, that I crave and why I'm blogging in the first place.

So when I deleted that comment, I did it with a heavy heart. It was a comment on one of the Danika McKellar posts and it was extremely sexual in nature. The commenter, who I know in real life, was trying to be funny and to get a rise out of me. If the comment had been made in a face-to-face conversation, I would have thought nothing of it. But it wasn't. It was written here for all my readers to see, and it was in direct conflict with the idea of the post, which was that women can excel at math just like men, that they should be respected colleagues and not just sex objects. The comment, while lurid, was auto-biographical in nature. I have no doubt that its author was telling the truth, but since he posted anonymously and with no ability for you to follow to his homepage, I felt that the statement led nowhere intellectually and was potentially offensive. So it went the way of the dodo.

Was this a mistake? I don't know, you tell me. What do you all do with your blogs? Is it okay to leave crass language and potentially offensive comments up? Or is the kind of censorship I employed justified?

7 comments:

Andy said...

I saw that post before it was deleted, and wasn't particularly offended. It would be nicer if Blogger, instead of forcing you to delete comments, would allow you to flag them as "potentially offensive" or "off-topic", obscuring them from view unless the reader explicitly clicked again and said they wanted to view them.

Math Act said...

That's a tough call. Controversial comments are the ones likely to stimulate a good discussion, but I agree that I wouldn't want anything truly offensive on mine either. I didn't see the comment so I can't say for sure, but I probably would have made the same decision.

Rebecca said...

I didn't see the comment but it sounds to me like you made the right call. It sounds like this comment wasn't contributing to the discussion and it seems reasonable to me to delete such comments.

My blog conversations are similarly one-sided, but I decided long ago that my blog is a "safe space," so to speak -- a place where people can feel free to be themselves, and know that they will not be ridiculed or denigrated. So if I'd received such a comment, you can bet your last dollar that I would have deleted it as soon as I saw it.

Ron Avitzur said...

I like the practice of disemvowelling offensive comments. It leaves them in place for those wanting to expend the effort of reading them, while letting most readers skip them easily.

concernedCTparent said...

Good call. I've read some comments where there is some good stuff mixed in with the bad. I wish I could edit out the stuff that detracts from the conversation. Instead, the only choice I would make is the way of the dodo.

Tony said...

Disemvowelling, huh? I like that. maybe I'll try that if it ever happens again.

Ben Fulton said...

Do what you like. It's your blog.