Ethics Quiz: Welcome To My World!

Today I received two comments from an aspiring participant here called “snowflake.” They are really a single comment submitted in two installments. The topic was this post, about the weenie professor who grovelled an apology for daring to show Sir Lawrence Olivier’s screen performance of “Othello” in a class for discussion purposes.

Here is the comment:

WOW! Do better? Black face was a highly respectable and noble thing? Your disgusting. if you think for ONE second that black face in Othello is not because they didn’t want to hire a black actor then your greatly confused. You guys are all hiding behind this mask of being some pompous intellectual as you ignore the facts. You were NOT there, black face is immoral and racist, and Othello could be played by a white man without needing to smear black paint on his face to imitate a different race. Black people face many different forms of discrimination and a white person playing a black mans role, and slapping on some black face paint to play a struggling black character? and your saying a white man was genuinely the best candidate to portray the pain and struggle of a black man. theres no thesis or theory’s here, its the facts that all of these comments reflect a bubble of WHITE people who are hiding behind intellectualism to cover how racist all of this is. I asserted that white characters cant put on BLACKFACE to play other characters and when the characters story line is mainly based around there race (which most non white characters in Shakespeare are). Hire an actor from that race instead of perpetuating the predominantly white theater industry. OR just don’t have them smear makeup imitating racial features that people were killed and mocked for not fifty years ago. On the other hand white characters often have storylines that have little to do with they’re race so it makes sense that other races can fill those roles (WITHOUT WHITE MAKEUP I MIGHT ADD???). The reason I repeated the same thing over and over is cause somehow the points been lost on you GEEZERS but ill spell it out. a mass majority of the black community has expressed a discomfort with blackface in ANY depiction. A discomfort all you commenters as white people HAVE NOT experienced. For you to sit here and tell black people they’re soft for not wanting something that DID originate from deep slavery to return. and for you to act like what hollywood needs right now is more white actors playing the roles of poc is beyond stupid. no matter how many texts you reference or unrelated contexts you use nothing can hide how racist all of this is. also the movie came out 10 years after the jim crow era. they’re fully connected and you continue to echo white voices as you point fingers. I’m the only commenter here who has an issue with blackface. You know this isn’t the consensus if you were to walk down the street asking people if they agree with black face. You’ve sought out an echo chamber and then have the nerve to tell the one person that disagrees that they don’t know what they’re talking about. when all of this is about a PRIVATE school miles away you don’t attend. We can agree to disagree, i think your racist, you think your some misunderstood intellectual. But I’m lazy and need to do better for trying to teach you hags how racist and biased this whole thread is? I can guarantee our society is not moving towards finding black face being acceptable and you all know it. So you can hide in these comment sections while I will continue to have a clear conscious and be able to openly express how racist black face is. this is a racist think piece based of a liberal school article where the students who PAY for a private education requested that black stereotypes and cartoonish depictions not be dignified or given a devil’s advocate. but somehow that got lost on all of your thick skulls.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

Should I allow this unmannerly rant out of moderation?

My usual practice is not to do so, when I am confronted with comments like this. The only reason I am tempted is that ripping the comment to shreds would be fun, since it teems with bad arguments, logical fallacies, rationalizations and misrepresentations of what I wrote (I have never claimed that blackface was “highly respectable and noble,’ for example. The screed also violates several standards articulated in the commenting rules (which were just revised).

I am also suspicious of comments this carelessly written I make more than my share of typos, but entering “your” for “you’re” repeatedly is a tell, as is the persistent lack of uppercase letters when they are required. The post relies heavily on insults, including ad hominem attacks, and substitutes emotion for facts. Most of all, everything about the comment indicates that I would have to ban the commenter eventually anyway. I want to keep the level of discourse here high.

Of course, I am also sensitive to accusations that Ethics Alarms is nurturing an “echo chamber” and discouraging dissenting views. Do keep in mind, however, that if I alter Ethics Alarms standards to permit this comment, I will have to post others like it, and believe me, there are a lot of them.

68 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: Welcome To My World!

  1. Many of us are concerned about the echo chamber. But when the left will not act rationally and make intelligent posts, they are the cause of the echo chamber, not us. I don’t know how many on the right you have to reject / nuke Jack, but I imagine it isn’t zero. Just visit a right wing echo chamber talking about anti-vaccination and you’ll find rants that parallel this example. So long as you’re sure you’re consistent with your standards, then there is little more you can do.
    Neither you nor I know how to fix the great stupid.

  2. You could periodically allow some small number of rants out, perhaps giving them their own post for the purpose, something entitled “Discussions from the Refuse Bin”, “Poorly Presented Points”, or the like. I would limit such posts to those that bring up some interesting points despite otherwise failing to respect acceptable norms for respectful conversation.

  3. I do want to say one more thing regarding the idea of echo chambers and commentariat quality.

    It’s been mentioned that the commenters on some left wing blogs, such as the Huffington Post, have a marked tendency to go off the deep end. I’ve no doubt this is true.

    However, I also read Legal Insurrection, which is a generally right of center blog. I no longer read the comments there to any degree, because those folks also tend to quickly go off the deep end, albeit in a different direction.

    My point is that this blog is unique in my experience. The folks here are certainly willing to debate other points of view. They’re not willing to put much credence in primal screams, such as the comment which is the subject of this post.

    I think given some decent reasoning, people here are willing to debate. If all you have is vapid arguments or ad hominem attacks, people here are more than willing to mock.

    • It’s not quite unique in that way, but it is pretty rare. Especially considering that it often discusses politically and socially controversial topics which usually engender passionate feelings one way or the other.

      Blogs that touch on a lot of controversy or elements that produce passionate feelings generally have to be aggressively moderated to avoid wild rants. People love to vent their spleen, and dashing off angry hot takes is a tried-and-true modern way of doing so. Aggressive moderation is, of course, quite controversial and some bloggers, particularly conservative sites, feel it is a violation of free expression to aggressively moderate their comments or publish comment rules that they strictly adhere to.

      Also, consider that higher-traffic blogs are orders of magnitude more difficult to moderate, and thus only the most egregious violations of comment policies are regularly moderated. As a former blogger myself, I know just how difficult moderating a blog with a lot of traffic can become, and it’s not as easy to leave one’s ego out of it as some might think. I think Jack does a marvelous job around here, and honestly, I’m glad it’s him and not me. 🙂

      • Althouse, who when she isn’t banning commenters does a very good job moderating (though she does not allow commenters to argue with commenters, which is foolish), and has a strong set of regulars. Ann’s commenters have also become almost 100% moderate-conservative, which was not the case pre-Trump

        The old Volokh Conspiracy had superb comments; now that it lives at “Reason,” its comments tend to be pedestrian and often have threads go off the rails with name calling and nonsense. Turley seesm to be moderating more than he used to, and his commenters remain mixed, I assume because the professor was regarded as a liberal until he proved he could be objective about matters involving Trump. His liberal/progressive “base” has stuck around to attack him, and, conservatives have begun participating more.

        • Excellent examples. Yes, the negative change of the Volokh Conspiracy is pretty obvious to old-time readers, but it’s still comparatively tame. I can’t say I read the comments at Turley’s blog, although I do occasionally read them at Althouse and agree with your observation completely.

        • I sometimes wonder if Althouse despises her readership. Her readers have become more conservative over the years, maybe attracted to her contrarian approach. It’s either that or she has a soft spot for the leftists who chime in every once in a while.

          I can’t read Turley’s comments anymore. There are about 4 people who are quite rude to their host and I suspect the only reason he tolerates it is he doesn’t read the comments or they have been guest so long he feels like he can’t show them the door.

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