As some of you may have noticed, the comments were flying fast and furious over a couple of recent postings. When they started turning racist, we had to stop comments for a few days and think carefully about the blog’s comments policy. I met with Noah, Maryam, and Jumana and we struggled over the question: how do we balance our desire to see ideas shared freely without letting this become a forum for people to vent offensive points of view?
Most of the blog contributors are also on the staff at Macquarie University, and our backgrounds as academics shapes our ideas about how dialog should take place and gives us responsibilities as public intellectuals. Anyone who has sat in on any of our classes knows that we love a fierce debate, but we have little tolerance for those who express themselves in offensive and simplistic ways. When we moderate discussions in our classes or when we give written assignments, we continually press our students to think through their arguments thoughtfully, express them courteously, and provide references to back up their assertions. We hope that we can ask for the same high standard from participants on this blog.
With that in mind, the following is our comments policy at Khaldoun, drafted by Noah and endorsed by all of us:
Khaldoun is a site that places scholarly and informed perspectives into the public realm to promote understanding, tolerance and ultimate peace in the Middle East. Racist and discriminatory remarks are not acceptable. Comments that are deemed racist, discriminatory and vilify on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexuality or sexual orientation will be removed and the responsible party barred from commenting on this blog. Free speech comes with obligations of human decency and comments must meet the basic expectations of a rational, tolerant and inclusive society. We value your comments and will only censor material that is overtly racist and offends on the basis of religion, race, gender, sexuality and sexual orientation, and we will not cease to post political views that differ from those held by the individual contributors. Thank you for being a part of Khaldoun and contributing to the wider understanding of the Middle East.
– Lisa, Noah, Jumana, and Maryam