Growing up, whenever we’d get together at my grandparents for Sunday Dinner, we always had cousins, aunts, uncles, and others coming together. To keep things civil and decent for those who wanted a nice meal, younger kids had their own table where they could be as raucous and rude as they wanted. That way, the adults could talk.
Talk we did. With a dozen Italians and more food than even we could eat, the talk was constant, frequently without interruption and all at once. It was something of a free-for-all, especially if you were brought up in a normal, turn-taking household. Behind the apparent chaos, however, there were rules of conduct; lines of respect.
This blog is my adult table. I encourage discussion, disagreement and lively differences. There are, however, rules:
- No one’s humanity or identity are to be questioned. Every human has intelligence and perspective, and all, every single one, deserve dignity, equality and respect, regardless of race, gender, gender identity, who you love, where you come from, whatever degree of abilities or disabilities. Presuming dominance because of privileged status is the normal way of society. Here, it is not. If your intent is to insult or degrade others, go back to the kiddie table and make fart jokes.
- Facts and science are actually real. Yes, scientists are human and scientific discovery has sometimes overturned its own wisdom. Yes, people sometimes cherry pick information to suit their own purposes. No, I don’t expect anyone to become less skeptical or accept a view out of hand. But seriously. A precursory understanding of the scientific method and the process of peer review reveal a process specifically designed to reduce human subjectivity over data. If you think your really strong feelings or religious beliefs trump the entire sweep of science, from evolution to anthropomorphic climate disruption, this is not your place. Go back to the kiddie table and make up lies to impress each other. You won’t impress me.
I feel perfectly free and justified in booting and blocking anyone who willfully violates these rules, or even those who do so unwittingly after repeated reminders. The goal here is actual discussion, a search for common ground deeper meaning. I don’t see any of that having a chance without those two rules. It’s not censorship, that requires government restriction of free speech, it’s merely setting the standards for my table. No one is questioning or attacking your particular right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – I hold those truths to be ‘unalienable rights.’ Even for you. Nonetheless, this is the adult table, and you will be sent back to the kiddie table until such time as you are ready to join us, and with all the authority and force of my Italian Grandmother’s voice.