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And force from the world a patient smile

Dear internet: I need help.

So I am co-president of my school's GSA, yes? And we run a blog, so people who can't come to meetings can still see what we talked about at meetings (okay so in reality the blog just started this summer, but that's its intent). I am primarily in charge of the blog, because I am the information monarch of the club. We've made a couple of posts this summer, about Pride Month and Stonewall and stuff.

We got our first comments... yesterday? Two days ago? I can't even really remember. But they said the following:
"fuck fags"
"stop shoving your views down our throats. gay-straight alliance my ass more like gay club. how many straight men are involved? yeah. homosexuality is wrong and you will go to hell. no way around it. biological it does not make sense either."

Now, the other leader of the club and I aren't SURPRISED we've received these comments. We sort of expected it. We didn't allow them to be posted, we created a document for such comments/incidents and recorded it and we disabled anonymous commenting on the blog. But now we're stuck at this weird impasse of what to do next.

Do we not make any comment about it? Do we do a blog post explaining the outline of what happened? We're trying to be careful here, but just discussing between the two of us, it feels like we're doomed if we do and doomed if we don't. If we talk about it on the blog, it's just fuel for them to say we're shoving our views down their throats--and it will also come out that we deleted them, and they'll say we're "cutting into their First Amendment rights". If we don't say anything, no visibility happens and they think we're just going to lie down and take it.

Basically, we need advice. What should we do? We've gone over our options so many times nothing sounds right and you all out there are intelligent, level-headed people. Please help us?

Thank you in advance. <3


Jul. 10th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
People like to claim that they have freedom of speech, but that doesn't mean "I have the right to say whatever I want and nobody can get mad." There are a ton of restrictions, including "fighting words" (which covers slurs such as the N word or "fag"), and libel and slander (which covers "homosexuality is wrong and you will go to hell"). Further, you can cite the government's use of free speech zones, which regulate the time, place, and manner of protests, but not their content. You are not stopping these people from saying what they want to say. You're not stopping them from starting their own blogs, or finding like-minded people's blogs or message boards and sharing their feelings, or talking amongst themselves in the real world. You're only preventing them from doing it in your personal space, which is your right.

As for shoving your views down their throats, presumably they're not being forced to visit the blog or attend GSA meetings. They have the option of ignoring you completely, and even if they don't, you have minimal impact on their lives. You, on the other hand, don't have the option of ignoring heteronormative culture, which is not limited to one club at school and a few pockets of the internet, and is actively demanding your conversion at all times. I wouldn't expect most straight high school boys to be able to understand that, but...

Well, here. I was just reading this and it's a great metaphor.

Anyway, if it were me, I would consider this a "don't feed the trolls" situation. Those commenters don't really care what you think. They're just looking for attention. So if you do make a post about this, I wouldn't make it about them. Incorporate their comments into the larger issue.

And I'm sorry you have to get shitty comments like those. But it's to be expected. The internet brings out the worst in some people.

Good luck!
Jul. 14th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
:)Thanks for all of this. I appreciate it SO much--especially the blog post, which I will add to my bookmarks to incorporate into a lesson about privilege (HELL YEAH I teach about privilege in GSA. It's hard. Hopefully this will make it easier).

We're definitely not doing a blog post about the specific event. We have drawn up a policy about commenting in our constitution (yeah, we now have a constitution 'cause we're nerds) and now need to decide whether or not to address said policy in its own blog post (in general, and without mentioning this specific event) or as part of a general post ABOUT the new constitution we're drawing up.

Thank you also for all the stuff at the beginning of this comment. I might snatch some of it if we DO do a blog post about our specific commenting policy, if you're okay with that. I'd credit you, if you'd like. <3
Nov. 4th, 2011 12:27 pm (UTC)
Very happy I found your site. Will note it and return for more info.

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