Yesterday, in response to a major incident of online harassment of a journalist whom I both admire and respect, I posted the following tweet:
Maybe if your content, communications, & corporate culture are not alienating bigots, you're doing something wrong.
— Abe Stein (@abestein) July 2, 2014
It has received a healthy handful of retweets and favorites, and I am happy the sentiment is being echoed. In an online world where control over communities is very limited, the onus must still fall on publishers and content producers to make sure that their efforts are actively alienating people who would rather espouse bigotry, threaten violence, and voice hatespeech. It requires so much more than a simple rebuke of the behavior, and a dusting off of hands as if to say “what more can I do?” The “what more” is making sure that the content and culture promoted in your publication, however fraught the subject matter, discourages the hateful and violent expressions and actions of community members.
Sports, like videogames, are tremendously challenged cultural domains. Much of the content in both is filled with bigotry and inequity, some times implicit and other times explicit. Here, on this blog, I write and comment on both.
You can like, and even enjoy aspects of a culture, while understanding that other parts are distasteful at best, and violent at worst. What we must do as purveyors and creators of content in those domains is actively discourage members of a community who perpetrate violence by making them feel unwelcome. Make hate-mongers the minority but making sure your content is proportionally odious to them. Piss off bigots with your passionate endorsement of equality. Erase them from your site, and make sure your content actively discourages their very existence in the community. Make your online spaces safe by actively excluded those people who threaten its safety, no matter the cost.
But I realized this morning, that I must live and practice what I believe and say, even on twitter. This site, A Simpler Creature is small potatoes. It doesn’t receive that much web traffic. When I make a new post it gets a handful of views and some comments, mostly from friends. However small this website may be, I want to make some things excruciatingly clear:
- Bigotry is unwelcome here.
- All people, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or any other differentiating factor are welcome to have a voice here in the comments.
- Hate speech and threatening comments of any kind will not be tolerated. I control all comments on the site, and all will be judiciously moderated.
- I will work hard at this site to highlight and emphasize inequity and power imbalances in sports and sports media.
- This place is a safe space for everyone, and anyone who threatens the safety and security of the community, no matter the intent, is unwelcome.