Diversity Macht Frei
February 1, 2016
Certain subjects – race, immigration and Islam in particular – attract an unacceptable level of toxic commentary, believes Mary Hamilton, our executive editor, audience. “The overwhelming majority of these comments tend towards racism, abuse of vulnerable subjects, author abuse and trolling, and the resulting conversations below the line bring very little value but cause consternation and concern among both our readers and our journalists,” she said last week. As a result, it had been decided that comments would not be opened on pieces on those three topics unless the moderators knew they had the capacity to support the conversation and that they believed a positive debate was possible.
The policy would be worldwide, applying to our UK, US and Australia offices, as the issues were global. And, where they were open, it was likely that threads would close sooner than the typical three-day window. “We want to host conversations where there is a constructive debate, where our audience can help us broaden our journalism with their expertise, their knowledge, their considered thoughts and opinions, and where they can use our site as a platform to make connections with the world and with those around them,” added Hamilton.
This was not a retreat from commenting as a whole, she said; it was an acknowledgement, however, that some conversations had become toxic at an international level – “a change in mainstream public opinion and language that we do not wish to see reflected or supported on the site”.
“Toxic”, like “populist”, is one of the classic giveaway words of an elitist concerned that the dumb plebs are being allowed to speak too much.
It was the experience of censorship on the Guardian website, especially on the topics mentioned above, that started me on a political journey from Left to Right. I realised the European Left was simply incapable of dealing rationally with anything related to brown-skinned people, so entranced had it become with the issue of Race.
Free speech has always been the ultimate moral touchstone to me. When you see people who can’t handle it or won’t accept it, it’s a sign there’s something wrong with them. I got that signal from the Guardian years ago. I got it from the Counterjewhad movement more recently.
Fortunately the Guardian is losing upwards of £50 million per year, so hopefully we won’t have to put up with it for much longer.