Shutting Up

I rarely delete comments on this blog,1 but one of the things that is most likely to cause me to do so is someone telling another commenter (or me) to shut up.

Now obviously such comments are not always phrased that way. Sometimes they say “I do no think what you are saying is productive” or “I do not think you are adding anything to this conversation”. But the unspoken “so you should shut up” is there.

Don’t do that.

If you disagree with what a person is saying then say so. But don’t tell anyone they don’t have the right to hold their opinions. Don’t tell them that saying their piece is detrimental to conversation. Don’t tell them to shut up. Because your doing so is what’s detrimental to conversation.

I keep an eagle eye on commentary here. I don’t always agree with what’s being said but if I think someone is being flamey or a troll or rude to other commenters I add my own commentary. If it’s truly egregious I nuke their comment.

So, yes, if you tell me or my commenters to shut I will tell you to shut up. Ironic, I know, but there it is.

  1. Truly rarely. I only remember deleting one this year. If your comment disappears, as sometimes happens—especially lately with the veritable storm of comments and hits I’ve been getting—assume there was a snafu and mail me. I can usually fish it out of the spam filters. []


  1. Megan on #

    i really hate when people leave comments like that.
    it’s like on youtube – when there’s a video, of say the black eyed peas, and someone will leave a note saying “i hate them” what’s the point?!

    what’s that that your mother’s taught you? if you can’t say anything nice DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL?!?!!

  2. Sarah on #

    Great post. I get so frustrated in the world today that it’s so “me” centered. So many people hold to the idea that their opinion or their idea is the only one that matters and everyone else is wrong. What happened to respecting each other and listening to all sides or talking things out before making a judgment?

  3. susan on #

    “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”
    ~Alice Walker


    Justine didn’t say play nice. She said don’t tell someone to be silent.

    There is another I prefer by Audre Lorde. Paraphrased, she says silence doesn’t serve us. It won’t save you. Therefore it is better to speak up.

    We don’t have to agree, and I loathe censoring comments as well, but what I have zero tolerance for is personal attacks. Attack the message, not the messenger. If you don’t know the difference then let’s talk about that.

  4. Justine on #

    Sarah: I’m not sure if it’s entirely a new development but it sure is frustrating. Sometimes I feel like I should start all posts by saying, “This is not about you.”

    Susan: Yes, indeed. Speaking out is the one of the most important things anyone can do.

    But not like the people currently trying to shut down town hall meetings about health care. Their main motivation is to stop conversation. The conversation about health care needs to be broader and bigger—not stopped.

  5. susan on #


    I’m right there with you. The conversation does not need to be broader just like the conversation about Liar needs to be broader. Some readers though want to narrowly focus on what is manageable for them. What does it take to make it clear that what the initial conversation stems from long-standing practices that marginalized people of color.

    Back to your point. This country needs national health care not only because it is the right thing to do which is most important but we cannot continue to operate under the current system. It boggles my mind that so many people are so worried about what will happen to them individually that they cannot see how they are closer to being the poor sap who is wiped out because of a medical crisis than not.

    Will we ever learn that clinging to what you’ve always done is dysfunctional? That their self-serving interest doesn’t serve them? No system is perfect but our current system is so flawed it is insane not to dismantle it.

    I live in a state with 17.5% unemployment. How many of these people are without health insurance? Among these people, babies will be born, adults will have heart attacks and develop cancer. To shut down the conversation about health care reform says how little we think of caring for one another.

    It’s appalling how we treat each other. Sometimes, I wish the rest of the animal kingdom could come together at a conference and vote to do something just shy of total annihilation.

  6. Phyllis on #

    Here here! I completely agree.

    Some people just don’t have a whole lot of manners, and it’s not the best thing when they post their bad manners online for the whole world to see.

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