Can one accuse a poster of being a racist/sexist/homophobe outside of the Pit?

There seems to some confusion and I was hoping we could get some clarification.

On the “Hate speech” thread we were having a discussion regarding whether it’s possible to call other posters racists, sexists, etc.

After Rogerbox, complained about this I said that I didn’t think there was a hard and fast rule against doing it because it wasn’t necessarily considered an insult, but it was very strongly discouraged because of the personal nature of the term.

I said this because of a conversation where following this comment I made.

I was specifically accused me of being a sexist. I thought this was against the board policy and reported it, but the mods did nothing and it was explained to me that accusing someone of being a racist/sexist/homophobe was discouraged and certainly “borderline” but not automatically considered an insult and therefore not automatically a violation of board policy.

However, on the hate speech thread, C K Dexter Haven has given a significantly different answer, stating

(emphasis mine)

So which is it?

Is calling a poster a racist/sexist/homophobe outside of the pit discouraged but not automatically considered an insult or a violation of board policy or is it considered an insult and a violation of board policy?

Excellent question. I’m very eager to see what the powers that be have to say. Of course, it should not be allowed, as it’s just an ad hominem and an attack on the poster. Now, if the point of the critique is that someone is a racist, etc, all someone has to do is have that discussion in the Pit.

Perhaps if you posted the actual comment, people could tell you what the rule is? Because you’re allowed to say that particular comment is racist, but not said poster.

“That’s a racist remark.” -okay

“You’re a racist.” -not okay

I thought that was the case too untill I asked why the person who called me a sexist wasn’t sanctioned. They explained that it wasn’t automatically considered an insult.

I’m not listing the mod because it was a PM and I wouldn’t feel comfortable revealing their identity, but they certainly argued that, in at least some cases it’s kosher to say, at least sometimes, “you’re a racist” or “you’re a sexist.”

Incidentally, the specific charge against me was that I was “being sexist” so initially I thought the board mods might be drawing distinctions between saying “you’re a racist” and “you’re being sexist” but they were uniform in saying those arguments were equivalent.

One specifically said that “there’s no difference between ‘you’re being stupid’ and 'you are stupid”.

So anyway, I just want some clarification.

Is accusing someone of being racist/sexist/homophobe discouraged and often a bur nit always a violation of board or is it automatically considered an insult and a violation of board policy?

I’m not talking about the mod comment. I’m asking you, what was the original remark calling you, or your argument, sexist? Do you have a link to it?

I think Dex has explained it in a fashion that should be clear to most everyone.

The bigger question might be why do you feel that you have to insult people to get your point across? The idea here is that there is discussion, there is is debate, there is argument, even. There is sharing of views. It is natural and expected, even, to challenge differing points of view. And there is a forum area where people are perhaps less rational and more disputational. Note that is one area of the site and those kind of tactics are confined there for good and proper reason.

But it’s not a given that in that course of action you have the right to name call or insult people who do not share your worldview, whatever that might be. If you feel that’s what you need to do, you know where you must go to exercise yourself. Keep it off the rest of the board.

By “You” I do not necessarily mean you personally, Ibn Warraq. I mean general poster you. (You know who you are.)

I believe the OP is on about this.

I did not alter that quote, **Bo **provided a note in his edit that explained he crossed out the text after a mod note from Marley. I have no skin in this game, just providing information.

No problem.

Anyway, I’m just asking if it’s automatically considered an insult and a violation of board policy to accuse another poster of being a racist.

For the record, I think it is and I think the board policy should be that you’re not allowed to call another poster a racist or a sexist outside of the pit.

However, I was told that it is not necessarily considered an insult to call another poster sexist or racist while Dex seemed to make it clear that you’re not allowed to call another poster racist.

Again, I think if you’re going to have a rule against personal insults, then calling another poster a racist should be considered an insult and a violation of board policy(even when the term is warranted) if we’re also going to classify the term “liar” to be an insult, and a violation of board policy.

It’s in the post directly above yours.

Yes, that’s the quote, and the mod did say that he didn’t consider the accusation of sexism to be an insult though it was “borderline”. The mod also said that had he considered it an insult, for example if Snowboarder had said “asshole” or “idiot”, that Snowboarder would have been warned regardless of whether or not a line had been drawn through the quote.

I’m pretty sure that all the mods would agree that were I to call another poster “asshole” outside of the pit, that I would warrant a warning, even if I chose to draw a line through the term afterwards.

Anyway, we have one mod who says it is, at least sometimes, okay to call people “racist” or “sexist” while another has said it’s never okay.

I’d like some clarification as to which is proper ruling.


Now, if the decision is that it’s permissible though discouraged to call someone a sexist or accuse someone of sexism for this post as I was.

Then it should certainly be considered though to discouraged to accuse people of racism for insisting that blacks are mentally inferior to whites or more prone to violence than whites.

Anyway, I like Guinastia thought that calling someone a racist or a sexist was considered an insult and a violation of board policy, and Dex’s comment seemed to suggest that it was, but another mod comment explicitly says that no it’s not.

I’d just like some official clarification.

I would say it’s borderline, but then, I’m not a mod.

Oh, I thought in post 3, you said you thought accusing someone of being a racist was an insult and a violation of board policy.

Do you think that accusations of sexism should be treated differently.

BTW, not intended to challeng you, just honestly asking because I can see how people might feel it’s different, just as some people argue that insults against religious groups should be considered differently than insults directed against racial or ethnic groups.

“Racist” or “sexist” or “homophobic” are more a description of beliefs than it is a pejorative. Calling someone a racist/sexist/homophobe is the equivalent of calling them a climate change denier or a creationist, not the equivalent of calling them a shithead or a douchecanoe. The implications of that belief are overwhelmingly negative, but the name itself is descriptive.

Nicely put. I think there is a slight diff between using “racism” (to describe their argument) and “racist” to describe the person, but you’ve made an excellent point. I think there’s also a diff between racist and sexist, in terms of tone.

First, general terms: a word itself is not necessarily an insult, it depends on how it’s used. The RULE, as has been noted before several times, is that (outside the Pit), personal insults are not allowed against other posters. You can deplore an argument as “idiotic” but you can’t call the other poster an idiot. The line is often a fine one. As with almost all our rules, while there’s lots of black-and-white, there are also some shades of grey. There are always cases that are border-line, and a mod needs to interpret those.

Two simple examples of why it’s not simple:
(1) “Your argument makes you sound like an idiot.” Is that calling the other poster an idiot, or is that addressing the argument?
(2) “People who believe in [insert religion] are idiots.” Is that an insult directed at a group of non-posters (hence permitted)? Ah, but it immediately follows a post by someone who believes in that religion, so it certainly sounds like a personal insult directed at that poster.

So, like all our rules, it often depends on the context.

Second: the mod has lots of leeway in how to respond, and the mod’s ruling is often often subjective. A newcomer to our boards might get off with a light reminder of the rules; a person with a long history of repeated similar offenses might get suspended. The mod has lots of leeway in how exactly to respond to an offense, we’re not robots following a 4-volume set of detailed hard-wired instructions.

So, Ibn Warraq: as I understand the situation, you feel that you were called a sexist and there was no warning issued against the poster who so called you. You are asking whether the word “sexist” (or “racist” etc) are insults, and the answer is: usually but not always. We would need to have a link to the specific situation, to see the context. And “racist” is more damning that “sexist” (the term “sexist” is often used lightly.)

If it is the one quoted by Barkis is Willin’: “And you prolly thought you weren’t being sexist.” Then I personally agree with the mod ruling, that’s borderline. TThat is different (slightly, but enough) from “You are a sexist.”

BOTTOM LINE: You seem to see a conflict where I (and the other mods) see none. The rule is that personal insults cannot be directed at other posters outside the Pit. There is no specific word that is a personal insult – we could certainly discuss the etymology of the word “idiot.” have used the phrase “you are an idiot” to describe a situation that is a personal insult. Etc.

The question of whether a specific word is a personal insult often depends on the context and the situation. The question of “penalty” (mild reminder, Official Warning, suspension, ban, whatever) depends on the situation.

I don’t know how much more clear we can be.

Would you care to explain how these two statements that you have made are not contradictory?

JHow about you just be considerate to everybody?

Sheesh, stop it already.

Huh, I wasn’t being rude or inconsiderate. I was merely asking a question.

He seemed to me to have reversed his position and I was asking him to clarify.

How was I being inconsiderate to him?

Why are you addressing this to ibn Warraq instead of the person who called him names?


Dex, I think there’s been some confusion, which is partly my fault.

I don’t “think” I was accused of being a sexist. I was. The mods stated that saying “you’re being X” is no different than saying “you’re an X.”

I assume you’d agree with Marley and agree that while saying “your post is stupid” or “your post is obnoxious” are okay saying “you’re being stupid” or “you’re being an asshole” aren’t substantively different then saying “you’re stupid” or “you’re an asshole”.

What I was asking for clarification on whether or not it was considered a personal insult and therefore a violation of board policy.

I ask because a mod had previously said that the term racist wasn’t necessarily forbidden, but merely discouraged and therefore was only sometimes considered a personal insult, whereas in the hate speech thread you specifically said, as noted by Darth noted, that it was forbidden to call another poster a racist.

The way, I read your post on this thread is that my initial understanding, that calling posters “racists” outside the pit, but that it’s not always considered an insult and therefore not verboten.
Also two questions if you don’t mind.

Why do you consider the term “sexist” less harsh than “racist”? To me “sexist” “racist” “homophobe” “Islamophobe”, “Anti-Semite” etc. we’re equally harsh.


So, does this mean if after someone posts that they think blacks are mentally inferior another poster wouldn’t be penalized for responding “you’re being racist.”?

For the record, if the answer is yes, I’m not going to start making posts like that outside the Pit since I don’t want to cause any headaches for the mods.