The staff would like to clarify the SDMB’s long-standing rule against hate speech and our views on racist speech on the SDMB generally.
Hate speech – that is, racial epithets and other pejorative remarks about minorities that in our opinion are clearly racist – is prohibited in all forums. If you see instances of hate speech on the SDMB, please flag the post and we will take such action as we think appropriate.
Not all pejorative comments about minorities rise to the level of hate speech or, in our judgment, are clearly racist. We recognize there are differences of opinion on what constitutes racist speech. We leave it to the SDMB community to debate such questions. If you believe a post is racist, you are free to say so, provided you abide by our rule against insults – see point #6 below. Others are free to disagree with you. The belief that the truth will emerge from the clash of views in open debate is a cardinal principle of this board.
Going forward, we’ll enforce the following elaborations of the rule against hate speech:
No slurs or racist cheap shots. Do not post slurs or other cheap shots against minorities, including but not limited to groups characterized by race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or gender orientation. Example: In a discussion of Henry Ford ordering his engineers to examine a foreign aircraft so they could copy it, poster A commented, “What the h*ll–did Ford think he was Chinese or something?” This gratuitous remark in a thread having nothing to do with China plays to the stereotype that Chinese people as a class are ripoff artists. This is a racist cheap shot. Remarks of this type will be modded.
Please note that we would NOT object to fact-based discussions of whether Chinese entities engage in intellectual property theft. This is a debatable proposition. See further discussion below.
The rule against slurs applies to all ethnic groups including whites. This is a change from past practice. The goal of the SDMB is to promote civil discussion. Slurs impede this goal.
Criticism of minorities to be clearly framed as a debatable proposition. Criticism of minorities on factual grounds is not considered hate speech and is not a violation of SMDB rules, provided it is clearly framed as a debatable proposition. By this we mean that (a) the asserted criticism should be expressed in unambiguous language and not rely on innuendo, “dog whistles,” or the like, and (b) in principle, the criticism could be shown to be unfounded.
Example #1: In a thread about Will Smith’s slapping of Chris Rock at the Academy Awards, user B urged others to Google a photo of the event’s producer (who was Black) and “draw your own conclusions.” User B also said that pointing out the “truths at play here … would get me permanently banned.” This post relies entirely on innuendo, making it impossible to say what is being asserted, except that user B believes it constitutes a bannable offense. Such posts do not promote discussion. If you do not have the courage of your convictions and are unwilling or unable to express your claims clearly, do not make them.
Example #2: In a separate thread, user C cited the post by user B in the previous example and claimed it constituted hate speech. User B responded, “The reason that the person who assaulted another person wasn’t escorted from the room is because the Producer of record is also an African-American… We all look out for our own. It’s human nature… I think that the Producer was looking out for his own.” This is a debatable proposition – it is easy to imagine alternative explanations for the failure to eject Smith. The question of whether it is racist is also arguable. If something is debatable, our policy is to let people debate it.
We reserve the right to prohibit topics of which we have grown weary – for example, claims that some group is better or worse than others for reasons that can be objectively demonstrated, also known as scientific racism. (For a complete list of tired topics, see “New Rules for Great Debates” at the top of the Great Debates forum.) If you feel new information has come to light that warrants reopening of a tired topic, you are free to petition the staff, but be aware that you face a high bar.
If we detect a pattern of pejorative or otherwise objectionable comments about minorities by you that, taken individually, do not rise to the level of hate speech but that, in aggregate, detract from civil discussion, we may tell you to stop; failure to do so may result in suspension or revocation of your posting privileges.
You are free to criticize a post as racist provided you refrain from insults. Direct your comments at the post, not the poster. “This post is racist” is not objectionable. “You are a racist” is an insult and may result in a warning or other mod action. Do not attempt to skirt this rule with remarks such as “only a racist would say such a thing” or other game-playing.
To summarize, hate speech and other remarks that in our opinion are clearly racist are a violation of SDMB rules. However, we do not wish to rule preemptively on every comment that could possibly be construed as racist. We leave such judgments to the collective wisdom of this board.