Exercising Censorship


This site, like any site that takes a decidedly anti-mainstream view on a topic, receives its fair share of nut job commenters. Over the years, I’ve taken different approaches toward the drive-by stupidity:

  1. Try to counter their every comment. At first, I opted to pick apart every bit of their always weak arguments. Since they tended to post with lots of anger and with little in the way of actual facts, this was pretty easy. But before too long, I realized I was countering the same unsubstantiated, regurgitated “plants have feelings” and “we were meant to eat meat” tirades over and over again. So, then I took to a different tactic…
  2. Let them make themselves look stupid. I’d say that 95% of the anti-veg comments that come into the site were borderline incomprehensible. For a while, I decided that perhaps it was best to let these people expose themselves for what they were: dummies simply out for a fight.

Then, a couple of days ago I got an e-mail from a reader:

Ryan, I just wanted to ask why you allow posts on your site from closed-minded, non-veg people? Allowing them a space to post about matters which they ‘really’ know nothing about, clearly evident with the same uneducated ramblings and arguments, is disgraceful. Give veganism the respect is deserves and monitor your postings! Just a polite plea from another veggie pal.

I thought about the note for the rest of the day and then noticed a comment that had recently come in:

Any of u Vegetarians and Vegans who think people are not ment to eat meat need to pull your heads out of your asses! I’m not going to get into evolution vs creation or hundreds of other factual data that indicate a need for humans to consume meat. I will simply leave you “enlightened Vegetarians/Vegans” with this…. if we were not ment to eat meat, then why in the hell do you think humans have “K9” teeth? You think they are used to masticate berries and lettuce? (GET A CLUE CHRISTY TAYLOR, 11 Nov. 2004)

I hovered over the keyboard for a moment, almost reverting back to approach #1 and asking the person to let me know the next time they tore into the raw flesh of an animal they killed with their bare hands. Then I backed away and considered leaving the comment in place, taking approach #2. A moment later, I took a deep breath and hit “delete.”

So, it’s time to add a third approach, one which I’ll be following from here on out:

  1. Delete stupid, antagonistic comments. This is not to say that I’m not going to allow comments that I may not agree with, but anyone that comes on and posts something similar to the nonsense above is going to get canned.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the future of this site and the direction I want to take (hence a lot of silence recently), and one thing is for sure: I’m done wasting time on the blowhards. They’re not the people I want coming back. You, the people nodding and thinking, “Jeez, it’s about time!”… you’re my people. You’re the ones I want to stick around.

22 Responses to “Exercising Censorship”

  1. Sat

    Yeah, I do my fair share of comment deleting on my blog also… good thing it’s just stupid spam :-p

  2. Joel Falconer

    Definitely a smart approach. I run a site called the Free Articulator, so with a name like that I’m completely welcoming of dissent and arguments – however, antagonistic crud is not articulation. The Delete button is the blogger’s friend. Keep up the good work.

  3. Becci

    Gorillas have canines too. Big canines.


    They’re vegan.

    I know you’re doing the right thing to just ignore this person (by the way, does her mommy know she’s on the computer? She’s 11!) but seriously, the canine teeth argument is as worn out and pointless as the “hitler was a vegetarian” thing.

  4. Becci

    Oh, haha–I just noticed that “11” was part of the date, not her age.

    But with that attempt at arguing, I was totally willing to believe she was only 11 years old. Awesome.

  5. Jason

    Urgh, every time I think about opening up comments again I see something like this to remind me why I stopped :)

    After almost a year without hosting comments though, I think that most sites are richer for having them, both from the interaction and the feedback cycle to the author, so thanks for grinding through the most thankless and unseen job in web publishing!

  6. Jessica D

    Let them grow up and slap their forehead in disbelief once they look back. I’m sure everyone has their eureka moments, some take longer than others.

    You keep going! TY for a cool blog.

  7. bazu

    Having been vegan for a few years now, I can attest that peoples’ mean-spirited and belligerent comments are among my biggest triggers for depression and pessimism. For better or worse, they remind me of what we’re up against in the general world, where we are not surrounded by like-minded, compassionate people. I think that is actually a useful reminder. But it doesn’t make this sort of comment any less of a headache.

  8. girl least likely to

    funny, i was just thinking about this yesterday, because i got a comment on my recent post on bull-riding that was totally full of “your an idiot” and “bulls are treated like ROYALTY” and all that crap that we know is BS. i couldn’t decide if i should keep it and do nothing, try to address it with a response, or baleet it. right now it’s just sitting there (like your option #2), but it’s been weighing on my mind. i don’t actually get a lot of comments on my blog, so i haven’t had to wade through a lot of negative posts, but i agree that it’s good to have a system to live by. :)

  9. Jesse

    Ugh. Thank goodness. It’s a comment like that that will leave me irritated for the rest of the day. A blog about racial tolerance wouldn’t allow a blatantly racist comments full of cuss words to be posted–there’s no reason that we should have to read comments telling us to “get our heads out of our asses.” It’s not so much the idiotic argument that makes me angry (it does, of course, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with), it’s the attitude of the poster. Yeah, he really puts us in our place doesn’t he. Gag.

  10. Cynthia

    Deleting is good. Thanks. This is your blog, not a democracy. It’s not as if anyone here would forget that ignorance exists just because you decided to delete their boring comments.

  11. kelly g.

    Many of the feminist blogs I read also have the same problem, so a few bloggers got together and formed a Feminism 101 blog (http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/). Basically they take turns addressing some of the idiotic troll comments that are all-too common on feminist blogs. Then when a troll pops up spouting off troll nonsense, you just direct ’em to the 101 blog for some schooling. Some individual blogs, like Shakesville (http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/), do a running series of posts, where they tackle dumb MRA myths or define common misunderstood terms.

    Not that I’m suggesting Ryan should try to tackle such a huge project on his own, it’s just an interesting idea. Or maybe there’s already something similar for animal rights topics on the interwebs?

  12. Mike

    What Cynthia said bears repeating: this is your blog, not a democracy. You don’t have to print anything you don’t like. If people want to read pro-meat opinions, they have plenty of sources to consult.

    Free speech should apply in a global sense, in that every person should have the right to express his or her opinion in declared public venues. That doesn’t mean they should have the right to express any opinion in every venue. Your blog doesn’t have to be a public venue.

  13. johanna

    I think the judicious deletion is a good move… it’s not about censorship, no matter what people start screaming. I mean, they can start their own damn blog glorifying carnage.

    A friend & I were discussing the possibility of a veg*n/AR-themed panel @ this feminist science fiction convention we go to every year, & she pointed out that the meat-eating debate happens daily, & shouldn’t be a part of the proposed panel, & that it would be really awesome to have ONE freakin’ space in this progressive convention that assumed a meat-free world was not only possible, but desirable.

    So I kinda feel the same way about vegan blogs… meat-eaters have the rest of the world to push their views. I mean, the majority of the world agrees w/their views. So spaces that don’t take that view (meat-eating as okay) for granted should totally be protected, even if it means pissing off carnivorous trolls (oh noes!).

  14. Vance

    I completely support you right to set the bar wherever you want on your own blog.

    Comments are not sentient so no matter how far you’re trying to extend ahimsa, they’re not covered.

    So far I think I’ve left all the comments, good and bad. This is an easy strategy when you get so few comments. All part of my cunning plan, you see…

  15. xen

    I fully support your decision on this. I’m all for freedom of speech and the right to speak out your opinions, but what most people forget is with that comes great responsibility. Far too many aren’t able to handle that, so I don’t see nothing wrong in “taking out the rubbish”.

  16. Jessica

    Umm, I have been a vegetarian for a year now and can I just say to people disrespecting vegetarians-
    b) PLEASE DON’T STEREOTYPE OUR MOTIVATIONS- we all have different reasons NOT limited to “not believing people should eat meat” (I am an example of that)
    (These Things Should Be Considered In ANY Debate- I am not being biased just because this subject pertains to me. Ignorance will get you nowhere in a debate so if you have no facts- stay out of it!!)
    -i have really been wanting to get that out and tell all of the “ney-sayers” my opinion.
    -This is not meant to attack anyone it is just what i think..

  17. Jessica

    my point on getting your facts is supported by Becci’s comment above- canine teeth mean nothing, and not only that-
    I am not against eating meat- I am a Christian and I am fully aware of the reason animals were put on this earth- to eat. I know. But if you DID SOME RESEARCH you would realize the way these animals are treated when they are ALIVE. It’s horrific and although God put these animals on this Earth for us to eat I can bet that he also intended for them to be RESPECTED. Similar to the way animals are treated in India- In India, people there respect the animals they kill, kill them in just ways, eat every part of the animal, and use every part of the animal. If they have to kill a living being it is to be respected. That is the way I think all animals should be treated therefore, I refuse to support large companies who abuse their animals, beat them, and make them absolutely miserable and then even BRAG about it. If you do not believe this, go to Peta2.com and see for yourself. Religion should probably not be brought into this but for a Christian- how can it not be brought into this- for me, it is my sole reason for my decision to not participate in the abuse of animals.
    Yes God wants us to eat animals but can you honestly think that he would be happy with the way people treat the animals he made?
    I think not.

  18. Jessica

    sorry. i know this blog is not about vegetarians but i just wanted to get that out after i read that comment up there. everyone should know that. and yes delete mine if you so please- i kinda lost it. lol

  19. Joseph

    Remember Jessica, Adam and Eve were vegan!

  20. Hanna

    May I ask, why do you think that all non-veg people are closed-minded? It is just different ways… I’m not a veg, but I respect you… And I think that it’s impossible to make any deal without respect to each other.
    Maybe killing animals is a bad thing, but killing vegetables is awful also!! :)))
    Peace, friendship and love :)

  21. ryan

    Who ever said all non-vegetarians were closed-minded? Not me. And the comment I quoted didn’t imply that all non-veg*ns are closed-minded, just the ones that have been showing up here and leaving dumb ass comments! Those are the people I’m tired of.

  22. Jesse

    I really hope the “killing vegetables is awful also” comment was just a joke.

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