One of the great joys of 2020 has been the tenor, complexity, and abundance of the conversations here at AAR. We’ve had so many excellent, interesting, and, yes, feisty discussions here this year.
The 2020 post that’s generated the most comments is the ask@AAR: What’s your topic deal breaker? one published in June. That garnered 183 comments and got several of our readers rather wound up about contemporary American politics. (It is 2020!) In it, like several other posts this year, the discussion veered into the accusatory and I asked those involved to stop.
I’ve tried to have it both ways at AAR. I’d like for everyone to feel at home here and I’d like for us all to accept the views of those with whom we disagree. It’s a tough act. Several commenters have sent me furious emails–not as many as have sent me happy emails, but still–saying that by allowing some sorts of speech we are innately silencing those who feel oppressed by that speech. A few other commenters have publically quit the site, dismissing AAR as an unsafe space.
Safe spaces and free speech are difficult things to simultaneously accomplish and it’s true that I personally value the latter over the former when I must choose. I’d prefer not to choose and that wish drives the choices I make as the site’s moderator.
I’m curious how you feel about the discussion here. Is it working for you? What do you think we are doing well? What could we do better?
And if you don’t feel comfortable commenting publicly, please feel free to email me.
Thanks and happy chatting!