I'd like to thank those of you who responded to my previous post on the dilemma I've felt concerning whether to try to discuss recent events and issues in the discipline concerning "climate", gender equity, and sexual harassment on this blog, and whether it is possible to do so in a way that is consistent with this blog's safe and supportive mission. A couple of you (Elisa and Joshua) expressed the thought that it might be worthwhile and consistent with this blog's mission to discuss, in a safe and supportive way:
- What conditions in the discipline contribute to problematic environment and actions, and
- How we might act to improve those conditions as individuals and discipline.
On further thought, I am still not entirely sure how we might do this, or whether there are better forums for these things to be discussed ("What is it like to be a woman in philosophy?" and "What We're Doing About What It's Like" are dedicated to (1) and (2), respectively). One thought that I had -- which I have to admit that I am not sure would work -- would be to open up posts on these issues for discussion here, and enforce the strictest standards for safe and supportive discussion possible (taking extreme care -- and time, before approving comments -- to ensure that any comment carrying even the slightest "whiff" of not being safe and supportive is not approved). This idea occurred to me, in part, because I've seen a number of facebook threads in which people have said things like, "It would be really great if there were a blog where people could discuss these things in a safe and productive manner." To this end, if we could accomplish it, I think we would be doing something good and helpful.
But, can it be done? I'm just not sure. First, no matter how assiduous I might try to be as moderator, personal experience and my experience as an observer of what has gone on at other blogs both strongly suggest that mistakes will be made (it is surprisingly hard to determine antecedently what different people may regard as unsafe or unsupportive). Second, I fear that if I did moderate in such a way -- imposing my standards of what is "safe and supportive" on the conversation -- this itself might come across to many would-be participants as unsafe and unsupportive. For these reasons, as much as I would very much like to discuss these issues on this blog -- as they are obviously of great importance, both to the discipline and to countless individuals involved in or affected by it -- it remains unclear to me whether this is the right forum to attempt a discussion in.
I am more than happy to reconsider my position, and hope to hear more feedback from all of you on what you think the best way to proceed is. I hope you've all had a good week (besides the obvious), and have a better weekend. :)