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No More Politics

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by Black Dragon, May 31, 2012.

  1. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Everyone,

    We, the Mythic Scribes community, are taking a permanent hiatus from all political discussions. Over the past 48 hours there have been serious blow-ups over this topic, and frankly, it's just not worth the heartache.

    We are all brought together by a common interest in fantasy writing. We help one another out, and challenge each other to improve as authors. Political discussions, and the divisions that they bring, threaten to weaken the mutual trust that our community is built upon.

    Here in the United States we are in the midst of an ugly presidential election. Presidential election years give rise to a mass insanity that sweeps across the nation, making otherwise rational people act in illogical, fanatical ways. We've seen some of that here. We can't allow this craziness to poison our writing community.

    Political discussions inevitably result in anger, mistrust and hurt feelings. These are counterproductive to what we are trying to accomplish at Mythic Scribes. I log in here every day, as do most of you, to escape the distractions of life and to improve myself as a writer. I don't want the political nastiness that is sweeping the world to be here waiting for me.

    Hence, from this day forth, all contemporary political discussion is no longer welcome at Mythic Scribes. There are many other places to discuss these topics on the internet. What we need to do here is focus on the art of writing, and remove all potentially destructive distractions.

    Asking questions about politics as it relates directly to writing is fine. Talking about historical political systems and developments, in the context of research, is also acceptable. But for the well-being of our community, please avoid contemporary politics and all related hot-button issues.

    Thank you for cooperating.
     
  2. Justme

    Justme Banned

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    I suggest a ban on Religious discussion since that topic is just as volatile.
     
  3. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    A Heartfelt Plea

    Dear Black Dragon and Moderators:

    I understand WHY banning subjects must be done sometimes, but I would hope that it wouldn't be necessary. While that thread got ugly, it was merely a catalyst for a reaction set off by an older thread. While I don't support hatred between members, I feel like some people have posted things without remorse or consideration for other people. It's one thing to say, "I believe in this, and this is why." It's another to say, "You sound like (insert race, religion, creed here) because they're so (derogatory word)." (this is MY example, not an actual quote).

    Sure it's a subtle difference to some people, but to others, there's a really big difference. We are a mixed group; we from many countries, with all races of people; we are of different religions, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, pagan, Wiccan, and more; we are different ages and have differing political views and life experiences. No one is wrong, we are just all different.

    When we must censor our posts completely, it restricts our abilities to share our personal experiences and get to know our fellow scribes. While racial issues and political issues have arisen, I've never seen a religious topic become offensive. Please don't consider banning religion as well. With fantasy stories, so much of world-building is based on religions and gods.

    While I hope we are still able to debate ethical decisions, moral fiber and the like, I understand how politics can get people fired up, but I ask the moderators to please consider letting us all off with a warning and reminding everyone to report a post if it is offensive. I don't remember where it spiraled out of control, but I know which post did it for me, and once I was offended, I forgot I could report it, and just started typing my response. My apologies.

    I don't think anyone here is truly hateful, and banning politics (or any other subject) won't necessarily solve this problem because the problem isn't that people are expressing differing views. The main problem is that once a subject is posted which invokes controversy, several people respectfully weigh-in on their viewpoints. Then some more people chime in, in support of a viewpoint or with a new one. So far so good. No one's angry, just agreeing or disagreeing, which is a healthy, rational thing. The problem occurs when someone expresses a fanatical view in a hateful way. It just sucks the air out of the room. And the problem with fanatics, as you all know, is that they cannot be rationalized with, and that leaves those of us who enjoy debate, with little or no recourse.

    So please, if you feel the need to ban something, I understand, but consider all of the Scribes who engage in responsible debate on a daily basis, and do what you must to keep order while allowing us to freely express ourselves in the spirit of mutual respect. There are few enough places to engage other intelligent and well-read people, and it would be a shame to lose this community to fanatics who try to ruin the fun.
     
    TWErvin2, Justme and Amanita like this.
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    To be frank, I felt people were starting to say things that were banworthy. I don't like it any more than you do, and I'm not sure what I would've wanted to see happen, but banning politics on a fantasy writing forum has got to be better than banning fantasy writers because they can't talk about it civilly, isn't it?
     
  5. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Politics are everywhere. Like BD said, I come here to escape the real-world and have fun with friends. Politics have and never will be fun to me. That's why I never chime in on those type of threads. Maybe I'm an ostrich with his head in the ground, but for me, Mythic Scribes is a place to have fellowship with writers and friendly discussions. If I want to argue about something, I'll go over to 4chan. You'll never, ever hear me discuss my political affiliation, my religion, or any other personal matter here. Sure those things may influence me as a writer, but I don't want to have to defend any of my beliefs when my main goal here is to grow as a writer and help others if I can.
     
    Chilari likes this.
  6. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Anihow,

    I have no desire to ban religious discussion. As Robert Jordan once said, fantasy writing and theology have a great deal of overlap. Many of the greatest fantasy authors melded religious ideas into their stories, and I know that many of us do the same with ours. As long as people are able to adhere to our established guidelines for the discussion of religion, we should be fine.

    Contemporary politics, however, is a different story. Talking about our personal political beliefs has little to no value in relation to fantasy writing. It's completely extraneous to what we are doing here. I had no problem allowing it up until now. But as we saw over the past 48 hours, political discussion has tremendous destructive power. It caused otherwise sane, responsible community members to abandon all rationality and civility. Partisan politics has a way of warping people's judgment.

    I have the misfortune of living in a so-called "battle ground state." Whenever I turn on the television, I am bombarded with negative political ads in which candidates demonize their opponents. It's relentless and vile. And at my workplace, many of my colleagues have worked themselves into a political frenzy. Just two weeks ago I was confronted by a valued colleague who demanded to know who I am planning to vote for in November. When I answered that I don't discuss politics, he responded with hostility. I'm sick of this.

    It's bad enough that this madness is overtaking my state and my country. I'm not going to allow it to violate my online home as well.

    When I come to Mythic Scribes, I want to focus on writing, fantasy and friendship. I want this to be a safe place, where we don't have to brace ourselves against irrational attacks. That's why we we're better off with politics being off-limits here. It makes Mythic Scribes a safe-haven, where we can escape from the violence of partisan politics. God knows that we can use such a place right now.
     
  7. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    While I agree that modern politics are probably not within the scope of this site, I was referring to the moral issues which come up time and again in questions. It would sure be a shame if we weren't allowed to discuss real-life issues that are undeniably linked with today's politics. Several were brought up in that thread, and it was insightful. How will the ban affect those kinds of issues and the questions people ask about them? I always hate when something is off limits because I get paranoid and afraid to post even remotely related topics.

    Thank you sincerely Black Dragon and Moderators for all the hard work you guys do on behalf of this community. I'm deeply saddened by the fact that a subject was banned, but hope we can move past it and continue working in the spirit of cooperation and respect.
     
  8. I'm assuming this is only a ban on current (or recent enough to inflame passions) real-world politics. (I'm right there with ya on that.) Are discussions of centuries-old politics (e.g. ancient Rome, 16th century Norway, etc.), or of fantasy politics, still acceptable? I figure they probably are, but I just want to be sure.
     
  9. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I don't know how I feel about a straight ban on politics, but we have good Mods at liberty to use their own good judgement. I think the closest I've seen to a complaint is, "It's Friday! Where's the Chat?" - so I don't think we're going to see a dozen closed threads because somebody said something that sounded almost like an argument for an immigration policy. I think this is just about avoiding nasty election year spats, and the - well, really it can only be called namecalling - which we saw in that last thread or two. So I don't think a ban on politics is unreasonable or will be carried even close to too far, even if I'm not yet convinced about whether it's necessary.
     
    Dwarven Gold likes this.
  10. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Yes, that's exactly it.

    Those topics are perfectly fine, and fall within the scope of our subject matter.
     
  11. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

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    Moral issues will come up as part of writing, and can't be avoided altogether. Some of the best fantasy and science-fiction is an examination of morals.

    However, I am asking that we avoid issues that are hotly debated in the present climate. If something is likely to fire up cable news talk show hosts (whether on the left or right), it's a topic that is going to inflame passions.

    For those of us in the United States, here's a litmus test to ask yourself:

    Realistically, can you imagine Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, Sean Hannity, Rachel Maddow, Glen Beck, and Al Sharpton getting worked up over this issue? If the answer is yes, it's a topic that we should probably steer clear of.
     
  12. Elder the Dwarf

    Elder the Dwarf Maester

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    Haha I enjoyed that.
     
  13. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

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    Well, I can understand why this decision was made and maybe I'm partially to blame because of my complaints about forum tone earlier this year. Still, like anihow I see some problems with a total ban on political discussion. My own fantasy story is set in a "modern" world which at least partly has a political system similar to our own, therefore discussion of it might fall under this ban. In my experience, threads about difficult topics actually linked to a story someone is writing didn't cause trouble like what we've seen during the last days. I especially remember my thread about wartime rape where I got many very well-thought out answers and as far as I can remember nothing objectionable.
    Is it not allowed to ask something like that (my post also mentioned abortion) from now on? As mentioned above, I can see why you feel that you have to take these steps but I'd like to have this clarified. Are posts about things like gender roles or race relations in fantasy worlds off-limits now as well?

    I agree that discussions about current politics not linked to writing seems to be highly destructive at the moment, something I didn't really expect either. We don't have this kind of fervour before elections here in Germany, compromise is much more important in politics and sometimes, the two major parties actually rule together because none of them got a majority of votes on its own. Many of the controversial subjects here are spread among various parties which makes it impossible to clearly link certain policies to one specific party in most cases. There are very few dedicated supporters of a specific party, most people mainly care about specific issues such as labour or enviromentalism and quite a few people don't vote at all because they don't think it's making any difference.
    This isn't good either, you at least seem to have a living democracy with real choices. (Though I have to admit that I often fail to see great differences in (foreign) policies by American presidents of different parties either.) It is a bit hard to understand sometimes, that many Americans (here and in other places) react as if the opposing side winning the election would be the end of the world or at least of the US while actual political decisions often seem quite similar or limited by the different parliamentary branches.
    Okay, I hope this wasn't too much politics discussions again, I only tried to explain my position and my own political background as well as my lack of knowledge about how things are done in the US in this aspect and the potential for writing the "wrong" things that comes with this.
     
  14. Justme

    Justme Banned

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    I still haven't gotten any answer to my question of the definition of politics. Politics runs into just about every feield of human interaction from healthcare to social issues,l which I personally l8ike to talk about. discussing any of these topics without specific guidelines is like walking through a mind field and I refuse to do that.
     
  15. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    This is a writing forum, not a political forum. If you want to discuss social healthcare (or whatever else) in so far as it relates to a story, and without making value judgements on them (eg, you can say "this is the argument in favour of this policy, and this is the argument against it" but not "this is clearly the better policy"), that is acceptable. If you want to debate politics for the sake of debating politics, find a political forum or one which allows contemporary political debate.
     
  16. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    As Chilari and Black Dragon have both said, I believe a ban on contemporary politics is the aim. Nothing good can come of that. If you want to discuss ancient historical politics, that is less likely to cause bad feelings amongst members. As a general rule, don't state your belief on anything as factual if it's a polarizing topic. It's when people start telling each other they are inherently wrong is when problems start happening.

    Yes, there are ways to discuss modern politics in civil ways, and I'm sure there are many forums that welcome such discussion. Probably hundreds actually. But fantasy writing forums? I only know of a handful, this one being my favorite, of course. And it's my favorite because we decided as a team not to tolerate any sort of bashing of one another in any way, shape, or form. One of our main goals is to be a welcoming community for fantasy writers. If too much real-world vitriol injects itself into the forum as a whole, then it'll be overrun with that type of stuff.

    If you stay out of the contemporary realm of politics, I'd suffice to say that it'd be safe to discuss.
     
    Black Dragon likes this.
  17. Justme

    Justme Banned

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    I don't want to debate politics. I'm uninterested in who lies the worst. I want it defined so I can stay outside of that area.
     
  18. I don't think it's that difficult a thing to define, but I would imagine it consists of discussions of contemporary issues or events that are morally or politically contentious, or involve elections or politicians or government.

    Go with what BD said and you'll be fine (if you can't imagine Rush or Rachel getting worked up over it, it's probably fine).
     
    Black Dragon likes this.
  19. Ravana

    Ravana Istar

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    Exactly. Even more importantly, it's a fantasy writing forum. If you want to discuss politics–howsoever defined–in terms of how it pertains to writing fantasy, that's one thing. If you want to discuss politics in terms of how it pertains to the real world, and especially in terms of how it pertains to today's real world, there are better places to do it. Such as the innumerable sites dedicated to just such discussions.

    If you want to claim that all political writing is fantasy to begin with, I'm not sure what to tell you. (Particularly since I'd have a hard time disagreeing with you.) Though in the end, I'd still say it would be more appropriately done elsewhere.

    Chilari's guidelines are fairly solid, straightforward and simple. If you can't discuss something without attempting to impose value judgments, then there isn't much cause to be discussing it here, regardless of whether or not it's "political": the same principle applies to discussions about religion, for instance. (Note that I say "impose": offering a value judgment on the quality of a story or author, especially where one is solicited–"What's the Best Fantasy Novel of the Decade?" etc.–differs vastly from proselytizing for or against one.) If something doesn't pertain to a story–your own, or someone else's–then there isn't much cause for anybody to be discussing it here.

    If you are in the process of writing a fantasy story that involves the consequences of the 2012 U.S. Presidential election–or that of any other place or office–then I'd say be careful, do what you can to avoid trampling on others' sensitivities, do your best to maintain a neutral tenor on your own thread by redirecting discussion away from polemics and toward productive speculation, be prepared to have the mods step in if it starts getting out of hand–even if through no fault of your own–and above all don't be afraid to ask a mod to do just that if it seems you can't reassert control without some assistance. (And do not try to disguise a political discussion as being pertinent to some fictitious project… as opposed to a fiction project.) If you aren't certain you can do this publicly, you can always solicit opinions through PM. I, for one, will always be happy to provide my input on such matters.

    Finally, I'd add one extra principle to those Chilari gives, one that applies not only to any discussions on this site but which is a good one to apply to any aspect of your life: if you don't want to hear the answer, don't ask the question. If you can see yourself becoming offended by honest, well-intentioned responses–let alone any other kind of response–then you should probably consider the topic a no-go.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
    Black Dragon likes this.
  20. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    A pity. I do enjoy a spot of dry political humour. :)
     

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