First rule: There are no rules. There are patterns that will be identifiable to anyone who pays attention, but they aren’t set in stone. And if I make a list of shit that will get you deleted and/or banned, I can be certain that some ill-natured and vexatious person will come along, piss me off for some reason not on the list, get deleted and/or banned, and then whine, “But I abided by the comments policy!” I’m not even dealing with that, y’all.
Second rule: Good-natured and delightful people don’t have to ignore the trolls; you’re more than welcome to tell them to get bent, question their logic, trump them with your brilliance, and make fun of their spelling. I will be doing the same when I don’t choose to delete and ban the little fuckers. Only caveat is, if I do choose to delete them at some point, I might delete your comments, too, just because one half of the conversation won’t make sense on its own.
Third rule: Know that if you make a hateful, pointless comment, I might very well turn it into a new post. If all you have to say is that fat people are lazy and disgusting and unhealthy and deluded and blah dee friggin’ blah, your chances of shaming me are very, very low. Your chances of becoming the subject of group ridicule, however, are very, very high.
Fourth rule: If you even fucking mention “free speech” with regard to this comments policy, you will be banned. I am not a representative of the government; when I tell you, directly or indirectly, to shut up, it does not in any way violate your Constitutional rights. If you want to speak freely, the fine folks at WordPress will be happy to provide you with the exact same kind of platform I use. But if you want to play in my sandbox, you need to not piss me off.
Fifth rule: Polite disagreement doesn’t piss me off. Bullying does. And bullies are inevitably the only ones who don’t get that distinction, so I don’t think I need to say any more about that.
Sixth rule: There will be no promotion of deliberate weight loss or talk about how awesome your diet is. This is a fat acceptance blog.
Seventh rule: I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you don’t understand why your comment was deleted, your account was banned, I was nasty to you, or other commenters were nasty to you and I didn’t tell them to back off. The answer is, you were judged to be a troublemaking douchehound. No, really, that’s the whole answer and the only answer.
Eighth rule: If you’re having trouble processing the seventh rule, just know that sassing the mods is a very bad idea. There may come a time when one of the moderators — me, Fillyjonk, Sweet Machine or Snarky’s Machine — tells you to step back, knock it off, shut up, get lost, etc., and you think, “But I didn’t do anything that bad! This is unfair!” And you know what? Sometimes, it might even be unfair. As I said long ago of this blog’s zero-tolerance policy for headache-causing bullshit:
Realistically, this means that we have probably, on occasion, banned or berated a perfectly decent person who might have eventually blossomed into the kind of commenter we can’t wait to hear from. And you know what? We’re okay with that. We’re not proud of it, and we certainly don’t set out to exclude bright, interesting people from the conversation here. But if it happens every now and again, oh well — because overall, our being hardasses helps keep this blog readable and only rarely crazymaking.
But here’s pretty much the worst thing you can do if you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been upbraided by a mod, can’t figure out why, and are pissed off about it: Ignore the warning and spend your next comment or comments complaining about the unfairness and/or reiterating the point that earned you a warning. Because even if you didn’t do anything all that bad in the first place, now you’ve become a Person Who Doesn’t Take Mod Warnings Seriously, which will make all of us much less favorably disposed toward you and seriously reduce your chances of bouncing back from a not-all-that-bad-actually incident.
Ninth rule: If you’re really worried because you don’t have any specific guidelines for not getting banned, try this: be good-natured and delightful. Clever and funny also go a long way with me. If you can’t be any of those things, be coherent, reasonable, and respectful. You’ll be fine.
Tenth rule: Be aware that if you posted a coherent, reasonable, and respectful comment and it didn’t show up, you probably got trapped in the spam filter, which I can’t control. I do, however, check it occasionally and release the coherent, reasonable, and respectful comments. So either relax and wait for that to happen or e-mail me (sometimes, when spam volume is high, I don’t even see the good comments), but either way, know that if you behaved like a decent human being, I didn’t delete you on purpose.
Eleventh Rule: If you are tempted to begin an argument against something we’ve said here with, “God, stop being so PC!” just stop right there. We are proudly PC and have absolutely no intention of stopping. Racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and sexist comments are as unwelcome here as sizeist ones. That goes equally for unintentionally offensive language. If someone gets pissy at you for using the word “retarded” for instance, that doesn’t mean they think you’re an evil person who hates developmentally disabled people OR that they’re hysterical, overreacting thought police. It means there are people around here who find that word hurtful, and we’re a lot more interested in protecting their feelings than your god-given right not to think of a better word.
Twelfth Rule: If you say something like “Fat is the last acceptable prejudice” or “You could never get away with saying X to a black person,” expect to get smacked down. Occasionally, there are times when we believe that comparing the rhetoric of haters or particular expressions of bigotry is instructive, but comparing the systems of oppression themselves is always a losing proposition. (Not to mention, that is such a fine line to walk that even those of us who try to be extremely conscious of the nuanced distinctions there will fuck up and deserve to be called on it.) Every prejudice is still acceptable in some circles, and many of those deemed “unacceptable in polite society” are still woven deeply into the institutions of that society. That’s the reality, and we won’t be arguing about it around here.
While it is indeed more common to hear a vicious fat joke than a vicious racist joke on TV these days, for instance, that doesn’t mean fat prejudice is more acceptable–it means certain manifestations of it are more acceptable in certain places. But to suggest that this somehow means fat people have it harder overall than any other oppressed/marginalized group is flat-out fucking wrong and insulting. We don’t. We have it different. In many ways, we have it better. And those of us who belong to more than one oppressed/marginalized group have different forms of prejudice coming at them from all sides.
If you’re still not getting it, think about the difference between these two people:
Skinny Person A: You know, I really respect what you’re doing here, because people comment on my body and my eating habits all the time, and they assume I’m unhealthy just because of my weight. I don’t know what it’s like to be fat in this society, but I know what it’s like to have my body treated as public property and be judged negatively because of my size. It fucking sucks, so the Fat Acceptance movement resonates with me, and I hope I can be an ally.
Skinny Person B: People make nasty comments to skinny people all the time, too, so we have it just as bad! All prejudice is the same! We need a Thin Acceptance Movement!
Both those types of people show up here all the time. A’s get welcomed with open arms. B’s get ridiculed and banned. There’s a reason for that–and if you can understand that reason, you should damn well be able to understand why equating fat hatred to other forms of oppression with long and tragic histories is bullshit.
Besides, as The Rotund recently pointed out, if you believe fat is the last acceptable prejudice in “polite society”–if not our institutions–you really need to sit down and have coffee with a transperson.
Fourteenth rule: All of the above rules are subject to change at my discretion.