A Brief Response to Steve Hays

I noted with great sorrow Steve Hays’s posts concerning GB here, here, and here. It is difficult to respond. On the one hand, I have no wish to get into any kind of shouting match with a person whose reasoning I have greatly benefited from over the last several years. On the other hand, I do not believe he has been fair in his treatment of my moderators. Let me add parenthetically, however, that Steve Hays is not the only one who has been somewhat (!) disgruntled at GB’s handling of non-confessional commenters. GB has always allowed non-confessional folks to comment on the blog: Roman Catholic folk, atheists, feminists, FV folk, Enns supporters, etc. This is nothing new. We have tended to operate with an assumption that civility towards these non-confessional folks (and allowing them to comment!) does not imply agreement with them. Not everyone agrees that we should have this policy. We understand that, and wish anyone well who wants to operate their blog differently. But my moderators and I are solidly confessional. We don’t pretend to have made all the right decisions in terms of moderating this blog. In fact, we have admitted to each other and to people by email many mistakes on our part. It is a very difficult job, knowing where the toe the line, what to moderate and what not to moderate. I would like Steve to know that I respect his position, as it is shared by other folks I know whom I also highly respect. If he does not wish to comment on my blog anymore, I am disappointed, but I understand. He is always welcome back.

We have also tended to be a bit more clamp-down on confessional folks who are lacking civility than non-confessional folks who lack civility (though we have bounced such folk in the past). There is a reason for this: how is confessionalism going to look attractive to anyone if no one is an ambassador for it? Now, is civility the be-all and end-all of blog discussions? No. It is not the eleventh commandment. On the other hand, would many people say these kinds of things if they were standing right in front of the person? I wonder.

The main thing I would dispute about Steve’s claims is that our policy has somehow seen a massive shift towards a more lax view on non-confessional views. He uses Stephen Young as an example. But Stephen Young has been interacting in a respectful way with us confessionalists. None of us mods agree with his position. But neither are we inclined to shut down such a conversation. But this has been our ostensible policy for years now. Have we been consistent? Hardly! But we are making an effort. And oh, by the way, I have seen nothing to make me mistrust my current mods in any way, shape, or form.