Here are my five fundamental axioms of comments:
A.1) This is my blog.
A.2) Whoever owns a blog has both the freedom and responsibility to govern comments (individually and as a matter of policy) as they see fit.
A.3) Readers have a greater right to feel safe and supported in their individual identities (racial, cultural, sexual, gender, etc.) than they do to write whatever they want without regard for the feelings of others.
A.4) We live in a society with structural inequality such that those with greater privilege will tend to underestimate the harm their comments may cause (e.g. when playing devil’s advocate, making identity-based generalizations, etc.).
A.5) No one is above criticism.
From these axioms, we can derive some principles:
P.1) I am the ultimate arbiter of a comment’s existence on this site. [Per A.1 and A.2]
P.2) I will tend to remove comments that threaten readers’ sense of safety in their identity. [Per A.3 and P.1]
P.3) I will likely be more stringent in my application of P.2 than some commenters are comfortable with. [Per A.4. and P.2]
P.4) I hope commenters will call me out when I unknowingly fail to live up to my own expectations and principles. [Per A.4 and A.5]
P.5) Disagreement and debate are allowed (and in some cases encouraged), provided it stays genuinely respectful of others. [Per A.3 and A.5] [NB: Prefacing a comment with, “With all due respect,” or a similar invocation is not, on its own, sufficient to prove genuine respect.]
These may be revised or added to over time, but this should give you a good sense of where I’m coming from. You can disagree with my axioms, but I’ll still require you to abide by them here.