Good day, friends. I am here to offer some clarity on one of the rules of these forums – namely the “no politics” rule.
The no-politics rule does not exist to suppress anyone’s speech; it exists to keep the forums running smoothly. Since their inception, these forums have tried to stay clear of politics. This is not because politics are bad, or because politics do not pertain to MST3K – this is because moderating politics is incredibly delicate and time-consuming work, and we lack the resources to oversee a political free-for-all, which would probably only result in some bad feelings circulating amongst the community anyhow.
I will remind y’all that your moderators are here on a volunteer basis – to my everlasting shame, as their work has enormous value – and they put a huge amount of time and energy into trying to keep the forums tidy, friendly, useable, and rule-adhering. The mods did not write the rules; they are simply doing their best to apply them.
The no-politics rule is a bad rule. It’s a bad rule because politics (like another form of speech beginning with a P) are extremely subjective. You know them when you see them. Which means we can’t give you hard and fast rules for what counts as not-allowed politics, and what will likely slide under the radar. The mods are not infallible all-powerful deities; the mods are human MSTies, just like the rest of you. They will have different opinions on how to interpret this rule in day-to-day use – this is actually a good thing, as having a variety of perspectives is more reflective of actual human experience – and they are doing their best to keep the forums a nice place to hang out.
In the interest of both making the mods’ lives easier, and helping all of our community members understand the parameters better, I do want to explain some distinctions that haven’t been laid out before now.
“Politics,” as we are using it here, mainly refers to electoral and policy politics. That’s not what this forum is for. This is not the place to talk about hating a particular party or an elected official or, um, the Supreme Court. There are lots of other places online to discuss these subjects. Most of our members prefer these forums to be a refuge from politics anyway – which speaks to the fact that most of y’all ARE indeed politically engaged, you just also want a place to hang out that doesn’t always get bogged down in those conversations. Please don’t push on these boundaries.
MST3K is not apolitical. If you’re a longtime community member, you’re aware that MST3K, while far from ideologically perfect, has included highly charged political comments for the length of its run, some of which were pretty far ahead of their time. We’re not suggesting the show doesn’t have a point of view – or more accurately, several points of view – on these subjects. Nevertheless, the forums are not a suitable place for these discussions.
Disagreements are inevitable. I also want to direct you to another of the forum rules: Be kind, which means we give people the benefit of the doubt, and we avoid actions that are abusive, antagonistic, bullying, or passive-aggressive – even with people with whom we powerfully disagree. We do not revert to personal attacks, or to name-calling. Instead we are thoughtful, and open-minded, and civil, and capable of respectfully disagreeing. We are also capable of mindfully stepping away from the conversation if respectful disagreement is not possible.
You are allowed to point out when a fellow member has said something that made you uncomfortable or upset. If you must speak up, do so thoughtfully, and give the other person room to respond and to be accountable, if necessary. If you would rather just not hear from that person ever again, which is also super okay, you can mute or ignore them. You don’t need to tell them first.
As members, each of you has a responsibility to co-create the forum space you would like to see. The moderators exist to support the community and facilitate discussion with the established rules and expectations. But ultimately a community is defined by its membership, not by its moderator team.
If you feel a rule has been inappropriately applied, I recommend you inquire about it – in a cordial way – via direct message, either to the mods directly, or to me. Before assuming anything about intention, first assume that communication is necessary to improve mutual understanding.
Finally, and I need to make this exceptionally clear: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES HARASS OR ABUSE THE MODERATORS. They are ordinary working humans donating their time to help out around here. If you feel compelled to offer criticism of a moderator action, either contact another mod about it, or DM me with the specific details. Publicly deriding the moderators (or any forum member, for that matter) and/or mocking the rules is absolutely unacceptable, and if it persists will result in admin action.
Thank you for reading.