Trolling, or otherwise disrupting the ability of others to debate is not acceptable, nor is consistently mentioning or making contact with others when this is unwelcome.*

You’re playing a board game with a strange rule that you’re out of the game if any move you make is “unwelcome”. You play for a while then Aaron claims one of your moves upset Betty. Although Betsy says she isn’t upset, Aaron says Betsy is intimidated. All the players have a chat about whether Betsy is upset or not… The practical upshot, short of hiring lawyers, you all decide, is that a player must say “Not Welcome” to remove another player from the game. You wonder why the rules were so ambiguous. When there is something at stake, and players with conflicting goals, an exclusion rule based on something as ambiguous as a feeling doesn’t lead to a harmonious experience. 

The obvious way to win this game is to be the last player. You don’t say anything except “Not Welcome”. 

Bad enough for a board game, even worse for a debating club. When it’s politics and the referees have shown that they can’t be trusted, the less detailed a new conduct policy, the more dates in court. 

On Social Media, no-one is obligated to debate with you, but we don’t need a rule for that. They can stop. If they are really upset they can block you. 

What if you feel someone is harassing you? Is that a matter of your interpretation? NO. For a very important reason. 

Nobody has the right to not be offended. If they did, slavery would still be legal and the LGBT+ community would live in fear of stoning or chemical castration. Nobody bristles quite like a privileged person (or at least, one who has to spend a fair amount of time negotiating with a variety of people) when pulled up for abusing that privilege. There are even some foolish people who vainly think themselves beyond anything so far from perfection.

Every concession, recognition, and right earned by minorities or the working class has met with resistance. How much easier life would be to close down discussions that made the ignorant uncomfortable. How wonderful if we could say our piece, flounce, and then not be called to account! How relieved Mr Blair, and indeed much lesser lights,  might feel if they could insert a “No further mentions” clause into public discussion. How much more at ease public servants might feel blocking people on Twitter. 

Harassment is a complicated legal matter. The disciplinary arm of the Labour Party is under a cloud. Unless the intention is to waste more money in court, I find this part of The Social Media policy to be both  unnecessarily authoritarian and rather casually written. A worrying combination. 

*Typo in original amended.