Intolerance Intervention?

Can I tell you how much I love getting email with the subject line “Re: Intolerance Intervention”? Very much do I love it and I’ve been getting a lot of it lately.

I’m really excited to be speaking on a panel at BlogHer next week and I’d like your help preparing. The topic is Intolerance and here’s the official synopsis:

Does the Blogosphere Need an Intolerance Intervention?
What are the benefits and drawbacks of speaking across divides, and trying to be a “bridge”? What do we gain and lose when we assume we’re blogging to people a lot like ourselves? Let’s talk about insularity, authenticity, intolerance, and diplomacy. At times, bloggers can be like indie bands, risking having their original fans stop liking them the minute they start being appreciated by a more diverse audience, outside the original “club”. There’s bloggers who cross all sorts of potential barriers…and bloggers who like it in their own neck of the woods just fine, thank you very much, go away if you disagree. Do Birds of a Feather groups encourage intolerance? Or are diplomats “sellouts”? Decide where you stand. Liz Henry moderates this discussion around a topic a lot of us observe, but few of us say anything about. Bloggers like Laina Dawes, Tish Grier and Kathryn Thompson have a few stories to tell!

I was included in this session largely because of formative experiences I had a few months after I started my blog. They really shaped the way I feel about tolerance and ethics online and helped me take what I was doing much more seriously. I came to think about blogging as a community-building experience and not simply an outlet to dump my thoughts into each day.

When I was fairly new to blogging, some good online friends nominated me for a small award. The stated purpose of the awards was to recognize blogs that brought beauty into the blogosphere and the woman running the contest was Christian. She wrote an obviously religious blog and it was understood that the awards were meant to recognize Christian bloggers.

I found out about the awards after I became a finalist and was so excited not only to be nominated for humor but by a group of women who had included me in their religious community even though I don’t often blog openly about my faith. As a Mormon, I was pleased to feel accepted by a circle of mainstream Christians, a group that doesn’t often recognize my religion’s central belief in Jesus Christ as Christianity.

The day after I won the award however, a prominent blogger in the community publicly outed me as a Mormon (something I thought everyone knew if they’d ever read my blog), and wrote a scathing post about my participation in the contest and the lack of discernment shown by my readers.

Needless conflict and drama ensued, during which I formed some of my strongest blogging relationships to date, several with women who had much more in common theologically with my critic than they did with me, several who have no religious leanings but simply rock solid morals and character, and some who were just so flippin’ hilarious that they helped me get through the pettiness of it all.

Without sharing my specific thoughts on the subject of online intolerance (I’ll blog more about that after the conference.), I’d love to hear what you have to say. What questions would you ask me as part of that panel? What thoughts would you share if you were on it?

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