For whatever reason, discussing arts and entertainment from an anti-oppression lens tends to bring out the jackass in people. Maybe it’s the anonymity of the internet. Or maybe it’s because people know that saying fucked up shit won’t get them punched in the mouth. So here are a few principles and guidelines you should keep in mind so you don’t become a pain in the ass.

NOTE: Even following all of these to the letter does not mean your comments will see the light of day. If you prove to be a nuisance, you will be treated as such. This could mean mocking you, screening your comments, banning you, or any combination thereof.

1. Follow Craig Ferguson’s rules of engagement.

Before you leave a comment, ask yourself:

  • Does this need to be said?
  • Does this need to be said by me?
  • Does this need to be said by me now?

2. Abide by¬†Moff’s Law.

Coming to Ars Marginal and saying something to the effect of, “It’s just a book/movie/TV show! Stop overthinking it!” will not go well.

3. Dialogue, not debate.

Comments that seek to more fully understand where a post is coming from are welcome. Comments that add depth and complexity to the conversation are welcome. Comments that dismiss, deny, or derail the point of a post are not.

4. Learning is good, but you are responsible for educating yourself.

It’s great that people can learn a lot by reading and participating at Ars Marginal. That said, the people posting and commenting here are not your personal anti-oppression tutors. You are going to have to do the heavy lifting and legwork yourself.

5. Some things are not up for discussion.

  • The definition of “*-ism.”
  • People’s intentions when they do “*-ist” shit.
  • Claims that “*-ism” is irrelevant
  • “*-ism” vs. “*-ism”

6. Only losers win at derailment bingo.

The behaviors satirized over at Derailing for Dummies are always inappropriate here. Admins reserve the right to deal with these behaviors as they see fit.

7. This is a drama-free zone.

Only Ars Marginal stuff belongs on Ars Marginal. Don’t drag in baggage from elsewhere. If you show home training, you can participate.

8. When your fly is open, close the zipper.

When someone is kind enough to let you know that you are fucking up and embarrassing yourself, that’s your cue to stop talking and step away from the conversation until you can participate in a less disruptive way.

9. Your faves don’t need defending.

It is highly unlikely that Ars Marginal has the clout to destroy anyone’s livelihood or well-being. Nothing we say here is going to jeopardize their ability to write, direct, act, draw, etc. They do not need you to defend their honor. What concerns Ars Marginal most are the many insidious messages that arts and entertainment media reinforce, subvert, or reflect to the audiences they reach.

10. Fuck up at your own risk.

If you have questions and/or something to add or expand upon, feel free to do so here.


  1. The BINGO card link is broken. I find BINGO cards a helpful checklist of things NEVER to say to anyone in a polite conversation.

  2. Hey, saying ablist language will not be tolerated then using dumb as a pejorative on the next line:
    “Just so you know. If you roll up in here and start saying dumb shit…”
    Not so cool.

  3. This is particularly relevant for me today since I just wrote a guest post about cultural appropriation and fashion and a bunch of racially privileged people crawled out of the woodwork to tell me that it was okay to appropriate things in the name of “appreciation.” Face, meet palm.

    • I’ve been told “people who cry about appropriation are just anti-tolerance,” since clearly appropriation is all about tolerance/acceptance. Trufax.

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