Earlier this week we published a theater review in which the reviewer used rape as a metaphor for his distress with the way the playwright had, in his view, mangled Chekhov. There followed a firestorm of protest in the form of emails, comments on our site, comments on Facebook and phone calls that made us realize that this reference had touched a raw nerve the depth and breadth of which causes pain for many readers, and for that we are truly sorry. We immediately removed the offending metaphor. At the same time, comments from readers accusing us of promoting and condoning a “rape culture” made us want to explore the issue that this controversy had raised. As a result, we have asked one of our readers who was offended to write about this issue for us, in hopes that this can be the beginning of further discussion and enlightenment.
Readers of The Edge know that our content is neither sexist nor misogynist, that we are committed to social justice and that we provide an outlet for progressive people, ideas and causes. Nevertheless, we do not back away from controversy. Among our goals in starting The Edge was to truly represent the life, interests and aspirations of this unusually vibrant Berkshires community and to provide a vigorous and open forum for the expression and exchange of ideas and opinions. We do not intend to stop posting controversial views, nor will this experience inhibit us from presenting perspectives that might offend some portion of our readership. A lively marketplace of ideas depends on differences. As we did this week, we will also continue to learn from our readers and depend on readers’ comments to identify issues worthy of further exploration.
Speaking of readers’ comments, many were extremely helpful in elucidating the reasons for taking offense. Many others, however, were rude, intolerant and even vindictive, making the assumption that an offense was purposely committed, leaving no path for mutual understanding, personally attacking both the reviewer and other Edge staff and, in some cases, using language more crude than the original offending statement. Because we are committed to the exchange of ideas and opinions, we have left all these comments on our site. Nevertheless, as eager as we are for reader feedback, we cannot help but feel some dismay at this level of discourse. We think it is not too much to ask readers who expect support and sensitivity on our part to exhibit those same qualities when they write to correct or enlighten us.
To read the revised review, click HERE.