Words, as any journalist knows, can be loaded. One which has cropped up and led to lots of conversations in some blogs is "dhimmi". It's not a very well-known word (it's not in the Oxford English Dictionary, for instance), but it is one which raises passions.
"Dhimmi" refers historically to non-Muslims living in Islamic states whose religion was tolerated as long as they accepted the supremacy of the Islamic state. It is now used, sometimes in the word "dhimmitude", to mean "situations where non-Muslims in the West are allegedly championing Islamic causes above others" (Wikipedia's definition).
Recently in our Have Your Say discussions, "dhimmi" has been used in a context which breaches our house rules, specifically that posts should not be abusive, offensive or provocative. Some users have tried to register with names using variations of "dhimmi", again sometimes in an offensive way. When we spotted this trend, we put the word "dhimmi" on our automated list of blocked words, mostly swearing and racially offensive terms. That meant that any reference to "dhimmi" would mean the posting was automatically deleted. (Having a blocked list means it's possible to filter out abuse and ensure comments do not break any laws - especially useful since our debates get several thousand messages each day.)
On reflection, though, it's clear that the word "dhimmi" can be used in the modern sense in a non-abusive way, so we've decided that it should not now be blocked. The list of blocked words is a moving object - words and meanings do change from time to time - so we'll monitor how the debate goes.
Getting the balance right between freedom of speech and removing offensive content can be difficult at times. We do have our rules, which we enforce, because we want the debates on our site to reflect intelligent, informed and legally expressed opinions. But we're not interested in stopping discussion - that, after all, is the point.
Vicky Taylor is editor of Interactivity.