Friday, April 1, 2011
Yes I'm a passionate defender of the First Amendment, but if you actually read that precious declaration it only applies to government censorship--not private policing.
So what does that mean? Over four years I have published (or I should say readers have published) over 15,000 comments. In that time I have only deleted maybe a dozen and I'm tempted to fall back on the Supreme Court Justice who once said of porn, "I don't know how to describe it but I know it when I see it."
Occasionally along the way I would remind readers that I only delete spam, accidental double posting, libelous rants, and any use of the C-word or N-word. I open up comments (and that will continue) to anonymous postings because I honestly believe--especially now after watching the bullying Catherine Sanderson received over the past couple years--that there is an inherent risk in speaking truth to power; and many people, understandably, do now wish to lose their jobs, have their children shunned or risk the wrath of their neighbors.
Crude comments--foul language, personal attacks, lousy attempts at satire/sarcasm will, most likely, no longer be tolerated. If, however, you push the envelope with a comment and sign your name it will increase the odds for publication.
And no, just because I allow a comment to appear does not mean that I even remotely agree with it.
Yes, maybe that will decrease somewhat the interest in coming here--hopefully among trolls--but it's not like I'm getting paid by the hit. I watched very carefully (being the open transparent person she is, Ms. Sanderson has an "open" sitemeter) what happened on her School Committee blog last year when she enabled comment moderation:
A decrease of about 20% in overall traffic in the first month or two, but then it seemed to return to "normal".
My journalism ethics/law professor (and she is W-A-Y smarter and more experienced than I) believes that enabling comments actually makes me more vulnerable to litigation, not less; because if something legally actionable does get published, obviously I approved it to appear.
Bring 'em on!