As you can imagine, when my site was relaunched and the web visits/hits began to climb, lots of people of all ideological stripes began to check out the content here. Some liked it, some didn’t, and that’s fine.
Since the site was constructed with the ability of readers to post comments, I knew that a) it might be tough to keep up with the comments, b) it would surely be impossible for me to comment myself, in response to everyone, and c) I knew that some of the people commenting would probably, eventually post hateful things. I am regularly the recipient of these kinds of messages from neo-Nazis and open white supremacists, so I’m sorta used to it.
But because I started getting lots of these kinds of messages almost immediately, I realized I would need to moderate the boards. While I have approved probably 90 percent of all comments thus far, there are some I have deleted and not allowed to be seen on the comment boards. I will continue to perform this role. My rules for what will not be allowed are as follows:
1. No posts will be allowed that demean persons on the basis of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, class, ability/disability, religion.
2. No posts will be allowed that call for violence towards, or other forms of oppression against, anyone for any reason.
3. No posts will be allowed of a sexually explicit nature.
4. No posts will be allowed that proclaim a belief in the inherent, biological, genetic, or cultural supremacy/inferiority of any group of people, defined racially, ethnically, nationally, religiously, or along the lines of any of the categories mentioned in point 1.
5. No posts will be allowed that make drive-by comments about me, or others, or about previous comments. In other words, if you say, in response to someone else, “That’s stupid,” (or something as equally intellectual as that), I will delete your ass. Quickly and without apology.
6. If you want your post to be visible here, make a friggin’ argument. If you are unclear as to what this means, know this: saying that I am a “Jew bastard,” or “commie,” or whatever, will get you deleted. Your freedom of speech does not obligate me to indulge asshole-ness. And I won’t. Start your own Goddamned website. Or go play with the folks at Stormfront and leave me alone. I don’t have time to deal with Nazis.
7. Commenters should try to the greatest extent possible to question one another, or me, in respectful ways. That doesn’t mean we will always agree. We can even disagree strongly and stridently. Disagreement does not mean disrespect. If I am being disrespectful I want to be called out for it (as I have been already, which is fine), and I will do so in return if I see it. People make mistakes. Mistakes can be apologized for. Trolling and personal attacks are not mistakes. They are character flaws. And they won’t manifest on the boards here.
My decision to delete attempted posts is NOT, and make a note of it, censorship of individuals with whom I disagree. So far, there are many people who have posted on the boards, several times, but who tried to post certain things that crossed the line, and were deleted. That doesn’t mean I will disallow everything from any given person. So long as someone can avoid violating one of the rules above, their post will be added, even if they have done something that crossed the line elsewhere and got deleted. The only way a person will be banned entirely from commenting is if they regularly and repeatedly violate these rules. As for what constitutes regular and repeated, well I guess we’ll see. Since there is no reason to violate the rules even once, this shouldn’t be a problem for people who wish to engage respectfully.
If, ultimately, the volume of commenting gets so overwhelming that I can’t keep up with it and moderate it without taking up too much time, I will shut down commenting altogether. I hope not to do this, but it may become necessary if things get out of control (regardless of the content of the messages left). So far, I don’t believe this will happen. If there are delays in seeing your comments, please know that that is likely not because your comment was deemed inappropriate. It is likely because I just haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet, so I haven’t had time to hit the “approve” button.
And finally, since the comments don’t appear in a threaded format, it is sometimes hard to know who a comment is directed towards. I am starting to put the “@whomever – ” before my comments so as to make clear where my comments are directed. It would be great if others could do this too…
P.S. If I see multiple comments coming from the same IP address, posing as different people, (and oh yes, this has been happening) I may allow them (despite the fact that they are likely being posted by only 1 or 2 people pretending to be several people so as to give the weight of their arguments more presumed following than they have). But then again, I may not. To post from one place pretending to be several different people is a form of fraud, and that too will not be indulged here.