Forgive me, this is one of those administrative “how the sausage is made” posts.
I’m giving serious thought to revising my comment policy. When I started blogging, I wanted to show a strong respect for free speech and open dialog, and so I committed not to delete anything, no matter how offensive or worthless. I’ve only ever done so when the comment contained a threat of violence.
But that was almost 20 years ago, and the Internet was a different place then. There was no Twitter and no Facebook–ie, no central place where users could engage in conversation. My sense was that I wanted my page to be a place where people could toss out conflicting ideas and make their voices heard–but in today’s online environment, that sounds ridiculous and grandiose.
As I’ve watched ugly comments pile up in recent weeks, particularly on that Bruce Jenner article, that ridiculousness has been underscored. There’s really no need for me to use my miniscule corner of the Internet to protect some asshole’s “free speech.” If a person wants to make their feelings heard, even about a topic raised here, there are plenty of much larger forums in which they can do so freely.
I’d like this site to be a place people can come and read without feeling attacked, even by anonymous commenters. I’ve long held a belief that choosing to read the comments is a choice to be exposed to hate, and I still think that’s true across the web, but this is my site, which I pay for and maintain, and I don’t know any reason that rule needs to apply here.
So while I’m not making any change at this moment, at some point in the coming days I think the policy is going to shift, to something like: “Say something meaningful or don’t say anything at all.” I will still respect opinions I disagree with, even those I find offensive, provided the commenter is contributing something to the conversation (or trying to), and not just being a troll.
If you’re a reader or participant here, and you have an opinion about that, this is the time to speak up. Thanks.