When Standard-Times Editor Tim Archuleta put the online comments on hold for a month, he quoted in that editorial Publisher Robert Aguilar, "Frankly, it's gotten ugly", and frankly, it had. Archuleta announced the S-T would no longer allow anonymous comments and hoped that would cure the sometimes slanderous verbiage posted by less responsible posters.
Now, I grant, given the sheer volume of the FLDS comments, it must have been a chore to police the comments and remove or even ban egregious violators. Still...
An example Mr. Archuleta cited was from the police chief race where a poster "inaccurately called someone a criminal", and the post was removed. While Archuleta did not say whether the target was a candidate or another poster, absent documentation to support the term, removal of the "criminal" comment was appropriate, would have happened on our site I'm sure. As I have mentioned in other posts, S-T had the tools under its agreement with posters to do more of this, they failed to excersize the authority.
Now, Thursday AM, I look at the "for attribution" letters on the editorial page and find one from one Dr. Smith on health care reform. Dr. Smith devotes the first three paragraphs of his missive to proclaiming that the Bush/Cheney administration , "have committed some of the greatest war crimes since Adolf Hitler".
I will generously assume Dr. Smith is young and lacking in personal memory of the WWII era. Just for fun, since he said "since" Hitler, let's leave off Hitler and Joe Stalin, and start from that moment of history. Just to avoid historical quibbles, let's assume that every Moveon.org accusation is actually true, Bush is a Cheney puppet and both are willfully evil. I don't, but just for sake of arguement.
From Mao's cultural revolution, to Pol Pot's killing fields, to today's China v Tibet, to Darfur, to the Balkans, etc. ad infinitum; Bush couldn't make the cut to be in the top 100 of war criminals in my lifetime if he was trying.
Understand, I have real problems with a lot of "Homeland Security" laws. I am missing the first Republican State Convention since '94. A clean bill of health I will not give Bush on these items. Otra vez, Lincoln was the first President to suspend habeaus corpus , and that for US citizens, yet he has an impressive memorial on the north bank of the Potomac.
If Dr. Smith's comment is an exemplar of the improvement in tone we are to expect from doing away with anonymous comments, the S-T might as well re-instate Steppenwolfe and other banned posters. If you follow our Blog, JWT gently chided one poster for using uncomplimentary nick-names for persons of interest. That stands as an example of how we intend to moderate comments on our more ethereal "ink". Mr. Turner is the "publisher", if you will, and has final call, but we discuss the problem regularly.
To put it simply, neither JWT nor I intend to let this Blog go runamuck. We look to, and appreciate discussion of issues, even philosophy, not so much personalities, unless a direct relevance to the point at hand can be shown. To that end, JWT as "Benevolent Monarch" of the site, privately owned and published, has final authority. Recent history suggests we will moderate comments more freely but more responsibly than has the local paper.
It really hasn't been a problem. Our readers and posters deserve credit for the civility of comments to date. I thank you all for the interest shown. Digger, ex_pat, others I think I recognise, but leave to them to identify beyond "anonymous", good to be talking again.