Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Policy on Comments

I want all our readers to know that we now a new policy when it comes to commenting on posts here. You have the ability to register, or post anonymously. However, anonymous posters will have to sign their name to their comments — the same as you do to have a Letter to the Editor published. If you're going to comment, you're going to have to have the intestinal fortitude to sign your name to your opinions. It's just that simple.

What has made this necessary is the uncivilized, and purely vitriolic nature of some recent comments from people posting anonymously disagreeing with some the opinions expressed here. I believe that level of discourse is totally uncalled for, and the nature of any debate will be much more civilized if people have to actually sign their names to what they write. 

I have a pretty thick skin — something necessary in the line of work I've spent most of my adult life doing — and it's grown even thicker since entering politics. So I can handle disagreement, and I can certainly hold my own in a debate. What I have no patience with is people who result to name calling, personal insults and threats when they can't make a rational argument to defend their dissenting opinion.

The catalyst for this change was the post about 26th District Senate candidate Marty McClendon's references to his son in his campaign. A number of posters felt I was wrong to express the opinion that I didn't mind him mentioning his son's leukemia, as I believe it gives people a sense of who and what Mr. McClendon is, and the challenges his family has faced, but felt he overplays it during Q&A interludes. 

Disagreement is fine within the bounds of civility. And it wasn't even the vitriolic name calling, but threats against my family and our personal safety that got completely out of hand. Some of it was obviously driven by the fact I expressed the opinion that I believe McClendon isn't going to beat Senator Derek Kilmer. It seems most of the rudest name callers took more offense to that, then what I actually said about McClendon mentioning his son. 

These same posters seemed to have completely ignored the statement in the second sentence of that post that those were my personal OBSERVATIONS about the PROBABLE outcomes — and they were NOT endorsements for any candidates. The truth is, some of the folks I'd personally like to see win, and think we'd all be better off if they did, probably won't, while I don't believe some incumbents I'd like to see defeated, will be.

So the bottom line is, from this point forward, if you want to disagree with me, that's fine, and debate is still openly welcomed. But you're going to have to demonstrate you have the the courage of your convictions, by simply signing your name. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so. 


  1. Anonymous8:45 PM

    The only problem with requiring non-anonymity is you can never really know who is giving their real name, or impersonating someone else. ~ Mickey Mouse

  2. Well Mickey, I'm the one screening them, and tracking an IP address isn't exactly rocket science, so it won't take long to figure out who's truthful, who's a phony, who's a liar, and who is attempting to use multiple names.

    I've recorded the IP addresses of the people who made threats against my family, so if anything happens, we'll have a starting place for both criminal — and civil — prosecution.

    What happened in the McClendon debate was WAY over the top. Disagreement is one thing. physical violence being threatened against my family is quite another. I'm simply not going to tolerate it. End of story.

  3. Kudos for the new policy. Oh that the local media would take on the same policy.

    By the way, I've heard Marty speak several times during this campaign season and don't recall once hearing about his son's struggle with leukemia. I have noticed that he is very compassionate and polite.

    He is taking on one of the most likeable and moderate Senators in the State. If it were a race for a vacant seat, I think Marty would have had a much better chance. But, I think Derek Kilmer is probably the safest candidate in this anti-incumbent environment.

  4. And just to clarify something important...

    I don't believe Mr. McClendon had any personal knowledge of, or anything to do with, any of the threats. I believe it was overzealous supporters acting on their own who simply didn't like reading my opinion of the probable outcome.

  5. Kathryn,

    I've heard him speak twice since that piece was posted, and to his credit, he's moderated it. But the times I heard him previously, it was — in my opinion — over the top, which was why I originally mentioned it. If it had been as I stated above, just mentioned to give you a sense of who he is and what his family has faced, that would naturally be acceptable. But when I saw him previously, he was working it in pretty hard during the Q&A periods, and I found that inappropriate. Glad to hear there's been a change.


  6. Doña Keating7:01 PM

    Were the threats made in another forum or via email? The only one I saw was the anonymous person who indicated they would kick your arse if you referred to their child in the same way. Not that this diminishes the seriousness of the comment or the foolishness in making such a threat. It was clearly out of line, and unacceptable.

    You mentioned in that other thread that 'this was still America' where you had the right to express your opinion. You're completely spot on...but anonymous free speech is also protected by the Constitution. If larger media outlets enacted similar policies, it would only be a matter of time before the litigious started filing suits ...whether on 1st Amendment issues or reckless endangerment. Of course it can be argued that participation was voluntary, but someone would find the right affirmative defense.

    I respect that you get to run your forum the way you want, and think we both know I could have easily posted with a fake name and proxy which altered my IP. I chose to do so openly, not because I lack intestinal fortitude or the ability to stand behind what I post, but because of our years of friendship.

    IMO, your new policy penalises those who post anonymously but with civility and/or good cause for non-disclosure: many of us didn't opt for public office, or have already had their families threatened by unhinged posters per a disagreement. Being subjected to these elements via forced disclosure (they won't be posting but can still read here) might curtail the troublemakers, but also those who are more reasonable.

    There are valid points to both sides of the anonymity issue, but the last thing I need is a trial or jail time for defending myself against an idiot, so this may well be my final post in your blogs. Not a big deal in the end...we all have to make decisions in our best interests.

  7. Anonymous9:51 PM

    I am sorry to hear people would go that overboard on the comments you made. When I heard Marty speak I thought the same as you did about his son. While it is very unfortunate and a challenge for his family that they have bravely dealt with it, it is not what the race is about. It is scary to think someone would make threats to you or your family over it is despicable. I would not be surprised if you took on a sacred cow like Obama or Palin but the bottom line is Marty is not that inspiring. He is nice but does not do anything to make me think he would be better than Derek. I like him on a personal level he is nice and may be ok but really considering who he is running against the only thing Marty has going for him is the (R) next to his name. If someone wants to get that blinded by the R or the D, they need to take a step back and look at the candidate and the policies they support they might be surprised that even some in the party they prefer might do them wrong too. You have to look deeper than that. After all Thomas Jefferson and John Adams where sure the other would destroy or fledgling country. They were both wrong, at least about that.

    Dan Smallwood