Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Comments and complaints

I received a call from a woman the other day who was concerned about the tone of comments on some of our blogs, particularly on Mike Kovak's "Varsity Letters." She noted that although some of the comments might not be obscene, they were mean-spirited and hurtful to the young athletes about which these comments are directed. She suggested that we be more discriminating in the comments we permit to be posted.

We do not edit comments posted on our blogs, but we do toss ones that are obscene, libelous or contain outrageously and obviously false information. It is certainly discouraging to read some of the comments that meet the guidelines yet seethe with anger and hatred, but, unfortunately, these are reflections of the feelings of many people in our community, and we do ourselves no good by ignoring them.

There are, on average, 40,000 individuals who visit O-R Online each week. A few of them spend a great deal of time at our site, as evidenced by the blog posts. The caller and I agreed that some of these people apparently have way to much free time on their hands. And for some of them, anonymity offers them the courage they need to choose enemies and lash out at them viciously.

I yearn for a more elevated level of discussion, but we can't reach that level by restricting the forum we have created to only the genteel. What guides us here at the O-R are the words of Thomas Jefferson, spoken during his first inaugural address in 1801, in a plea for civility among warring political factions and used as the slogan of this newspaper for many years:

"Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."

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