Please, No More Hateful Comments

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Washington Post is taking steps to curtail online commentary from anonymous bloggers that is particularly abusive. They have no intention of stopping anonymous bloggers from posting, just a more careful moderating. Online commentary is important, it draws attention to the issues of the day and provides a forum for the public to express their views.

However; some anonymous comments serve no purpose but to convey hate. Andrew Alexander cites the following examples:

"Excellent!" exulted a Post commenter when conservative columnist Robert Novak died in August. "Hope he suffered."

When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died a week later, a commenter wrote: "They are going to have to bury him in a secret location to stop people from defecating on his grave."

And after The Post reported last month that the wife and daughter of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had been badly injured when their car was hit by a tractor-trailer, a commenter applauded: "I would dearly LOVE to shake the hand of the driver of the other vehicle."

The Post would implement a system of tiers where some bloggers would be considered "trusted commentators" and placed in one section and those that do not provide their names or first time bloggers may be placed in another tier and still others who violate the rules in another or blocked.

I applaud The Post for taking steps to curtail these hateful comments. A public forum is no place for some of these distasteful and sometimes heinous comments. It is no wonder that are children are bullying each other on Facebook and in text messages when this is the example that is set.

3 comments:

Leslie Hanson April 6, 2010 at 8:44 PM  

I agree that there is really no place for these rude and disrespectful comments. But in my other hand, I feel we need to protest any "monitoring" of our First Amendment right to freedom of the press. It is like being on a scale, in one set of circumstances you lean one direction and with another I lean the other direction.

Katelyn Chamberlin April 8, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

While there is no reason hateful comments without any credibility or reasoning to back it up should be posted, it is also a violation of the 1st Amendment to monitor and delete them. Everyone has the right to post what they want to on any public forum. However, I also feel users who repeatedly abuse the privilege should be contacted and asked to stop or remove their comments themselves.

Kari.Ratkovich April 11, 2010 at 10:07 AM  

I as well struggle with this. While yes, writing hurtful comments such as those lacks judgement and poor taste, I believe it voilates the First Amendment. One could argue that the monitoring could be slanted and scewed. What if the monitor was only deleting comments that would prove his story otherwise?
Working for a media outlet, I have seen and struggled with this. I have had paid advertisers (restaurant owners for this example) that have threatened to pull their advertising if we don't remove a bad review by a reporter or remove a comment posted by a blogger that they feel will harm their business. Unlike some papers in Des Moines, we do not strictly write "fluff" stories and comments just to keep our advertisers and readers happy. Our job is to report the news in a fair and unbias way.

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