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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

Put away your verbal scatterguns

Posted Sunday, January 9, 2011, at 9:54 AM

A few months ago, I started enforcing our posting policy more strictly, attempting to weed out more comments that include personal attacks or insults and unverifiable information that could be unfairly damaging to individuals or businesses. I can't claim to have been perfect, but I have made an effort.

http://www.marshallnews.com/blogs/crump/...

But I've been bothered for some time about a kind of comment I've tended to allow: Attacks on opposing ideologies -- or more specifically, the adherents of opposing ideologies.

"You liberals are all [something horrible]."

"You conservatives always [something terrible]."

These comments come from both/all sides and are directed at various groups and sets of beliefs.

When someone uses insulting language toward a whole group, everyone who identifies with that group feels insulted -- and is likely to respond in kind. Comments like that have the same effect as personal insults, which is to poison the conversation with resentment and revenge, only it has a scattergun effect, hitting more people with each shot, spreading ill-will farther, faster.

The shooting in Tucson yesterday seems to present an opportunity to do something about our own practices. It's a wake-up call. If vitriolic political speech had anything to do with the bloodbath in Tucson, then responding to the situation with more vitriolic speech seems like a bad idea. A very bad idea.

We still know very little about the shooter and his motives, but even if there was no political factor in his calculations, we can still reform our own speech, strive for more moderation and use a more respectful tone when addressing individuals and groups with whom we disagree.

Starting now.


The Marshall Democrat-News invites readers to share their views and questions on any issue. Open discussions are often useful and enlightening. Criticism is acceptable as an important part of public conversations, but we expect everyone to treat others with respect. Experience suggests it is best not to post comments while angry. We reserve the right to delete comments that we think include personal attacks, are disrespectful, threatening, obscene or in other ways objectionable. Anyone who repeatedly violates this policy will be banned from participating in our forums.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I guess this will clear the way so you can allow your right wing friends to post as they please without being removed, along with you trying to protect Fox news and other right wing organizations. Then removing any post raising questions against Local business for being partisian. I guess this will clear the way for even more unfair practice. This is my opinion on this issue so Im I allowed to voice my opinion or do I get kicked since I'm probably considered a lefty by this website.

-- Posted by miss october on Sun, Jan 9, 2011, at 1:41 PM
Response by Eric Crump/Editor
I've noticed that many (but not all) people who have a comment (or comments) deleted believe they have been dealt with unfairly or in a partisan manner. Most are unaware, of course, that their opponents' comments often have also been deleted. I get criticism from the right and the left in that regard, so I think things must be in fairly good balance.

Right Wing. Left Wing. If you ain't either, does that mean you might be a drumstick?

You and Pat are right Eric. This has got to stop somewhere and this is the time.

Bang the drum slowly, but with a purpose.

-- Posted by red dog on Sun, Jan 9, 2011, at 4:12 PM

While scooting around wikipedia on an entirely different mission, I came across this, the suicide note of Missouri Gov. Thomas Reynolds, who shot himself in the head in 1844:

"I have labored and discharged my duties faithfully to the public, but this has not protected me from the slanders and abuse which has rendered my life a burden to me ... I pray to God to forgive them and teach them more charity."

-- Posted by Eric Crump on Sun, Jan 9, 2011, at 6:18 PM

Eric in my opinion you do a great job. I have never thought you were wrong when you have censored my comments. Most often I was relieved that you had done so.

Eric you are not contemplating the Reynolds remedy? However I can see that it might be attractive at this moment. ;)

The current buzz will soon wan.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 12:28 AM

God bless our first admendment the freedom of censorship

-- Posted by midniterebel on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 7:13 AM
Response from ERIC CRUMP/Editor
The Marshall Democrat-News is a business. We have the right to set a comment posting policy and enforce it.

This isn't about censorship. It's about good taste. This is a public forum only because the newspaper editor wishes it to be. He can change his mind anytime. Don't confuse rights with doing the right thing.

-- Posted by red dog on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 8:23 AM

"I guess this will clear the way so you can allow your right wing friends to post as they please without being removed, along with you trying to protect Fox news and other right wing organizations. Then removing any post raising questions against Local business for being partisian. I guess this will clear the way for even more unfair practice. This is my opinion on this issue so Im I allowed to voice my opinion or do I get kicked since I'm probably considered a lefty by this website."

Maybe if The DEMOCRAT News had a button to report abuse, like that above, you could more clearly perceive the left wing bias that is prevalent on "The DEMOCRAT News front page blog. Read what you wrote, Eric, then read the above,

"When someone uses insulting language toward a whole group, everyone who identifies with that group feels insulted -- and is likely to respond in kind. Comments like that have the same effect as personal insults, which is to poison the conversation with resentment and revenge, only it has a scattergun effect, hitting more people with each shot, spreading ill-will farther, faster. "

I'm saving what you wrote Eric, so I can cut and paste it to the incessant abusive bias that The DEMOCRAT News permits on its front page blog.

-- Posted by Ray on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 9:35 AM
ERIC CRUMP
The yellow circled exclamation mark is a button that takes you to a form for reporting inappropriate comments.

"I get criticism from the right and the left in that regard, so I think things must be in fairly good balance."

No Eric, I saved my comments offline. You deletions are clearly biased favoring the left. Plain and simple, that's censorship.

-- Posted by Ray on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 9:38 AM
Response by ERIC CRUMP/editor
We delete comments that we believe violate our policy.

Does anyone here watch Fox News? I keep meaning to tune it in to see what the problem is, but keep getting sidetracked by real life.

I just came in from off the road. It is snowing. The tracks are in the middle of the road. That is where most want to drive. Down the middle of the road. Does that correlate to life somehow?

-- Posted by red dog on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 9:47 AM

To be clear, the 1st Amendment only addresses that Congress (later interpreted to all government) shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.

Now, the Marshall Democrat-News (sidebar-the Democratic & Republican parties began life as the same party...) is a private business, not a government entity. As such, they have a right to delete comments (censor, if you insist) that they feel violate their very specific and prominent usage policy.

It is my observation that whomever is being deleted feels that it is because they are left-wing, right-wing, or dragon-fly winged, when in reality, they're just being deleted to keep the vitriol/non-factual information/name-calling/etc. to a minimum.

Eric - you do a good job if trying to keep the conversation civil! I know it's a tough job..and I personally will try to do better to keep it civil!

-- Posted by koeller77 on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 11:28 AM

Hey, Cheetah - that's a rockin' awesome song you got there! I'm a wee bit on the frightened side that I could actually sing along....

-- Posted by koeller77 on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 2:52 PM

Would it have the same p'zazz with a mandolin?

-- Posted by red dog on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 4:12 PM

Ray, you are absolutely right to say it's censorship. However, it's not unlawful censorship, since the entire website belongs to the newspaper. It's been said before, but perhaps you did not see it: Their bat, their ball, their playing field - play by their rules, or you're out. That's as it should be.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 5:45 PM

Kathy,

We wish you were the editor though and I think you could do a good job! I don't want to disrespect the current editor, but I think this is handled incorrectly.

-- Posted by miss october on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 11:19 PM

Eric, you're doing a good job. Please keep it up and keep the posted comments both civil and entertaining. You'll never make the extremists of either side happy, but that's the price paid by a moderator.

Thanks for doing a good job and thanks for publishing a hometown newspaper we can be happy to read and call our own.

Nonny

-- Posted by Nonnymus on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 11:43 PM

Well said Nonnymus. I second that.

Thanks Eric

-- Posted by Mommyto1 on Mon, Jan 10, 2011, at 11:49 PM

i merely posted that i would not be going to the political speak out and it was deleted. won't be back to either now, carry on my wayward friends..i know no one will go to bed tonite on a wet pillow over this, the world will go on turning. gotta admit ole eric is very quick to judge!! bye all.

-- Posted by wheresthelove on Tue, Jan 11, 2011, at 10:08 AM

This nation was founded on VIOLENT, and extremely partisan rhetoric and angst and disagreement with the KINGS in England and other nations and their oppressive actions of CRUSHING and DESTROYING those with whom they disagreed with.

Yes this might be a paper owned by a specific entity, YET it is a source of PUBLIC and FREE news and online discussion.

The paper can pick and choose whome ever they want to delete comment from and make VERY subjective decisions to delet specific comments anytime they want... YET I wonder if being the BIG BROTHER to our community increases or decreases readership?

There are lefties and righties complaining about censorship by Eric... Who cares? I only wish that IF he is going to delete a comment that he would send some SPECIFIC feedback as to the WHY of why he deleted the comments so that maybe I would understand what he is thinking... you know sort of a learning process.... point being I have had comments deleted that were NOT attacks on people in my opinion so I have no clue why they were deleted.. yes that takes time BUT if you are taking on the ROLE of CENSOR then your DUTY to the public that you claim you serve is to TEACH...

-- Posted by mrxray on Thu, Jan 13, 2011, at 2:11 AM

The discussions on this website sometimes deteriorate into name calling, yet the fact that discussion on a wide range of topics is allowed is a very good, important feature of this news source. It would be good to simply stick to issues without polarizing labels.

Jared Loughner appears to be paranoid schizophrenic, and he killed one more person than Andrea Yates did with her bathtub. Trying to find logic in a degenerative brain disorder isn't logical. For logical reasons why people become violent, read Lonnie Athens, who for years went into prisons to interview the worst of the worst systematically. It's difficult reading, but he explains how sane people learn to respond with violence, how it's taught and learned. If we look at all violence as, say, "Fruit", we are misunderstanding through generalization. We should be analytically categorizing into "apples" and "oranges".

-- Posted by former editor on Fri, Jan 14, 2011, at 7:35 AM

I don`t know alot about this boy in Ariz but, I feel the need to coment on all the grumbling about getting censored.

the MDN paper version or online is an organization made up of writers, printers, editors,advertizers and some computer nerds(no offense intended) who make the website work. (really well I might add)

these folks put out a product that they put their names on. Why then are we upset when we aren`t allowed to put anything we want on their product without their consent?

if somebody walked up and wrote FACIST MORON on my chest I would erase it or change shirts. I certianly wouldn`t go around supporting his right to write what ever he likes.

-- Posted by BigFatGuy on Fri, Jan 14, 2011, at 2:36 PM

Let's suppose I have a piece of land you want to cross which saves you considerable time getting to a point you visit daily. I give you permission, but with the understanding that you're not to litter my property. You violate that rule, so I put up a gate, and you have to go the long way.

If I offer you water to quench your thirst and you say it isn't cool enough to suit your taste, am I obligated to put ice in it?

The Speak Out is a gratuity provided by the newspaper, and it comes with rules. You might view the restrictions as arbitrary, but in order to avail yourself of its use, you must adhere to the rules. If you choose to deliberately violate the rules, then whatever sanctions are imposed are at your own doing.

-- Posted by Slater on Sun, Jan 16, 2011, at 2:25 PM

I was always under the impression that censorship was done by the government. Newspapers, magazines, and other media were free to edit. You do realize the title of the paper is the Democrat News. When it was founded over 130 years ago it was a mouthpiece for the local Democratic party. Republicans had their own paper.

On the last major anniversary of the MDN they ran an article how during the 1930s one employee was fired because he was not a Democrat. We of the modern era naively believe that media is not supposed to be biased, however if one studies the media history they would see that the "impartial press" of the 4th estate is a relatively new idea.

As Eric has pointed out, we all have our biases. Those of us on the left seldom actually listen to those of us on the right and see slights against our opinions and believe favoritism for the other side exsists. Only our side ever tells the truth and the other speaks in nothing but lies. The same is true with those on the other side.

mrx, you need to restudy your history of the American Revolution. The goal was never to "crush the opposition." Our revolutionaries were moderate in nature (as far as revolutionaries can be) and willing to be concilliatory "enemies in war, friends in peace." It is why our revolution did not descend into the bloody self-slaughter of the French Revolutionary Reign of Terror. It is also why we reestablished economic ties with Britain so quickly after the revolution.

-- Posted by inthemiddle on Sun, Jan 30, 2011, at 9:02 PM


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Eric Crump is a former editor of The Marshall Democrat-News. He lives elsewhere now but still loves Marshall and Saline County. He's trying to catch up on all the stories he should have written while he was on staff.