Klavan On The Culture

Hey, Commenters: Quit Flagging Each Other!

Someone keeps flagging comments on this blog. Please stop. When you flag the comment it gets condensed and you have to click on it to be able to read it. This is appropriate and useful for spam ads like, “My grandmother makes fifteen dollars an hour at home…” But it’s inappropriate  — actually, it’s wrong — to flag someone because you disagree with them, because they do or don’t believe in God, do or don’t believe in gay marriage, do or don’t believe in abortion, whatever. What’s the point of being here if we can’t wrangle with one another over the issues of the day?

The thing is: when you flag the comment, I have to go through the comments and unflag it. I don’t have enough time to do that. So it gives the false impression that I’m censoring ideas or that there are some ideas not welcome here. I’ll cut a slob’s four-letter words and ugly slurs sometimes, but even then, I try to leave the jerk’s point intact. There are behaviors that shouldn’t be allowed, but no thoughts.

A couple of years ago, when PJ Media did a revamp of the website, many of the old comments on posts were lost. I lodged a friendly protest with the management and the old comments were restored in archive, though they were still harder to reach than I liked. The point I made to my PJM pals was that comments on a post are the public’s contribution to the site, part of the collaboration between writer and reader that the internet has made possible. The blog’s not just about what I say but about what the readers say too. Flagging comments makes it harder for me to find out what’s the rumpus.

The usual joke is that the comment section of a blog contains remarks from the worst people who read that blog, but that’s a half truth, maybe only a quarter truth. It does seem there are some people who spend their days frothing with rage over every notion they disagree with and just waiting to unleash their fury in rabid, barely civilized comments. And there are idiot trolls who come on only to sew dissent, portray conservatism as bigoted or ramp the discussion up to an angrier pitch. I pity them the life they lead, but can’t do much about it. But in general, most of the comments I read are sincere, thoughtful, intelligent and responsible. No one needs you to tell the rest of us which are which. If we can read them, we can figure out for ourselves which are worthwhile.

So thanks for policing our thoughts and making sure only the ones you agree with are easy for us to read. Now stop. It’s low behavior, unbecoming a conservative. The grownups are talking. If you can’t stand what’s being said, go play outside.