As most common readers will know, this blog, normally a pleasant and fairly civil place, has seen a not-so-subtle deluge from birther hordes, on account of our few posts on Orly Taitz. Thankfully, it’s also brought in a lot of inoffensive readers, and some great commenters, too. Welcome!
Of course that leaves the question of what to do with the set of crazies. Screeching about birth certificates and other such nonsense is one thing, but wishing for public figures to die is another entirely, and no part of any civil discussion. I’ve never censored commenters (the farthest I’ve gone is disemvoweling a few persistent birthers), but this particular individual, and others like her, seem to push the limits of my commitment to free speech.
Although the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private actors, no-one should silence another lightly, even on the internet. You’ll notice that any blog that does censor comments for ideology alone quickly descends into an echo chamber, useless at best, and a breeding ground for disconnected extremists at the worst (RedState, Confluence, Conservapedia).
Still, with narrowly tailored rules, that worst-case scenario can be avoided. I’ll never spam or delete comments for their political content alone; never have, never will. But I will censor comments that fall outside the lines of First Amendment-protected speech, if any emerge (they have not), and I am open to censoring the comments of those who add nothing to the site, and instead make it a less pleasant place for other readers. I say “open” only, because I remain unsure of the best course to take. Your suggestions are welcome to break my mental deadlock.
On a more pleasant note, a big “thank you!!” to Mike C., for the e-mail I received, copied below: an excellent summation of the problem posed by some pundits. “You’re welcome” for the review, but much more, thank you for reading and taking the time to write.
My father gave me a copy of the book with a very heartfelt note saying how worried he was for me and his grandchildren with the direction the country is going. He used similar terms as Mr. Beck to describe the current administration – elitist, intellectuals, etc. It saddened me very much that a well educated and well traveled man in his late 70s could be drawn into this propaganda – but my father’s generation, I believe, is the foundation of Mr. Beck’s (and Limbaugh’s) audience. They truly are the Greatest Generation, but also the most exploited – mainly for the undying desire to follow self-proclaimed “patriots”.
Your review [of Beck’s book – Ed.] was insightful and mirrored my own feelings while reading the book – although I think I was far more horrified at the prospect of Americans buying into this viewpoint. Now I just need to figure out how to gently tell my father what I think about the book – but most importantly to show the love and respect he deserves for writing the letter of concern for me and my children.
Thanks for providing common sense about something that lacks it completely.
Again, thank you for reading, Mike C., and thank you to all readers.