Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Comments to This Blog

In my predecessor blog, I consciously decided to not allow reader comments to appear unmoderated.  In other words, before a reader’s comment on a particular post was visible to the public, I had to affirmatively take steps to allow the comment to appear on the blog.  I have decided to take the same approach in this new blog.
I explained in my predecessor blog the reason I decided to moderate all reader comments.  (See the September 30, 2010 post:
On my predecessor blog, there was sometimes spam that was posted as a reader comment, and occasionally the spam was pornographic in nature.  On one occasion, a reader posted a comment that appeared to encourage violence to resolve political disagreement.  I want this blog to be a medium to provoke productive thought, discussion and debate.  I will not knowingly allow it to promote human exploitation or violence.  That would be contrary to the Christian values that I embrace and that are explored in this blog.
Nonetheless, I have tried to make clear that beyond such comments promoting human exploitation or violence, I do take a very permissive approach in approving comments to this blog.  In no way do I cherry-pick just the most flattering comments or the comments with which I agree.  In my predecessor blog, I approved all the reader comments that disagreed with me or criticized my perspective as long as they were not promoting human exploitation or violence.  And in the entire history of that predecessor blog, there were only a couple such comments that I refused to approve.  I am second to none in my appreciation of our nation’s rich history of free speech and the value of open debates of ideas.  I believe in truth.  I am a lawyer by training. As a result, I do not fear and am not intimidated by opposing voices.   
Because I would aspire that this blog be a medium to provoke productive thought, discussion and debate, I encourage readers to leave comments to posts they read. 
However, with freedom comes responsibility.  I strongly urge readers to be responsible in the comments they post.  I express this because I have been very disheartened by the type of reader comments posted on some other blogs and websites.  It is shocking to read the kind of cruel, ugly, unproductive comments that some feel free to post.  And I have noticed that most such comments are posted anonymously or under a pseudonym (e.g., hogface, MeMyself and I,  Neutral Observer, ThinkAgain, Jesus Fan, LogicalSkepticism).  (These examples are not made up; they come from a quick scan of comments to a popular news website.)
I believe that if a person has the courage of his or her convictions, he or she should not be afraid to reveal his or her identity.  If you believe in what you say or write, then you should own it and put your name to it.  It is hard to respect or take seriously one’s words when one hides one’s identity.
To this end, I strongly encourage readers to not post anonymous comments to this blog.  The way Blogger is designed, it is possible to post anonymously.   And as long as you do not advocate human exploitation or violence, I will approve your comment even if you leave it anonymously.  But I encourage you to not take that option.
To include your name when leaving a comment, you do not have to reveal your e-mail address or any contact information.  I can appreciate wanting to protect oneself from spam or harassing reader e-mail.  But if you want to share a comment, let the rest of us know who you are. 
To do that, when you post a comment, select the “Name/URL” profile option, then specify your first and last name.  You can skip the field for “URL.”  Just leave that one blank. 
If you take that approach, if you let the rest of us know who you are, then other readers of this blog will recognize the seriousness of your comments because you were willing to publicly stand by your words.  That makes for a richer exchange of ideas for everyone.

Deuteronomy 1:17

Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.

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