We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.–Barack Obama, Second Inaugural Address, Jan. 21, 2013
We want sober thought and calm reason, not furious harangues or the argument of bayonets.– Sam Houston, governor of Texas, Nov. 20, 1860
FlaglerLive’s Comment Policy
Your comments are welcome, encouraged, prized. At its best, a comment section enables conversation and amplifies debate. We lack both in this and in most towns. Most media are polarizing debate, not enriching it. And town squares are not an American specialty. They should be. This isn’t to say that only civil debate is accepted. We’re a noisy democracy, not a repressed English boarding school. We’re also adults, or trying to be in this eternally adolescent culture of ours. As such, a comment section should have room to roam broadly, interestingly, noisily, provocatively, even uncomfortably at times, if that’s where the discussion is taking it—if, that is, the comments are either related to the posts, the ongoing discussion, or matters of serious interest. Comments or emails that provide corrections, from typos to factual errors, are especially prized.
But keep in mind: this is not a First Amendment zone. Anything does not go. Slanderous, libelous, gratuitously offensive language, name-calling, personal attacks and outright falsehoods are not acceptable. Discuss the issue, not the person writing about it. That the comment section will be treated as a noisy town square doesn’t mean you have a “right” to post whatever you wish. You don’t. Posting at FlaglerLive is not a right. It’s not a privilege, either. Consider it a service to the discussion and to public debate, remembering that your every thought isn’t necessarily interesting or worth posting to the world. Keep in mind too that once submitted, your comment becomes the property of FlaglerLive.
Comments are moderated. They will not automatically appear. And your comments may be held in the moderation bin for several hours, depending on the volume of comments in the stream and the day’s work, which will always place reporting and writing ahead of comment moderation.
FlaglerLive will edit comments, remove comments or sling comments back to the moderation cue without explanation, should something in those comments be either inaccurate, gratuitous, libelous, slanderous, off-topic, and so on. If you’re commenting just to throw darts–if you’re trolling–chances are your comment won’t see the light of day. We don’t owe you an explanation. But here are some. Your comment will not appear if:
- You are commenting just to throw darts. That is, you’re just a troll. You are personally attacking, insulting, goading or demeaning a fellow-commenter, or making assumptions about them, her, him.
- You advocate abuse, violence or death.
- You misinform, lie, deceive, you use patently tendentious, propagandistic, mercenary sites/information/sources posing as documentation for your argument, or you make claims on sensitive subjects without reliable documentation.
- You’re libelous, slanderous or defaming.
- Use obscenities gratuitously. There are times when obscenities are necessary, and they’re allowed in the proper context.
- You’re off topic, or using the article or a fellow-commenter’s statements as springboard to blabber on about things that have nothing to do with the article. Address the article, on its merits. You have your own social media for the rest. And don’t be “asking for a friend.”
- You respond to an issue such as immigration or homelessness by telling anyone to take people into their own home, or you tell anyone, in any variation, to go back where they came from, go back north, “love it or leave it,” or that they don’t belong: that’s not your call. We all belong where we choose to belong.
- You willfully impersonate someone else, including public figures, in your comment’s handle, or use an inappropriate handle with gratuitous obscenities or obscene puns.
- You are directly involved in the article on which you’re commenting–you are either named in it or have a direct stake–yet deceptively hide behind a fake name: that’s not allowed. Use your full, verifiable name and email.
- You are only interested in attacking FlaglerLive without advancing the conversation. If you are so clearly displeased and pained by the site, which is not for everyone, we encourage you to look elsewhere.
- You’re baiting us. If you doubt that your comment will be approved, then don’t write it to start with. Baiting us guarantees it won’t appear, no matter what it says.
You owe readers clarity and respect. If your comment is edited or removed, you’re welcome to email me about it, call me (386/586-0257) or try again. But I’m not obligated to answer you.
You’re not required to include a name or an email address, or to register, to comment. At least not for now. But here’s a simple rule of thumb. The more transparent you are, the less likely your comment will be edited or deleted. Just as the threshold of criticism is lower when public figures are involved, the threshold of editing is higher when you’re anonymous—and lower when you’re willing to be held directly accountable for your words. If you write under your full name, with a verifiable email address, you’ll have a lot more room to write what you please, though it’s still no guarantee you’ll see your words go live. If you write under an assumed name, and especially if you write under an email address you’ve just invented for appearances’ sake, don’t expect your comment—if it happens to be questionable—to be treated with much respect. Assumed names and sign-ons have no protection.
I realize it’s fun for some of you to snipe and gripe about this site’s perspectives and policies such as this one. Here’s a thought. No one is forcing you to be here. We’re particularly uninterested in crabby readers and commenters whose sole interest is to troll through the comment section, dropping the rhetorical equivalent of IEDs and hoping for a reaction.
We’re not after any and every reader. We’re not after any reader whatsoever: this site isn’t about gaining favor, but reporting, informing and provoking debate that advances the discussion. The comments are part of that objective. The comment section’s aim in sum is to enrich the discussion and the site itself, not hijack it or cheapen it. In large part, that’s what it’s been, and I’m immensely grateful to every writer who takes the time to drop a civil, interesting comment. Let’s keep it that way.
—Pierre Tristam, Editor