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.
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, chances are your comment won’t see the light of day. We don’t owe you an explanation. And we’re not fond of getting sued. We certainly don’t have time to waste debating with snipers or editing their bile. 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