I have extremely strong convictions about free speech and robust debate. Thus, I was rather unhappy the first time that I decided it was necessary to delete a comment on this blog. The rule I published at that time was that comments that were both (a) anonymous, and (b) content-free vitriol, would be subject to deletion.
Unfortunately, as this blog has become more popular, some semi-regular commenters have descended to the level of monkeys throwing feces. Often the feces are flung in my direction, but that bothers me very little. What concerns me more is that an increasing percentage of comments are not about ideas but solely about the personalities and motives of other commenters. That is not a useful direction for the blog, even when the accusations being hurled are justified ones originating from sensible people. The entire tone of the blog is being lowered.
Therefore, with great regret, I must announce that I am considering banning commenters who are persistently and virulently disruptive. This would not be from any particular desire to control the wrongdoers’ behavior, rather it would be to relieve more civilized persons from the temptation to get into slanging matches with the wrongdoers. I hope not to have to actually take this step; I hope this announcement will serve as a warning to those who need it that they must moderate their behavior or begone.
Bannings, if any, will not take place in the dark of night; my notion of honor forbids this. Should I ban anyone, I will do so publicly with an accounting of my reasons in each case, and accept any criticism that ensues.