As many of you are aware, an article published Monday on the AEPi fraternity garnered many comments that were completely out of line and irrelevant to the discussion. Anti-Semitism was bandied about freely and swarmed the discussion threads in the hours following publication of the story.
The Badger Herald does not endorse these comments and has made efforts to remove them from our site as soon as they appear.
However, many angry students and community members have called our offices in the last few days asking us what we intend to do about the inappropriate and sometimes hateful commentary that has flooded our board.
First off, to those commenting, I address this warning: If the comments on future articles continue to produce racist tirades or targeted rants with absolutely no relation to the topic at hand, they will be deleted upon submission. I have no tolerance for such swill and have no problem making sure any comments from your IP address are instantly deleted.
As to the rest of our readers: Our comments will now be under stricter moderation. In the past we’ve felt it necessary to allow all comments pass so as to not allow any comment with even a grain of truth or intelligence to be squelched. We’ve assumed a libertarian philosophy in our commenting standards and believed, up until now, that the best way to keep discussion free and vibrant was to refrain from interference.
I now see that philosophy doesn’t work when some of our readers are dedicated to derailing debate. For this reason, I’ll be revising our commenting policies in the next week in hopes that moderation eliminates those who seek to blare nonsense over the more reasoned voices.
However, I should make it clear that I will still attempt to make our commenting as free as it is reasonable to do so. During the course of debate over the appropriateness of those comments , one commenter said the following: The right to freedom of speech ends once that speech becomes offensive.
No, it doesn’t. Many people on this campus will be offended by what is published, but the mere act of offending people is not an excuse to curtail free speech. What is offensive to some may contain enough practical opinion to raise further discussion and debate. There are other cases, such as the AEPi comments, where the commentary is offensive to all walks of life. When we recognize an offense to common decency, that’s when we draw the line. But not beforehand. Otherwise we may miss a nugget of truth hidden amongst the verbal refuse.