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On Civil Discourse

I’ve received dozens of e-mails regarding the change in the process to comment on Animal Person, and rather than responding individually (shocking to some, I do have a life), here’s my reasoning.

It was a sad day last week when an anonymous commenter spewed a ridiculous rant. I’m no fan of anonymous commenting. But I’m less a fan of individuals who cannot express their disagreement in a reasonable, intelligent way. (Though I don’t agree with Anonymusher, he writes in complete sentences, states his objections, and doesn’t come across as a complete lunatic.) And when I’m blasted with a quote from Noam Chomsky, which is high comedy considering my study of Chomsky in linguistics as well as politics, I have no choice but to make a change in the process to comment.

The biggest change is that I have the ability to approve (publish or not) comments. That might seem contrary to my beliefs, but whenever I comment at The New York Times or The Nation or The Washington Post,  my comment is not immediately published; it is approved first, presumably for rambling expletives and incoherent insults. You also must post an e-mail address. I’m sure the addition of this requirement is what has mellowed the comments section.

I’ve never been a person who attracts enraged, railing, hateful people who do not engage in civil discourse. But apparently that has changed, and I must change along with it. I don’t ever want Animal Person to be a forum for the exchange of insults. Disagreement, questioning, and analysis are all welcome, especially when thoughtfully crafted, as many who comment here have demonstrated.

There are lots of forums/fora where there is no approval process (by design) for comments. Anything goes. If you don’t want to take the time to draft a non-belligerent comment absent of foul language, go elsewhere.

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