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Online Conduct: Flamethrowing vs. Freedom of Speech
The Ad Hominem attacks in the comments section at the Bee website have been discussed a lot already. I’ve heard people say they won’t go over there and comment about anything the least controversial because they don’t want to be called names and get verbally beaten up.
I’ve always figured that if I just keep my comments positive I’ll be ok. I use my real name and avoid getting into it with other commenters, keeping my comments directed at the writer of the piece and if I disagree with anything, I usually don’t say anything.
But, the other day I found out differently. The Sunday Bee’s front page story, 6NOV11, A Neighborhood on the Edge about poverty in the Lowell neighborhood was such a fine piece I wanted go over there and give the writer some props.
I said, “Great piece, Kurtis. I like the maps, graphs and charts, too. I live just a few blocks north of this area and you captured the truth of what is going on there in this poorest of the poor neighborhoods in Fresno. Craig Scharton lives in the 200 block of North Glenn, right in the middle of the Lowell Neighborhood. Craig is a true Downtown Revitalization advocate because he not only talks the talk, he walks the walk.”
I was roundly attacked and called crazy and stupid and a lot of other unsavory things said about my character and political point of view. I was blown away. One of them said they had been noticing my comments and was convinced that I had “lost my marbles”. I couldn’t believe it! You mean, I can’t even come over here and say something nice to the writer without being personally attacked? They try to hijack the thread and turn it into a heated argument between themselves, ignoring the piece and it’s writer.
I went over to the Fresno Bee Terms of Service page: http://www.fresnobee.com/terms_of_service/ and found:
"fresnobee.com encourages a free and open exchange of ideas in a climate of mutual respect. Any action by a user that infringes on another user's right to use and enjoy fresnobee.com is prohibited. Specifically, you may not do (or attempt to do) any of the following:
Misrepresent your identity or impersonate any person.
Use any portion of fresnobee.com for uploading, posting, e-mailing, transmitting or otherwise making available Member Content that is harmful to minors in any way, harassing, harmful, threatening, abusive, vulgar, obscene, defamatory, libelous, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable."
Read more: http://www.fresnobee.com/terms_of_service/#ixzz1dL3aTmvu
Sounds reasonable to me. I came back later in the day and posted in the thread: “I make a positive comment to the writer of the piece and you personally attack me. The Ad Hominem attacks on here are a disgrace and an attempt at depriving me of my freedom of speech. The Bee should raise the bar a little higher.”
I came back the next day and those negative comments were gone. Thank you Fresno Bee!
Happy about that, but as I think about it, and knowing how mean people can be and how they sometimes will never let a grudge go, I’m afraid to go back there and make any more comments. So, yes they are able to deprive me of my Freedom of Speech.
Apparently they are starting to enforce the Terms of Service for comments at the Bee:
And the little bit of negative comments I got are nothing compared to Markos Moulitsas at Daily Kos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/12/1035468/-Saturday-hate-mail-a-p...