We posted a brief story and photograph on Capenews.net on Tuesday about Move to Remove, the weekly protesters of the Trump administration on the Village Green. It was newsworthy because just two weeks ago the group declared that its work was done. But that turned out not to be the case; the president has yet to concede the election. The protesters are a local hook to a national story.
Unfortunately, the comments on the website quickly became a debate about the validity of the election and voter fraud. They added nothing to what we want to be a community conversation and, worse, they started to devolve into discourtesy.
The first commenter, whose screen name is “sodapop,” supported the president and his assertions that there was massive voter fraud. That didn’t go over well with others, one of whom referred to the first commenter as “sodapoop.”
Our web editor, who moderates comments on all stories, took down the comments and disabled further comments on the story.
A reader emailed to ask why. We explained, but it wasn’t enough. “You mean they didn’t pander to the Left’s agenda and no opposing view is allowed,” he wrote.
Well, no; we do not pander to the left or to the right or to anyone else. The comment sections on the website, like the letters pages in the print edition, are there for anyone to express their views. We run all letters to the editor. We don’t pick and choose. Both the letters and the comment sections of the website are moderated, though; we will not allow anyone, regardless of their views, to gratuitously insult another person.
Civil discourse is a vital element of democracy. Exchange of views is important because we can all make assumptions that form our views. No one is immune. Without civil discourse we are doomed to divisions that may never heal.