Comment policy

I have reviewed my comments policy for this blog today and have again decided to continue comment moderation for the time being.

I operated without comment moderation for a number of years, but turned it back on on 30th July following a nasty comment on an obituary post,

I adopted a strict rule a few years ago when a previous critical comment was made on an obituary post, which caused grief and offence to the family of the person who had died, that I do not allow negative comments on obit posts. It is common for the family and friends of people who have died to look at the internet and see what has been said about the deceased and I was determined never to allow my blog to be used to hurt innocent people in that way again.

Most people have respected that rule, which is why I was able for the last few years to comply with a request from a regular reader and poster to turn off comment moderation.

However, in July someone who presumably thinks he or she is funny put a nasty comment on an obit post. Sadly therefore the individual concerned put me in a position where I felt that the least worst option was to turn comment moderation back on. 

It remains my general policy that if someone is trying to make a constructive argument, is not being deliberately nasty, and the post is not offensive or putting me at risk of legal action, I will usually allow it to go up even if I disagree with it. 

I say "usually" because I will admit to one or two exceptions. In particular, during the duration of the pandemic I have been thinking very carefully about whether to allow posts critical of the vaccination programme if these contain information I believe to be false or appear likely to give aid and comfort to those seeking to undermine the programme.

Vaccine hesitancy is a threat to the NHS and people's lives and I am not publishing anti-vaccination myths even if the person posting them has been polite and has the best of intentions. As the saying goes, the right to free speech does not include the right to shout "fire" in a crowded theatre.

I don't pretend that there is no tension here between my belief in free speech within the law and the challenge which confronts me when someone comes out with something which I believe to be not only misguided but dangerous. But, unlike, say those who try to "no platform" speakers at Universities, I am not demanding that people who want to express views I disagree with should be banned from doing so or that people who want to hear those views be prevented from hearing them, I merely decline to repeat or promote those views myself. 

And in terms of the way views are expressed: I don't publish comments which are clearly intended to be insulting, nasty, offensive, which are potentially actionable, or which are otherwise not constructive. 

If you want to put up the kind of material I have explained in this post that I won't allow on this one, start your own blog.

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