Deacon Greg recently shut down comments on his blog, for an indefinite period. Posting part of an email he received about the increasingly ugly tone in his comments section, he added:
I know he’s absolutely right. I’ve sensed it. Loyal, longtime readers have sensed it. Some have written me about it. Even casual passers-by have taken notice, and quickened their step when they walk through the neighborhood. The atmosphere around these parts is beyond unfriendly and uncharitable. At times, it borders on vengeful and, yes, evil. . . .
I never intended The Deacon’s Bench to become a place for knees in the groin and brass knuckles to the jaw. God knows, I also never thought it would turn into a place for escalating violence, where one commenter pulls out a knife, until another whips out a pistol. Lively debate is one thing. Relentless, merciless hate is something else.
His readers really were getting out of control, and things had ceased to be fun. I am hopeful that the break will shake people back to their senses.
Reasonable boundaries are healthy things to have. In an email recently, the good Deac told me he has had mostly positive responses to his move, with one glaring (and predictable) exception.
Comments at this blog are nowhere near where they were on Greg’s; I have often claimed, quite rightly, that I have the best readers in the world. Most of you are more interested in real engagement rather than drive-by shootings and intellectual muggings.
That’s not to say things are perfect around here, but wouldn’t it be boring if they were? I do get a wee bit weary of passive-aggressive anti-Catholics who pretend they are being courteous while dropping vials of poison all over the place. I find myself rolling my eyes and then just shrugging as I release comments from people who want to argue about how many angels dance on the head of a pin, getting increasingly bogged down in minutiae while losing site of bigger, and more relevant pictures.
But that’s all okay with me. If you guys want to bog down, it’s your business. All I ever ask if you keep it civil, stay on topic, observe the very simple guidelines, resist the urge to name-call or to slander, or to descend into adolescent “shock” drops. You folks do all of that beautifully, and when the occasional troll wanders in because we’ve been linked to by a bigger blog, you folks know enough to ignore it. I am grateful.
I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you.
Now, no breaking out into a pillow fight when I turn my back!