Let’s practice respect and civility | PostIndependent.com

Let’s practice respect and civility

Dale Shrull
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Editor's Notebook

There’s a certain decorum and civility that you expect in public.

But when it comes to the written word, there are a few people who seem to think name calling, insults and downright nastiness is OK.

Do we wander around the store calling others morons, idiots or much worse?

Of course we don’t. But many letter writers and commenters on the website do it all the time. And obviously they think it’s OK because it’s “their opinion.”

I’ve said it so many times, I do try and live by this simple concept – treat people like you want to be treated.

Words such as “respect,” “decorum” and “civility” come to mind.

Our letters have once again spilled over into anger, bitterness, hate and nastiness.

Believe it or not, I was hoping there would be a little common sense out there where people would actually realize maybe they’d stepped over the line or went a little too far.

No such luck.

Another believe it or not – I have a lot more on my plate than dealing with childish behavior from letter writers and commenters.

The prevailing attitude of many of the Post Independent’s most notorious letter writers is simple: I’m right and you’re an idiot for not seeing that I’m right. Plus there’s the holier-than-thou handful out there who respond to everything and anything with a twinge of religion.

I have long been a big advocate of the letters forum. It’s for you, the public. But a newspaper doesn’t have to print your letters. Printing letters has nothing to do with the First Amendment. By not printing your letter, we are not squashing your Freedom of Speech rights. You’re more than welcome to mosey down to the corner, hop on a soapbox and launch into a tangent.

As a newspaper, we have the right to say “no.” And I’m close to that point with some of you.

This has nothing to do with your opinion, your political views, your research, your knowledge, or whether I agree with your view or not. This has to do with decorum, civility, respect for others and the ugly nastiness that some of you spew, turning the Post Independent into your personal little squirt bottle of hate, anger and bitterness.

It will stop.

I don’t like being the hammer of bluntness, but this is going to stop.

Quit the name calling and tone down your letters. You can voice your opinion and make your point without making it ugly. Actually, you make your point even better when you leave the nastiness out of it.

I also want to limit the back-and-forth responses. It reminds me of a playground. Who will get the last word? When really, for most readers, no one cares, the point that was made is now meaningless and long forgotten.

I plan to try and keep letter writers to three letters a month. For the notorious bunch, we all know what the subject is as soon as we see their name. But this is also part of the appeal of our letters forum.

We all have our favorites, but we all know that there can be too much of a good thing.

OK, that’s that.

Now onto the comment section of our website. If you thought the letters are bad sometimes, there’s a handful of commenters who are as ugly, hateful, bitter, angry and self-absorbed as you can ever imagine.

With the website we have tools to police these abusers.

We can block them, we can not allow their comments to go on until they’ve been approved and we can ban them. We use abuse reports to try and police the overly ugly comments.

But once again, I want to think people can and will police themselves and know when enough is enough.

But I’ve been proven wrong. Thus, I must become the baby sitter.

I’ve never completely understood the obvious obsession of some people when it comes to computer posting. The desire to sit pasted to a keyboard shoveling hate and anger through a computer portal is baffling to me. The rants and tangents of this rather small minority of commenters is absurd. The back-and-forth online discussion digresses into senseless name calling, usually between four or five people.

My goal is not to stop comments. These have become part of our website culture and there is a passionate, sometimes stimulating, dialogue that’s created there.

But many times, it’s just senseless back-and-forth banter to see who can scream the loudest through their keyboard.

I’m asking everyone, tone it down. Make your point without leaping over the line.

Decorum, civility and respect for one another.

Do you think we can give it a try?

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