I don’t know how many other writers here do this, but I always at least try to scan a few times through the comments on this site that specifically relate to my columns and blog posts. I think it is important to see what thoughtful readers are saying, pro or con, and it remains true that most of you are thoughtful readers. It is also true that, by remote, I have access to the “back” of the site that allows me to delete comments. I do not like to do so, but if I see good reason to do so, I will. I do not read through comments with a fine-tooth comb, looking for things to delete, and I’m sure some things fall through the cracks. But in general, no comment, no matter how wrong-headed I think it might be, will be deleted unless it runs afoul of some rather simple criteria.
The criteria for deletion are simple. I will delete anything that uses profanity or obscenities, fully spelled out, no matter what. I will delete anything that advocates violence, no matter what. And I will delete any racial epithets, no matter what. In addition, if somebody gratuitously throws in a racial or ethnic reference in a perjorative manner — a reference that by common sense has nothing to do with the subject at hand — I will delete it.
Obviously, a lot of serious political analysis is done by making distinctions related to race. Black-white voting trends are the obvious ones. There is nothing wrong with those. But if some public figure does something objectionable, and a commenter gratuitously throws in something along the lines of “But what do you expect from some black guy?,” then I will delete it, pronto.
I do not run this site. If the proprietors of this site want to take away this ability from me, that’s fine. But as long as I use it sparingly, and use it for the good of respectable public discourse, I will insist that bigotry and profanity are unacceptable.