The free speech goals of our comment threads parallel the view enunciated by Puritan poet John Milton three and a half centuries ago: “Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?”
Based on that faith, we hope for a forum within which truth will emerge—but WORLD does not endorse the truth or accuracy of any comment posted on this site. The posting of any comment or other statement is not an endorsement or acceptance of the statement by WORLD nor by any individual, agent or employee on behalf of WORLD. We yearn for a forum in which participants will be tough-minded in their analysis but respectful toward each other (see Rules of Engagement below). And keep in mind that comments posted on WORLD’s website may be searchable on public search engines.
Debate is a contact sport, so we don’t discourage intellectual blocking and tackling within free and open encounters. But obscene, profane, or racist rhetoric—to cite only some obvious examples—shuts down debate. WORLD reserves the right to delete or edit any comment as its editors determine. That WORLD reserves this right does not mean that it will exercise such editorial control over the content of this site: Our desire is to let truth and falsehood grapple. Failure of WORLD to delete or edit any material does not mean that we are accepting the content of any comment; our staff is small.
Our lawyer puts it this way: “Any individual making a posting to this site agrees (by submitting the posting) to indemnify and hold WORLD harmless from any and all liability or injury that WORLD may incur by reason of any posting.” What that means is that no one need worry about defending or attacking an idea, but if (for example) you post a personal attack on another commenter and he sues for libel, you’re the one who would be responsible for the legal fees, not us. So, as your mother might say, be polite.
Our lawyer also reminds us that the posting of third-party copyright-protected content without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of that content is forbidden. In other words, do not copy and paste articles from other sites in your comments. Post links to those articles instead.
Though we may grow fond of you and your input in the comment threads, we will ban you if you break the rules, as many diehard rule-breakers have learned. Here are the rules in participating in the comment threads on this site:
- Do not engage in personal attacks.
- If someone attacks you personally (rather than attacking your ideas), do not return evil for evil. If in the process of attacking you, a person violates the rules against profanity, racism, or vulgarity, or you think their attack is serious enough to merit our attention, please click on the “Report comment” link on the offending comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If we perceive that a person is contacting us to point out every insignificant jot and tittle in order to get another person thrown off the site, we will count it against the persistent tattletale, so be sure a person has really attacked you.
- Do not contact us to say that someone attacked someone else. Let each person speak up for him- or herself if he or she perceives an attack.
- In terms of banning/not banning, we will take into account that person’s history of being naughty/nice.
- Recognize that within the comment threads on the site, many of us may have intrinsically irreconcilable ideological or theological differences. This does not necessarily make us haters, bigots, heretics, ignorant, etc. It means we subscribe to a different point of view. We are all thinking people, uniquely created by and for God.
- Post comments as if you were having an in-person chat in a very public place. That might mitigate some of our tendencies to be harsh with one another.
- We expect each of you to post comments with humility and respect.
Together, we have created something unique on the internet—a place where people can come to discuss the issues of the day civilly, without profanity, and with most of us remaining friends at the end of the day.
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