Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Yesterday, the Daily Gazette published columns laying out the reasons to support different Democrats in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. The columns received a lot of outside traffic, and rapidly racked up comments from across the country.
One commentator, “TruAmerican” from (according to their IP address) Beaverton, Oregon, wrote a poorly spelled, badly edited and factually troublesome comment:
The line that caught our attention in particular was “…and believes in Islamic!” Totally apart from the fact that Obama is not a Muslim [one source], the comment suggests that being a Muslim is a bad thing and brings to mind the darker side of America: terrorist watch lists, increasing verbal and physical hostility to American Muslims, and even extraordinary rendition.
We are very divided on how to respond to this kind of comment — and we have a sense they will only become more prevalent as the Gazette covers move of the Pennsylvania primary and continues to draw outside readers.
We want to establish a single policy to guide us in future decisions, and we want Swarthmore’s input.
Option One: The Gazette will publish all relevant comments unless they are direct personal attacks.
This policy would have us approve TruAmerican’s comment, and would probably mean other similar comments will be posted on the Gazette in the future. It would also give the Swarthmore (and world) community an opportunity to confront these points of view and to try to correct them. Indeed, the comments would occur in a forum that is hostile to hate, and the Swarthmore community could present eloquent arguments rebutting the view point.
Option Two: The Gazette will publish all relevant comments, unless they are hateful towards any individual or group.
This policy would have us delete TruAmerican’s comment, and would, in the long term, lead to significantly more oversight of the Gazette’s comments. Our comments would be friendlier, and while debate might become impassioned, most of the vitriol would be deleted. It would also mean that the Gazette’s comments would more closely reflect, generally, the viewpoint of the Swarthmore student body.
So, what do you think? While this issue is under discussion, TruAmerican’s comment will remain moderated and hidden from view.