Civility Rule

200px-John_Bauer_-_The_Princess_and_the_Trolls_-_Google_Art_Project

Civility and Decorum Policy:

This blog is committed to the principles of free speech and, as a consequence, we do not ban people simply because we disagree with them. Indeed, we value different perspectives and do not want to add another “echo chamber” to the Internet where we each repeat or amplify certain views. However, the Turley blog was created with a strong commitment to civility, a position that distinguishes us from many other sites. We do not tolerate personal attacks or bullying. It is strictly forbidden to use the site to publish research regarding private information on any poster or guest blogger. There are times when a poster reveals information about themselves as relevant to an issue or their experiences. That is fine and is sometimes offered to broaden or personalize an issue. For example, I am open about my background and any current cases to avoid questions of conflicts or hidden agendas. However, researching people or trying to strip people of anonymity is creepy and will not be allowed.

Frankly, while I have limited time to monitor the site, I will delete abusive comments when I see them or when they are raised to me. If the conduct continues, I will consider banning the person responsible. However, such transgressions should be raised with me by email and not used as an excuse to trash talk or retaliate. I am the only one who can ban someone from the blog and I go to great lengths not to do it or engage in acts that might be viewed as censorship. Yet, we have had a few people who simply want to foul the cyber footpath with personal name-calling, insults, and threatening behavior. If they will not conform to our basic rules (which should not be difficult for any adult person in society), they will have to move on.

We do allow comments as well as anonymity, which some sites have disallowed. It is a curious thing how anonymity will unleash vile and dark impulses in people. Yet, anonymity is part of free speech and, while we have discussed eliminating anonymous comments due to abuses, we are trying to preserve this important element to free speech. It is possible to be anonymous but not obnoxious.

The blog is for civil dialogue on all manner of topics and not the promotion of commercial interests. If you have a product or service for sale, please refrain from including that in the comments section.

Given my family and professional responsibilities, I cannot continually monitor the comments. It is a challenge to post multiple stories early in the morning each day. This is reflected by the typos that sneak into my posts at 5 in the morning while I am trying to pour caffeine into my body. For that reason, this site relies heavily on its regulars to preserve decorum and civility. The failure to delete or respond to a post is not a reflection of any agreement or content-based review. All comments are solely the view of the poster and not the blog, myself, or the guest bloggers. We get thousands of comments and have only limited screening ability for foul language. For that reason, your help is not just welcomed but absolutely necessary in maintaining the character and tenor of this blog.

Like all sites, we attract trolls and juvenile posters who want to tear down the work of others. It is a sad reality of the Internet and the worst element of our species. Don’t feed the trolls. Ignore them. They are trolls and live under cyber bridges for a reason.

We have often been described as a place where people can have passionate but respectful discussions. That is not for everyone. Indeed, one of the leading legal blogs expressly rejected a civility rule as boring and unnecessary. We disagree. If you find it difficult or unfulfilling to discuss issues without personal insults or foul language, please move on. Our Guest Bloggers are asked to avoid any tit-for-tat fight with trolls and critics. Likewise, most of our regulars refuse to engage in such exchanges. Please help us keep this an island of civility and mature discourse on the Internet. Address the issues and not the individuals in our debate. Be passionate but don’t let it get personal.

And thanks again for being part of our blog community.

Jonathan Turley

97 thoughts on “Civility Rule”

  1. wildbill,
    His rules work just fine. I’d rather the blog subscribers ignore the very, very few individuals that challenge those rules than having JT start censoring comments others find offensive.

    1. I would be accepting of a wide latitude of offensive comment, but outright racist remarks should always be beyond the pale.

  2. If you email JT directly, he usually responds very quickly. Interestingly, when I’ve done so in the past, enigma told me he didn’t need to have posts removed. I agree with you, either the Civility Rule is upheld or it is not.

    Here is JT’s email address: jturley@law.gwu.edu

  3. More offensive, racist comment from CV Brown.

    “No. It’s not Turley that offends it the trolls like youNger, BensonFish for brain’s, etc.”

    The civility rule is a joke.

      1. As long as an outright racist like C V Brown is allowed to refer to a Black commenter as “Eniggy”, and he has done it on several occasions, I can only assume that the “Civility Rule” is a joke.

  4. In 2014 you wrote about Dylan Farrow case and Frank Maco AG. Please update the new events, Thanks! Goody Allen deserve jail.

  5. When someone violates the civility rule, what actually happens? I present you a case where a poster called me what he must have thought was a cute variation of “nigger.” What exactly will you do or is this now acceptable behavior?

    CV Brown (R)
    January 13, 2018 at 8:14 AM
    Anyone notice the deafening silence in here and the absence of Eniggy, Linda, Ken, 🐟 Fish thing, Jay, etc.

    Reply

    1. Enigma, I found the comment snarky and ad hominem in the way he seems to be pigeonholing other commenters. I hope JT will defend the Civility Rule.

      1. I found it to be more. I found it a not even disguised way to say “nigger.” Nothing snarky and ad hominem about that. In isolation one could wonder, when combined with many of his other comments. It’s quite clear.

        1. That CV Brown can crawl out from under his rock and post racist crap like that is outrageous and clearly proof that the “Civility Rule” is a fiction.

          That is not the only time either, the racist fool makes a habit of it.

        2. Could it have rather been an abbreviation of “enigma”? One of the norms of post-racial thinking is to look for multiple explanations going in the direction of benign or good intentions, and not immediately play the race card. It’s just giving each other the benefit of the doubt.

              1. I followed instructions and contacted Turley by Email (an address he does not provide but people here helped me reach him). Each time he removed the comments but I have no reason to believe anything was ever said to Mr. Brown. Turley told me once he was “attempting to block him” but he still pops up from time to time.

    2. If it helps at all I would just like to point out that I don’t approve of anyone using racist insults against you. Remember that people who use such racist terms are basically telling on themselves that they are a loser! Just stay happy while never lowering yourself to their level and, keep posting. It’ll drive them crazy!

  6. Mr. Turley, I would strongly urge you to reconsider the anonymity rule, or whatever you call it, because anonymity really does foster lack of civility. Perhaps there should be a two-tiered system, with one tier for people hiding behind fake screen names, and a separate venue for people willing to attach their actual identities to their public statements.

    Speaking as someone who has never posted a comment anywhere under any name other than my real name, I’ve noted that at the comments sections of various websites I’ve been called every name imaginable, accused of subscribing to every ideology across the entire spectrum (which is most offensive to me, being a non-ideological pragmatist), and in general, subjected to the vilest forms of ad hominem — almost always by people hiding behind fake screen names.

    Those people have a right to their discussion, but I think there should be a firewall constructed between their version of discourse and the discourse of those of us who are willing to attach our names to our ideas.

    Great website, by the way.

    1. William, the use of one’s real name, where politics is involved, can lead to the loss of a job or a lack of a promotion. Not only are false names used on this blog, but they are occasionally used in political documentaries where some conservatives know that they will be blackballed if their real names are used in the credits. I’ve met a few of them who would love the credit for what they have done, but decline it in order to be able to continue working.

      1. Yes, but please note that I didn’t say that use of real names should be compulsory — but that there should be a separate forum for those who use fake screen names. Willingness to attach one’s name to one’s statements IS a risk, and it means that the people who use their real names have the courage to do so — and the conviction to do so — regardless of potential consequences.

        “A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”
        Julius Caesar (Shakespeare)

        1. William, I’ve been on blogs where the site had the real name and real address of the individual. That is good enough. I do think that alias’s shouldn’t change so one has to live by their persona. Some of the most useful information that I have learned on blogs was from an alias where I was able to later confirm the information.

          I do, however, understand and respect your concerns.

          1. And I yours. In fact many of the meaningful conversations I have are with anonymous posters, however most of the vicious ad hominem comes from people that I suspect would never post such comments if they had to attach their true identities to their statements. My initial comment was merely an attempt or a suggestion at problem solving — because it IS a problem that CAN be solved.

            Happy Post-Beethoven’s Birthday, or whatever you might celebrate.

            1. Yes, William, I agree life would be much nicer without bad people, but bad people exist everywhere. I prefer them out in the open sunshine where they can be sanitized by the sunlight instead trying to keep them out which requires more effort than they are worth. A little discomfort goes a long way in protecting our own freedoms.

              I’ll choose Churchill’s birthday whenever that was. I just saw the movie and saw a few things that both Churchill and Trump had in common and had to overcome.

              Happy every day to you.

  7. Prof. Turley, I am concerned by the lack of Civics 101 knowledge and practices among the citizenry. I have been thinking about trying to convince media producers at the majors to create some Civics-content programming or written pieces. Here are some basic themes that could be developed out:
    1. Constructive conflict as a controlled process with its own rules
    2. Issue-centered argumentation vs. ad hominem attacks
    3. Compartmentalizing grievances, avoiding conflated, exaggerated and speculative grievances
    4. The role of the neutral process manager or referee in keeping disagreement productive
    5. Choosing neutral, non-incindiery language as a meeting point for problem-solving, avoiding sloganeering meant to shut down the discussion
    6. Swapping perspectives, articulating the opponent’s viewpoint without speculative mind-reading, asking for information non-rhetorically
    7. Gaining general agreement on problem-solving goal, and holding to it throughout process
    8. Recognizing impasse and techniques to break out of it, the importance of the problem-solving schedule

    I haven’t received formal training, but have 25 years experience leading design teams in high tech.

    If you like the idea of asking the TV and print media to devote thematic attention to spreading Civics 101 awareness, maybe we could work up a letter to be sent to news execs / senior producers.

  8. Professor Turley,

    Regarding civility rules I would respectfully invite you to visit the posts in “Northwestern Transgender Student Seeks Entry To Sorority”.

    I am a recent subscriber who finds your blog to be a comforting repository of insight and logic and an antidote to chaotic and anxiety provoking times. I am also a non-Lawyer type so the deep level of knowledge and intellect from posters is a valued resource. However in the “Northwestern” blog it was disappointing to realize that intellect and knowledge is, apparently, not a prerequisite for civility. While the article had presented the topic respectfully (your use of the students transitioned pronoun “He” for example) some of the posters did not follow suit and felt licensed to have a go at it (not regarding pronoun usage but re. civility rules). For example and solely for illustration; the use of facial characteristics or body parts to express view points, I would assert, is inappropriate when arguing against the admission of a person of a particular ethnicity who wishes to attend a country club. Society has evolved past the use of such “identifiers” here. Unfortunately civility for Transgender Individuals is roughly near the unfortunate culture speak we had describing Black America in the 50’s it seems. Thus we read terms like “Freeek” and “Dong” used in response to your well written article, because those particular posters see this as an acceptable terminology on a public blog.

    I did recognize in my reply’s to posters in the “Northwestern” article that exposure to the transgender community is about nil for most and that this is problematic for the meaningful evolution of views on and understanding of transgender individuals. I do have the advantage of being a parent of a transgender college student (as you may have guessed) so my evolution came fast and progresses steadily. There is a better vernacular for those who wish to make their counterpoints.

    I hope you might find a few minutes out of your busy day to review some of the posts. I believe they fall below the bar you had described in “Civility Rule”.

    In appreciation,

    SpinOrpheus

  9. Can someone please tell me why all of these blogs or forms do not tolerate personal attacks or bullying? Why do grown men and women have to act like we are in pre school? Why can’t you give your unfiltered opinion without the possibility of being kicked off of the site?

    I have a dream that people would stop being so dam soft!

    1. The question is why do grown men and women act like they are in preschool? Civility is one quality of being a grown up.

      I advocate that you be as harsh as you like with ideas you don’t like. Not with the people who proffer them. Admittedly, it takes more work and more brain power to marshal a cogent concise argument regarding an idea than to launch an ad hominem attack against the writer. But that’s what separates the men from the boys, as it were.

    2. Can’t one state one’s views without descending to personal attacks or bullying. In civil societies, that is known as conversing and debate, and much more likely to advance one’s cause.
      Fellow citizen.

      1. Meritocratic debate is a higher-order brain skill that must be developed over time. It is counter-instinctual, in that it requires overruling the innate, primitive part of the brain which is saying to attack the person you find disagreeable. That’s why ad-hominem attacks are considered childish. Arguing constructively is an adult skill it takes to be in a successful marriage or advance to leadership in a job environment.

Leave a Reply to Judy Kopulos Cancel reply