I'm disappointed. It seems that far too often American political debates and policy disagreements degrade into personal attacks. I fear that these attacks cast a corrosive fog over the entire process. Why would any reasonable person want to stand for elected office in this environment? Where will we find tomorrow's leaders?
The national election campaigns are notoriously vicious but personal attacks are occurring even at the local level. For example, the comments that were posted in response to last week's ethics story got totally out of hand in my opinion. I am so disappointed about some of those comments that I'm considering disabling comments.
I have not made up my mind because I'm torn between a desire to encourage healthy discussion of important local issues and my fear that every post during the upcoming Laurel election season will devolve into petty bickering and personal attacks. I wanted to create a cyber front porch where reasonable people could share their opinions on our community's goals, problems and solutions --- not a dark alley for attacking people.
The blogger.com software has three comment modes. I can turn comments on, turn them off completely, or moderate them. Moderate means that I must approve the comment before it is posted. I don't want to moderate comments because I have always strived for complete transparency here. I have only deleted two comments in the history of Laurel Connections. Both of these comments met my standard for an over-the-line ad hominem attack. I pulled the comments after they were posted.
It's been my experience that most of the people who seek local elected offices have dedicated many years to community service. Most are involved because they genuinely want to serve. If elected, many shoulder their civic responsibilities at great personal sacrifice to both family time and career progress.
Why should this blog provide a public platform that submits these fine people to unsubstantiated and anonymous personal attacks? That's neither helpful for them nor healthy for our community.
Have I allowed the commenters to go too far? Are the comments useful for you? Should I disable comments? Where is your threshold for an inappropriate personal attack?
Please tell me what you think.