Last Sunday’s Conversation about The Sacramento Bee’s launch of a new online commenting system asked the question: How important is civility to you when entering online discussions about news and issues?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Using names aids online civility
Re “We’re inviting online civility” (Forum, Joyce Terhaar, Nov. 24): The horrible online posts to The Sacramento Bee reached the point where they had to cut them off. I was amazed with the backlash The Bee received upon doing so.
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I disagree with those who whined that they have a right to remain anonymous, lest they receive backlash from the community. Where did we come to feel we “deserve” to be vile and mean, sign off anonymously and expect it to be published? What benefit have we achieved having read any of these comments?
Yes, you can say what you want, but The Bee, as a private business, does not have to publish your thoughts without guidelines of their choosing. If your thoughts are true to your heart, you should have no problem attaching your name to them.
– Jennifer Harwood, Sacramento
Geoff Davey – People who don’t like assertive comments and comments they don’t agree with should stop reading them instead of attempting to stifle folks whose ideas they don’t like/agree with. Since The Bee suspended online comments in sympathy to whiners, I have avoided The Bee’s website religiously. Many others have told me they have done likewise.
Lindsay Shoemaker – The civility on sacbee.com comments was completely absent. There were times when I didn’t want to read certain articles because I could be promised comments full of attacks, ignorance and hate at the bottom of the page (I read the articles anyway). We are humans and should be able to conduct ourselves civilly and intelligently, even when discussing a viewpoint that differs from our own.
Karen Campbell – True. This problem could be solved by having all comments moderated before they’re posted, and any that involve obvious violations, such as name-calling, simply don’t get posted in the first place.
Christina Jaspers-Jeffries – I find it very sad and disappointing that people are quick to tell you that your opinion is wrong and that you are ignorant as they post this in their own opinion while doing so! Mind you, it is usually a very one-sided opinion or even a disgusting rant about some issue that is barely relevant to the situation at hand! I feel that civility is crucial and we are unfortunately severely lacking in that these days!
Ozzy McPhee – Not particularly annoyed by the words of others. If they’re off-base just move along. I’m guessing this will kill the exchange of ideas as it has with other newspaper comment sections.
Chris Hickman – Civility is in the eye of the beholder. One has to consider where they are. I think people are far too thin-skinned these days. A read of history would reveal that the people who founded this nation were at times far from what was considered civil at the time. The Sacramento Bee always had the option of turning off the comments at the user’s discretion. I see no problem with the way it was, and frankly, I think the site has suffered since the removal of the comments.
James C. Glica-Hernandez – Civility is the hallmark of a refined society. One may have cause to be concerned with the “Jerry Springer” and “Jersey Shore” mentality of online communication. The polarity found in political and religious discussions is increasing exponentially, leading conversations to take on a level of ugliness rarely seen in any public forum before. It’s tragic to see how little respect is offered to our neighbors, which is what we all really are.
Jeanne Rowden Dansby – I go back and forth on this. I’m frustrated by the fact that I can’t comment, but I’m definitely in a better mood these days. The old comment section was like getting a giant dose of Rush Limbaugh-ish negativity. Having read this thread, I know we are capable of civil discourse; I look forward to seeing all of you on the new forum.
Gabe Ferreira – Being offensive often deters from the topic of discussion and insults the intelligence of individuals in a public forum. It’s important to allow your point of view to come across without distractions and give people the choice to share theirs without the threat of being slammed too harshly. Otherwise you risk your audience losing interest on important discussions because of bullying and intimidation.
Steven Frisch – Civility is absolutely essential. The Sac Bee is a private entity; it is not a public meeting or a town hall. As a private entity and a member of the Fourth Estate it has a responsibility to provide a format that facilitates rational debate. According to Thomas Carlyle, “Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all.” Membership in the Fourth Estate means taking on a certain responsibility, and The Sac Bee should be commended for accepting that responsibility and moving to improve the state of online journalism and meaningful public discourse.