Comment Policy

I own this blog. My ownership is not a constitutional monarchy, nor a representative democracy. I rule it as a benevolent dictator.

I allow comments. I allow disagreement and opposition; I encourage constructive criticism. But I don’t have to tolerate the presence of a comment I don’t like. I repeat: I own this blog. Therefore, I own your comments, and can refuse to publish them if I so wish.

The first — and only — rule is this: Be clean and polite!

Cleanliness ought to be obvious: No four-letter words. So far as any body functions should be talked about, it should be done with clinical words and clinical detachment. No “potty humor”. The details of your sex life aren’t relevant to anything I post. I am not a priest; not even priests’ blogs are substitutes for confessionals.

Politeness, however, seems to be on the wane, becoming a lost art, especially in the blogosphere where people use the anonymity of the Web to be the abusive jerks they can’t be in the real world. (Or maybe they are abusive jerks in the real world, and just allow it to spill over into their anonymity … something to think about.) So here are some other things to think about before you hit the “submit” button:
  • You are a guest in my house. Guests don’t call their host or other guests abusive names. Guests don’t insult the host’s or guests’ intelligence or education. They don’t question the motives or morals of other people at the house. Treat me and other commentators as intelligent, well-intentioned people and your comment will be left to stand for as long as this blog operates.
  • Make any stylistic criticisms substantive. “Your post is an appalling jumble of disordered thoughts; I really can’t see how you get from your premisses to your conclusion” is a constructive, helpful criticism. “Your post sucks” isn’t.
  • Respond to what I write — not what you think I “really mean”. I have this funny little idea that people who write blogs really ought to say what they mean and mean what they say. I do not “encode” my “real views” in harmless-sounding pleasantries; I refuse to be bound by whatever foolish stereotype you may have of white people, of men, or of Latin-rite Catholics. If you feel the need to interpret my writing so it sounds like Fred Phelps Lite, strangle that need before it climbs out of the crib to make your comment delete-worthy.
  • Do not dig rabbit holes in my garden. The only exception I have to this rule is if you are a friend or an acquaintance dropping by to say “Hi”. Otherwise, try to stay on topic; if you wander too far afield, your comment may be lost in cyberspace.
  • Don’t bother throwing hand grenades, and don’t throw yourself on one. There’s a species of troll I like to call the “drive-by commentator”. The DBC likes to stop by a combox long enough to throw “hand grenades”—short, hate-filled diatribes or mocking sneers—and zoom off into the night, leaving anger and confusion in his wake. The beauty of comment moderation is that I get to decide a comment is a hand grenade and defuse it before it reaches the public eye. If it’s past the two-week mark and one manages to stay alive, don’t bother to respond to it; eventually I’ll see it and get rid of it.
  • Be careful what you link to. If you want to include a link to a page or image which is graphically violent, sexual, hateful or disturbing, be advised: I do check out links before they’re published. If I believe the content isn’t relevant, or that you’re linking there just to be shocking — say “goodbye” to your comment.
  • I am not a paid spokesperson for your product. In principle, I have no objection to links referring back to your blog or product site. However, since you’re not paying me for the privilege, I reserve the right to decide whether your blog or site is appropriate for my target audience. So don’t bother with links to:
    • your book which “proves” Jesus never existed
    • your CafePress page full of tasteless, offensive t-shirts and coffee mugs, the slogans of which all include “s**t” or “f**k”
    • your web page with proof texts from Scripture “proving” the Church to be the Whore of Babylon, or pre-Vatican II source quotations “proving” that Benedict XVI is not the legitimate Successor to Peter
    • your profile in or
  • Don’t try to play to my biases. I have friends and relatives who are Protestants, atheists, pagans, homosexuals, feminists and liberals. One of the most beautiful souls I know is a follower of Islam. My first concern is trying to live my Catholic faith authentically, “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27). If at any point you believe I’ve committed the sin of rash judgment, or if you think an indictment paints with too broad a brush, I invite you to tell me so. At the same time, though, don’t assume that, because I speak against gay marriage or against particular New Atheist arguments, you can get on my good side by slamming homosexuals and slandering secularists.

In some instances, I may disable or turn off the comment box. I will generally do this if I feel a post is garnering too much attention from trolls, or (much more rarely) if I post something I don’t feel merits discussion or debate. You’re still free to send me an email through my Google profile. However, I operate under what’s known as the Welborne Protocol: Any email you send me is fair game for blogging purposes, unless you specifically state “DO NOT POST” in the subject line or the text body. Also, be advised that the comment policy also holds for my email policy: if you want a reply, be clean and polite!

This list is a general guideline, and may be incomplete. Check on it from time to time to see if anything has changed, or at least to refresh your memory. And this guideline will serve you pretty well on other blogs and in other forums. Always remember: you are a guest. And this is my blog.