The other day, Dennis Coday, editor of The National Catholic Reporter, for which I write a biweekly column, sent out an e-mail containing this note he also posted on the NCR website saying comments on stories and columns were being stopped there, at least for now.
In his explanation of why, Dennis wrote this: "Comments that have appeared on the website in recent days have been vile and demeaning. We could no longer support hosting a Web feature that allows such despicable comments to appear, and that is why we ordered the suspension of that feature."
It's exactly the same reason I quit allowing comments on this blog. I couldn't justify providing one more platform for uncivil discourse, though readers still can e-mail me their reactions and, if you read this through Facebook, comments are allowed there.
Some websites, of course, choose to allow readers to say just about anything. The local site, Tony's Kansas City, is one of those, and you can find exactly the sort of disgusting comments there that drove NCR to suspend comments.
The day NCR suspended comments the syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker's column published in The Kansas City Star said this: ". . .we have lost all sense of decorum, that voluntary commitment to behavior that combines a willingness to consider others first. . .enforced through the exercise of self-restraint. How do we expect children to navigate through this tawdry muck to become the sort of people most of us would like to know?"
Exactly. And isn't a sense of decorum what faith communities are supposed to teach, among many other things? So is this a failure of those communities to teach that, a failure of people to learn the lessons offered or a failure of people even to show up to learn those lessons?
I think the answer is yes.
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OBAMA'S 'NOT THE ANTI-CHRIST'
Speaking of uncivil discourse, a Southern Baptist pastor has a new book out soon in which he says that although Barack Obama is not the anti-Christ, his election has paved the way for the anti-Christ to come. The anti-Christ predicters are like the end-of-the-world date setters: Always wrong. Worse, they continue to give religion a bad name.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.