Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Comment moderation info

After four years of writing this blog, I started moderating all comments in December 2010 because of a growing stream of vitriol, venom, and incivility. I have considered shutting off comments completely, but I just don’t want to do it. I so greatly appreciate the insights, wisdom, thoughtfulness, and righteous anger of so many of you who comment here, and I wouldn’t want to give that up.

Commenters are always responsible for their own comments, and most of the regulars here probably don’t need to bother with reading this, but for those who may wonder, this is my attempt to provide a bit of information about my approach toward comment moderation.

I welcome anonymous comments, particularly from abuse survivors. Indeed, part of the original purpose of this blog was to provide abuse survivors with a place where they might, in small ways, begin to find their voice, even if it’s an anonymous voice. However, anonymous comments, and those from persons who don’t make their profile visible, will be moderated more rigorously than others. Anonymity can provide too many possibilities for meanness, and also for manipulation. So, if I don’t have some idea of who the comment is from, I err on the side of disallowing it. Many blogs don’t allow for anonymous comments at all; I’m doing the best I can to strike some sort of balance.

First and foremost, this blog is intended primarily for clergy abuse survivors, and it is my intent to maintain this blog as a safe place for clergy abuse survivors. This means that I will also err on the side of rejecting comments that I think may be too hurtful. In the past, I often tended to err on the side of allowing for an open forum. Then I heard from several clergy abuse survivors who told me they felt like they couldn’t even read my blog anymore because some of the comments were too upsetting for them. I say a heartfelt thank you to those survivors who shared those feelings.

My new approach toward moderating comments will necessarily involve more judgment calls on my part, and sometimes I may not exercise my judgment in the same way that some of you would. I hope you’ll bear with me. The bottom line is that I intend to keep my “first and foremost” audience in the front of my mind – i.e., clergy abuse survivors.

I can also tell you this: If your comment doesn’t get through, or doesn’t get through as quickly as you think it should, and you send me emails ranting about how terrible I am for not posting what you said, it’s probably not going to sway me to release your comment.

A few additional points:
  • Comments that contain links to sites about social or political issues, or to sites for political candidates, will likely be deleted.
  • Comments that contain links to proselytizing sites will likely be deleted, as will comments that, in my judgment, are too over-the-top on authoritarian, evangelical-style talk. This is obviously a judgment call, and I’ll admit that I don’t quite know where the line is on this. After all, even I have been known to recite the occasional Bible verse. So, I would simply say that many clergy abuse survivors do not find it helpful to receive sermonizing on how they should be better Christians, how they should be more forgiving, how they can pray their troubles away, or how they should put it all in God’s hands.
  • Comments that libel me or call me names will be deleted. (You can disagree with me, but you can’t expect to say untrue things about me right here on my own blog.)
  • Comments on older posts are more likely to be deleted. (As with almost all things, there are exceptions.)
  • Comments that flat-out reflect ignorance, and particularly hateful ignorance, will likely be deleted. (For example, a recent attempted comment talked about how a 12-year-old girl was probably “in love” with the minister and so was partly to blame. I won’t allow such foul ignorance to be promoted and perpetuated on my blog. Rational, decent people don’t debate the “who’s to blame” question when an adult married minister admits to having sex with a 12-year-old.)
I expect that my comment moderation policy will result in less overall comments. I understand that.

I wish it were possible to have a completely open forum. However, I have finally concluded that, given the subject-matter of this blog, it is simply not manageable.
Related posts: Venom-spitters and bile-spewers, 12/17/2010; Meanness, 10/26/2010; Straight to Hell, 2/15/11


Junkster said...

Good call.

Ginny said...

Do you discuss other abuses by religious? I found your blog after Anne Rice mentioned it on Facebook and it sounded 'oh, so familiar'..then I opened the local paper and read this article. Having been brought up Southern Baptist, and marrying a Roman Catholic, I can see so many similarities. Unfortunately, the hatred I saw for the Catholics in the Baptist denomination is probably used to cover up their abuse....'I'm not abusing you, hon. I'm not Catholic' The story in this article sounds almost verbatim to some you've quoted in your blog. I would like to know your opinion on the comparison.

Thank you.


Christa Brown said...

"...the hatred I saw for the Catholics in the Baptist denomination is probably used to cover up their abuse."

Certainly, there have been many Baptists who have tried to pretend that this was just a Catholic problem and that Baptists were somehow immune. If anyone should have known about the extent of clergy sex abuse and cover-ups among Baptists, it should have been Richard Land, the head of the SBC's ethics and religious liberty commission. Yet, he had the almighty hubris to wag his finger at Catholics and suggest that there had been only "a couple" cases among Southern Baptists. I wrote about it here:
http://stopbaptistpredators.blogspot.com/2008/03/more-talk-from-mr-so-called-ethics.html In reality, we know that there have been hundreds of cases and, at this point in time, Baptists are doing way less than Catholics to try to systemically address the problem. Catholic dioceses have removed hundreds of priests from active ministry based on their own review processes. Meanwhile, Southern Baptists and most other Baptist groups don't even have any denominational process for assessing abuse reports or for removing men from ministry. A local church can simply quietly let a man go, and then he moves on to another church.

Regarding the Philadelphia story, we almost always see the exact same thing when criminal charges are brought against a Baptist pastor. People fill the courtroom to support him, and even when he's found guilty, other ministers, deacons and congregants write letters in support, urging leniency in sentencing.

Recently, in Philadelphia, many Catholic abuse stories came to light because of an examination of the records from the diocese itself. That's the thing -- Catholic canon law requires record-keeping -- i.e., it's part of their religion. Meanwhile, Southern Baptists don't bother with any denominational record-keeping on abuse reports and, in fact, claim that their religion prevents such record-keeping. It's a huge difference and one reason why it's easier to expose abuses among Catholic clergy. With Baptists, it's "no records - no trace - no trouble." If we could see Baptist records similar to what Catholics have, then we would see many more cases in the public light. In other words, if for Baptists we could see, not only news about criminal charges and convictions against Baptist clergy, but also news about internal complaints and denominational review proceedings, then the number of cases in the public light would skyrocket. I wrote more about this here:

PG said...

Christa, thank you for all you addressed in this blog. Thank you for all you have done and all you are doing. Your "judgement call" sounds pretty good to me. Thanks much!

Wendy Stubblefield said...

Christa, I agree with your judgment calls too. Thank you for your tireless efforts in educating the public about the enormous problem of Baptist clergy sexual abuse and for providing a safe forum for abuse victims.

Jeri said...

I used to do the "3 strikes and you're out" moderation. I would give angry responders three chances to state their case and prove their point so that the discussion could continue. But if they just kept repeating themselves (which is usually what happened) or if they just kept calling me names (which also happened) instead of answering the debate as it progressed, I would tell them they'd struck out, and then block anything else they said. That was really time consuming but very refreshing. I still pull it out from time to time. It allowed a dissenting voice, but it also limited the amount of abuse I had to take from people who just wanted to call me names.

Anonymous said...

I was on a link and saw Melbourne,Australia had a Baptist child molester well so does Queensland, he was born in America, I think he is now out of gaol, he got 5 years. I wanted this to go on that site but couldn't figure out how to do it.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 8:17 - I'm always appreciative of people who send me news links. christa[AT]StopBaptistPredators[dot]org