Readers’ corner 6/22/07
The readers’ forum on http://www.TheUnion.com allows readers to comment on all our local content: stories, letters to the editor, cartoons, etc.
What originally started out small has grown, with more than 1,000 readers registered with a “user name,” thus allowing them to comment freely on content in our print newspaper, as well as content on the Web, and engage in dialogue with one another.
This forum is not moderated; we have an abuse button that says “report this.” That generates an e-mail to some key employees, who look at the reported post and decide if it is offensive.
Now, obviously, what is offensive to some is not offensive to others. The “F” word is offensive; saying someone has their facts wrong is not.
We don’t have the time, or the inclination, to be Internet cops. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled that Internet forums are much like a coffee shop, where overheard conversations may be offensive to some but are protected as free speech. Part of that ruling is below:
“In a landmark 1997 decision, (www.ciec.org/ SC_appeal/decision.shtml) the Supreme Court ruled that the Internet is a unique medium entitled to the highest protection under the free speech protections of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This gives the Internet same free speech protection as print. The Internet is the first electronic media to achieve this because of low barriers to access, abundance, many speakers, no gatekeepers.
“The court struck down the Communications Decency Act (CDA), Congress’ first attempt to censor speech online. Writing for the court, Justice John Paul Stevens held that ‘the CDA places an unacceptably heavy burden on protected speech’ and found that all provisions of the CDA are unconstitutional as they apply to ‘indecent’ or ‘patently offensive’ speech. In a separate concurrence, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor agreed that the provisions of the CDA are all unconstitutional except in their narrow application to “communications between an adult and one or more minors.”
Currently we have a small group of posters reporting on each other over every small thing. This was not the intent of providing this forum; rather, we hoped a civilized dialogue would ensue, perhaps even resulting in solutions to problems.
Please respect our position in providing this service to the community and when in doubt, remember The Golden Rule.
Dixie Redfearn can be reached at 477-4238 or by e-mail at email@example.com, or by fax at 477-4292.
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