Some of you have no doubt read the colorful comment left by a reader who refers to herself as “JosephineSouthern.” Here is a short excerpt:
Oh how trashy you are. You have no sense of decency or honor. If you did you would know in your heart of hearts that what Grant did to VICKSBURG was atrocious evil. Shame on them and Shame on the USA. War on women and children, Grant and Butler the Beast I would spit on today! It is obvious your people didn’t suffer and die through Lincoln’s War and afterwards. So what do you care. We tried getting along with you people, but you just won’t let us.
You may be surprised to learn that I receive these types of comments quite frequently. Most of them never see the light of day and end up being deleted. Still, regardless of the content it’s not easy to hit the delete button. After all, this is a site where interested readers can explore the way in which the Civil War has been commemorated and remembered as well as its continued hold on our culture. Many of the comments left on this site reflect this continued interest and influence. Without getting to meta on you, I would like to think that this site itself has become a window into the rich legacy of Civil War memory. Perhaps at some point in the future researchers will peruse this site’s archives to analyze how various subjects were analyzed by me as well as the response from a broad audience.
At times it is necessary to delete comments and even ban readers entirely to maintain a certain level of discourse. I’ve thought about creating a page where I could isolate comments such as the one above. It is a comprise, however, as this would preserve the comment but remove it from the life of the blog post. There is an argument for maintaining uncensored discourse on a site such as this. Finally, I also make it a point to double-check the links which you provide in the comment form. I maintain the right to delete links that I believe provide false or misleading information. Again, the same concerns apply.
I would love to know what you think. What are the alternatives when trying to achieve the right balance between informed/mature discourse and preserving the kind of site that will reflect our continued interest in the Civil War?