Me and Ashley, sittin? in a tweet ? | Raucous Caucus | Tom Cushing | |

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By Tom Cushing

Me and Ashley, sittin? in a tweet ?

Uploaded: Mar 20, 2015

Okay, so the venom to which the actress Ms. Judd has been subjected for being a Kentucky college basketball fan really is March madness, and far worse than the comments hereabouts. That said, clickbait headlines are popular, and well, you Did click. That's good, because this blog contains a new rule for commenters to the RC.

As a preamble, in the course of more than 200 of these columns, I've pleaded and cajoled for substantive civility, and edited and removed posts, as well as a few posters who just wouldn't heed warnings. It has seemed to me that when a blog is titled Raucous Caucus, one ought to audit the comments with a light touch, acknowledging that politics is passionate and clamor may ensue. Sadly, that's the wrong approach.

I also come to this column having cut my site-moderator teeth some years ago on the wonderful, a news aggregator and edited social networking news website, where the mascot is a renegade squirrel, and the terms-of-use rules employ a 'house party' model. You're invited -- stay and have a beer, but if you substantially annoy the hosts, you will be asked to leave. They summarize it by saying "don't be a [anatomical reference)," which works pretty well, there.

Here, not so much. With internet anonymity comes the scourge of trollery. Trolling is a commentary on the sordid state of human nature, and a problem as old as the Greek myth of Gyges. There, a shepherd finds a ring that can render him invisible. Faced with All the possibilities he could pursue, he immediately proceeds to the castle, kills the king and rapes the queen. As homosaps, we tend to view anonymity as a license to misbehave, some much more so than others.

The troll problem is made worse by the reverence we Americans have for "free speech," and confusion about what that concept actually means. The PW and the DSR are protected against government censorship of their content, but as private businesses, they are also free to choose the terms of use that govern participation in their forums. Trolls will often try to cloak their babble in First Amendment terms -- but adolescent tantrums just aren't battle cries of freedom. It debases the sacred concept of free expression to claim such protection.

As a personal aside, trolls waste my time and devalue my work. I'm here to post opinion that invites commentary, pro-or-con, on the merits. I am not here to endure digs on the status of my character, or my carcass (better men and women than you have attempted to improve both). Nor am I here to edit anybody's comments. If you want it seen, just kindly adhere to the following ? otherwise, it'll be gone before you know it. In contrast to Twitter, the volume here is quite manageable.

So, a new posting rule for the RC. A good place to start is to review this publication's Terms of Use. They are stated mostly in the negative ? 'thou shalt nots' in Ten Commandments form. What they mean, in practical terms, is that if your post contains Any of that stuff, then out it goes. Any poison in your addition to the bowl, and the whole comment gets flushed.

To those terms, I'll add the following requirement, stated in the affirmative: Thou Shalt Be Relevant. Challenge my references, skewer my logic, demolish my conclusions ? all fair game, be my guest! That said, if you do not make the relationship to the blog clear enough to see, then buh-bye.

Will this cost the column some clickage? You bet ? some folks just love a good flame war, like they enjoy a TV 'Roast.' Others are fascinated in ways that keep you from looking away from a train wreck. That's okay. The PW/DSR papers are just not here to provide those kinds of entertainments ? you can always go to TMZ, or someplace. I even hold-out faint hope that some folks will be drawn to the blog by the absence of all the detritus that must be shoveled to reach the pony.

Of course, it'll also mean that the often-likable musings of one-or-more 'cholos' won't make the cut. Sorry cholos ? I happen to know that Roz has a soft spot in her heart for your stuff. I bet those posts will continue to be welcomed there, and anything reasonably relevant will still fit here, as well.

So, there you have it. There'll be concerns about the fallibility of the person with his finger on the Delete button. To which I would respond 'yup ? that would be me,' but I claim the privilege because I've been asked to write these missives, and then actually made the effort to do so. Further, Somebody has to do it, and my history is on the tolerant side of this publication's norm. If you feel that it cramps your style, you might consider whether that might be a 'feature,' rather than a 'bug.' If it deters you completely, that might be too bad ? I hope you'll give it a shot before coming to that hard conclusion.

There will also be trolls who'll test for limits, because that's what trolls do. They will find them.

One more thing (since Michigan's not in it): Go 'CATS!