I just booted Walter from the blog until he started acting a bit more civil, invoking my “civility policy.” He, quite reasonably, asked for a copy of said policy.
Since it’s something that has developed organically (and ultimately, frankly, depends on fiat on my part), I had to answer him this way:
Certainly, Walter. Although if you’re looking for rules that if you adhere to by the letter and still skate by, forget it. This is very much a “spirit of the law” thing.
And ultimately, it’s up to me to decide whether you’re making the grade, based on my bouncer role. Lots of leeway for me, not necessarily for you.
And here is the ultimate measurement: If I think you’re discouraging other people from participating, either by being hostile to them or being hostile to others so that a reasonably dignified person reading it thinks to himself “I’m not going to comment because I’ve got better things to do with my life than get abused like that,” then you’re gone.
And I’ll resist banning you. I’ll lean way over backward, and will probably have to be nagged into action by other participants. Sometimes you’ll see the nagging here; other times it will be by e-mail to me.
For elaboration, here are several links to previous discussions of civility. You’ll see that I’ve tried a lot of rules, and in the end just had to start relying on my own judgment, employing something like the “I know it when I see it” definition of obscenity:
Bottom line, it’s not a statutory system, or even constitutional. It’s precedent-based.
Oh, yeah, one more tip to keep in mind: I allow you a LOT more leeway if you use your real, full name. But even then, I have my limit.
And I generally take it comment by comment. But in some cases, I’ve banned people permanently.