The UChicago faculty blog
is considering instituting a censorship -- whoops, "moderation" -- policy for commenters
. This is due to some recent colorful exchanges in the comments to some of their more controversial posts. In fact, the entire policy is being discussed, in essence, due to the immature comments of one particular commenter who shall, on this blog at least, remain unnamed (perusal of the comments to some of the more popular posts
on the blog will likely reveal the culprit with relative ease).
Chicago prides itself as a place where the free expression of ideas is uninhibited. It claims that intelligent discourse on any subject is appropriate. Any position may be taken, as long as it is backed up by rigorous analysis and argumentation. Yet on its very own blog Chicago admits that it is considering "moderating" online discussions such that commenters are limited to one comment a day, and "off-topic" (what qualifies as "off-topic" is to be determined, presumably, by these unnamed moderators) comments be deleted.
Aside from the technical difficulties of implementing such a policy (indeed, few of the blog's authors take much time to add to the very comments they seek to re-focus), it is troubling indeed to see such a policy under consideration simply because of a few nasty comments from one or two people. Are blog commenters and law professors really so thin-skinned and easily distracted that they're unable to skip over a handful of unproductive posts? And, if so, who determines what is appropriate material for comments and how is such a determination reached?
On top of this, it reeks of the high-minded law school elitism my loyal readers know I've come to despise
. Only some comments, apparently, are "good enough" for the Chicago blog. Many of the commenters to the post proposing the policy in question note how much they prefer a more "academic" or "technical" approach to the law.
Screw them! First of all, an academic approach to the law is only useful to people in academia. I've only been a lawyer for a few months, but I've already figured out that the most useful things I learned in law school were the Code of Civil Procedure and the Rules of Evidence -- everything else was just a collection of ivory tower exercises. Second of all, the reason I actually bother visiting the Chicago blog and not other professor blogs is because on the Chicago blog, people can actually talk about interesting and sensible approaches to the problems presented, rather than throwing around big words and patting themselves on the back for being so clever.
Don't do it, Chicago. Don't disappoint me again.