Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Comment Moderation

Latte Republic is a moderated site.

I have recently rejected two comments from anonymous visitor(s) who attempted to publish hateful and defamatory comments about Mr. Paxton, the McShanes and this author.

No one, (not even me), forces a politician to behave or act in a manner that is legally unethical. Politicians make decisions to obey or not obey the law based on their personal ethics and moral values. Sometimes, those decisions have negative legal consequences for the elected official.

The act of "shooting the messenger" by the politician, his supporters or the media does not exonerate a politician from breaking state or federal laws.

In order to facilitate healthy community discussion of political behavior, Latte Republic has posted the following statement:

"Politics encompasses a wide variety of activities, from government elections and office holding to public policy and expressing ideological beliefs. For each of these actions, there are ethical considerations and consequences.No discipline is more visible, thus political ethics is a hotly debated and very public arena."

Here are Latte Republic's posted rules for comments:

No Spam: self-promotion is fine but it should come along with the promotion of others, too.

No Hate: Disagreement and diversity are accepted and encouraged, personal attacks are not. Please keep in mind that it is normal for people to disagree about issues. But try to do so respectfully.

No Vulgarity: This is a family friendly site.

I have attempted to be flexible and tolerant of commenter's opinions. But I have learned that there are individuals who live in this community who are not emotionally or mentally stable.

For the record, I'm not obligated to interact with these people, not publicly, not even privately. They do not have a right to have access to me.

A handful of individuals continue to levy personal attacks against me, not because I have filed "campaign related" complaints (the same individuals who criticize me for filing campaign-related complaints do not attack other complaint filers, such as, former State Supreme Court Justices Faith Ireland, Robert Utter, Rick Dubrow, of A-1 Builders, or Robyn Du Pre, of ReSources for filing campaign violations).

No, my critics only target individuals who have filed complaints against Mayor Dan Pike.

This statement apparently also holds true for the local media. Ken Mann and Sam Taylor have not attacked Robyn Du Pre, Rick Dubrow or the former State Supreme Court Justices for filing campaign-related complaints against the BIAW or Realtors.

Nor has Tim Johnson, editor of the Cascadia Weekly accused those folks of having an agenda or a desire to twist the screws of justice in order to place Mayor Dan Pike in a bad light.

No, the above members of the media only appear to enjoy criticizing individuals who have filed complaints against Mayor Dan Pike by repeatedly questioning the motivations of the individuals who file complaints, calling the complaints themselves "campaign stunts" or "smear campaigns" as if turning the "violator" into a victim somehow exonerates the candidate from violating state and federal campaign laws. (After all, Dan Pike is really a nice guy - it's those folks who called your attention to the fact that he allegedly broke the law that have problems).

Apparently, certain members of the media are of the opinion that elected officials, like Mayor Pike, have the right to pick and choose which laws they want to recognize and obey. (I guess they buy into the notion that elected officials are entitled to perks that the rest of us can not possibly hope to enjoy).

Never mind that the rest of the population is obligated to abide by a wide array of "obscure laws." For instance, some may not necessarily agree with (speed limit laws - IRS laws, WACs, or laws that govern public and private behavior or business activities, etc.).

The point being, (charges of obscurity aside), no one, not even our anointed Mayor Dan Pike, has the legal right to decide which laws are valid and which laws are invalid. Those decisions rest squarely with regulating agencies, courts and legislative bodies.

If the law is on the books, it is a valid, enforceable law.

If local citizens and or the media find that they are offended by a particular law, they should work to change the law - not attack individuals who file complaints under the law.

Citizens can only file complaints under existing state and federal statutes and code. (As written). Citizens do not have the abilty to determine which laws are "just" or which laws are "unjust." That responsibility belongs to the people we elect to represent us --local, state and federal legislators.

Tim Johnson and Ken Mann may object to the Hatch Act, but neither man has the right to accuse complainants of abusing the law. In fact, such accusations are abusive of citizens in their own, unique way.

Mayor Pike may be the Mayor of Bellingham. But he is held to the same standard of accountability under the law as any other citizen who lives or works in this nation.

Hence, let it be publicly known that I will not publish comments that are:

1) Personal attacks on individuals who are featured in the media, other commenters or on myself.

2) Attacks that are laced with profanity or vulgarity.

3) Comments which advocate, suggest, condone, justify, or imply violence towards me or other members of the community.

4) Comments (or threats) demanding that I not post articles on certain subjects, including Mayor Dan Pike's campaign violations.

5) Comments that are not associated with the subject matter of the post. If you haven't read the bloody post, don't comment on it.

6) Comments that try to link me to one campaign or another. I'm not working on any campaigns - nor am I stumping for potential future local candidates. (Or, the 2007 Mayor's election is over and Dan McShane is not running again).

7) Comments that accuse other members of the community of being part of a conspiracy.

Personally, I believe that proponents on either side of an issue have a right to be heard. But the right to be heard does not include the right to harass, annoy, or threaten members of the community or a blog administrator for discussing issues that are in the public spot light.

Latte Republic will not tolerate attempts by Mayor Pike's supporters to censor postings. Nor will Latte Republic tolerate discriminatory behavior against those who speak out publicly regarding Mayor Pike's past and current political behavior.

Mayor Pike claims that he is unable to control his supporters. But that does not mean that I am obligated to print ugly, hateful comments posted by those supporters.

If the Mayor's supporters want to discuss issues in a manner that is defamatory and intimidating to others - I suggest they start their own blogs under their own name. Blogger.com or Wordpress offer free blogs to members of the public.

In summation, the reader and blog commenter do not have the "right" to post here. Please remember that the ability to post comments on Latte Republic is a privilege, not a "right."

In closing, please note that there is no such thing as "anonymous blogging" Even administrators who host free blogging sites, such as blogger, (my site) can install programs that store IP address and other relevant information about a commenter, just in case we are ever threatened or harmed.

I report all credible threats to the FBI and local police. I will not be threatened or have local thugs tell me which topics I can cover or not cover on Latte Republic.

Over the next two weeks, Latte will publish copies of documents signed by Mayor Pike while he was employed by Skagit Council of Governments (SCOG) and Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

Please note that I will not tolerate any threats related to these postings.

The public has a right to know if Mayor Dan Pike was aware of the Hatch Act before he filed to run for public office.

I pray that this is the last time I have to post an article on this topic.

Even I'm nauseated by the repetitive behavior of a few, disgruntled ex-campaign supporters (and members of the media) who can't seem to get it thorough their head that local, state and federal law applies to each and every one of us.

Elected or not.

No one at Latte Republic forced Mayor Pike to violate state and federal campaign laws. He made that decision completely on his own.

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