Rants.org Comments Policy.

I don’t publish all comments; I only publish good comments.

I decide what are good comments.

This may come as a surprise to anyone who thinks that the principle of freedom of speech implies an obligation for third parties to publish what someone else has said. It does not. Freedom of speech in general, and the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in particular, are about state interference with speech. Because the state has unique powers not available to private citizens, and because open expression of everyone’s political thoughts is so necessary for the management and tempering of the state, it’s important that the state never be in a position to suppress, control, or force speech.

So I’m totally in favor of the First Amendment, and would never advocate that the state prevent you from speaking your mind.

But here on rants.org? This is my site, and I’m not a government. I’m not even a public online social media platform with a full-time staff and a Terms of Service agreement (if I were, I’d be a lot more circumspect about filtering comments).

Since this is just my blog, if a comment doesn’t contribute anything useful to the discussion I want to be having, then I won’t publish that comment. Unless I feel like publishing it, in which case I will. Think of me as “harvesting” comments rather than merely publishing them. I publish most non-spam comments, including those that point out relevant things I haven’t thought of, and those that present worthwhile counterarguments that deserve a hearing. Mere disagreement is not a reason for me not to publish a comment. But comments that don’t meet even that low bar will need to find their own web server if they want an audience.

(Some regulated private-sector services are, or anyway should be, considered “common carrier”, a state-granted status that comes with both benefits — e.g., liability protection — and obligations. One of the obligations is that the carrier take on some of the speech protection functions of the state. For example, your Internet Service Provider shouldn’t be able to censor you just because someone doesn’t like what you’re saying. Common carrier is a deep idea, but my web site doesn’t come anywhere close to meeting its definition.)

Here’s a example of a comment I didn’t publish, except in this comment policy. It’s from “Allen” of rebuttals.org, submitted on 13 July 2016, in response to this post about Donald Trump:

Hillary Clinton is one of the many issues wrong with this country. We don’t need a politician. We need a Statesman.

I see from this post that this is a watering hole for Libtards without any real connection with what is happening with America.

It’s completely out of touch with the reality of the status of the common man. Keep sipping your chardonnay while watching reruns of the Vampire Diaries.

Anyone planning to submit that sort of comment shouldn’t bother. I won’t approve it when I see it in the comments queue. It will just languish forever — unless, of course, the submitter chooses to publish it somewhere else. “Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.” Fortunately, on the Internet everyone can afford their own press now, so no commenter needs my help to get their words published.

Also, I don’t even like Chardonnay.