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August 5, 2010

A comment on comments

One of my favorite real-world lawyer readers, who is also one of the most thoughtful and helpful commentors, wrote me this note via e-mail today:

Doug, is there anything you can do to eliminate comments from folks who are deterring participation on the blog?  I have no enthusiasm to make a comment, knowing that some vitriolic attack will follow.  Bummer, your blog is some of my favorite reading.

I trust the few bad apples that are spoiling the comments for other members of the bunch will make a real effort to play at least a bit nicer in the comments.  I have very little interest in (and even less time to) police what gets said in the comments, and I know from experience that the comments can and should be a useful (and enjoyable) aspect of this blog.  

I am hopeful that this comment will encourage a bit more civility in the comments.  Also, I urge readers to consider using the comments to this post to express their take on whether and how the comment section of this blog adds or detracts from their reading experiences.  If lots of folks say that open comments do more harm than good, I can and will shut off the blog's comment feature.

August 5, 2010 at 04:49 PM | Permalink

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I don't know if that is me, he is referring to. But, I would like to summarize if it is. I have very rarely addressed any individual in an uncivil way. If I did, I was overwrought, did not mean it, regret it, and sincerely apologize for it.

This is in contrast to the personal attacks I have endured, being called insane, and other epithets, when it is not I who believes minds can be read, the future forecast, the truth can be detected by using the gut feelings of twelve strangers, after excluding any with knowledge. It is not I who believes that the standard of conduct should be determined by a fictional character with the overly anxious and careful personality of Mickey Mouse. Why fictional? To make the standard objective, of course. This fictional character is really a stealthy avatar of Jesus Christ and quite unlawful in our secular nation.

The profession is more cuckoo than a Swiss wall clock at 12 Noon. Yet, it controls government and imposes its sicko beliefs on the public at the point of a gun. And it has no awareness of the cult indoctrination it endured to get those beliefs inculcated.

Feel free to close the comments. However, left wing biased item selections tell only half the story, cutting the half from earth's perspective on the lawyer Twilight Zone. No one will speak for victims, since the lawyer makes no money from victims, they may rot. They are the reason for government, rule of law, and pay the taxes that fund the CCE. The lawyer has to explain the utter failure of every self-stated goal of every law subject, save one, rent seeking. That is a glowing success. The lawyer has to explain the devastating, Third World class crime victimization rate and the horrible rate of false convictions.

If I am making a mistake, or naive, or unaware of better lawyer justifications for the way it does business, I would love to be corrected. However, one will likely have to go down 10 levels before exhausting the supports of my propositions.

If you are a lawyer, act like one. Rebut and make the offender look foolish. Not even 12 year old girls run away from a spirited debate. You should be able to handle a little loving criticism. Ad hominems, to me, represent surrender in the traverse. As in a chess game, I tip over my king when I understand my position to be hopeless. Ad hominems should be seen as the same, a mark of surrender and resignation from the game. Explain to me why the remarks of strangers would deter you. I don't understand that. These strangers have not consumed 2000 hours of your time, nor emptied your assets to pay for defense costs, nor destroyed your business and any incentive to start another. They have not falsely put you in a cage and destroyed your future as the lawyer does to millions of people a year. These strangers have not loosed thousands of ultra-violent, heartless, vicious predators to victimize your family. They has not herded crime into your area, destroying most of its real estate value. Nor have they destroyed entire industries and our economy, forcing banks to lend to irresponsible people, in the full time pursuit of the pipe and Roman Orgy lifestyle. What is a little vitriol compared to what the lawyer has done to our country, with his self-dealt immunity?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 5, 2010 5:54:44 PM

Choices have consequences; we are all held "accountable" for our decisions. When you publicly advocate for torture, wear the horns proudly; just don't be surprised when you become known for it.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Aug 5, 2010 6:44:09 PM

Choices have consequences; we are all held "accountable" for our decisions. When you publicly advocate for torture, wear the horns proudly; just don't be surprised when you become known for it.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Aug 5, 2010 6:44:09 PM

Accountability should work both ways. The opponents of torture cause a devastating attack to go unprevented and undeterred, these opponents of torture must be removed from all positions of responsibility. I would have excluded the lawyer from all policy positions, by a statute, after 9/11. What more will it take for the public to realize the real cause of our distress is lawyer complicity and protection of evil, I do not know. Why does the lawyer protect evil? It generates lawyer jobs and fees.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 5, 2010 6:53:08 PM

I agree with Mark. There are one or two regular trolls and one or two rather rabid snerts who are permanently encamped here. I stopped using my real name & then stopped reading comments & then dropped off how much I visit the blog in large part due to the trolls & snerts. As a result I'm getting my crim law info more and more elsewhere these days (such as TalkLeft), which is a shame as I rather enjoy 98% of the posters here, esp. several with whom I vehemently disagree.

If you figure out a solution to the troll/snert issue please post it as I'm sure comment sections everywhere would love to learn the answer to the question (which has bugged the nets since the usenet days). The only answer I can suggestis have the comments moderated by 2 or 3 2Ls or 3Ls for work study credit.

Posted by: anon #2 | Aug 5, 2010 9:19:41 PM

I'm a long-time reader, but I almost never read the comments anymore. I wouldn't say turn them off, because every once in a while they're useful (example: when you mention a new decision but don't have a link to the opinion, a commenter often finds it for you and posts it quicker than if the commenter emailed it to you). But I avoid the comments on probably 90% of the posts.

Posted by: Milbarge | Aug 5, 2010 9:26:36 PM

Supremacy, I wasn't referring to you. Though you do entertain, I apologize in advance for not raking anything you say seriously. We have a career DOJ prosecutor here who advocates torture. Though I an thoroughly disgusted by the thought that such a pathology resides in the heart of the prosecutor, I am not surprised.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Aug 5, 2010 9:38:18 PM

Sub "taking" and "am" where appropriate above.

Posted by: Mark # 1 | Aug 5, 2010 9:40:04 PM

If the lawyer is so easily driven off, perhaps, a concerted effort should be made to drive him out of court, out of town.

Snert is an uncivil ad hominem. Its indicates frustration.

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1571/what-is-a-snert

As with the inappropriate use of law students as editors of law reviews, they do not know enough about the law to make censorship judgments.

Anon #2, quick question. Were you ever taught the original, technical meaning of the word, reasonable, in law school, or anywhere else? As the most central word of the law, shouldn't it have been covered a little, instead of covered up a lot? You got this information in the Comments here.

As to real names, they are those of meaningless strangers one will never encounter nor care that much about. So fictional name, real name, it does not really matter. The exception is that the left used real names to try to attack the person.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 5, 2010 9:57:44 PM

Mark: I have never seen any comment from this person be anything but lawyerly and civil. He sometimes demands support for an assertion with which he disagrees. I see nothing wrong or uncivil about that. You may disagree, even hate him. Rebut. Do not censor.

Why can't professional advocates handle people for whom they may have contempt and who are uncivil, at times, people like me, not the DOJ prosecutor? No one here has ever made me go deeper than 2 layers of argumentation, where 10 exist, usually. Here is why. Say I am a mediocre soldier of today. I am transported back to a castle siege in 1275 AD. I have modern weapons. I am facing exceptionally brave, disciplined and knowledgeable soldiers, but from 1275 AD. I devastate by modern technology despite my total mediocrity, and their total superiority. In an hour, the castle is ablaze, breached, sacked. Almost everyone here has 50 more IQ points than I do. However you all are stuck in the 13th Century in your thinking. There is no hope to make this thinking work. There is nothing about that is correct. It is time to give up, and move into the modern era.

The lawyer profession will be putting up statues to the Supremacy, in only 100 years, after they realize how much its ideas have saved the profession from oblivion. If taken more seriously, these ideas are pathways today, not in 100 years, to modernity, to the untapped potential for productivity of the rule of law (yielding unbelievable, tremendous profit to the public, instead of worthless rent), an essential utility product, and greater public esteem from greater success in your self-stated goals.

Not even girls run to the blog owner for relief from much, much worse nastiness. Is the lawyer a fragile flower or something?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 5, 2010 10:54:20 PM

Doug, your correspondent's complaint is that he is deterred from making comments by the vitriolic attacks that follow. Shutting off comments completely would not solve that problem.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Aug 6, 2010 12:36:04 AM

FWIW, I've thought for a long time Supremacy Claus is ruining these comment strings in ways I would never allow on Grits. SC posts multiple times in most comment strings with the same bizarre off-topic lawyer bashing of a type that makes normal people want to invoke Mark Bennett's rules for dealing with crazy. Since Bennett's first rule is "If you don't have to deal with a crazy person, don't," there's little doubt that allowing or God forbid encouraging SC's constant participation is driving away comments and making them FAR less valuable. He's not the only troll, but by far the worst.

If you're not going to police your troll problem, honestly maybe you should turn comments off. After so many seasons, blog comment sections become as useless as an untended garden without at least some moderation from the top.

OTOH, if your anonymous complainant simply doesn't want others to strongly disagree with his or her views, they need to go write a law review article and leave blog commenting to their kids. The "vitriol" flies freely in both directions here and the blogosphere is not a place for intellectual wimps who are distressed when someone disagrees with them.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Aug 6, 2010 6:39:17 AM

I protest the ad hominem, insubstantive, uncivil, personal attacks by Grits. I request that his IP address be blocked. I am extremely upset. I feel deterred from commenting.

Ironic. He calls crazy someone opposing the lawyer ideas that one can read minds, predict rare future accidents, and detect the truth by using 12 srangers' gut feelings. Then the lawyer has this little man, a fictional, imaginary little man, whom he consults about the standard of due care, and about the certainty of doubt about very difficult technical criminal evidence. Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Cuckoo. The little imaginary man actually replies. He tells judges, this sentence is Booker OK, that sentence is not Booker OK. And people are put in cages for years, taking this advice.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 6, 2010 8:08:32 AM

Turn them off, Doug. You can see just from this why I don't comment anymore here. This is actually a very nice example for your classes of why libertarianism doesn't work in real life and why laws themselves have to be developed to protect the civil from abuse.

Posted by: Michael Connelly | Aug 6, 2010 8:41:32 AM

Doug;

You might consider shutting down comments for a month and then turn them back to
see if there is any improvement. A variation would be to shut off a serious offender for a month.

Posted by: John Neff | Aug 6, 2010 9:08:53 AM

Doug: The Latin that I learned forty years ago clearly applies here: Res Ipsa Loquitur.

Posted by: alan chaset | Aug 6, 2010 9:35:18 AM

I enjoy the comments, it woulod be a loss for me..
I'm not an attorney, but it is informative and I like finding the views of the professionals. They are the ones doing combat on a daily basis..

If I've been crude on my posts, will make them softer in the future, its a privelege and wouldn't want to loose the comments of others...

Posted by: Abe | Aug 6, 2010 9:57:46 AM

Don't shut off the comments. Readers can skip the ones by writers they dislike, though like moths to flame, it might be irresistible. Supremacy Clause is a good voice--some sharp insights and reminders amid the wacky rhetoric.

Posted by: t | Aug 6, 2010 10:27:08 AM

I have followed this blog for a number of years - from my time as a Federal prisoner to date. The comments section has given me pause because it has, at times , become as juvenile as any "social site". However, that said, I still consider the freedom to speak - even uncivilly , to be of great import. I have learned to disregard the comments of the "flamers" here as that is all they deserve.
They do distract from the value of the post and other comments - without doubt. Perhaps the civil posters could simply ignore and not respond to these folk?

Posted by: Throsso | Aug 6, 2010 10:28:33 AM

I do, however, wonder at the vitriol, and personal issues of the poster "supremacy clause". Perhaps a good book of "lawyer jokes" might relieve "S.C.'s" anxieties? This does not seem the forum for such - to me.
I do wish to thank Mr. Berman for his blog and fopr all the information and help I have received from it over the years. Several persons , with whom I am acquainted, received legal relief because of information and arguments acquired from this site.

Posted by: Throsso | Aug 6, 2010 10:37:24 AM

I rather enjoy the comments section. True, there are times when they degenerate into vitriolic personal attack fests, but because of the real world experience that many people bring to the table, I find the comments on this blog some of the most insightful of any blog I visit.

I hope that the comments can continue to preserve what I think is an exceptional public forum. And I think the Cowan v. California advice applies well to those comments that are snide, vindictive, or ludicrous: if you don't want to see them, then avert your eyes.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Aug 6, 2010 10:39:13 AM

I would not shut the comments off and would hope that people with intelligent things to say will say them. If I recall correctly, there were very valuable comments before and after Blakely/Booker? There are still valuable insights . . . . however, at least from my perspective, at the time when the Blakely/Booker issues were hot, this blog provided information that could not be obtained very easily at any one source. The comments section provided some of the insight on those issues.
People can just skip over the garbage and preaching agendas . . . often very quickly once they see the ID for the poster. Also, they can read that stuff if they wish. It is sometimes interesting to see some of it.

Posted by: Tim Holloway | Aug 6, 2010 11:06:19 AM

Since I was the person who sent the initial comment to Doug, I would like to weigh in. Given a choice of unscreened comments or no comments, I would take comments. This blog is one of the most useful aids for a practitioner that I read. And the comments from other serious posters are very helpful, plus, it helps me work out in my head what I really think about something if I have to articulate my position. Of course, there are people I disagree with and who disagree with me. Kent and Bill Otis take positions that don't correspond with mine, but I respect both greatly and look forward to reading their contributions.

What is bizarre is the message Doug posted yesterday was sent about 8 months ago. It must have been hibernating in my outbox and something triggered its delivery. So, I don't think it has anything to do with Supremacy Claus. My recollection is that it was about the same time as some posts I did about the death penalty and I was taken to task by someone who accused me of being so heartless and unsympathetic to victims of homicides that I could not bring myself to using the "V" word. Whoever posted that, and similar attacks on my compassion for the enormous suffering undergone by the families and friends of victims of murder, has never met me and obviously has no idea of the gut-wrenching emotions that engulf everyone involved with capital litigation.

I have learned to tune Supremacy Claus out so he or she doesn't bother me. I understand his or her position, agree with some of it, disagree with most of it, and don't need to be reminded of what it is.

So, Doug, keep up the good work. You are providing an extraordinarily helpful service to us folks out here in the trenches who are trying to do the best we can.

best regards,

bruce cunningham

Posted by: bruce cunningham | Aug 6, 2010 1:09:25 PM

There are two separate issues here that ought not be confused.

The original problem noted in bruce's email is personal attacks on a person who posts a comment. This is quite different from generalized rant. As several commenters have noted, readers can just skip over rant.

A personal attack, though, has to be answered, particularly for people who post under their real names. That takes time for the person answering, and it takes the comment thread off topic.

There was a period when I could not post a single comment here without drawing an ad hominem attack by one particularly obnoxious commenter (cowardly anonymous, of course). Fortunately, I haven't seen him here for some time.

What to do? It's entirely up to the host, of course. My own view is that the comments section of a blog is not like Speaker's Corner; it is like a private living room. Guest are here at the sufferance of the host, and the host should not feel the slightest hesitation about asking a guest to leave if he cannot or will not observe basic decorum after being informed and warned once.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Aug 6, 2010 2:04:23 PM

Doug, welcome to the club of what to do about tasteless and insulting comments. I think you either have to devote the time to moderating them, or find a volunteer to do it for you. It might also help to have a set commenting policy that you refer to when you delete comments. When a poster knows their offensive comment is likely to be deleted, they soon stop taking the time to write them.

One thing that I found helpful was to put the commenter's name at the top of the comment instead of the bottom. That way readers can know in advance to "scroll on by" and not waste time reading a comment only to learn at the bottom it's by someone whose opinions they don't care to read. It's just a matter of changing the template.

Posted by: TalkLeft | Aug 6, 2010 6:53:44 PM

Bruce: This is a physical, medical phenomenon I have discovered. No lawyer can utter the word, victim. They choke, sputter, cough, pass out, require CPR, anything to avoid saying it.

I am going to type the first three letters of the V word to get you some momentum. No lawyer can utter it, nor even complete the last three letters.

Prove me wrong with a single word typed as the sole comment.

V-I-C-...

I would be relieved and most pleased to be proven wrong on this point. Protection of the public is Job One, and Job Last of government. To find a lawyer interested in that and less in rent seeking, cushy government sinecures, dependent on preserving and in no way intimidating the criminal, finding that lawyer would thrill me. Professor Berman does have the V word in his case book, mostly in regard to impact statements. These, naturally, extend lawyer procedures and hours. At some point, each victim will have a right to representation of his interests before the court, so victim impact statements are Trojan Horses for additional lawyer jobs. But victims really want to prevent victimization, not have an outlet to express their emotions. These are self-evident to anyone over age 3.

There is no lawyer who will, under his own steam, inconvenience the criminal or seek to drop the victimization rate. Victims are most interested in preventing crime, by making punishment more certain and harsh. Guidelines did that a tiny bit. They followed screaming and loud demands to do something about the lawyer caused soaring crime rates of the 1980's and 1990's. Compare to what the crime rate would be under 123D, nearly nil, if by attrition alone (the deceased have a low recidivism rate). Even the tiny step of setting guidelines to control the out of control pro-criminal judiciary, a brief nod toward prevention of victimization represented by the Guidelines was crushed. This was one of the greatest lawyer achievements, that dropped the crime victimization rate 40% across the board, by incapacitation.

One notes the leadership of conservative, Republican Justice Scalia in that effort, to destroy the guidelines. The rent trumps all ideologies and personal views. It is the bottom line for the lawyer. No one may mess with it.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 6, 2010 8:39:03 PM

SC, did you not read my post above Kent's?

Bruce

Posted by: bruce cunningham | Aug 6, 2010 10:13:34 PM

Bruce: I did. You did use the word. But not in the context of doing anything about the criminal client. You express a generic, free floating compassion, which shows you are decent human being. As a lawyer, you still cannot do it, even though I started you on the first three letters.

However, decent human compassion will not interfere with the lawyer protection of the criminal. Even a mild sanction, such as a sentencing guideline, with its great success of 40% reduction of crime across the board, must be stopped after a short time. Crime prevention is the real, concrete expression of caring about victims.

I make no distinction between defense, prosecution, nor judge lawyers. They move from one to another side upon request, and can be just as strenuous in their efforts. All three lawyers are in a charade, a Broadway show to impress the out of town tourists, doing big things against criminals. The crime rates are set, herded into specific areas, and any drops are stopped in their tracks under the leadership of tough talking conservative jurists. This is frustrating to the public.

This is not a valid test of anything. However, support for mandatory guidelines, already proven effective, would be more reliable than expressions of compassion for victims.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 6, 2010 10:53:12 PM

Supremacy Claus, if we acknowledge your argument and debate it fully right here, will you then stop posting it over and over again in most every topic? I see a lot of flaws in your argument but don't want to debate it from here to the hereafter.

Posted by: George | Aug 7, 2010 11:22:35 AM

Victims exist in many forms, SC. One needn't be hit on the head, robbed, raped or killed to fit into that category.

Wish you could meet some of the folks I've spoken to over the past few years, mostly middle-class people who watched helplessly as their adult children were demonized and destroyed by breathtakingly powerful government authorities for crimes that hardly seem like crimes at all.

Among them was a high school principal and his wife, a college administrator. Their son, a mortgage broker with a good education and a clean record, was imprisoned for four years on highly derivative RICO charges for, basically, processing some loans for a guy who turned out to be an actual criminal.

The "conspiracy" the broker purportedly engaged in occurred while he was on a two-week hunting trip in Montana. Not a shred of evidence to suggest he'd done anything to steer the deal on which the conviction was based. To the contrary, the broker's co-workers testified he believed the deal had already fallen through when he left town to go hunting. And the deal would have been scuttled as a natural consequence of the lending company's own safeguards... but for the undercover efforts of the FBI to keep it going. Agents had been targeting the bad guy, and the broker and a number of other similarly sympathetic people doing business as usual in the network were collateral damage.

I sat with the father during parts of the trial. He seemed stunned and disappointed as two agents admitted under cross they had fibbed in their report and stretched the truth in an apparent effort to make the broker appear more culpable. I don't think it had occurred to him such a thing would happen in America's justice system.

I'd stack this family's misery up against any of the victims SC might have in mind as they struggle with the previously unimaginable notion their son is in prison and will emerge degraded and incapacitated as a felon...for reasons they don't understand. No worse affliction can befall any victim than the anguish and pain of injustice.

Posted by: John K | Aug 7, 2010 12:09:57 PM

I read the blog much less regularly than I used to, and comment less often also, because of the kinds of comments that you tolerate, Doug. I think your excellent blog would benefit greatly by taking "TalkLeft" (Jeralyn)'s advice and by following her example.

Posted by: Peter G | Aug 7, 2010 11:12:05 PM

Couldn't agree with TalkLeft more. However, it would, as pointed out, require additional personel. Quite enjoy and have profited from , this Blog. Thanks for keeping it up and going.

Posted by: Throsso | Aug 8, 2010 8:47:43 AM

Peter G, I hope you will reconsider. Exchanging ideas with thoughtful folks you disagree is one of the best aspects of blogs. We've missed you.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Aug 8, 2010 9:56:27 PM

Oops. Should have been "disagree with".

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Aug 8, 2010 9:57:50 PM

processing some loans for a guy who turned out to be an actual criminal.

Posted by: Global Products | Aug 9, 2010 3:22:54 AM

John: I am as opposed to false convictions as to criminal victimizations. I have proposed ending all self-dealt immunities and compensating those injured by judge carelessness and deviations from professional standards of due care. Although the prosecution fully qualifies for strict liability, I want to soften the deterrent effect by applying a professional standard of due care. Prof. Berman strongly opposes applying tort liability to the criminal prosecution, as do other high level experts. Their objection? Litigation explosion. Funny, no?

I have shown that liability deters, not torts, but entire enterprises. To anyone wishing to shrink government and the lawyer profession, liability is an easy path.

Will you express your sincere sympathy for the victims of the prosecution by supporting the ending of their absolute immunity? I would add that their discretion should be removed as well, with prosecutions forced by a judge being acceptable. If the effort is not strenuous, the judge should fine the resistant prosecutor from personal assets. The immunity of these self-dealing, lazy, incompetent government workers is unfair.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 9, 2010 7:33:48 AM

Doug,

I agree with Peter and others who recommend implementing Jeralyn's approach. I run a non-legal group and deal with this type of problem myself. Those who hijack the comments section find a soapbox from which to pontificate about views that non-captive audiences would simply ignore. Punish them by taking that away and they give up posting or learn to play by the rules.

I don't know if the mechanics would work with your blog but perhaps including a button to report inappropriate comments would help you (or someone) identify and delete the work of these people without too much work. There are only a few but they are invariably prolific posters, so moderating those few works well too. If their posts never make it because of your pocket veto, they also learn to behave quickly. It would be a whole lot more satisfying for the rest of us if they could be controlled because the comments section has otherwise been incredibly enlightening.

Posted by: Alex E. | Aug 9, 2010 5:11:47 PM

Doug -- I agree with Kent Scheidegger's distinction between the living room and speaker's corner. In short, I assume that you prefer your guests to view this as a debaters' salon, not a debauchers' saloon. My own reaction to seeing any series of comments in which two or more trade insults is much like my reaction to watching two people kiss feverishly in public: in both cases, "go get a room of your own." Commenters have evoked that reaction in me often enough that I now avoid all of the comments, with rare exception.

Posted by: Dean Strang | Aug 9, 2010 7:27:09 PM

After being invited to begin commenting, Kent asked me to change or stop. I never returned to his blog.

Prof. Berman likes to hear different, new takes on this subject. He has a clue. The criminal law sucks as it is today. Not around the edges. Deeply. Kent may be more comfortable without hearing a dissenting voice. However, he is missing out on what is news to the lawyer, but old stuff to everyone else. The law school indoctrination eliminated from their memories just about all of the academic high school education, from where most of my material comes. Kent expelled an ambassador from earth, and is just plopping in his lawyer Twilight Zone, with no news from earth.

Kent and I support the death penalty, but he is not hearing the novel arguments that are going on here. He is the one missing out on novel, compelling points and research. When interviewed, he regurgitates the stale, weak arguments that have not budged the debate in 35 years. One suspects, lawyers prefer the current stalemate, because it serves them. The victims of murder may rot, since they generate no lawyer fees.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 9, 2010 8:17:42 PM

For the record, I have never asked anyone to leave C&C for expressing a dissenting opinion.

I wasn't going to mention it, but since S.C. did bring it up, yes, I did ask him to leave. The reasons why are painfully obvious to anyone who reads the comments on this blog, and they have nothing to do with stifling dissenting voices. Thoughtful dissent remains welcome at C&C. Rant is not.

Policing individual comments is not necessary to cleaning up the comments section of a blog. Police the commenters. It is always a small number that cause the problem. Just ban them if they can't or won't comply with your standards after being warned.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Aug 9, 2010 9:16:21 PM

Kent: When you say, thoughtful dissent, that excludes the questioning of fundamentals. You lawyerly discussion of case law, policy arguments. You do not want anyone touching your criminal cult indoctrination, let alone savaging it. The core doctrines are supernatural. The methods are Medieval, and have no validation, outside the point of a gun. The outcomes are in utter failure, whether it is protecting crime victims, or keeping innocents out of stir.

By calling these rants, you are using an ad hominem attack. The ad hominem attack is a reliable sign of frustration in the traverse.

Worst of all, you do not realize that you underwent an indoctrination to come to your supernatural beliefs and failing methods. The sole success of the profession is in rent seeking. That success is spectacular.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 10, 2010 9:15:50 PM

Long time reader, first time commenter. Please do not turn off comments. They have value.

I read a number of blogs on a variety of subjects. The comment problem here is mild. Many comment threads on other blogs I read contain persistent cyber-bullying that would make make any drunken teenager proud. Sometimes the target is the blogger; other times a commenter. Sometimes it goes on for a couple of weeks; sometimes for months before it stops. Either way the only choice is to ignore it.

One commenter upthread wrote: "A personal attack, though, has to be answered, particularly for people who post under their real names. That takes time for the person answering, and it takes the comment thread off topic."

No, you don't. Responding invites more of the same. You will never get the last word. And most unfortunately it can attract swarming attacks from other lurkers.

Posted by: I value the comments. | Aug 10, 2010 10:54:07 PM

I am a criminal defense trial and appellate lawyer and a long time reader. I read the main blog posts regularly. I rarely read the comments any more because of the vitriol of a few who IMHO devalue what could be a useful tool.

As an alternative to turning off the comment section, what about requiring commenters to post in their real names?

Posted by: John Minock | Aug 11, 2010 5:34:37 AM

SCOTUSblog tried that a while back. It did clean up the comments significantly, as fewer people are willing to be jerks in public under their real names. A few are, though, and it didn't clean up the blog to their satisfaction, so they turned comments off completely. That was a loss, IMHO.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Aug 11, 2010 1:45:13 PM

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