By TOM HONIG
One of my goals in starting this website was to establish a higher level of civic discourse. I'm largely happy with the comments I've received here. Part of the success is that this website is out of the mainstream.
Consider, for example, the recent retirement of an editor named John Irby, who has retired from the Bismark (N.D.) Tribune largely because he got tired of putting up with nasty and inane comments on his paper's website. In a final column, Irby says: “I am retiring because I am tired of being the whipping boy, by one and all. My skin has thinned. Life is too short to put up with all the noise.” And: "I don't want to do this anymore."
His paper is hardly the only one plagued by nasty and even stupid comments on its website. Every newspaper has the problem -- including The New York Times and the Washington Post.
A quick trip through the comments on mainstream websites is depressing. The attacks are vociferous. The claims are often wrong. Opinion has replaced fact. Just once I'd like to see this reaction: "Hmm. I had never thought about this aspect of the issue and I'm changing my mind." Wouldn't that be a treat to see?
And as long as I'm complaining, wouldn't it be wonderful if people of every political stripe would learn to use an apostrophe correctly? An apostrophe is for the possessive and for contractions. It's not for making words plural.
Some schools require a swimming test before allowing students in the pool. Maybe newspapers should make commenters pass a grammar test before writing out their thoughts.