As regular Cafe patrons know, Russ and I are very hands-off when it comes to commenters. We do not screen them and we never remove comments, save in rare instances of excessive vulgarity. We don’t mind criticism and, at least for me, I couldn’t care less what names people call me. (Indeed, when someone resorts to ad hominem argument in response to something that Russ or I or a sensible commenter here at the Cafe wrote, I regard such as evidence that the ad hominem-ist has no proper argument to offer.)
Today I am excluding, for the first time in our almost-ten-year-long history, a commenter from the Cafe. Jamie Newman is no longer welcome here. The reason is Mr. Newman’s ill-spirited and unconscionable comment, on this post, about Jeff Jacoby (the Boston Globe columnist whose son, Caleb, recently went missing for 80 hours). I’ve removed the offending comment.
This exclusion of Mr. Newman is emphatically not part of a change in policy here at the Cafe. It is, instead, simply the first time that someone has so unambiguously crossed the line into unwarranted and cruel incivility that he or she is revealed to be unworthy to participate ever again in our discussions.
Of course I’m aware that Mr. Newman can attempt to re-assert himself into our discussions by adopting an alias. If he tries to do so, and if – as I’m certain will be the case – I detect that he has returned in disguise, I’ll exclude him again.