One of our regular commenters Mayoman, pointed out the story of Castlebar.ie, a bulletin board of some ten years standing. I was too busy to follow it up, but the Irish News has instead. When the local free sheet newspaper threatened legal action over comments left on the site, the owners decided to close it. The paper asked me to comments (amended slightly for scansion):
My view of it is that the law should not be first, rather it should be about civil engagement. There are things I do remove but not just because they may be libellous. If someone complains about something written about them, nine times out of 10 Ill remove it because its an infringement of Slugger’s ‘civil code’. Theres two ways of looking at it theres the positive permissive line, which allows people to engage with one another and most of the time that works but theres also the negative, people dont have an absolute right to say what they like.
Having said that, it is wearing. And for the facilitators of sites like the one in Castlebar (and Slugger for that matter) there is little or nothing in the way of financial remuneration for trying to keep matters civil. After ten years, they may simply have had enough.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty