Between my two blogs, I've accumulated about two million page views over the years. That's a lot.
With all of this activity, only a few people have been persistent obnoxious commenters. Most blog visitors understand that leaving a comment on a blog post is a privilege, not a right.
They respect the purpose of a blog, are appropriately courteous to other commenters, and don't abuse the complimentary free speech offered to them (meaning, I pay money, and put quite a bit of time, into maintaining this blog so that visitors can freely share ideas).
It's a quandary when some commenter acts like a jerk. Many, if not most, blogs face this problem at some point. Some bloggers moderate comments, not posting them until they've been reviewed.
I've been reluctant to do that, because it interferes with the free flow of communication. Plus, when I visit a blog, I like to see my comment posted immediately -- and I assume most other people feel the same way.
However, it also concerns me when people get bothered by an obnoxious commenter. Often I'm not able to delete unacceptable comments immediately. So they may stay up a while, hate-filled, profane, and insulting as they may be.
Recently Obnoxious Commenter #1 has been Ashy Heller of Cape Town, South Africa, who posts under other names, such as Joshilan. He is a long-time initiate of Radha Soami Satsang Beas, and apparently feels that he is honoring his guru (who I assume is Charan Singh) with his often obscene "defenses" of Sant Mat principles.
I believe in free speech. But not in unfettered hate speech. So I'm curious about how other people would prefer to handle comment abusers like Ashy Heller. Here's my suggestion (if you don't agree, leave a comment with your own ideas):
Ignore him, if you come across a comment that hasn't been deleted yet. I'd rather preserve free commenting speech for other blog visitors, than control Ashy's rants 100% by moderating all comments.
As I've noted before, my feeling is that when someone spews hate-filled language and insults, they are censoring themselves -- because no one takes them seriously. What people like Ashy want is to be noticed, and unfortunately I'm having to do just that at the moment in talking about my commenting quandary.
But if people don't respond to Ashy's rants -- or those of anyone else who spews non-sensical garbage rather than engaging in forthright discussion -- this is the most appropriate reaction to inappropriate behavior.
Anyway, I'm with those who like open courteous discussion of interesting subjects. I'll keep on doing my best to keep habitual obnoxious commenters from using this blog as their soapbox.
If you come across comments you don't like, there's a simple solution: ignore them. Then light a candle of considered discourse rather than cursing the ranting darkness. That's how I see things, at least.