Knoxville Church Shooting Coverage

The Knoxville News Sentinel deleted a lot of comments on its’ story during the day Sunday.  I left a few comments regarding deleting the comments and their coverage of the story in general.  Guess what – my comments were deleted….  Here’s what they posted as a reason this morning:

Posted by KNSemily on July 28, 2008 at 11:18 a.m.

Hi everyone,
My inbox is getting slammed with flagged comments and I’m going to start being pretty strict with this as we are on a national stage right now. So heads up: if KNS staff finds your comments to be off-topic, “unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, vulgar, obscene, profane, pornographic, or otherwise objectionable”, as stated in our user agreement, they will be deleted. Please be nice. This is a terrible thing that happened in our backyards and we should be supporting each other, not insulting or discrediting each other’s religious beliefs, etc. I am going to interpret “off-topic” very broadly.

Comments which have since been deleted (I know because I continually monitored the site yesterday) included religious views, facts about the church policy regarding gays and lesbians, and many that criticized the News Sentinel for being the last website in town to provide updates.

Not one that I remember could be construed as meeting their criteria for deletion.   Unless they simply considered it “objectionable” because they didn’t like the content.  I’d be willing to bet that they found a lot of it “objectionable” because they “objected” to someone saying that their coverage sucked yesterday.

Sure, there were many ignorant comments posted by ignorant people – how will deleting them ever help these people become less ignorant?  How will the rest of the community ever understand the hate (from some) that lingers under the surface, just waiting to explode into violence?

Ummm – isn’t that what happened here yesterday?.

Speaking of objectionable, check out the headline on this story in the News Sentinel tonight.

Given the News Sentinels’ proclivity in deleting information, I’m copying it here.  Verbatim.

Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity on accused shooter’s reading list

4-page letter outlines frustration, hatred of 'liberal movement'

Here’s an excerpt:

Inside the house, officers found “Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder” by radio talk show host Michael Savage, “Let Freedom Ring” by talk show host Sean Hannity, and “The O’Reilly Factor,” by television talk show host Bill O’Reilly.

None of the national media I checked tonight (CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, FoxNews, etc) mention this – and they’re right not to bring it up.  Any well-read person is going to have a wide variety of books in their home.  I have two copies of the Bible, a Book of Mormon, and a Koran in my house.

I also have books by Robert Heinlein, Ayn Rand, a 13 volume “Story of Civilization” by Will Durant, Rachel Carson, Dave Barry, and lots of others.

Right-wingers think I’m a liberal because I support the ACLU, legalizing drugs and prostitution; those on the left think I’m a conservative because I support the NRA, Constitutional Law, and fiscal responsibility.  Guess what – I’m a Libertarian and neither of those labels apply to me.  Live and let live is what I’m all about.

There are probably 1500 books in my house right now – I guarantee that some of them are “objectionable” to someone.  Does that make me anything – other than well read?  Is that motivation for me to shoot up a church?  I don’t think so!

There’s lots more, but if you’re looking for coverage of the shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC) in Knoxville, I suggest or pick one from this list at Google News.

I may add to this later if I read something else that ticks me off!  🙂  My posts are normally carried as part of the Knoxville Blog Network on the News Sentinel – let’s see if they have the guts to include this one….



4 Responses

  1. Just a note to say that I’m surprised that this post is actually appearing on the Knoxville Blog Network. I’ve received a few emails about it tonight, but no comments here. Kind of surprising considering the number of people obviously upset about the local coverage of the shooting – and the number of complaints about the comments deleted from the KNS website.

  2. The blog network is an automated system that monitors RSS feeds of blogs in the network, the guts of which are software code. It has the guts!

    We’re glad you’re in the blog network. If you want to criticize the News Sentinel or its coverage in comments on the knoxnews Web site, that’s fine. We’ve got pretty thick skin.

    And the overwhelmingly majority of comments that are removed from the site have been suggested for removal by users. I was looking at some time periods last night and we were getting flagged comment emails every one to two minutes.

    Some comments that might not offend people on other stories and in other contexts, do in the context of the tragedy of this story. We are trying to be respectful of those sensitivities. Friends and families have loved ones that are dead. If you think that’s wrong, we have a difference of opinion. And if that bothers you, you have am ample forum here to express whatever viewpoints we are deleting.

    — Jack Lail
    Knoxville News Sentinel

  3. “If you want to criticize the News Sentinel or its coverage in comments on the knoxnews Web site, that’s fine. We’ve got pretty thick skin.”

    It sure doesn’t seem that way from watching it unfold Sunday. I’m curious as to why users would flag a post critical of your coverage….

    I saw a lot of comments that someone might consider to be “objectionable” but almost any time an opinion is voiced it’s objectionable to someone. If everyone agrees to it, it’s probably not worth reading.

    Speaking of “objectionable”, I notice that your story from last night hasn’t been removed or changed regarding the books the shooter had in his home. And there’s no mention of other books he may have had.

    In reviewing the comments, it seems like mainly right wing views and opinions are the ones being deleted – while liberal views espousing hatred towards conservatives are still online. Here’s an example:

    Posted by spirit333 on July 28, 2008 at 12:28 p.m.

    There has been more violence committed and perpetuated in the name of some all-powerful, male “God” (by whatever name) than by any other “cause” in the history of man. Maybe what we need now is a more “divine feminine” aspect to provide some balance in this increasingly unbalanced world. So many “God-worshippers” are angry,intolerant, and violent in thought and deed. I’ve yet to meet a “Goddess worshipper” who is that way. Time for some balance, folks. By the way, for those intolerant, angry, violent God-worshipping folks, don’t bother flaming me. You just show your ignorance and intolerance of anyone with a different view on life.

    Based on the comments on this story, there’s no way that someone hasn’t objected to that comment – yet it’s still there. Along with the inflammatory headline.

    I want to make it clear that I don’t think this comment should be removed from your site – but you seem very quick to pull the trigger on right wing wacko’s, while the left wing can seemingly say whatever they want – no matter how “objectionable”.

    To sum it up, from what I’ve seen in the past few days, your policy is arbitrary and unequal to your readers and posters. It’s your site and you can do what you want, but in my opinion, you’d better serve Knoxville by serving as a forum open to all opinions.


  4. We try to be as fair as humanly possible, but you are right. In the end, it is our house and you can play our rules or get out. We don’t ask for much. The user agreement pretty much comes down to be polite and respectful of others, be civil, and keep it clean. If you can’t do that, move on regardless of where you are on the political spectrum. Most of the ones we’re removing don’t have anything to do with political viewpoints.

    I’m glad you read our site closely. Come back often!

%d bloggers like this: