Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Recent comments I've suppressed.... and why

Figuring out which comments to let through and which to flush isn't always easy for this blogger.

Sure, it's easy to bar comments that say Judge So-and-So is a crook and it's harmless enough to let through comments like Congratulations to new Judge So-and-So; she'll do a great job. It's the ones in between that get the blogger into trouble.

If I set out to offend someone, you (and the person to be offended) will know about it. But I feel bad when I offend people by accident. And yet I have offended people inadvertently -- as I was reminded a couple of months ago now when I was invited by a mutual acquaintance to have coffee with a person who has been frequently lampooned in comments on this blog. This person hadn't reached out to me before, but had been doing a slow burn every time a judge or politician or friend would call and say did you see what they're saying about you on Leyhane's blog? Well, I didn't know that this person was becoming increasingly upset; when you don't hear from someone, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the person doesn't mind... there are those, after all, who subscribe to the theory that all publicity is good publicity.

And then there are others who immediately let me know they don't like this comment, or that one. I encourage people not to be too thin-skinned. Politics ain't beanbag, as Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley once correctly opined. And don't we already have the terrible example of too-thin-skinned in the White House? No slight, no matter how slight, can go unresponded, usually in a 3:00 a.m. tweet. Better to laugh off a snide remark or two or, at least, if you can't do that (as my baseball-playing sons would shout at a teammate who'd been hit by a pitch), don't rub it.

On the other hand, my aim is to pass good information along, not to toughen the psyches of some or indulge the meanness of others. So when a comment comes in, and I know it will be offensive to someone, I have to make a calculation: How interesting or valuable -- and how likely true -- is the information provided? How deeply intertwined is it within the gratuitous slaps at others? I wish I could edit comments, but I can't. Case in point: Someone recently sent in a prediction about who is likely to be appointed to a current vacancy. It's a plausible bit of speculation -- and some of the speculations provided by readers in these comments have proved spot on -- but I had to take a pass because of how it was worded.

And then there are the commenters that are trying to re-open disputes that have long been resolved -- and not resolved by me, mind you, but by the Cook County Electoral Board and/or the courts in past election cycles. Yes, I understand that challenges may, and probably will, be renewed when and if these candidates refile for new vacancies in the upcoming primary. I will report on the challenges, as I have in the past, the best of my ability and as my day job permits. In the meantime, stop with these kinds of comments. They're not going in.

Also beyond the pale are old-news comments about ARDC issues.

Readers: Did you know you can check any lawyer's ARDC status online? Visit the ARDC website and click on lawyer search in the upper left-hand corner of your screen. Follow the directions and you too can see, inter alia whether this lawyer or that one has been the subject of any complaints by the disciplinary authorities and, if so, how those complaints were resolved. And guess what? The evaluating bar groups can do this, too! And, not only that, every candidate who submits credentials for bar evaluation signs forms giving permission for the bar groups to get further information from ARDC, information that the ARDC would otherwise keep confidential. So the bar groups know more than you, dear anonymous commenters, about this candidate's ARDC history or that one's. So stop trying to plant poisonous comments about prior complaints, OK? The bar groups knew about them and decided that Candidate X was qualified despite a prior ARDC complaint. Those comments aren't going in either.

Just today, someone sent in a comment that, among other things, claimed that Candidate Y had terrible bar ratings. I can't run that. For better or for worse, bar groups do not reveal candidate ratings on a rolling basis. In my opinion, it would be nice to click to a page on the CBA website -- for example -- which listed the names of all persons having current judicial ratings, all hyperlinked to their respective CBA ratings. It would be a greater logistical challenge for the Alliance, with its 11 constituent groups, which is why I used the CBA as my example here. But, either way, no such site exists. All the bar groups will be working diligently right up until the eve of the March 2018 Primary evaluating candidates and the groups' evaluations of every candidate then still in the running will be released all at once. And, meanwhile, although the CBA and the Alliance have both worked very cooperatively with me through the years, they're not going to let me check whether Candidate Y has current ratings and what those ratings are -- which I'd want to do before deciding to let such a comment through. So -- although there may have been some merit to the comment, I can't run it.

I am grateful for the comments that come into the blog. I know readers value them. I will let through what I think I can. But I can't let them all in and, now, perhaps, you better understand why.


Tom Davy said...

I'm sure the job of moderating comments is not an easy one. Having said that, do you think you can do anything about ALL CAPS Anonymous? If that person has anything worthwhile to say I'll never know because I refuse to read people who scream at me on any site. THANKS. (Snark)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I understand your position but do not agree at all. No need to moderate comments. Judicial candidates for the most part are very political and negative or nasty remarks go with the territory. No need to protect their feelings. If they want to be judges they will have to grow a pair and get ready for a bumpy ride. The most negative comments you seem to let in are regarding the process the Supreme Court uses when making appointments. And it seems those negative comments are all well founded.

Tom Davy said...

Mr. Leyhane - Very disappointed you let that comment in from Anoymous at 08:39. That was really a totally inappropriate comment. Time to stop reading your blog if you are letting crap like that in. This is supposed to be a blog with intelligent comments, not some bullshit like that.

Jack Leyhane said...

Mr. Davy -- I didn't mean to give offense here. But this provides a handy illustration of how the Internet fails at conveying tone or nuance. I read your initial comment as a criticism of the person who comments always in ALL CAPS, but I thought it a rather playful one -- humor often gets a point across better than a scolding.

I read Anon 8:39 a.m.'s response as a light-hearted rejoinder (and almost certainly NOT from the real ALL CAPS). I'm not saying it was a particularly good one, mind you, nothing that would make the shades of the Algonquin Round Table fear they've been eclipsed, but nothing to be taken seriously. You read it differently than I did, imagining the tone in which the comment was offered far differently from the way I interpreted it. And, of course, either one of us may be right, and both of us may be wrong, too, since we can't tell tone on the Internet.

So, again, my apologies for inadvertently giving offense. I guess this is why the kids use smiley-faces and winky-faces and other such devices in their texts.

Jack Leyhane said...

And in other suppressed comment news --

To the person who sent in a comment along the lines of 'Rep. X is a crook. Let's see if Jack puts that in.' (The would-be commenter, of course, proposed a solution for X.)

No, I won't.

"Under our common law, four categories of statements are considered actionable per se and give rise to a cause of action for defamation without a showing of special damages. They are: (1) words that impute the commission of a criminal offense; (2) words that impute infection with a loathsome communicable disease; (3) words that impute an inability to perform or want of integrity in the discharge of duties of office or employment; or (4) words that prejudice a party, or impute lack of ability, in his or her trade, profession or business. * * * These common law categories continue to exist except where changed by statute. The Slander and Libel Act (740 ILCS 145/1 et seq. (West 1992)) has enlarged the classifications enumerated above by providing that false accusations of fornication and adultery are actionable as a matter of law." Bryson v. News America Publications, Inc., 174 Ill.2d 77, 88-89 (1996).

Expressions of opinion are protected under the 1st Amendment, certainly, but Bryson says a statement that may reasonably be interpreted as an assertion of fact may fall outside the protection of the 1st Amendment. And you, dear reader, didn't even couch your statement in terms of it being your opinion or in a context that might show it was parody or hyperbole or....

Anyway, you're welcome.

Then there was the very confused commenter whose comment included this "news flash." S/he writes, in essence, addressing a candidate, there is another resident of Subcircuit X who actually does reside in Subcircuit Y "with family too" and "that person is coming for you."


Tom Davy said...

Mr. Leyhane - Thanks for the follow-up to my comment about ALL CAPS. We certainly did view the comment differently. You've indicated it was not from the real Anon. ALL CAPS. To me that makes the suggestion in the comment less childish, but more creepy and just adds to the "yuck" factor. If I do comment on your blog again perhaps I'll be the e.e. cummings of commenters and go totally "no caps." Either that or stop doing humor on the toneless internet. Regards

Anonymous said...

I don't always agree with the comments Jack allows, but that's part and parcel of the First Amendment and why it is so fascinating. Besides, this particular anonymous commenter believes that, by and large, he does a great job. That's why this blog has become and remains the go-to source in our community.