Update: (June 17, 10:41am PST): Bent’s Web site: “New Mexico returns Willow“
Update (June 13, 12:22pm PST): I have decided to keep the comment sections on the Wayne Bent stories closed. If you’d like an explanation, you may read one here.
With the hit-counter on this blog soaring (by its humble standards) this afternoon, one might wonder why I’ve just snuffed a primary source of its fuel supply.
For the unacquainted, allow me to first explain that two sides of a controversial story making national headlines recently converged in the comment sections of this blog (*as they have on several other blogs). I’m referring to the Wayne Bent (aka Michael Travesser) story. Bent is the leader of The Lord Our Righteousness Church in northeastern New Mexico. A grand jury indicted Bent last month, charging him with crimes against children. Bent’s son posted his bond (a reader of this blog, “Terry,” reports that the bond money has been returned to the Bents).
You can learn more about the case in stories written on this blog (and the comments from readers). A Google search will also yield many other useful links, to include two Web sites with opposing viewpoints: Wayne Bent’s site strongcity.info and former church member Prudence Welch’s site, travesser.info.
Both Bent and Welch have left comments here. Welch also agreed to an interview.
On June 8th, I suspended the comments on all of the Wayne Bent stories. Simply put, personal attacks were appearing with increasing frequency.
A few readers from both sides of the debate wrote to me, asking that I re-open the comment sections. I agreed to do so. I do value input from readers, and I have appreciated that members of two sides of a controversial–and important–story felt comfortable coming to the same blog.
I have also noted that many of your comments have provided new insights into the story at hand. Much of what readers have written here has also been skillfully and thoughtfully crafted.
Today, the comments were coming in so quickly I found it challenging to keep up with them and the e-mails from readers expressing their disapproval that certain comments had already survived 15-minutes on this blog without my having extinguished the unwelcome verbiage. “Inappropriate,” some argued, as well as, “crosses the line,” etc.
I just know I couldn’t be an effective referee while the comments were pouring in at such a fast rate; thus, my decision–once again–to suspend the comments on these threads. A “time out,” if you will.
As for the standard I have set for your comments (no personal attacks), some have suggested that I have set an unobtainable goal. Perhaps they’re right.
However, I would like to read how you feel about this topic. Should the comments remain open or closed? Why? Why not?
(Deep breath) Okay, here we go…
(*edit: information about two-sides appearing on several other blogs added after original version of this story appeared)