Why comments off on Ownby story

We’ve had several readers ask why we disabled comments on the stories about County Commissioner Jeff Ownby being arrested for indecent explosure on Sharps Ridge.
ownby_t607.jpgChuck Bowers wrote: “Your ban on bloggers’ response to the County Commissioner’s apparent no-no is puzzling and discomforting. Although i personally doubt it, it gives the appearance of bias and censorship. Please consider re-opening this item, which has widespread community interest. Doesn’t the public have the right to weigh in on commission controversies? You have effectively compromised such a right.”
Blogger Katie Granju wrote: “While I appreciate and supprt the News Sentinel’s compassionate decision to disable commenting on this morning’s Jeff Ownby stories, as someone who has been terribly traumatized by stories about my dead child in which commenters were allowed to have at our family all they wanted, I’d really like to see some standardized guidelines released to our community from our newspaper of record that clearly lay out how the decision is made regarding which specific stories receive the respectful kindness of disabled comments, and which stories are opened up to allow the mob to publicly to rip the subjects of that story to shreds.”
It wasn’t bias or selective compassion that prompted us to disable comments on that story. The fact is, we have learned that some subjects bring out the worst in comments. In our ongoing efforts to raise the level of civility in our comments, we have decided to be more aggressive in controlling these forums. That includes disabling stories that are sure to be trouble. Given the subject matter, if we had opened up the Ownby article to comments, we almost immediately would have been deleting many of them.