Can we all get along?

When police-beaten Rodney King uttered those words nearly two decades ago, I am not so sure that many took much notice — even with the 24-hour cable news chatter.

Since then, as the Internet has allowed everyone to communicate with everyone, and our politics have become so very polarized, common courtesy has at times been kicked to the curb much like Mr. King was.

Comments on the Internet so often have taken on the tenor of the town hall meetings surrounding the health care debate. Comments have become vicious, facts and arguments are damned, and personal attacks are the weapon of choice.

Comments on Food Safety News, as well as on other sites we are sure, tend to be made by people who disagree with a point made. Our bet is that you seldom hear from people who agree (although it has been known to happen).  On Food Safety News, our policy has been to accept all comments, but we fear that some commentators stifle meaningful debate on the facts by “going personal.”

A person who comments frequently here sent me an email this past week suggesting that Food Safety News consider a new comment policy. He may well have a point. He also pointed us to the Grist website (disclosure – we are a Grist donor) and Grist’s posting rules, which we not only think make sense, but will adopt in full:

1.  Don’t be a jerk. Nobody likes jerks.

2.  Don’t use profanity. The English language is vast and magnificent.

3.  Don’t be a troll. (Troll: Commenter who makes outrageous or provocative statements purely in order to derail discussion.) You know who you are.

4.  No spam, no solicitation, no links to porn, no Internet detritus of similar ilk. Sell us on your point of view, not your Super-Slanket!

5.  No personal attacks at the author or fellow commenter. Substance, people. Substance.

6.  Seriously, don’t be a jerk.

We are going to see how this works before we delete any comments or try a different policy.

Maybe, we all can take it down a notch.