As you know, we’ve chosen to host the Drug and Device Law Blog on “Blogger.”
Blogger permits folks to publish “comments” reacting to what we’ve written, although Blogger automatically (so far as we can tell) postpones publishing a comment until one of the co-hosts of the blog “moderates” it. (We’re given the choice of either “publishing” or “rejecting” any comment.)
That raises two issues. First, you won’t get instant gratification when you post a comment. The comment won’t immediately appear on the screen (as comments do on some blogs), and we’re unlikely to prompt a serious discussion among our readers. (We don’t check Blogger regularly to moderate comments, so there may be a delay of a day or two between the time someone submits a comment and when it appears on-line. That’s not an environment well-suited to the rapid exchange of ideas.)
That’s okay; we’ll live with that.
Second, however, is the question which comments we’ll choose to publish and which we’ll reject. We’re not journalists, so we don’t worry about journalistic ethics. But we’re people, and so we worry about human ethics.
Our policy has generally been to publish every post that doesn’t strike us as maniacal.
You disagree with us? Lord knows, that’s rational; we’ll publish.
You think we’re jerks? Eminently rational, too; we’ll publish.
You have some rant that appears to be spam, or tries to sell drugs, solicit clients, or accuse us of conspiring with the CIA on some issue or other? We unilaterally declare you to be a nutcase; we don’t publish.
But we got one yesterday that troubled us: A perfectly sane comment that urged plaintiffs’ counsel to begin a new mass tort against a major pharmaceutical company. We thought long and hard about that one, but we’ve decided not to publish it. We defend drug companies for a living, and we simply can’t let folks use this blog as a forum for fomenting litigation.
Ultimately, we feel bad about “censoring” this comment, but not so bad that we’ll publish it.
We’re sorry, but we just can’t.
Everything else, of course, remains fair game.