People like Quick humorist Gordon Keith continue to expound on D magazine’s decision to shut off (for now) the comments on the FrontBurner blog. Elaine Liner at Theater Jones has explained why she, as a critic, doesn’t take to publishing comments from people. Our A&S editor, Anne Bothwell, has reiterated our own enlightened, welcoming-but-moderating policy concerning readers’ comments.
So here’s my three cents. Years ago, I was on a public panel that was introduced by an op-ed columnist who pleaded for any audience questions and comments to be expressed in a respectful manner. We all applauded — who could argue with such a request? I, for one, like to keep my public panels and my bar fights separate.
But it did make me wonder why the columnist ever got into the op-ed business. Has it ever really been possible in a democracy — even before the internet — to criticize people, tell them their deeply held politics and practices were wrong yet somehow remain above the fray? I’ve been a big-city arts critic of some kind for 25 years. I thought catching flak came with the job.
But Monday night at the Lodge, when Paul Mooney taped a cable TV special, he had — as many good comedians do — the perfect squelcher when some backtalk erupted. Not that I agree with his stand, of course, but it is a good line.
“See now,” he said. “I blame Oprah for this. She made people think they were important.”