pageok
pageok
pageok
Ban on Divorced Father's "Exposing the Children to His Homosexual Partners and Friends":

A Georgia trial court imposed such a ban in 2007; the Georgia Supreme Court just set it aside on Monday, in Mongerson v. Mongerson:

There is no evidence in the record before us that any member of the excluded community has engaged in inappropriate conduct in the presence of the children or that the children would be adversely affected by exposure to any member of that community. The prohibition against contact with any gay or lesbian person acquainted with Husband assumes, without evidentiary support, that the children will suffer harm from any such contact. Such an arbitrary classification based on sexual orientation flies in the face of our public policy that encourages divorced parents to participate in the raising of their children, and constitutes an abuse of discretion. See Turman v. Boleman, 235 Ga. App. 243, 244 (1998) (abuse of discretion to refuse to permit mother to exercise visitation rights with child in the presence of any African-American male); In the Interest of R.E.W., 220 Ga. App. 861 (1996) (abuse of discretion to refuse father unsupervised visitation with child based on father's purported "immoral conduct" without evidence the child was or would be exposed to undesirable conduct and had or would be adversely affected thereby). In the absence of evidence that exposure to any member of the gay and lesbian community acquainted with Husband will have an adverse effect on the best interests of the children, the trial court abused its discretion when it imposed such a restriction on Husband's visitation rights.

Two justices (Melton and Carley) "write separately to emphasize" that the quoted passage above "should only be read to stand for the well-settled proposition that, absent evidence of harm to the best interests of the children through their exposure to certain individuals, a trial court abuses its discretion by prohibiting a parent from exercising their visitation rights while in the presence of such individuals (in this instance, Husband's homosexual partners and friends)."

By the way, here's an extract from the 1998 Turman case, which I hadn't heard of it until now:

Turman and Boleman were divorced on November 13, 1996. Their settlement agreement, which was incorporated into the final judgment and decree, provided that Boleman would have custody of their minor child. The agreement gave Turman certain specified visitation rights away from the father's residence "on the condition [that] at no time shall [the child] be in the presence of William 'Larry' Little or any other African-American male except that [Turman] shall not be in contempt of court if she has casual contact with any African-American male other than William 'Larry' Little." After Turman married Kenneth Turman, an African-American male, Boleman refused to allow Turman to visit with the child away from Boleman's residence. Turman moved to hold Boleman in contempt for refusing to allow her to exercise her visitation rights. At the hearing on the contempt motion, Turman argued that the provision in the settlement agreement conditioning her visitation rights upon the child's having no contact with any African-American male was unenforceable.

The trial court improperly upheld the validity of the visitation provision which prohibited the child's contact with any African-American males. This provision is unenforceable as against public policy.... The visitation provision here violated the express public policy against racial classification and the public policy encouraging a child's contact with his noncustodial parent.

The trial court held that the provision was enforceable because it was a matter of private contract. However, after that private agreement was incorporated into the trial court's order, enforcing the private agreement became state action.... The courts of this State cannot sanction such blatant racial prejudice, especially where it also interferes with the rights of a child in the parent/child relationship.

The agreement between the parties clearly violated the State's public policy to promote the best interests of the child. "It is the express policy of this state to encourage that a minor child has continuing contact with parents and grandparents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child and to encourage parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of raising their children after such parents have separated or dissolved their marriage." Contrary to this policy, the agreement prevents the child from having contact with his natural mother solely on the basis of an arbitrary racial classification. Although a court may validly provide, under appropriate circumstances, that a child is to have no contact with particular individuals who are deemed harmful to the child, such provision cannot be based solely upon racial considerations, as such ruling violates the public policy of the State of Georgia.

Monday's Mongerson, with which I began the post, apparently doesn't have this extra twist of an initial agreement by the parties; the father seemingly either never agreed to the "[no] exposing the children to ... homosexual partners and friends" condition, or agreed to it only because the trial court "express[ed] its opinion that, but for the agreement, the trial court would not have permitted Husband the limited contact to which the parties agreed" (and then promptly appealed the trial court order).

Thanks to How Appealing for the pointer.

Anderson (mail):
The trial court improperly upheld the validity of the visitation provision which prohibited the child's contact with any African-American males.

Omigod. In 1996.

At risk of being mistaken, I think Mississippi's bad reputation actually helps us in that respect -- a Mississippi chancellor who even thought of such a thing, assuming he or she lacked a conscience, would still pause to reflect, "now, is this going to make us look bad?"

An Atlanta journalist t'other day actually argued that Haley Barbour couldn't become president simply b/c he was a white man from Miss. (as opposed to many good reasons), whereas one from South Carolina would supposedly have a shot. Given the recent expressions of racial enlightenment from SC Repubs, I thought that was a stretch.
6.18.2009 1:58pm
Ari Taz:
"There is no evidence in the record before us that any member of the excluded community has engaged in inappropriate conduct in the presence of the children or that the children would be adversely affected by exposure to any member of that community."

Is there an exception for, say, religious people? In the context of certain Roman Catholic families or Orthodox Jewish families this might constitute a very particular value judgment.

Just wondering.
6.18.2009 2:21pm
mcbain (mail):
relax everyone, Obama will correct this injustice.
6.18.2009 2:28pm
Can't find a good name:
Ari Taz: The court said there was no evidence
"in the record before us" that any gay people had engaged in inappropriate conduct in the presence of the children or that the children would be adversely affected by exposure to any member of that community.

In the case of the hypothetical Roman Catholic or Orthodox Jewish family, the parent wanting to ban the other parent from letting their child be in the presence of gay people would need to present evidence to the trial court of such inappropriate conduct or potential of adverse effects. Whether the parent would have sufficient evidence to convince the court is a separate matter.
6.18.2009 2:30pm
martinned (mail) (www):
Here's a question: In what sense are "Husband's homosexual partners and friends" his "compatriots"? That is what the concurrence calls them. Is it just me or is that an odd choice of words?
6.18.2009 2:36pm
Jay:
Can't find--
I'm not sure that's necessarily right. The court had an easier way out here because there was no record evidence at all about why this was done, so it was easy enough to say the trial court abused its discretion in entering an order without any apparent reason for doing so.

But if you had a case where one party had developed a record of why exposure to gays/people of certain religions would supposedly harm the child, and the trial court incorporated that into its custody order, the state supreme court would have to decide whether the state had a public policy against that kind of discrimination as it does with regard to race. I don't think the earlier case (Truman) would have come to a contrary result if there had only been more "evidence" about the harmful effects of exposure to black people; race was per se an impermissible consideration. It's not clear sexual orientation has that status yet under GA law.
6.18.2009 2:39pm
Can't find a good name:
Jay: You are correct. My point was just to respond to Ari Taz that if a parent wanted a custody order to keep their child away from gay people, they would need to provide evidence to support the order. Such an order may indeed violate public policy, but that apparently has not been decided yet in Georgia.
6.18.2009 2:49pm
interruptus:
This seems like the right decision; allowing divorce-court judges to invent arbitrary restrictions on groups they personally think are bad for children is just the sort of legislating from the bench that should be impermissible. If the State of Georgia thinks that "exposing the children to his homosexual partners and friends" should be something generally prohibited in divorces, the legislature can pass (and then try to constitutionally defend) such a law. In the absence of such a general rule, the judge is not free to invent one.

Allowing judges to make those decisions ad-hoc would turn into a huge mess; one judge thinks gays are categorically bad for children; another worries about Roman Catholic priests; a third doesn't like interracial couples; and a fourth is concerned about people who seem to like guns too much.
6.18.2009 2:50pm
martinned (mail) (www):

and a fourth is concerned about people who seem to like guns too much.

What about guns as such? As in: Ye shall keep the kids away from guns? I imagine most regular VC commenters wouldn't like it, but would it be unlawful/unconstitutional?
6.18.2009 2:52pm
Guest101:
Presumably if one parent is exposing the child to gays, then that parent has no religious objection to homosexuality. It's hard to see why one parent's religious preferences should trump the other parent's in that context. If, for example, the custodial parent is Protestant while the non-custodial parent is Catholic, is the child "harmed" by being taken to Catholic Mass during visits with the non-custodial parent? I would think the custodial parent would have to show more than simply the fact that the non-custodial parent's activities with the child violate the custodial parent's religious preferences in order to show true harm to the child.
6.18.2009 2:53pm
Careless:

Omigod. In 1996.

That caused an actual double take here. My brain revised the second 9 to a 5 and I had to read it again
6.18.2009 3:12pm
Roger Schlafly (www):
In the absence of evidence that ...
Yes, the family court acted on a lack of evidence, but the family hardly ever has any evidentiary support for its custody and visitation orders.
6.18.2009 3:15pm
Putting Two and Two...:

Here's a question: In what sense are "Husband's homosexual partners and friends" his "compatriots"? That is what the concurrence calls them. Is it just me or is that an odd choice of words?


On a recent thread about a DADT case, I asked if it was common for a military court to use the word "paramour" as the judge had in the case. Didn't get an answer.

Apparently, whatever homosexuality may or may not do to a society in general, it seems to elicit the use of odd terms in legal decisions.

Mind you, I certainly prefer these terms to the words that were regularly applied to us in the courts until recently.
6.18.2009 3:26pm
Randy R. (mail):
I guess the court was afraid that the children might grow up knowing that you never paint your walls white and would learn how to make a souffle. The horror!
6.18.2009 3:40pm
mcbain (mail):

Mind you, I certainly prefer these terms to the words that were regularly applied to us in the courts until recently.


What words? I am curious because reading some transcripts from the oscar wilde trial, it takes some creativity to understand what exactly are they talking about there.
6.18.2009 3:41pm
Jay:
martinned--
I'm not sure if this is quite what you meant, but it's true that "compatriots" isn't generally given its literal defintion of "fellow countrymen" in American English (in fact, I had to think for a second before realizing that's the origin of the word). So I might say to my son, "what have you and your compatriots been up to lately," as a informal/joking way of asking about the guys he hangs out with. I think that's what the opinion writer was doing, although I agree it's not quite standard/formal usage.
6.18.2009 3:56pm
Randy R. (mail):
Even more curiously, I note that they were divorced on Nov. 13, 1996. The Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law on Sept. 21, 1996. Too bad it wasn't in force long enough to save this marriage!
6.18.2009 4:49pm
Ari Taz:
Can't find:

Thanks. One more question - in the hypothetical with a religious family, would it be enough to argue that contact with a supposed "sinner," especially one that is an "abomination" (per the Bible), is harmful in and of itself? I'm sure courts have heard this argument before. How have they ruled?
6.18.2009 4:54pm
ArthurKirkland:

Is there an exception for, say, religious people? In the context of certain Roman Catholic families or Orthodox Jewish families



Part of the misery parents are entitled to inflict on their children includes exposure to people of all types, including those with differing sexual preferences, racial makeups, political views . . . even religions. As bad as religious indoctrination of the very young can be, and as strange as some religious zealots can be, I see no excuse for a blanket prohibition with respect to Roman Catholics (even Opus Dei members) or Orthodox Jews.
6.18.2009 4:56pm
interruptus:

What words? I am curious because reading some transcripts from the oscar wilde trial, it takes some creativity to understand what exactly are they talking about there.

I think there was a sort of swing in one direction and then back again. In the Oscar Wilde era, and I think early American mentions, the court cases (and public discourse) used a heavy layer of euphemisms. But the more recent American cases directly confronting constitutional issues have tended to use very direct language when upholding restrictions; e.g. C.J. Burger's concurrence in Bowers framing the issue as whether there is "a fundamental right to commit homosexual sodomy", and quoting approvingly some rather stronger statements from the "millennia of moral teaching" on the subject.

My guess as to why is that, in the era when it was unquestioned that homosexual behavior was a great evil, it was seen as a strong enough accusation to levy at someone even when phrased in euphemistic terms; using crude language would have reflected badly on the accuser, who was supposed to maintain the impression that their delicate, God-fearing conscience was shocked by even the most sugar-coated suggestion of this evil. Surely no civilized judge would write the phrase "homosexual sodomy" in a court opinion! But when the prohibitions themselves started becoming the major issue, supporters of the prohibitions tended to have a reason to describe the conduct to which they objected in more direct, forceful, and negative-sounding terms, rather than use euphemisms that, in the new context, would tend to make the complained-of behavior sound insufficiently objectionable.
6.18.2009 5:02pm
Guest101:

Thanks. One more question - in the hypothetical with a religious family, would it be enough to argue that contact with a supposed "sinner," especially one that is an "abomination" (per the Bible), is harmful in and of itself? I'm sure courts have heard this argument before. How have they ruled?

I'm not sure if you read my comment above as I failed to quote yours as I should have, but I think the problem with your hypotheticals is that they presume the existence of a cohesive "religious family" when what you're actually describing is a situation in which the divorced parents have differing religious views. By necessity, the non-custodial parent must not share the custodial parent's religious opposition to gays (or whatever "sin" may be at issue), or s/he wouldn't be inclined to expose the child to the "sinful" lifestyle in the first place. When it's simply a conflict of religious preferences of the parents, I see no reason for one parent's preferences to trump the other's-- and therefore no reason for the custodial parent to be able to veto the non-custodial parent's decision to expose the child to some aspect of life simply on the grounds that it is offensive to the custodial parent's religious sensibilities.
6.18.2009 5:08pm
Randy R. (mail):
Since divorce itself is considered sinful in some religions, then the parents would be in the position of having to argue that their children should never be in the presence of their now-divorced parents for fear of harming their delicate sensibilities.
6.18.2009 5:27pm
Randy R. (mail):
(Not to mention the horror of having the kids see a tv commercial for Red Lobster)
6.18.2009 5:27pm
Steve H (mail):

Surely no civilized judge would write the phrase "homosexual sodomy" in a court opinion! But when the prohibitions themselves started becoming the major issue, supporters of the prohibitions tended to have a reason to describe the conduct to which they objected in more direct, forceful, and negative-sounding terms, rather than use euphemisms that, in the new context, would tend to make the complained-of behavior sound insufficiently objectionable.


Hence the Idaho statute forbidding the "infamous crime against nature, with man or beast."
6.18.2009 6:00pm
11B40 (mail):
Greetings:

While the judges (justices?) may not have found the proof they require, openly homosexual parenting is not only a relatively new phenomenon but one whose study is, to say the least, politically charged.

I recently came across an article online that reported on a study by some psychologists that found that children raised by homosexual parents seem to have much higher rates of homosexuality reported than the general population.
I think the numbers were 8-13% for the children of homosexuals and 2-3% for the general population.

I'm no psychologist but I would think that exposure to homosexual behavior could have a modeling effect of some power in a primary family group and I would speculate that the stronger the primary group bonds, the more appealing that behavior might become. I think that, in the present political climate, homosexual recruiting behavior is largely downplayed both in the media and the academic/scientific communities. I don't think that homosexuals only want to have sexual relations with other homosexuals. I think that if you have the right equipment, they may be interested regardless. (I do not mean to make any implications in this regard as to pedophilic or incestuous relations.) But, the bottom line is that good science takes time, money, and effort. I don't think that the question of the effects of homosexual parenting have yet been addressed and I am concerned that they might not ever be.
6.18.2009 7:16pm
mcBain (mail):

Hence the Idaho statute forbidding the "infamous crime against nature, with man or beast."



That is quality. thank you.
6.18.2009 7:25pm
Oren:
11B40, a link to the study would be nice. I'm going to bet 100:1 without reading it that no control was made for the fact that kids raised by gay parents have gay parents and thus are presumptively more likely to be gay than the rest of the population anyway. Separating the environmental effect from the genetic effect is, as always, an inherently tricky proposition.
6.18.2009 7:26pm
jps:
"I don't think that the question of the effects of homosexual parenting have yet been addressed and I am concerned that they might not ever be."

Even if you adopt the NARTH (the "restorative therapy" folks) view, there actually is tons of research on gay parenting, going back 30 years on these "effects." Any of repute show that, no, you're not more likely to be gay if raised in a gay home. You're also no more likely to have any other negative effect than in a home of similar socioeconomic status.

But at issue in this case was a far bigger proposition, and one that you're not going to find any data on - whether merely being in the presence of a homosexual causes harm to a child.
6.18.2009 7:32pm
Randy R. (mail):
I'm going to bet 1000:1 that the "study" was from Focus on the Family.

All the legitimate studies show that children of gay parents are no more likely to be gay than straight parents. Which makes sense, since all gay children came from straight parents, and still somehow they turned out gay.
6.18.2009 7:33pm
Randy R. (mail):
"I think that, in the present political climate, homosexual recruiting behavior is largely downplayed both in the media and the academic/scientific communities. I don't think that homosexuals only want to have sexual relations with other homosexuals."


Yes, we recruit people to be homosexuals. And we love having sex with heterosexuals to 'turn' them gay. Especially, we love having sex with disabled and mentally challenged children.

But now our hateful Agenda has been exposed!
6.18.2009 7:35pm
ChrisTS (mail):
Surely no civilized judge would write the phrase "homosexual sodomy" in a court opinion! But when the prohibitions themselves started becoming the major issue, supporters of the prohibitions tended to have a reason to describe the conduct to which they objected in more direct, forceful, and negative-sounding terms, rather than use euphemisms that, in the new context, would tend to make the complained-of behavior sound insufficiently objectionable

Randy, I can't see how the Court could have avoided using the term 'sodomy' in Bowers, especially as it was specifically defined in the statute to include oral and anal sex.

As I understand (and teach) Bowers, the majority's insistence on speaking of 'homosexual sodomy' was central to its effort to make the case be about homosexuality - even though the statute was not so limited.
6.18.2009 7:55pm
Putting Two and Two...:

I don't think that homosexuals only want to have sexual relations with other homosexuals.


Ten to one, the source of that "study" you mentioned probably encourages gay people to want to have sexual relations with straight people... of the opposite sex, of course.
6.18.2009 7:57pm
ChrisTS (mail):
My one cents worth on gay parents and gay kids:

I think many young people today see that non-hetero alternatives are real ones for them, whether they have gay or straight parents. Often, it is their social circle that gives them this sense of open options as much as (if not more than) their parents.

I realize this may be what the anti-gay/lesbian folks want to hear, but I think it is a very good development. Why the blank should anyone feel constrained about things as important as love and sexuality just because others disapprove and might want to make life difficult?
6.18.2009 8:00pm
Randy R. (mail):
Chris TS: 'twasn't me who you quoted. However, I do agree with you. On the other hand, usually (but not always), anti-gay people use the word 'homosexual', whereas pro-gay people use the word gay. It's an easy idenitifier that -- most of the time -- signals where the author stands.

Why is that? Because the usual practice is to call people what they prefer to be called. (see democrat v. democratic), and people who insist on using the word homosexual are at best being insensitive to a group.

And I totally agree with your last point, although I think you meant to put the word 'not' in there!
6.18.2009 8:52pm
Cornellian (mail):
Two justices (Melton and Carley) "write separately to emphasize" that the quoted passage above "should only be read to stand for the well-settled proposition that, absent evidence of harm to the best interests of the children through their exposure to certain individuals, a trial court abuses its discretion by prohibiting a parent from exercising their visitation rights while in the presence of such individuals (in this instance, Husband's homosexual partners and friends)."

Why would exposure even to harmful individuals justify an order banning any exposure to all individuals in that class, whether harmful or not?
6.18.2009 10:02pm
ReaderY:
A few years ago sodomy was a 20-year felony in Georgia. One can scarcely expect a trial judge to move from serious felony to no harm instantaneously. Georgia has a relatively liberal state Supreme Court which struck down the state's sodomy law prior to Lawrence v. Texas. See contra e.g. Pulliam v. Smith, 348 NC 616 (1998).

As the Pulliam court explained it,


We conclude that activities such as the regular commission of sexual acts in the home by unmarried people, failing and refusing to counsel the children against such conduct while acknowledging this conduct to them, allowing the children to see unmarried persons known by the children to be sexual partners in bed together, keeping admittedly improper sexual material in the home, and Mr. Tipton's taking the children out of the home without their father's knowledge of their whereabouts support the trial court's findings of "improper influences" which are "detrimental to the best interest and welfare of the two minor children."


The Pulliam court was careful to explain that its conclusion had nothing to do with homosexual status, it was acts committed while the parties were unmarried, not status, that was critical.


We do not agree with the conclusion of Justice Webb's dissent that the only basis upon which the trial court changed custody was that the defendant is a "practicing homosexual." Instead, we conclude that the trial court could and did order a change in custody based in part on proper findings of fact to the effect that defendant-father was regularly engaging in sexual acts with Mr. Tipton in the home while the children were present and upon other improper conduct by these two men. The trial court did not rely on the mere fact that defendant is a homosexual or a "practicing homosexual." Nor does this Court hold that the mere homosexual status of a parent is sufficient, taken alone, to support denying such parent custody of his or her child or children.
6.18.2009 11:45pm
Randy R. (mail):
I just love that phrase "practicing homosexual"!
6.19.2009 1:10am
Ricardo (mail):
Regarding studies of the affects of having homosexual parents, I found a link here. It claims 8-21% of children of homosexual parents identify as "non-heterosexual." The problem, evidently, is that almost all of the children in the sample were born into families where one parent was a closeted homosexual who later came out and obtained a divorce. So you have the influence of parental genes plus the potential influence of a divorce confounding the study. The claim in the link that twin studies show homosexuality has no genetic component is completely false as far as I know.

It's terrible science. A real study would compare adopted children in a state that allows both domestic partnerships and gay adoption between those adopted at early ages by gay couples in domestic partnerships and those adopted by married straight couples.
6.19.2009 2:31am
DCP:

My old secretary married a man (her high school sweetheart) who later turned out to be gay. She discovered this after a 5 year marriage that produced a child when she caught him with another man.

Obviously they got divorced and she got custody of their son. Once he was "out" and free, he embarked on a more promiscuous homosexual lifestyle. But he did remain a father to the child, with visitation privileges and on good terms with the ex-wife.

Anyway, they had an informal arrangement that when he had the child, any partners or romantic activities were to be kept at bay. They didn't want the kid to know his father was gay...at least not until he was old enough and emotionally equipped to digest that info.

I can see how something like this would be distressing to anyone, particularly a child.
6.19.2009 2:44am
Lymis (mail):
Sorry that I don't have a link, but I do remember that when a couple of gay parenting studies came out, they were used widely by the anti-gay groups to show that gay parents "caused" gay children - but were misused.

The part of the studies that they championed was where children raised by gay parents were dramatically more likely to say that they were open to the possibility of falling in love with a member of the same sex later in life. This included kids who hadn't reached puberty as well as kids who hadn't settled into stable adult relationships.

There was no indication that actual sexual orientation was any different with these kids than in the general population - while noting that the small percentage of gay kids raised by gay parents were probably far more likely to come out earlier.

The anti-gay folks conflated "I don't see any problem with falling in love with someone of the same sex, so if it happens to me, no problem" with "I am gay."
6.19.2009 7:34am
Randy R. (mail):
DCP: "I can see how something like this would be distressing to anyone, particularly a child."

It may be distressing to a child to find out that a parent is promiscuous and/or having unstable relationships. However, it isn't necessarily distressing to a child to find out that one or both of their parents are gay. It all depends on how the child was brought up and taught. If taught that gay is bad, bad, bad, then of course it will be distressing to find out that a parent is going to hell, no matter how nice he is. If taught that sexual orientation is just another variation within the human race, then it's not a problem.
6.19.2009 11:20am
Lymis (mail):
One assumes that if a straight couple divorced and one of the parents proceeded to "be promiscuous or have unstable relationships" the court would not declare that the parent couldn't expose the child to heterosexual friends.

Not having inappropriate behavior in front of the kid, sure. But a ban on everyone? Bah.
6.19.2009 12:47pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
I just love that phrase "practicing homosexual"!

Oh, so you think you've perfected it? ;-)
6.19.2009 1:11pm
hazemyth:
ReadrY:


A few years ago sodomy was a 20-year felony in Georgia. One can scarcely expect a trial judge to move from serious felony to no harm instantaneously.


Given that 'sodomy' was no longer a felony, one certainly would hope that the court's evaluations would reflect this policy position.


The Pulliam court was careful to explain that its conclusion had nothing to do with homosexual status, it was acts committed while the parties were unmarried, not status, that was critical.


You do realize how this argument is undercut by the fact that gay couples can't marry, don't you?

More to the point, phrases like "based in part", "the mere fact", and most clearly "mere homosexual status of a parent is [not] sufficient, taken alone", all suggest that homosexuality was a factor, in addition to marital status -- simply not the sole factor. Very far from 'nothing to with' it.

Indeed, it seems that homosexuality was the 'critical' factor. I find it unlikely that, in this day and age, non-marital relations would seem sufficiently shocking to endanger the welfare of children. Was there any precedent of such, involving heterosexual couples?
6.20.2009 2:54am

Post as: [Register] [Log In]

Account:
Password:
Remember info?

If you have a comment about spelling, typos, or format errors, please e-mail the poster directly rather than posting a comment.

Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.