EDITORIAL: Civil discourse, not civil war

This week, the B.C. Ministry of Citizens’ Services shared an online notice that Feb. 6 was designated Safer Internet Day.

We trust the announcement wasn’t met with a firestorm of social media criticism.

Started in 2004 by the EU SafeBorders project, #SaferInternetDay has become an annual initiative of the international Insafe network, and is observed in 130 countries.

We wouldn’t mind seeing a little more observation of it right here in Parksville Qualicum Beach.

The event calls on the world’s citizens to work to teach children and youth about using the internet in a safe and responsible way. It also asks all users to share respect online.

What a coincidence. That is exactly our request of those who choose to utilize our interactive, social media platforms to respond to stories shared through the Parksville Qualicum Beach NEWS.

We do encourage members of the community to be engaged. We’d like to provide a platform for an open dialogue of ideas on the issues important to our residents and visitors alike.

This opens the door, of course, to a range of opinions and viewpoints, and disagreements are to be expected. But we can disagree — even strongly, when certain topics strike close to home — without descending into flamethrowing and ad hominem personal attacks.

Since adopting an online presence that includes replies from readers, The NEWS, like all publications, has established a policy of conduct on the site. Along with libel and threats, one of the prohibitions is name-calling, which does nothing to advance a debate.

The great majority of our respondents do just fine with these rules; the problem isn’t rampant. But there has been enough name-calling and cyber threats to prompt a reminder of that policy.

At times, The NEWS has been accused of “taking sides” in a controversial thread of comments, based on a perception of posts that are removed vs. those that remain. But our only bias is the selection of civility over name-calling. And we’ll pick that side every time.

Remember, be hard on the problem, not the person.

We welcome your feedback, and hope you keep it coming in letters to the editor, comments to online stories and replies to Facebook posts.

But we’re looking for civil discourse. Not civil war.

— Parksville Qualicum Beach News

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