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when comments become a forum

There are 275 comments on this post made on January 5 of this year.

The subject was Laci Peterson, but not. It was more about suspected wife killers playing victim.

The comments are mostly by the same group of people, though or two new ones will drop in from time to time. There's been a flurry of activity there today.

I'm thinking of deleting the post. I don't have the new version of MT where you can just close the comments without taking all the comments that are already there down.

It's become a forum for speculation, theories and conspiracy talk. Some of the things that are said frighten me in the aspect that some people can take so much of their lives obsessing over a killing that had nothing to do with them. I feel as if I'm hosting a private forum for "Lynch Scott Peterson" club.

I'm not saying I don't think he's guilty, though those shadows of doubt are beginning to form in my head. I just don't want to be a part of the conjecture and rumors that are part of this case.

But am I a part of it because it lies on my site? Am I personally resonsible for any libel or defamation of character?

I'm not so egotistical to think that would ever be the case, but it is any interesting scenario for weblogs in general.

Comments

Why not just upgrade MT and close the comments?

At least they aren't still obsessing about OJ.

Come to think of it, it does kind of shoot down the whole "people only hate OJ because he's black" line of thought. Maybe we just hate anyone who murders their girlfriend...

Hmm...I don't think it links you to a private forum for "Lynch Scott Peterson" club. But if you feel uncomfortable, I'd either upgrade/close comments or delete.

Another option is to edit the html of that post and remove all mention of the comments form. You'd probably have to do the same with the monthly archive. As long as you don't rebuild that post or that archive, the comments for that post will be effectively shut off. I did this to deter a troll at one point.

But I'd recommend the update if you feel up to it! (I haven't yet).

Want me to upgrade you right quick? If so, e-mail your FTP and consider it done...

I faced a similar thing when I'd posted about Elizabeth Smart's disappearance and my feelings about how creepy her dad seemed through it all - someone warned me that I should watch what I said about Ed but a lawyer friend informed me that pure opinion and speculation isn't considered libel. I don't know how thin this line is - saying "I think Scott Peterson is guilty" as opposed to saying, "Scott Peterson is guilty" doesn't seem that different to me, but the law can be weird.

I don't think you can be held accountable for what is said by other people in your comments - but maybe you might want to delete anything that's too far out-of-line, just to be safe? Delete, and post a comment to the effect that the discussion is closed would probably be the easiest way to handle it.

Hey -- I need you. Return my e-mail! ;-)

In theory, at least here in NY state, you can't be liable for libel for stating an opinion based on publicly disclosed facts. In practice, it's sometimes wiser to make sure it's clear that that's what you're doing.

I generally rely on my disclaimer that I'm not responsible for comments on my site, but if there's something specific you're aware of that makes you uncomfortable, go ahead and delete it. No sense worrying about it.

Oh, and I'll even put a disclaimer on this post: this is not legal advice.

This whole national obsession with cases like O.J., Condit, Smart and Peterson is creeping me out.

None of those cases is original in any way. People do bad things to other people every single day. The perpetrators should be dealt with, but having 24 hour wall-to-wall media coverage of a particular case does nothing to assist the cause of justice. In fact it does just the opposite by making it virtually impossible for jurors, potential jurors, their family and friends to avoid drawing premature conclusions.

I mean, Laci Peterson was one single person. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, it should be very unsettling that her case has been competing on an equal footing with the war in Iraq for the nation's attention. What possible good can come out of the endless interviews of her family? What meaningful purpose can be served by the constant TV debates between lawyers arguing about the various aspects of her case? You can wind up a pair of lawyers and they can argue ad infinitum about the color of the sky.

People are apparently even seizing on a web log such as Michele's to debate the case to exhaustion and beyond. All of this appears to signify an important cultural phenomenon of some sort. It's hard to tell exactly what it means, but we can be fairly certain it's not anything good.

So, my two cents would be to do away with the thread and make a small contribution toward us regaining our national sense of proportion.

You can wind up a pair of lawyers and they can argue ad infinitum about the color of the sky.

Hey! I resemble that remark. Er...um....Michele, do whatever makes you feel better about it. I have some of these seriously long and weird threads hanging around my site. I find them amusing, else I'd delete them. I still might be sued by Bobby Trendy, but I'll take that chance. ;)

Usited Sate of AmeriLIES

Uh oh. You may have just started another 200+ post forum.

I suppose you might change your name to Litte Green Victory (LGV?) if this comment cascade continues. :-)

If it wasn't legal advice what was it? Legal discussion? I sometimes find it funny the lengths people go to with there disclaimers.

Disclaimer: This is not a comment. Please do not rely upon it as such. In fact the words you just read (hereinafter referred to as the "Non-Comment Language") add absolutely nothing to anything. The author of the Non-Comment Language is not makeing any representations or warranties (whether express or implied) about the Non-Comment Language.

You just happen to attract some of the most intelligent minds in the blogosphere to your comment box. ;) All the stuff we're discussing at the watercooler is now typed into your comments section -- it's proof that there might just be some intelligent life out there.

At any rate, it is rather frightening that people are still discussing it, but for all of us who've been in less-than-spectacular relationships, it's better for us to be aware what could really happen to us if our partners go into meltdown mode and we personally happen to be the only thing nearby to destroy.

Upgrading is a good idea. I was getting comments on a post on former Manson follower Leslie Van Houten that went up a full year ago, so I finally closed all the comments on all posts on hers. It's nice to be able to keep the old comments while cutting out new opportunities for weirdness.

Did you know she was only 5'1"?

your site, your blog, your delete button. use it whenever you like. we love your site and trust your editorial opinions.

with that said, imo any comment chain with more than 20-40 posts on it is pretty hard to keep straight. by that point there are usually a number of ideas thrashing around in there that each need to be set free in their own thread.

The most hideous thing about this whole Peterson saga, to me, is Amber Frey's bangs.  However, upon further examination of this, and with the help of Photoshop I discovered why she has to have her bangs that way.

Could it be the Media? Maybe they killed her just to have a sensational crime story to run in lieu of running actual news. Remember who we're talking about here. The Media. They have no morals.