Others are noticing the problem of anti-Catholicism in Hot Air's comboxes. Donald McClarey, Jay Anderson, and Cranky Conservative all have threads on the subject and there's some interesting discussion in their comboxes.
One question that has been raised is the degree to which management is culpable. As I said in my first post on this subject, bloggers aren't always responsible for the content of their comments. However, when hateful comments are deleted towards one religion and not another, that's a problem. What bothers me the most, however, is the stupidity of creating an environment given over to ranters who drive away Catholic conservtives at an otherwise mainstream conservative blog.
Jay Anderson suggests that the problem of Hot Air's comments begins with Michelle Malkin. He points to this post by Michelle criticizing "Catholic elites" for their statements on immigration policy.
Michelle Malkin has done many posts on the Pope and she seems to have an admiration for Ratzinger and JP2. I've long wondered whether she is Catholic, and I've admired her for a long time. If you look at the history of her posts, I think that her post on immigration policy is the first time she's said anything remotely critical of the Church. However, her comments on that, while aggressive, may not cross the line. In particular, I think she was reacting towards Cardinal Mahoney, and as we all know there's much criticism that can be directed at him.
Additionally, Michelle Malkin has been the subject of many hateful leftist attacks and slurs. She has been blogging for a long time and probably has built up a very thick skin towards hateful attacks in general. It's likely that she may see the anti-Catholic posts as just part of the nature of internet commenting and may think that there's little that can be done about them.
Ed Morrissey is Catholic and as I've noted, tries to police the comments at Hot Air by mistakenly engaging the bigots instead of banning them. He can't be there all the time. Allahpundit is an atheist and he has said that he enjoys "a good religious food fight in the comments" (as seen in this thread from today). Some people think that Allahpundit is setting the tone for the anti-Catholic comments. However, I think it's more likely that, like Michelle Malkin, both he and Ed Morrissey are veteran bloggers who might think that hateful comments are just part of the nature of blogging and cannot be avoided entirely. Additionally, they might think that it's too much effort to police their blog. Although I've been focused on Hot Air's comments, a cursory examination of Michelle Malkin's blog shows that the same problem exists.
However, I have no doubt that Michelle Malkin would not permit hateful posts towards her in her comments. The comments policy in her blog and on Hot Air expressly state that comments can be deleted. And as I've noted, Hot Air has banned people for posting hateful attacks towards Islam. So this is not a situation where there is a resistence to censor and that completely free speech is the policy. Commentors are guests at those blogs. This is a problem that can be solved with effective policing. Over time, the bigots become well known and they can be ejected from the blog. Michelle can hire another blogger to do the dirty work of policing her comments in her various blogs.
In the meantime, like Michelle who posts hateful emails to expose them to the world, I'll continue to provide excerpts of Hot Air's comment problem. It would be nice to be able to contribue to political discussion on a blog without having to constantly defend your religion. It would be nice to have religious discussions where people are respectful towards differences. Ultimately, the problem isn't Hot Air's management, but an anti-Catholic undercurrent that is prevelent in conservativism that needs to be execised. I'll have more on that later. And I'll have more on why it is just stupid to allow a well known conservative blog like Hot Air to be known for this.
However, one question for those who have followed this issue - should I change the label of "Hot Air Bigots" to something else? It's aggressive, but then again, that's what I'm all about.