"You're an idiot."
"You're a complete scum bag."
"You're different. And I hate you."
Those are messages we would never tolerate in our published newspaper, but they appear on our website almost daily.
Bullies. They come out every day - pushing, shoving and punching as hard as they can in cyberspace. Hiding behind a veil of anonymity, they lash out with personal attacks, profanity, racism and hate.
We will no longer cater to them.
Beginning today, our online comments have been discontinued on our website. The long running intention of allowing our online readers to engage in meaningful discussion about the news in our community has failed.
Unfortunately it's too rare that our online members engage in civil discourse. Almost always it turns into something much different. We realize that not all of our readers will have the same viewpoint - we wouldn't expect them to. However, to continually attack one another because of a difference of opinions is not something we'll support.
As the Times-Republican considers new developments for our website it's our hope to offer online comments again in the future, with more accountability for the individuals who choose to comment. In the meantime, our readers are more than welcome to comment on our stories via our Facebook and Twitter sites. As it's always been, we welcome every member of our community to write a letter to the editor.
At the same time, we will no longer offer the call-in line Vent. The calls have become a mirror of the comments we find on our website. We feel the call-in line has served its purpose - a quick and easy way to "vent" about current events - but it has run its course.
As the community of Marshalltown launches its anti-bullying effort the Times-Republican intends to be a leader in this effort. We recognize our newspaper's influence in this community. That's why it's important we no longer enable the spread of vicious hate speech.
As we consider the ramifications of bullying on our school-age children, we can't help but think it's best that as adults we lead by example. It's our hope that each of us considers how to implement a zero-tolerance stance against bullying - whether it be in our schools, our homes or our businesses.
We all read about communities that respond with plans to ward off bullying after a tragedy occurs. We think Marshalltown is on the path to becoming a more proactive community that is quick to condemn bullying in any form. It's our hope that our decision demonstrates how serious we are about taking a stand on our very own playground.