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St. Louis Newspaper Shuts Down Comments Feature Because of 'Vile and Racist' Ferguson Posts

"Why? Ferguson."

Louis Head, center front, Michael Brown's stepfather, and Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden, wearing sunglasses, react as they listen to the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, Nov. 24, 2014 (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said it is turning off the comments feature on its editorials, columns and letters for the next two months.

The newspaper's editorial board gave a concise answer as to its reasoning in a Monday editorial: "Why? Ferguson."

Louis Head, center front, Michael Brown's stepfather, and Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden, wearing sunglasses, react as  they listen to the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, Nov. 24, 2014 (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Louis Head, center front, Michael Brown's stepfather, and Brown's mother Lesley McSpadden, wearing sunglasses, react as they listen to the announcement that a grand jury decided not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, Nov. 24, 2014. (AP/Charlie Riedel)

The board called the move "an experiment in elevating the conversation," noting high levels of "vile and racist comments" in addition to "shouting and personal attacks" following the police shooting death of Michael Brown in the nearby suburb.

"We intend to use our opinion pages to help the St. Louis region have a meaningful discussion about race. So we are going to turn off the comments in the editorial section for a while, and see what we learn from it. (Comment will continue on news articles). Comments might return to the opinion pages. Or we might find that without them, the discussion – through letters, social media conversations and online chats, rises to a higher level," the board said.

The board said it's not that the Post-Dispatch doesn't want to hear from those who disagree with its positions — in fact, it's "quite the contrary," as the board reminded its readers how it posts letters every day critical of the paper's editorials and provides a forum for readers to engage in dialogue through Facebook and Twitter.

"We believe those places offer a safer, more civil place to talk about the racial injustice that dominates the Ferguson discussion," the board said.

And in a plea to the racially divided and violence-stricken communities of St. Louis, the newspaper urged: "Let's give civility a try."

(H/T: Huffington Post)

Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

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