the internet which I like to keep an eye on. It offers another point of view about issues which should concern anyone who is concerned about issues like the environment, national and international relations, health services, research etc. Yes, it's a newspaper of international standing.
I suspect that the columnists are generally intelligent people. We wouldn't always agree but, for the most part, we could have a courteous if lively debate.
It is not the same story with many of those who comment on what the columnists have to say. Very occasionally I have put up what I hope is a measured response to something a columnist has said. I might have added another issue, raised a question or put forward an alternative.
It would probably be wiser to have said nothing. The response has always been extraordinary. The most ordinary of comments, even a genuine and legitimate question, seem to bring out the worst in some people.
The comments are politically one sided. Given the nature of the site I expect that. On the whole those who read it are not willing or able to countenance another point of view. For them the site is almost certainly about surrounding themselves with like minded people in order to reinforce their point of view.
I hope I more open minded than that - not so open minded that my brains fall out but open minded enough to consider another point of view. For me part of the value of the site is that it has made me aware of the dangers posed by almost instant access to a vast range of information and misinformation. Now people who would once have had a very small audience for their views have a world wide audience and they can do it at arms length. It makes them bold.
And this site is well regarded by many. It is considered normal and harmless. It in no way compares with the vile, violent filth posted by extremists and hate groups.
But is the site really harmless? Are the many others, on all sides of politics, really harmless? I don't think so. There are times when I feel tempted not to bother looking at it because I am so irritated by some of those who comment. I want to respond and ask if they have ever thought that something might not be the way they see it or whether they have ever considered an alternative. I won't because I don't want to be subject to the sort of comments with which they would respond. No, I am not brave enough to do that.
Perhaps they are right too. I could be wrong.
Right or wrong I am going to try to keep a more open mind. If I don't will someone please tell me? But please, do it nicely.