Comment moderation

| 11/02/2010

From what I can tell, the argument in favour of publishing comments that may seem racist or prejudiced is that unearthing such perspectives is preferable to having them uttered behind closed doors and that in being allowed to voice their feelings, those making such comments will be exposed to alternative viewpoints and, correct me if I’m wrong, the implication is that this can only be good for society in a broad sense.

This sounds logical and perhaps it is true, but I would have to ask whether the research on group polarisation and social identity theory has been considered when drawing this conclusion. It has been a long time since I have studied social psychology, but I think these concepts may be relevant.

In relation to group polarisation, there is evidence to suggest that people may adopt more extreme positions and advocate more extreme courses of action after engaging in a group discussion, rather than prior to it, if only to differentiate their views and opinions from opposing or more moderate perspectives, and to identify with those whose arguments they find persuasive even where they are more extreme (and what we find persuasive tends to have a lot to do with our opinion going into the discussion). There is evidence from research into social identity theory to suggest that we discriminate against members of other groups more when we feel that they are threatening the groups with which we identify in some way. If these statements hold true, on-line forums which allow divisive comments have the potential to make those who are quite prejudiced even more prejudiced, and to foster prejudice amongst those who feel threatened by their prejudices (prejudices of which they would be unaware, had it not been given a public voice). Their resulting prejudice only feeds back into the whole ugly mess, bolstering people’s initial, uniformed views.

But perhaps my reading of this is wrong, as I said, it is a long time since I studied social psychology and I have not read any recent research, all of this could well have been turned on its head or found only to apply in very specific circumstances. From a personal perspective, while I enjoy reading CNS, and obviously supplying the occasional response myself, like the earlier commenter I too could really do without the divisive rhetoric. There are many good things about CNS, it’s incredibly current and well written. But I read the comments for the measured and sober perspectives supplied by a number of contributors, and I am getting tired of sifting through an increasing amount of commentary which upsets me personally, and commentary that I know will upset others, not to mention the people who claim, or appear, to speak on my behalf and don’t. I notice that you’ve effectively said to the earlier commenter ‘if you don’t like it you can stop reading’….well one day the cons might outweigh the pros and I will…certainly I have done this in the past in relation to other publications.

Obviously there is a place for all manner of conflicting perspectives and healthy debate is important in building a strong community where everyone feels they may actively participate, but I have to question whether the divisive rhetoric really helps any one, or just makes us all feel a little bit hated, a little bit threatened and a little bit angry. Societal relations here don’t seem to be getting any better for it (but please tell me if you have evidence that they are, in all sincerity, I would be very interested).

If the poll you mentioned accurately reflects the views of people here in Cayman, it appears that most believe the community is very divided. I can’t help thinking that having a facility to publish and read all manner of hateful comments about each other is not going to change that for the better. Yes, I am aware of the argument in favour of free speech…but drawing a firmer line in relation to the comments does not prevent free speech…it just makes a statement about the kind of speech which you and the majority of your readers prefer….perhaps you can run a poll in relation to that before you invite a segment of your readership to stop reading (I am fairly convinced that the outcome of such a poll would be to find that a majority support maintenance of the status quo, but wouldn’t it be nicer to know for sure)?

I guess the point I want to make is that, if it is your argument that publishing comments that may cause distress to particular members of the public and segments of the community is justified because it is of benefit to that society, you’re going to have to explain to me exactly how that works…because I just don’t see it.

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Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:


    For performance and moderation, I would give the CNS Moderator –
    At times, I still suspect the CNS moderator has become reactive to special interest, and may need to recommit to the principles of what “die-for freedom of speech” is all about. More inner work needs to be done; especially, against some who demand the control of what comments should be posted and which ones should be blocked. Rules and policies should not be over the sound principles of freedom and fairness of expression.  
    However, I must congratulate CNS for starting such a freedom of speech initiative, but such initiative would become meaningless if it is to withhold comments that each time steps on someone’s toes. The CNS moderator as well needs to exercise more patience. I have read where the moderator (whoever you are) has indicated that it will not post certain comments because of the “way” it is posted. That concerns me and provides an easy excuse for not posting comments that could enlighten or make a difference.
    See more work needs to be done.  
    CNS: 62% Gee, thanks! After the comments below that I am too liberal moderating CNS, it’s nice to balance it out a bit.
    Lots of people demand lots of things but no one controls which comments are posted or not except me. The abuse button is there so that people can alert me to comments they think should be deleted so I can take another look. Sometimes they are right.
    No idea what you mean by reactive to special interests. Perhaps you should read this and this as well as actually reading this thread, where my identity will be revealed ……..
    The principles of "die for freedom of speech" – is that the same as the principles of "operate until next week when we are shut down by lawyers"? Like most people going by "Anonymous" you are very generous with our livelihood.
    I delete comments that are written with the caps lock on or are in colours or stand out visually in any way. This is not only annoying for other readers but will also create a "notice me!" competition and everyone will be submitting in increasingly bright or large fonts, etc. Since this does not exclude people on the basis of nationality, education or intelligence level, viewpoint, gender, or any other category other than being irritating, I fail to see that it is in any way unfair. Bottom line, it’s my rule. If people want to be enlightening or make a difference they can do so in plain black font, just like everyone else.

  2. Kels says:

    First of all let me say that I am an expat, and that I absolutely love living in the Cayman Islands.  I know that I am very lucky that I have been able to come and live here, for however long that turns out to be.  In all the various things that I do in my day to day life here: working, going to the shops, going to the beach, going diving, going to the restaurants or using the taxi’s and buses – I have never, ever come across anyone being nasty, or making me feel like I shouldn’t be here.  Of course I’ve come across a few miserable buggers who don’t want to chat or who scowl cause they’re having to work, but tell me one place on earth where you don’t come across people like that?  Anyway, I’ve lived here in what I would call blissful happiness for the best part of two years.  I didn’t realise that CNS existed until about 6 months ago, and at first I loved it, it seemed to have more news stories than any other publication or website I’d found and so I was happy, and it was a something I could send links of back to folks at home so they could see what was happening where I was living.  It probably wasn’t until about December that I noticed that there was a comments section.  Anyone who spent any time reading the comments that are posted on here could end up thinking that Cayman was one of the worst places on earth to live, that it was a place where a lot of local people hated the majority of expats, and that a lot of the expats who were here were racist snobs.  The comments are sometimes insightful, sometimes witty, sometimes full of banter, but for every one comment that is good (and I don’t mean that matches my opinion, I mean that is putting over a well thought out argument or statement) there are at least four or five that are downright nasty, and rude, and xenophobic, bigoted, racist and all other sort of words that describe attitudes that have no place on a beautiful island like this.  Is Cayman on the brink of a revolution? Had it descended into Anarchy? No, I don’t think that it has, but I do think that a vocal minority on this forum would find some kind of sadistic pleasure in a total decline in society on the Island. I’ve read some of the comments that have been posted even in relation to this viewpoint and I can’t believe that anyone would try to justify the anger and bitterness that is posted on the forum by saying that this is the only outlet you have to blow off steam about how you feel.  This outlet is on the internet, it can be read by anyone in the world, do you really want potential visitors, workers and investors believing that the rantings expressed on this website are a true reflection of the characters of the people who live here? If you’re angry about a point someone else has made then by all means express your dissatisfaction but do it by posting a well structured and well thought out counter argument, not by posting comments that are nothing short of disgusting.  We are lucky to live in a free society (to some degree, of course there are always reasons why its not completely free) so your comments shouldn’t be moderated except to stop harrasment or slander, but as a citizen of a free society you should be capable of moderating yourself.  Ever heard of a self fulfilling prophecy?….

    There are a couple of publications from other British overseas territories that allow readers to leave comments – why not have a read at them (if CNS is allowed to publish the links??) they have the same kind of issues that Cayman has (admittedly not the same problem with gun crime) but there are a lot of other similar issues and these forums don’t have many (if any) postings full of the same kind of hatred and badness that you can find in many comments on CNS.



  3. Anonymous says:

    All the negative comments show is how unhappy people are with their own lives and they take it out anonomously posting crap. Apparantly their crappy life is everyone else’s fault and not their own.

    Bitter ex-pats and bitter Caymanians are just that…bitter.

    I never realised how many pathetic people there are on this island until I started reading all these childish comments comming from both sides.

    Truly Pathetic.

    • Very Zen says:

      Pot calling Mr. Kettle methinks.  This poster sounds very angry telling us all how angry everyone else is.  Meta-anger at its best.  I suggest that the poster sits down with a good dictionary, learns how to spell and stays away from CNS if it makes them this angry.

      And if that does not work there are several flights leaving daily. . . .

      • Anonymous says:

        Pro Bono Counselling Services and Very Zen you both fall into the category of bitterness. Congratulations. I am Caymanian and not going anywhere. Now go back to your bitter lives.

        • Pro Bono Counselling Services says:

          Your responses are most fullfilling, thanks so much for playing along. We love people like you, they keep the thread alive, now hurry up and get back to me so we can continue to play. At some point we might even get to the bottom of my problem 

          You know, you should try going somewhere, broaden your horizons a little, you never know, it might give you a new perspective on one or two things.

        • Very Zen says:

          Apparently bitterness means something else to this poster.  Maybe it means "understands irony".  That would mean I am "bitter" and you are "not bitter".

    • Pro Bono Counselling Services says:

      Yes, but CNS is much cheaper than counselling and they don’t talk back very often.

      Please do make sure that the door does in fact  hit you on the way out.

    • Anonymous says:

      With freedom comes responsibility.  Posting annonymously allows people to say outrageous things without consequence.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to match the comments with a face at some later point in time?

      With technology advances and greater transparency under access to information laws, maybe one day, who knows. 

      CNS: Saying outrageous things without consequence – you mean like scaremongering?

      Since we do not require any personal information and store only the mostrecent two hours worth of IP address based information, which is then purged from the site, the scenario in which the identity of commenters who do not include their names and email addresses could be retrieved at a later date is impossible.

  4. Lightbulb says:

    Hey, I have an idea! We could start a talkshow, maybe call it Crosstalk PM or something like that. We could focus on solutions to the problems rather than just uneducated ranting! Then there would be no need for this forum as everything would be all better.

    Come on Cayman, who’s with me? Lets give it a try!

    • Article 10 Schmenn says:

      Unfortunately because of the lack of free speech in Cayman almost 50% of the population are unable to call into talk radio shows or have letters published in the newspapers.

  5. Martin Marpriest says:

    If it is not libellous or illegal please let it in.  We can all scroll the true dross.  And to be honest if valuable content was the threshold test 90% of posts would not make it in – including many of mine.

    We need to express how we truly feel, whether we are expat or Caymanian (true born or paper), PPM or UDP, fundamentalist Christian or dyed in the wool atheist, because Cayman is very repressed as a society when it comes to expression – especially since expressing how we feel may annoy our friends, colleagues, neighbors, bosses, MLAs etc.

    And if you don’t like that there are many planes departing from the airport daily  . . . .

  6. Himmler says:

    Several posts here refer to many "racist comments" on CNS. What are they talking about? I have never seen racist comments on CNS. I’ve seen nationalistic, sexists, knocks against religion, and cultural jabs, but never racist comments. Did I miss them or what?

    Writing "Caymanians are idiots" or "British people are jerks" is not racist because Caymanian and British are not races.

    Somebody please explain.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If you simply did not post any comment that said, "If you don’t like it, then leave", not only would that cut the postings by about a third… you would also dramatically raise the intellectual level of the discussion.

    • Anonymous says:

      In other words responses by angry Caymanians who have been offended by derogatory posts by expats should censored, but not the derogatory posts themselves. How about deleting the comments which trash Caymanians. That would cut the postings by about 1/2 and would also dramatically raise the intellectual level of the discussion.   

  8. slowpoke says:

    We live in a fascinating little multi-cultural lab, called Cayman. I am amazed that we have not come to the attention of more sociologists, anthropologists, social psychologists, etc. who would want to do research here. Even if it were to simply compare or validate findings from the typical large centers of such studies as London, New York, Toronto… Although I agree with much of the research quoted in the original article and responses, the “where do you draw the line in the sand” question basically becomes unanswerable in this community (especially if you want to keep the readership). There is simply no specific line that will satisfy all, or possibly even a significant majority. That said, I believe the more important factor should be that comments make at least some contribution to the discussion. This coming from someone who once received a response that went something like “You are a complete idiot with a capital “I”. While this may be true (or not), the thread then deteriorated to where other posters felt the need to defend me. There was no more discussion or reasoning after that.

    CNS: Point taken.

  9. Big Baiter says:

    An interesting topic of discussion, one on which there will never be a consensus but worth debating all the same.

    The moderating of the comments is at the sole discretion of the owners of the site and boils down to nothing more than a matter of their opinion of the comment (well, some of it they like and even encourage for advertising reasons but that’s for another day, they have to eat too).

    I actually only believe about 20% of what I post. Many of my posts are not published yet I have never questioned as to why. It is there site after all. Some of them I am curious as to why and yet others of mine that are posted I would not publish on my site so am surprised they sneak by. Some are meant to be funny, others are meant as digs as people that I don’t like or agree with (Yes I know, I am a horrible person, get over it). Often they are sattirical and every now and then, just downright stupid. Either way, many of them spark sensible debate and others decend in to chaotic rants. It’s normally pretty easy to pick out the "bait" comments if you have any semblance of intelligenceand yes, I like to play along sometimes.

    In any case, the comments are a good thing, be they positive or negative, satirical, ironic.

    One quick suggestion on this topic however, please consider put a limiter on the amount of characters that can be included in a comment. It would make your life a lot easier and save me a lot of skipping over a lot of the long winded crap.

    Thanks for the forum.

    P.S.  Yes, I am a Civil Servant but I’m on my lunch break THIS time(only 3 hours on a Friday). I don’t post much on the weekends, that’s my time.


    • Joe Average says:

      That’s perfect!!!!  You made me laugh man!!!  "I’m a civil servant on my 3 hr. lunch."

      At least one civil servant doesn’t take themselves so seriously.  After they put down their newspaper and blackberry yawn and type to CNS how offended they are by the comments about the slackness.  Good on you!!

      Hey…it happens everywhere!!

      Guess you’re a manager huh?

  10. Newcomer says:

    When I arrived here a few months ago, determined to embrace the local culture as I have done in many other places, I was really shocked at how deeply ingrained prejudice is in mainstream thinking and public policy. When I asked why people put up with it, they said there was no choice, they said that if you had a vote and had the ear of a politician you could say what you liked, but if you were on a work permit, as I am, you could only put up with it or walk away. I have lived in countries where there is a dictatorship that have more freedom of expression than the Cayman Islands and it is not healthy and it is not ultimately good for the people of these islands or for the economy. CNS seems to be the only bright spot on an otherwise gloomy freespeech horizon. I have listened to the radio talk show and it is too one-sided.

    P.S. I have met some lovely local people and some that were just unpleasant, ditto ex-pats.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is quite a difference between the acceptance of foreign tourists spending money here and foreign workers also spending money here but also taking up local space.

      It benefits those who abuse foreign labor to have fellow Caymanians venting  their anger and frustration at the foreign labor instead of the locals who import said labor.

      There is an analogy in the US in the 1800s when poor Southern whites were so angry and racist toward the slaves feeling that they were both a threat and competition given they did the bulk of the unskilled labor for next to nothing.

      Don’t expect this to be well recieved but would prefer discussion over name callling.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am afraid I don’t see the analogy. I understand the general intent is to be insulting. Do you really believe that the only employers who employ and/or abuse foreign labour are Caymanians? Do you really think that Caymanians are threatened by the competition of Jamaican and Filipino labourers who do the bulk of unskilled labour cheaper? Please don’t talk nonsense.      

    • G man says:

      Those of us you come from more sophisticated and enlightened countries bristle at the blatant racism and cultural bias that is the norm in Cayman. Once, a self-important Caymanian told me I couldn’t catch and release for fun, small fish off a public road in a canal with my 10 year old nephew , not because it was illegal, butbecause he just didn’t like it. He actually pulled the "I’m a CAYMANIAN" card and implied that I had better listen, lest I get the immigration police to show uo at my door. He was a little suprised that i laughed and told him to basicallly piss off

      After telling my nephew to go back to the car lest i lose my temper in front of him, I enlightened Captain Cayman that I could care less what he thought, i wasn’t breaking the law and he didn’t have dominion over me. I requested he stay where he was and to phone the police if I was breaking the law. Of course after his bluff was called he sulked away grumbling about ex-pats with a few expletives thrown in.

      Because Cayman is so small its hard for us ex-pats to realize that most caymanians have relatives in government or some level of authority and many will try to use this influence to remove people they have personal vendettas against. Whether we admit it or not, this uncertainty  does influence our behaviour. One of my main reasons for leaving Cayman after 8 years was this lack of representation and second class citizen status.

      I hear my old work permit now costs more than i would have paid in payroll and income taxes up here for the same job. So much for the tax free advantage, cayman has just fee’d themselves to eventual extinction as a wealthy enclave.


      • Anonymous says:

        You seem to have taken your negative experience with one ignorant individual and extrapolated that to "most" and "many" Caymanians. Isn’t that the very definition of prejudice?

        • G Man says:

          Prejudiced, not at all,

          I actually had many caymanian friends and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The individual i made reference too was exceptional,yes but it wasnt the only time I bore witness to and heard from reliable sources the same sort of ignorant behaviour

          I felt that I had to be careful about what i said outside this circle because of this real fear of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person. Most caymanians have no idea what its like to live in a perpetual state of uncertainty most expats endure in while resident. 

          Visitors to my country never have to worry about this since we have free speech and equal treatment enshrined in the constitution. You don’t have any chance of upsetting a local here and being on the next plane out.

          If you’re caymanian, ask any ex-pat you know whether they are mindful of what they say when there are many Caymnians present.

          Never have i heard a canadian pull out the "I’m canadian" card to dress down a visitor like I was. Life for most ex-pats in cayman is tenuous enough to go around taking chances upsetting a person with the last name Bodden or Ebanks.


          • Anonymous says:

            "I actually had many caymanian friends and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there".

            I am afraid none of this was conveyed by your original post. It came across as very negative and lacking balance. There is little chance of anyone merely upsetting a local and being on the next plane out. 

            There are many Caymanians in positions who strive to do the right thing every day.   


  11. Baps says:

     Let me start by saying that I think CNS goes too far when allowing some of these racist comments.   CNS goes too far when allowing a racist/name calling comment to be posted about someone and someone’s family.  Whatever people have to say about someone at least "STOP" the racist name callings, when your putting their real name out there with it. It seems to me that if you are going to allow your readers not just to comment on articles, but to vote on those comments, you must have a moderation policy that is consistent and effective, to prevent abusive (in this case, racist) comments from becoming the ‘favourites’ on a site. The site owner will be associated with that racism. Ethics aside, on a purely commercial basis this association could harm advertising revenues – how many mainstream advertisers will want to be associated with racism on a news site?

    CNS: One of the rules that we have is to delete any comments that attack a person or particular people (job performance of MLAs and senior public officials excepted), especially when people use their real name in comments. I do make mistakes sometimes. If this happens, you are invited to email me to report it (see CNS Comment Policy), or just reply to the comment with a note to CNS. As said elsewhere, we are also developing an abuse button to make this easier. I also believe that what is defined as "racism" is another worthy topic.

  12. Jemima Puddleduck says:

    In a country with some much oppression, in a country where ex-pats are advised to shut up for fear of capricious decisions of politically appointed boards, in a country with no real human rights protection, in a country where racism and discrimination are seen by some as a right itself, then there is a need for the posts on CNS.

    Some issues may arise repeatedly.  But they are issues at the heart of the problems in Cayman society and it is imperative that they are aired for the only previous option was that they were suppressed .

    Words like "true born", "fifth generation", "paper", "entitlement", "roll over", "God", "culture" may be triggers but these are the themes that underpin many opinions on other diffuse issues.

    Cayman has so few other options to air views or even to "vent", asour American cousins would say, (none in fact).  If readers don’t like some posts, there is a scroll button.  


    • Anonymous says:

      If I did not live in Cayman I would think that you were talking about a communist country. You grossly exaggerate Cayman’s ills and you take an entirely one-sided view against Caymanians.  You mention capricious decisions politically appointed boards. You should be aware that the boards are required to make decisions according to the law and any policies that have been given. For example, complaints to an Immigration Board are required to be in writing and signed and the person complained against will have the right to see that complaint. You have the Freedom of Information Law at your disposal to assist. You have the assistance of the Complaints Commissioner available. Youhave a right of appeal and you have the right of judicial review. There is no hint of any of this in your post. On the other hand, where Caymanians complaining to an immigration board have found themselves dismissed from their jobs and blackballed elsewhere. There is no whistleblower protection for them.   

      It is may be both harmful and beneficial to allow people to vent. It is good that much of the undercurrent of hate, derision and contempt for Caymanians is revealed. It should open the eyes of Caymanians to what our fate would be if there is a shift of political power so that it is wielded by expats. It should emphasise to need for caution about the persons to whom permanent rights are given or we may be digging our own grave. On the other hand, it may, and does in fact, itself engender hate. Most obnoxious posts by Caymanians are in response to hateful and contemptuous posts by expats.  People are likely to search for offensive comments in retaliation if they themselves have just been subjected to abuse and the exchange therefore becomes counterproductive.  

      A related issue is the profanity however thinly disguised by asterisks etc. It lowers the whole tone of the blog and does not contribute anything of value.      

      • Joe Average says:

        Most obnoxious posts by Caymanians are in response to hateful and contemptuous posts by expats.

        Not true.  And you’re generalizing. What I notice more often than not is a thread is started and some nutball decides it’s a good time to drag out the ‘ol Caymanian vs. Expat theme just to see what will happen. THEN it turns into a slugfest.  Who starts this nonsense?  Saying it’s always expats is incorrect.  It’s someone with a bug up their ass.  And that… could just as well be a Caymanian as an expat.  Don’t be so paranoid many expats love Cayman as much as Caymanians do.

        • Anonymous says:

          I said "most" not "all, and that is entirely correct. I am sure many expats love Cayman, it’s just the Caymanians they despise.  The posts are evidence of everything I have said so the charge of "paranoia" is inappropriate.  

          • Ex Pat says:

            I am sure many expats love Cayman, it’s just the Caymanians they despise.

            That is so untrue in my case, and I’d like to think I’m not alone.


      • Anonymous says:

        I wish you were correct. The complaint the applicant actually gets to  see can be quite vague. No dates, no context, etc. Moreover, I can guarantee there are are complaints that are used for Board decisions but not communicated to the applicant. Yes this is against the law, but IT IS DONE. Moreover, one can only retrieve the complaint through the FOI law IF the person who complained agrees. Of course, they will not as it is much easier to hide behind the system.

        So what seems like a fair and just law, simply isn’t applied as it should. I have ample PROOF that this happens, one just can’t find an attorney who has the balls to take Immigration on for fear his or her firm won’t get future permits or he / she may be perceived as anti-Caymanian. So much for ethics.

        So the harsh reality is there is very little freedom of speech, at least for outsiders. In stark contrast a Caymanian can say anything he or she wants and it will be deemed to be the truth, no questions asked. No facts checked. No chance for the defendant to respond.

        Please do not say I’m disgruntled. I’m better described as disappointed. The vast majority of Caymanians are god fearing, honest and loving people. Unfortunately, just as the elusive attorney, these good people try to assist indirectly not realizing they are perpetuating the corruption. Everything is favors, good or bad, and no one wants to take this embedded system of corruption head on. Whether this be out of fear, future potential favor, or this is just how the system we know, this attitude is weak and wrong .The very few bad eggs have done more damage to Cayman than they can ever imagine. 

        CNS is the only fair means of speaking. It is because of the above that the comments can be quite unpleasant. Perhaps if we clean our act up internally, the posts on CNS will become more proactive, unifying and pleasant to read.

        • Anonymous says:

          I am absolutely correct, and I am in a position to know. 

          It is false to suggest that statements are accepted merely on the basis that they are made by Caymanians, or that the party complained against has no chance to respond. It is also false to state that "everything is favours".

          There are many attorneys who practise Immigration Law and a number who have taken appeals to the Appeals Tribunal and the Courts.

          These are libels against Cayman and Caymanians by a disgruntled expat.  

          • Anonymous says:

            So the system is perfect and beyond reproach? This doesn’t sound bias at all. If you were in a position to know, you would know bad deeds occur. There are allegedly 2,800 appeals. This does not count the people who cant afford to appeal. Some of whom were here well over 15 years when they were kicked out.

            Of course there are many attorneys who practice Immigration Law, but can you name three who will take on the system without pussyfooting? Has any attorney made a name for himself / herself as THE attorney to go to find justice against government boards?

            If there is one thing hurting Cayman it is the negative image Cayman is portrayingto the world in the forms of protectionism, hatred, and exclusion. These are not traditional Cayman values. They didn’t exist when Cayman started to prosper. It is equally wrong that expats bash back (or start to bash) with equal vehemence and little appreciation that despite any workplace ills, Cayman has likely given them a jump start on their life’s finances. 

            Unless Cayman returns to its core values it will, unfortunately, continue to decline. If you are in a position to know, you will know:

            1) We have less banks.

            2) The global view of us being a financial centre is declining.

            3) Our tourism is suffering, while our neighbors thrive.

            4) We are shipping good jobs off to Montreal, Halifax, Virginia, etc. etc.

            5) Our hedge fund business is under attack.

            6) We are more costly than other jurisdictions.

            7) Our government is getting deeper and deeper into debt.

            When did these things start to decline? 

            a) 1970

            b) 1980

            c) 1990

            d) 2000

            Don’t look at where Cayman was, or is. Look at where it is going. Do you like what you see? The only solution is for people who have a stake here is to face the reality that the current system is not working, that all sorts of people love Cayman, and all who are here need to work together. 

            P.S. My values, which equate to traditional Caymanian values, wouldn’t allow me to be libelous. Nor am I disgruntled. I’m a child of God and wake up every day feeling blessed and grateful for my good fortune. 

            • Anonymous says:

              No, the system is not perfect, as no system anywhere is perfect, but in general it does work. 

              There are more than three attorneys who will take on the system without pussyfooting but I do not think it is appropriate for me to name them.

              "If there is one thing hurting Cayman it is the negative image Cayman is portraying to the world in the forms of protectionism, hatred, and exclusion. These are not traditional Cayman values. They didn’t exist when Cayman started to prosper. It is equally wrong that expats bash back (or start to bash) with equal vehemence and little appreciation that despite any workplace ills, Cayman has likely given them a jump start on their life’s finances". 

              The fact of the matter is that Cayman’s immigration law and policy, rollover notwithstanding, are more liberal than they have ever been in their history. The work permit system has been in place for decades as has the 60% Caymanian business ownership rule. There was never cause for legitimate expectation of permanent rights. 

              Clearly, you would like to lay blame at the feet of Caymanians for all ills of the country but this is false. Caymanians are reacting to what they themselves are experiencing in the workplace and in society.  They are mad as hell and arenot going to take it anymore. Although it is wrong it is a difficult challenge not to become bitter particularly when expats are pretending that they have no legitimate grievances. 

              P.S. My values are also traditional Caymanian values but I actually do know what I am talking about.       

            • Anonymous says:

              I don’t know that the number of appeals is 2,800 but you will find that a great many appeals are frivolous and only serve the purpose of allowing the appellant to remain on Island for the two years it will take for their appeal to be heard.  The backlog serves them well. It only takes $250 to file an appeal.

  13. Anon69 says:

    …. but not as boring as lone bloggers……..ZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    We come to CNS primarily for the news, we stay for the comments……or not, if we are not in the mood. Personally I find some threads interesting and some not. If they seem to be getting boring, I leave and go onto the next one. Would I fix rules on them so that I’m fascinated by each thread? No way! Pick and choose, Babe, but don’t ruin a good thing.

  14. Knal N. Domp says:

    Nicky hon, your comments section is a valve that allows us all to let off steam- as such, it is a social safety valve, and those who want to ‘get it off their chest’ can do so on your dime. Thank you. I stopped comments over at Knal Say Wha’ because most comment posters simply didn’t get it or me. Chewing through all that stupid venom became tiresome, so I chucked it. I was for a brief time a moderator on Marl Road, and for me it was also a tiresome exercise in deleting expletives, overt xenophobia and name-calling.

    Reading the comments at CNS is, of course, hard work. Trolling through the muck in search of the nuggets can become tiresome after a while. I also think that you are being infected with the disease that brought down MR- the same core posters were repeating the same messages, and it became boring…

    • Anonymous says:

      I think your last sentence is-alas- correct Knal. I would add that the "core posters" don’t paint the picture of Cayman I have known for the last 40 years.

      I regret not being able to comment on your blog but understand your reasons for not getting into it.

  15. Shock and Awe says:

    I agree that there are some vile comments.  No question about it.  But not one of those vile comments has changed my outlook nor my attitude.  By requesting CNS to become moderator of the comments that most of us feel are more suitable to intelligent discussion will only result in the people holding onto a socially unhealthy attitude to simmer away somewhere.  What I am hoping is that if they read other more sane comments regarding some of our societie’s problems eventually (this is not guaranteed) their own attitudes will change.  The only way this will happen is to be exposed to them.  And unfortunately, the only time that may happen is when they are sitting down to write something totally hateful or vindictive.  The other aspect is, if this viewpointer has noticed, is that many of these attitudes come of feeling abused and/or ignored.  To silence that will only lead to feeling justifiably bitter. Catch-22 isn’t it?  Either CNS allows for people to vent their hateful attitudes, and hope they will see the light.  In the meantime putting up with it.  Or CNS disallows that kind of comment and gives them justification for feeling it.

    I say let them rant and ignore it.   It isn’t worse than the roosters in the morning.  Then again I like roosters!

    • Anonymous says:

      If the law permitted us to catch and deep fry the hate mongers along with the feral chickens I could agree with you.

      CNS already does cull inappropriate comments which has prompted complaints which have appeared subsequently on CNS. This debate relates to where readers think the line CNS uses should be drawn. 

      Re – Catch 22, The publication of defamatory material is already prohibited and CNS enforces this prohibition. Undoubtedly this proves to some deluded defamers that they are right in their views. Nevertheless society long ago reached the position that risking the reinforcement of the delusions of the few was an acceptable price to prevent defamation and other ills.  Some of us suggest that deluded hate-mongers of various flavours should be treated the same way.

      • Nicky Watson says:

        The question of where to draw the line is actually something we talk about a lot – and it’s true that for every complaint that I am too lenient, there are five ‘where did my comment go?’ postings. The thumb votes were developed in response to complaints that some comments were the ramblings of extremists and give a skewed idea of public opinion – the thumbs give an idea of whether it’s mainstream or crazy or somewhere in between. 

        It’s also true that sometimes I miss comments that should have been deleted – another complaint. It’s possible that after I’ve deleted a few really hateful comments,my judgement is a bit off and the one that gets posted seems not so bad in comparison. Sometimes comments are just boarderline and hard to decide. And sometimes I just don’t have much time and skim through them.

        So, the next development is an abuse button – coming soon to CNS. So if you read a comment that you think is abusive, you can let me know and I will take a second look at it.

        • NorthSideSue says:

          Thanks, Nicky and Wendy!

        • Concerned Observer says:

           Well I thank-you very kindly for each of your thoughtful responses.  Although I can see that it’s unlikely that we will every agree on this issue, I really respect the fact that you have read everything I’ve written, and presented very strong arguments in response.  I can certainly see the merits of your arguments (but I still don’t agree!)


          Now that I understand how it is that some of the more heinous comments get through, I’m sure I will judge CNS less harshly….from reading regularly I realise the mammoth task you must face in reporting the news and moderating the comments.  And I really appreciate the solution you’ve proposed.


          Concerned Observer sigining out.

    • Good post and agree. By the way which rooster ya talking about.

      Rather listen to the real ones than radio

  16. Anonymous says:

    Setting the boundaries on censorship is difficult. There are limits imposed by our laws dealing with defamation, the commission or incitement of certain crimes, the requirements for public safety, etc.. From what I have seen CNS scrupulously follows these rules.

    However, it also appears to me that some comments which have been appearing do not reflect anything other than the denial of self-evident facts and the incitement of hatred or at least distrust and dislike of certain identifiable groups. In many liberal democratic countries the incitement of hatred is prohibited as an abuse of free speech – perhaps we should have that limit in Cayman as well and perhaps until that time comes CNS should re-consider the limits it imposes?

    The other concern I have relates to comments which seem to be submitted merely to bait the ignorant, vociferous and bigoted who are present in every society, without offering anything more constructive. It is unfortunate that some readers appear not to understand that some who post on CNS, who in my view are wreckless if not malevolent, seem to get their "jollies" out of seeing how much animosity they can stir up. Perhaps CNS should at least post an occasional strategically placed message which points out that baiting of this type occurs and that people should not allow themselves, or their country, to become victims of this type of abuse. Just a thought.

    • Himmler says:

      Your post is an obvious attempt to "bait" me. CNS should have censored you. You just want to get your "jollies" by getting me to respond to your post.

      • Anonymous says:

        Clearly you have just proved the point you were attempting to object to – CNS post a health warning please.

    • Nicky Watson says:

      On the bait comments, I agree. Apart from anything else, they contain those trigger words or phrases that send the thread down an oft travelled road, which tends to be uninteresting. The problem is identifying them. If they are obvious I’ll delete them.

      Your other point is trickier. Firstly, democratic countries are not uniform in their approach to the hate speech / free speech equation. In the US the First Amendment is fiercely protected, while in Europe free speech is more likely to be sacrificed to uphold anti-hate laws.

      Secondly, "denial of self-evident facts" is probably open to debate.

    • frank rizzo says:

      Welcome to the internet.  Trolling is probably second to spam on my list of internet forum evils. Veterans know how to filter out the crap and avoid the bait.  Know when to walk away.  If you think this is bad, visit an unmoderated forum.

  17. Lachlan MacTavish says:

     I enjoy well written commentary / opinions even if I don’t agree. The main issue here is the real fear " of aggressive, threats and retaliation" coming from people in power. There are thousands of serious examples of individuals from all walks of life including the born Caymanians who have been hurt, professionally, financially, emotionally and with threats of violence. Hense posted by anonymous. Unfortunately in Cayman we still do not have full freedom of speech becasue of the "way tings are done" if you do not agree with the power base. For me I quickly figure out the ranters and idiots and brush by, but I find the majority of the posters on CNS have great points, observations and opinions from all sides.

  18. Nicky Watson says:

    This Viewpoint was originally posted as a comment in response to a comment of mine –  see here – so I’d like to address some of the points raised. Social identity theory basically proposes that we assess our personal identity at least in part by our social grouping, and that most of us like to think that our own particular social group is better than every other social group, and if we don’t we find a cooler group to belong to. Every society divides itself into groups and the Cayman Islands is particularly diverse for such a small community. The question is, can those groups live together in harmony and does an online forum like CNS help or hinder that process?

    I believe you have chosen the wrong social theory. Group polarization theory stems from the discovery that when small groups of people are tasked with coming to a consensus, their conclusions are often more extreme than those they would have reached individually. The example most often used is a jury who will hand out a more severe sentence than individual jurors would have done. Crudely, the reasonings are that views already held are enforced by like minded arguments, or that people really really want to fit into the social group (conform) and will exaggerate their views in order to fit in better, or they are persuaded to join the group by reasoning (or in some cases, what they perceive as reasoning). While I can see how this might be applied to the internet forums, I think it more likely to be seen in forums where like minded people gather. Skinhead forums, for example, are scary places where inconsequential dweebs collectively decide that they are members of the master race.

    Here on CNS, the aim is not consensus – there are just too many diverse opinions – but a sharing of ideas and viewpoints. I’ll accept that opinions may be re-enforced by someone with similar views but they may equally be shaken by someone with opposing views. So yes, some divisive comments may make those who already hold prejudiced views even more prejudiced but there is also the possibility that people would prefer, in their quest for a positive social identity, to shy away from the crazies and join the "moderates". Anecdotally, commenters who reach across the social divides – a Caymanian who supports the ex-pat community or an ex-pat who is part of and praises the Caymanian community – usually elicit a very positive response. (Although, the social groupings "Caymanian" and "ex-pat" are, of course, far too simplified.)

    The social theory that I believe may be more relevant in this context is groupthink, where isolated groups are unexposed to alternative suggestions and views and feel under pressure not to express dissent. So, as I said before, lots of objectionable, even bigoted, comments are made in private within small circles and cliques, where they are, I suspect, not recognised as being objectionable. CNS is a place (possibly the only place) where they can be aired, discussed and argued in public by people from all aspects of this society who would probably not otherwise meet, and where they can get an alternative perspective. In that case CNS is an antidote to groupthink.

    As for proof that CNS is of any benefit to society, well, as a very new tool for social expression in the Cayman Islands, it’s a bit early to tell, even if that’s possible – we are also growing in popularity during a time of economic uncertainty and social change, so there are factors exacerbating divisions. Sorry if that sounds like a cop out. Perhaps the sociology department of one of the local colleges could take this question up.

    However, whether you believe that the CNS forum amplifies divisions or not, I don’t think anyone believes that we create those divisions in the first place. So, quite aside from the group therapy sessions that CNS provides, it may also provide policy makers an insight into how their policies are being received and what problems seem to be appearing in our society that need to be addressed.

    Plus, some of the comments are really funny.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is true that some comments display real wit. Others however appear to have no redeeming characteristics.

      Perhaps what some of us are attempting to suggest is that CNS might wish to re-set its "hate – ometer". Negative and obviously biased, or at least unsubstantiated and inflammatory assertions such as "all/most persons of nationality/skin colour/ "X" are criminals/lazy/stupid/", or "the rise in crime is due to, or has increased with the presence of ethnic group "Y" in our society", do not appear to serve any peaceful purpose. I suspect that some statements of this type are deleted and never appear on CNS, but others which come very close do appear. I for one find many of those that do come close offensive and I would welcome fewer of these cluttering up what is otherwise an excellent community forum.

      Perhaps if CNS required something resembling supporting evidence as a pre-condition to publication in instances in which a poster wishes to attack an identifiable nationality-based/social/racial or other groups in our community, there would be the potential for constructive debate. I am certain that if objective evidence was required, inflammatory statements would be far fewer less common. Not sure what that would do to "clicks". 

  19. Concerned Observer says:

     If you think that free speech is unrestrained on CNS, then you need to check their comments policy, you will see in particular that they say they do not publish comments that promote hate.  I still see comments published that I feel fall into this category, CNS have a different view…but you see the argument isn’t about whether or not there should be censorship, that’s already in place, I guess now that I think about it, it’s really a disagreement about what constitutes a statement that promotes hate.

    I am completely happy for people to make commentary with which I don’t agree (in fact I find most of the responses to my argument on both sides so far very stimulating), it’s when those comments are grounded in prejudice that I have a problem.  That doesn’t foster free speech, but it can in fact stifle it, because people who feel their opinions will be discounted because of their background or creed may be less inclined to contribute.


    I think most people would accept that hate breeds hate, and if that’s true then comments which reflect prejudice are not just a harmless expressions of ideas, but are instead the propagation of a feeling.  If it weren’t for that I guess I’d have to say ‘have at it’. It’s not about putting my head, it’s about trying to stop things from getting worse.  I don’t think that the people making comments which reflect a great deal of prejudice should be ‘silenced’ per se, but I also don’t believe they should be given easy access to a wide and open forum to disseminate attitudes which are deleterious to social cohesion.  As a reader, I feel I have every entitlement to make my opinion known and of course I don’t expect everyone (or in fact anyone) to agree with it, but in making it, I am not going to single out any particular group of people.  I really don’t need to do to get my point across and I think if everyone tried a little harder, they would find that more often than not, they don’t need to either…if they do in fact find this task impossible, well then they need to consider carefully whether their intention is to express an idea, or simply promote a prejudice.


    I very much enjoyed the comment made by 14:49, I think it’s a strong argument and I really do wish that I could agree that that’s the world we live in.  But I think history teaches us that it’s not.  It’s usually only when we encounter catastrophic consequences that we question whether we have made a misstep. Then it’s too late.  The anti-semitic sentiment in pre-WWII Germany was not curtailed by any sort of self-regulation.  That type of disfunction in society starts somewhere, and I feel that the tacit acceptance of prejudice as an unavoidable evil is very fertile ground for such a problem. If the price of preventing a calamity that is even a fraction of that magnitude is boring commentary (and I just don’t agree that it is), then I will choose boredom every time.

    • Nicky Watson says:

      No, no no! the anti-Semitic sentiment in pre-WWII Germany was orchestrated by a powerful political entity and dissent (the voice of reason) was greeted with violence. Dissent is the operative word here.

      • Anonymous says:

        Cayman is clearly not exactly the same as 1938 Germany but are you absolutely sure that you are drawing the line in the right place? Even based on your own criteria, you might want to read up on the long history of violence and discrimination directed against gays in Caribbean countries and then consider whether elements within organised religion are in fact a comparable "powerful political entity". The behaviour of politicians and the inclusion of religious leaders who advocate against equal rights in Constitutional delegations might provide a hint .

      • Concerned Observer says:

        Perhaps, but the Nazis didn’t invent anti-semitism, they merely stoked it and then used it to their advantage.  They are unlikely to have garnered sufficient power or support to crush dissent had they not had the opportunity to express their wrong-headed ideas, to find other like-minded individuals to support them and to encourage anti-semitism amongst those looking for a scapegoat for their ills.

        Political entities are still made of people who have been convinced of ideas.

        Maybe you could argue that those people would have found each other anyway…but is that any justification for helping them to do it? 

        I am not saying quash dissent.  I’m saying quash prejudice (yes it is a form of dissent, but if we haven’t worked out by now how dangerous it can be, well it’s going to happen all over again).

    • Himmler says:

      Okay "Concerned Observer", you made a strong argument for censoring all the Caymanian Christians who post ignorant and mean comments about gay people on CNS. Is that really what you were going for?

      You need to understand that bigotry is in the eye of the beholder. For example, I have been called a bigot for challenging prejudiced people while promoting human rights and equality for all.

      I suspect you want the comments you find offensive to go away. What about the offensive comments you happen to agree with?

  20. Anonymous says:

    People don’t get it

    Freedom of Speech & Expression has consequences! The negative consequences are necessary for change! Yes I said it – IT IS NECESSARY FOR CHANGE! And when I say change, I mean POSITIVE CHANGE! For instance, one of the negatives of free speech is polarization (division). Speech that does not unify, but creates hate, racism, mistrust, et cetera. When such comments or remarks are made known to the public, there is opportunity to counteract such speech with allowing others as well to freely do so by free speech and expression. The hate, racism, mistrust, et cetera, eventually dissolves away by intellectual revelation and reason!

    Also, the said free speech, over time, becomes self-exposed as irrational and illusive by those who exercise their right to counteract it. Bob Marley passivity to violence, once sang, “Time will tell…” To those who were deceived by (what he believed at the time was lies), he furthered sang about them, “Think ya in heaven but ya livin in hell,” but “time alone will tell…” If most of all, you allow free speech to be, the negatives and positives of free speech, usually contribute to shaping society in a realistic and beneficial way. Whilst illusion is exposed, truth always triumphs. If you try to censor or persecute those who exercise free speech, truth and illusion becomes hidden, and society is stifled!

    Voltaire (real name François-Marie Arouet), who was one of the most celebrated writers of the 18th-century intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment. His tolerant religious and political beliefs were in sharp opposition to established views, and his biting commentaries twice led to his imprisonment, and eventually, to his exile to England. To his adversaries, Voltaire declared:"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Although he was the one censored for his freedom of expression, he upheld is democratic ideal. Free speech and expression that is negative and opposed, creates a positive energy that creates enlightenment!

    • Anonymous says:

      It sounds like a nice karmically balanced theory and it would be nice if it was true but there is no evidence that it is correct.

      BTW – the quote you atttribute to Voltaire was not actually penned by him but rather by a young woman writing about him at a much later date. The originaltexts are still available but for a start look here.



      • PQL says:

        Whether the quote is attributed to Voltaire, a young woman, or Sir Lancelot… that is nothing!


  21. Anonymous says:

    You are making too much sense! Unfortuneatley CNS is fast becoming unreadable to those of us who consider ourselves reasonable and rationale people.  It appears the voices of the extremists (mostly political party fanatics) have taken over and those who could make a sensible contribution are less likely to do so as it only gets lost in the mountain of garbage.

    • Free Will says:

      Now, some of us would consider this comment garbage and might say CNS should not have posted it. It is after all merely your opinion and does not add anything significantly to the arguments at hand. Plus it was boring and I want to be entertained if I’m not being informed.

      On the other hand, there are those of us who believe that, even though it is lacking of interest of any kind, and rather pompous if I might say so, that you should be able to have your say in a free and democratic society.

      Because if you start censoring based on whether a comment will satisfy the sensitivities of "reasonable and rationale people" such as yourself, you will end up with……. the Compass. And who on earth would want that!

  22. Himmler says:

    Sorry, free and open speech (at least the watered-down version we have here in Cayman) is inherently uncomfortable at times. It’s the nature of the beast. Cuba doesn’t have "uncomfortable" public speech but who wants to live in that mental prison? If Cayman wants to be some sort of a free society, we have to accept the expression of ideas that we disagree with.

    You wrote: " I am getting tired of sifting through an increasing amount of commentary which upsets me personally…"

    So what? You only want to read commentary that you agree with? If that’s the case, why bother reading? Just watch TV. If you don’t want to be upset, read the Caymanian Compass letters to the editor. Nothing in there is likely to upset you because it’s filtered and diluted to mind-numbing levels that make it safe for consumption without any risk of provoking reflection. The Compass opinion page may put you to sleep but it won’t shock or upset you. Go there if you don’t want to be shaken by words that do not conform to your views.

    I would encourage you to accept that there are many different views in Cayman. Embrace the variety of comments posted on CNS. Yes, it all looks a bit wild and rude at times, but that’s the beauty of it. CNS has given us the most free exchange of ideas in the Cayman Islands ever. You may view some of the comments here as crazy, wrong, even dangerous, but not reading them doesn’t make those ideas go away. Why do you seem to want to bury your head in the sand?

    I have read many comments on CNS that disappoint me, disgust me, and scare me. But never once did I feel that the people who posted them should be silenced. No matter how strongly I may disagree with them, they have as much right as I do to post their ideas.

    CNS has provided an invaluable service to this country by allowing the public to share their honest thoughts on many matters. Just because you may not have been aware of some of these thoughts doesn’t mean they do not exist in Cayman. These ideas have always been out there, they just never before had a place that welcomed them as CNS does.

    CNS is good for Cayman. It’s a tiny little outpost of free speech and we should all value it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Oh my… Is that Austin at it again? (asking for more censorship..)

    Itreated this ‘Viewpoint’ as I treat the prejudiced rants and xenophobes in the comment section of each article, skimmed and ignored.