Whenever Civil Beat publishes an article about pesticides, supporters and opponents of pesticide use do not hesitate to air their views.

It’s a topic — like, say, Honolulu rail or President Trump — where there is little (if any) common ground.

For pesticides, the arguments boil down to whether or not they are safe for humans and the environment.

This week and last, we published two Community Voice opinion pieces on pesticides that were effectively point-counterpoint: Shayne Stambler’s Why Is Roundup Still Used in Hawaii? and Michelle Starke’s Here’s Why Roundup Is Still Used In Hawaii.

Hoo, boy.

The reactions of some readers to the first opinion piece forced us to shut down the comments section, because it was getting out of hand.

“Why are you not going after cigarette bans and marijuana bans?” asked one commenter.

Some readers reacted to the second piece by expressing their strong disapproval for our having published it at all.

“You have lost credibility with me by publishing such an article,” one person emailed, equating us with being a mouthpiece for Monsanto because the author works for the company.

“I am very saddened to see you publish a story from such a biased and corporate opinion,” wrote another. “Perhaps I’m missing something on the mission of your organization and while I’m open to and eager to learn its extremely disappointing to feel like a big corporate company such as Monsanto is able to use your organization to promote themselves.”

This seems like a good time to remind people that the mission of Civil Beat is to promote civil discussion in issues of importance to Hawaii. No one can argue that — no matter which side you’re on — that sustainable agriculture and the environmental and public health risks associated with growing our own food are very important topics here.

As the editor who coordinates Community Voices, let me be clear: Civil Beat is not endorsing any position. We save advocacy for our editorials, which I also coordinate.

Since we do not have a letters-to-the-editor section, and because the opportunity for citizens to submit their opinion pieces to newspapers is diminishing, Civil Beat thinks it is important to offer such a space on our website.

Civil Beat was founded with the idea of being a virtual town square, a place where people can learn about and consider diverse views. It’s not an echo chamber for what Civil Beat editors think.

As the blurb that runs at the end of each Community Voice explains, the aim is to “encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest.”

As such, we only provide light copy editing and minor fact-checking. We also reject submissions if we deem them inappropriate or inarticulate.

And, while some Community Voices may push the envelope, it is not a forum for fabrication. Please don’t send us your views on how the Earth is flat or how Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Also, please keep in mind that we can only run so many Community Voices on the same topic. Trump and rail come immediately to mind. Same goes for the so-called “Button Pusher” who sent out the false missile alert last month.

Behind the Story” is a regular part of our news literacy initiative, “Understanding The News.”

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