Yesterday a message appeared on the Armed Guard message board raising a topic that could easily have been taken as contentious and controversial, having to do with U.S. foreign or military policy. Some of you saw and read the posting, none had replied.
I have reluctantly decided to remove that message. Other than the rare spam posting, or a couple of times in response to the request of the author of a posting, this is the first time I have removed a message from the board.
Here’s why. In the six years since I became Webmaster, and I suspect for all the preceding years while Tom Bowerman was Webmaster, postings to the message board have focused broadly on naval and merchant marine history, and specifically on the Armed Guard and the merchant marine of World War II. Some of the posting have been serious and sober, even tragic, others have been light-hearted, amusing and downright hilarious. Questions have been asked and often expertly and thoughtfully answered; some have gone unanswered. Most postings were made in a neutral tone. In my experience, all of the interactions between those making posts and those responding to them have been cordial, friendly and welcoming.
My fear in this case was that the topic, especially if answers had been posted, could have developed into a discussion that negatively affected that cordiality and friendliness. If one wants to argue politics, foreign and military policy, religion, social issues or a multitude of other provocative matters, there is a host of message boards and forums that specialize in those topics. Just be sure to wear your body armor and your flame-proof suits. I don't want the Armed Guard message board to become that kind of place, nor do I wish to become a heavy-handed moderator making judgments on the suitability of messages.
I harbor no ill will to the original poster of the message, which I believe was posted in good faith, and I encourage him to continue posting on other topics. He is one of us in background and experience.
Let's keep the message board the way it has been and the way I believe Tom would have wished it to be: a hospitable place where we can courteously discuss matters of interest to Armed Guard and merchant marine veterans, family members, and others sharing the same interests.
Ron Carlson, Webmaster
Armed Guard / Merchant Marine website