Hetq.am, an Armenian investigative journalist website regarded as one of the most objective in the South Caucasus despite its often open support for the political opposition, has blocked all users from commenting on its articles citing constant usage of inappropriate language by some of its readers.

“Given that some individuals have continued to exploit the Comments Section for expressing personal vitriol and the use of foul language, rather than to advance true dialogue and debate,” explains Hetq.am on its website, “we are left with no recourse but to temporarily close it.”

Hetq’s move somewhat resonates with the now-lifted state of emergency in Armenia that the government issued following the March 1, 2008 violent clashes between opposition supporters and the police. The state of emergency at the time banned all media from reporting any political information other than statements provided by the authorities.

Hetq.am has also deleted all previous comments – all originally posted without moderation. Recalling some of the comments I read before they were deleted, I can understand why Hetq would get sick and tired of many intolerant, polarized, extremist and irrational comments made by supporters of both the opposition and the authorities.

One thing that Hetq.am could have done is moderation of comments – post those without inappropriate language and intolerance. This could provide some with the opportunity to rethink their usage of words. Given the enormous number of comments moderation might have been technically and practically impossible for Hetq to do. But what kind of message is Hetq delivering with entirely blocking the comments section?

I hope our colleagues at Hetq will come to share our approach to Armenia’s politics that social revolution will bring political reforms. Unless there is a social-cultural revolution in Armenia where people learn to say ‘Thank You’ and ‘Sorry’ to each other and until the roots of intolerance are eliminated, there is not going to be democracy in Armenia. And Hetq could support this movement by starting moderating the comments instead of blocking them all.