An issue came up recently concerning whether or not we should allow a member to point out, in our forums, the felony conviction of a leader of a conservation organization. I have considered this question and before I address it I need to apologize for not anticipating this issue in our forum rules, and forcing our moderators to interpret the rules, a position I did not intend to put them in. For me the worst time to make rules is in the context of an event. But it is what it is, and I need to deal with it.
In the end it is not about our ability to forgive, or the offender’s efforts at restoration, or about the relevance of the crime to the job the person now holds. It’s about the public trust. The leaders of these organizations are public figures, and they should be held to the highest standards of personal and professional conduct. While it is unfortunate that some organizations have failed to establish such standards for their leadership team, and have therefore subjected their officers to additional public scrutiny and disgrace, that problem is theirs to sort out. Had that been properly handled, we would not now be in a position of having to decide what we will and will not allow. We can’t fix those organizations, but we can decide how we will respond.
From here forward, this site will allow the words “convicted felon” (or variations thereof) to be used in reference to members of the leadership structure of conservation / advocacy groups who are acting on behalf of their membership or members of the general public, provided that the person is in fact a convicted felon. If the person has filed a Certificate of Rehabilitation and if his criminal record is expunged, we will not allow their former record to be publicly exposed. In no case will we allow the details of the crime(s) to be posted, including the type of crime, police blotter reports, or other similar details.
We will not allow similar comments to be made about our general membership, business owners, or other members who are not members of the leadership teams of these groups. In this respect, we are keeping the topic focused on ideas, not on individuals. The idea being discussed in such threads is the notion of whether such a person should be allowed to lead a sportsman’s organization. That topic sits squarely with the purposes of our forums.
On a personal note, I have built my entire life on the principles of forgiveness, and I take this very seriously. I have been personally forgiven of debts I could not pay, and have on many occasions been the recipient of unmerited favor. It is my hope that in cases of wrongdoing, forgiveness can be both sought and given, and that these organizations will raise their standards so they do not further embarrass their leadership candidates. On the other hand, we do need to hold our leadership to standards of excellence.