Do they? Isn’t that what they’re here for?
I imagine I haven’t been paying close enough attention to the more contentious threads lately. I saw how the GG discussions attracted plenty of drive-by trolls and such. But when it comes to creating our own threads to discuss such contentious topics, well, we knew the job was dangerous when we took it. Certain discussions will attract hornets, and if liberal use of flags doesn’t clean house quickly enough, one alternative would be to not have those discussions at all. That’s obviously not a good solution, but the one you propose might have worse unforeseen consequences. People who start threads, if they are given the power to unilaterally censor posts, will almost inevitably abuse such power. Some schmuck who doesn’t like a particular turn of opinion might nuke a post for being what he, the schmuck, calls “off-topic” but what other readers might consider “contrary to OP’s opinion.”
The Dragon often reminds us to Stay On Topic when it matters, and that beast also has a great sense of when it doesn’t matter, and lets certain discussions range all over the place, which might irritate the OP but which might entertain the hell out of every other participant. There’s an element of taking one’s ball and going home that arises if an OP is given veto power over a discussion on a BBS that does not actually belong to the OP. If one of the BoingBoing editors wants to run their threads that way, that’s their business, since they pay the hosting bills. But the rest of us, I submit, are nothing more than guests of equal standing, stooges all. If somebody’s a dick in a thread I start, or hijacks it far OT, then I’ll get to flaggin’. That’s what the flags are for.