YESTERDAY we published a heartfelt letter from a nurse working in intensive care at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

She painted a picture of the huge pressure she and her colleagues were under, and demanded to know why anyone was still breaking coronavirus rules.

She also suggested that rules should be tougher, with police requiring people to give a valid reason for being out.

A huge number of our readers rushed to express their support for the nurse and her sentiments.

However we also had some attention-seeking comments.

Some suggested the whole piece was a kind of forgery, not really written by an ICU nurse; others lashed out at her, implying she was calling for a kind of surveillance state, and others who read her piece were then rude about her.

Some readers then got in touch with us to ask why we allowed these sorts of comment on our website.

The Oxford Mail has always allowed comments on our website, primarily in order to give our readers a forum to discuss the issues that affect them.

We don't endorse or condone any of the views shared, but we do aim to allow free speech where we can.

However in these sorry circumstances, the comments section also provides another service: it provides a space where people can share extreme views and test them against public opinion.

There will always be people in society who we disagree with – sometimes extremely – but we believe that suppressing people and silencing them is a dangerous road to go down.

On the contrary, we have complete faith (and many, many of our readers have already demonstrated this), that if people share extreme views or misleading information, then Oxford Mail readers will instantly recognise it for what it is, and call it out.

We don't silence people just for being wrong or stupid: we let them share their views so you can tell them what you think.