Jekyll and Hyde: Downright Nastiness Online

One reason I don’t usually bother battling in comments sections under articles are the many comments that are so terrible very few would actually speak that way while others were watching.  However, under the anonymity of the internet they either simply seek to push people’s buttons or they let their true selves be show.  Either way it’s quite disgusting.

Website comment boards bring out the inner vulgarian – LA Times

Despite its power to inform and connect people across cultures and time zones, the Internet all too often discourages, or coarsens, a healthy civic discussion.

By James Rainey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 31, 2008

The Washington Post published a smart, thorough takedown Wednesday of the baseless charge that Barack Obama spurned a visit with wounded troops because he couldn’t turn the trip into a public relations coup.

Reporters Michael D. Shear and Dan Balz showed that Obama never planned to take the media to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, putting the lie to charges from John McCain that the Democrat was on the prowl for a cheap photo op.

After reading the Post story online, I ventured to the adjoining public comment board to see how the public was receiving news about the bogus McCain attack. I shouldn’t have bothered.

This portion of the article aptly sums up all articles involving immigration as it does the article on Obama mentioned in this piece:

A few ventured toward rational discussion of Obama and his overseas travels, but the forum also overflowed with ignorance, profanity, impertinence and racism.

Sadly this kind of hatred and bigotry can be found all over the internet. Cafe Press, an innocent enough site allowing users to create and print their own artwork onto clothing and household items, has many racist offerings available including riding a Mexican instead of a horse, Uncle Sam urinating on Mexico and an illegal alien hunting permit. (Anti-Migrant Designs Available At Cafe Press)

The article goes on to give us some of the terrible comments from the article’s comments section:

It might have been Daman1, who described Obama as a backer of Kwanzaa and called the annual celebration of African heritage “a made-up holiday to celebrate the first time Dr. J dunked from the foul line.”

Or perhaps the top offender might have been Dianne72, who complained about “the ‘whitey’ rants of Michelle Shaniqua Obama. Doesn’t she realize that it was whitey’s affirmative action policies that got her where she is today?”

If the lowbrow, racist, bigoted and polarizing comments found on many of these message boards and comments section truly are the voice of the public then we’re really in trouble. Is there an intolerance hiding behind the masks of the public – one that they’ll never show coworkers or family members, but one they’re unafraid to show online where nobody can “see” them?

Just for fun here’s How to Fight Bad Karma on the Internet.

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One thought on “Jekyll and Hyde: Downright Nastiness Online

  1. I have read “Dianne72’s” comments on the Washington Post “Fix” blog before and they make me sick.

    I’m a White, Jewish, Panamanian man of Ashkenaz descent. I went to college and grad school in the states. I’ve tried a million times and in a million ways to explain a lot of anti-Latino racism in the US. But as there are so few Spanish-speakers on that site, my words are completely ignored.

    I’ve made the point that having framed the “immigration” debate as a “problem” to be solved instead of as an answer to a problem, all kinds of bigotry is flying around. Make no mistake about it, when they say “immigration reform,” it means “keep Central Americans out.” Now, I consider myself South American, and I think the US is crazy to be so hard on Latino immigrants because especially with regard to Mexican immigrants, the US is going to have a big problem when the purchasing power of Peso salaries on average exceed USD salaries and Mexicans will no longer want to come to the US.

    Because the US birthrate is not at replacement level, the US will be begging Mexicans sooner rather than later to come but by that time it will be too late.

    I’ve also tried to explain that I find the American usage of the word “HISPANICS” to be absurd. Though I look more Argentino or Chileno because of my European heritage I feel “Latino.” I also feel “Jewish.” How in Americans’ minds that makes me identical to a Guatemalteco from the interior is nuts. All Latin countries are different. It would be like saying an American and a New Zealander are the same.

    I’ve tried to explain that thought many immigrants come to the US for opportunity, it’s not like anyone wants to wash off the “stain” of being Latino. I neither want to live in the USA nor be American. I’ve explained to Dianne72 that in no way shape or form do I feel inferior to Americans. I’ve started 6 successful businesses and have spoken before the World Bank and IMF and have an degree in finance from a top-10 US university with honors. And compared to my parents, I’m kind of “pro-America” in certain ways.

    Down here we have signs sometimes in Spanish, English, Arabic, Hebrew and Mandarin. Who cares? I don’t like it particularly when Americans here don’t make an effort to learn Spanish but I woudln’t disqualify them from working because of that..

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