I have been following Meghan’s recent posts on Tory fiscal malfeasance with great interest over at Somena Media (which is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs) and I got reading her discussion of dust-ups between her and Kate at Small Dead Animals. And that got me reading late into the evening on the right side of the blogosphere, something that I used to do but stopped.
And now I remember why I stopped.
I stopped because too many of the commentors and posters on the more popular of the sites resorted to ad hominem attacks as a first response to anyone posting a differing opinion. To be fair, it doesn’t happen everywhere, and it does happen on the left as well; Deb Frish being a recent and particularly vile example. In any case, I have bumped into it far more often in the right-wing blogs, and it has happened often enough that it turned me off and I simply couldn’t be bothered with the grief anymore. I’m here to learn and ask questions and discuss. (If anyone followed the discussion on the flag lowering issue that we had here and on many other blogs a few months back, you will note that I totally changed my opinion on the issue after lots of interesting discussions.) That is what I’m here for – education. If I can’t get it because a site is full of immature jerks that would rather insult people, then I just don’t feel the need to hang around.
And I see that Small Dead Animals hasn’t changed much at all.
Where exactly does this come from? This belief that I am right, that there is no possibility that I could not be right, and you are not only wrong, but also the lesser for it. And what’s more, you need to be told in no uncertain terms that not only are your ideas shit, but you as well are. Why exactly does this manifest itself so verdently on the internet? Maybe I should turn the question around. How is it that I can work and run with people that have radically different opinions on things political and religious than I, and we can have conversations over coffee about these very things without the words “asshat” or “stupid motherfucker” ever coming out? Is it because I’m too much of a coward in person to tell people what I really want to and that they should be called asshats?
Are these beligerent jerks on the internet in fact just me, but with balls?
Of course not. The reason the world works at all is not because of jerkwads like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, but in spite of them. Most people, even though they might disagree strenuously on some issues, can do so without insult or threat, hell, without even being rude. If this is the case, why must political discussions on blogs be so different?
Unfortunately, this kind of thing even happens on quiet little back-alley blogs like ours. When someone would rather tell me to get a brain instead of putting together a cogent argument simply because I disagree with them, it saddens me because it is another lost opportunity to learn, discuss, and have a bit of fun. I’d like to respond in a sensible manner, but crap like this makes it hard to do that because it gets my ass up. I don’t at all mind differences of opinion, hell I like it when others have different opinions than I – but I don’t expect or deserve to be insulted for the difference.
I haven’t felt the need to monitor or moderate the posts here and I really, really don’t want to. It’s not a time thing – the traffic is light enough that I’m sure it wouldn’t take very much effort, but I wouldn’t be able to access my email to perform the moderation during the daytime and I don’t want people to have to wait 12 hours or whatever to see their comments posted. It’s not fair and besides, I really would rather everyone felt free to say whatever is on their minds anyway. But what I will do from this point forward is delete any comments that include infantile attacks and/or insults that do not add to constructive criticism. I don’t mind bad language – I use it all the time, so wail away, but I would rather not see it directed at people and won’t let it sit too long on this site.
Even when I write it – which I have on a number of occasions.