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Battle of the vile


Over at hughhewitt.com, Dean Barnett—the blogosphere's most consistently intelligent voice—poses a question that's been bothering him for quite some time: Why are so many blog comments so incredibly vile?

I think it’s because commenting on blogs allows a freedom that virtually no other form of communication offers. It’s a way of sending a primal scream out to the universe that goes completely unanswered.

One thing’s for sure – people who make vile comment on blogs feel uniquely uninhibited. Take those HuffPo comments we discussed yesterday regarding Tony Snow. I frankly doubt that the commenters who wished Snow a speedy death would feel comfortable uttering the same sentiment in literally any other forum. They wouldn’t dare make such a disgusting remark at their dinner table surrounded by their wife and children.

There’s a parallel track to these comments, and it’s the hate-mail that bloggers and other political writers receive. I don’t mean to brag, but I can count the truly vile messages that I’ve received in all the time I’ve been doing this on only one hand. Other bloggers claim to get many more such missives, and I take them at the word.

Why do I get so much less hate-mail? Surely it can’t all be because I’m so much more lovable than all other bloggers. Although, let’s be frank – that obviously has something to do with it. Just kidding. I think the explanation is because it’s pretty well known that not only do I read all my email, I respond to the vast majority of messages I receive. In other words, sending me an angry email isn’t a shout into the wilderness that will go unanswered. It will initiate a dialogue with another human being, a human being who may well answer the most obscene and offensive missives publicly.

I agree with Dean that the combination of anonymity and minimal likelihood of confrontation are the reason moral defectives tend to gravitate to comment boards.

I wonder, though, whether these people are even the sort inclinded to family mealtimes and thoughtful dinner table conversation. I picture these miscreants skulking back to some shabby studio apartment after a long day of downloading porn on their employer's dime. There, as they slurp a container of microwaved Ramen noodles, they spew forth the uncensored political fantasies of their deformed  imaginations.

If they had wives and children to feed and worry about, perhsps they wouldn't have either the time or inclination to delight in another human being's medical misfortunes.

Posted by Rodger on March 25, 2007 at 06:31 PM | Permalink


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