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The Things “They” Say.

Ray Charles – It Ain’t Easy Being Green

I’ve long held the comment sections of online newspapers as the cesspools of society. I’ve never made any attempt at stating otherwise. If someone walked into your office, home, or wherever and put a gun to your head and commanded you find a dumba** or get domed, the first place you should look is in the comment section of your local paper’s website. The misogyny, racism, and a lack of couth that borders on anemic levels all have a home in the comment section and it is not for the easily offended or thin-skinned.

To be honest I seldom read my local paper, The Post & Courier anymore simply because it is poorly done. Outside of a few columnists that are likeable the stories are generally boring and sensationalized tales of crime or whatever Chucktown has to offer that day. (Not to mention the paper has more misspellings and grammatical errors than a blog post written by moi.) Last Monday, during my lunch break I went to the website for some reason and saw a headline in the “breaking news” column saying a “West Ashley Gas Station was robbed”. After reading the story, which described the suspect to be a black man, I made the mistake of browsing the comments section and one of the first comments said the following from a commenter calling his or herself “blackcoffee”:

“Blacks are notorious for committing crimes.”

Another Carnegie Scholar of a commenter with the moniker “theHarold” chimed in with this gem:

“And they wonder why we can’t trust them or respect them as a minority class.”

The final comment that left me a tad slack-jawed with this beauty:

“More NBS.”

Thanks to Google and some context heavy searches I found out that “NBS” is an acronym for “N***er Bullsh*t”.

This prompted me to do some digging over the next few days and I discovered more of the same types of intelligent discussion taking place. Stories involving SC’s only state sponsored HBCU, South Carolina State are immediately racially tinged responses. Anything that has to do with Governor Nikki Haley (R), who is Indian, is met with both racist and misogynist responses. In the case of the story about SC State one commenter who seemed to have something resembling couth pointed out that the Post & Courier’s headline was vastly different than the headlines from other newspapers around the two state area such as the Greenville News, the Charlotte Observer with the P &C’s story having a title the carried a much more negative connotation. Most of the time the pattern remained the same: One hateful comment is usually the gateway for others.

An unfortunate fact is that this sad phenomenon isn’t limited to your local fish wrapper. ESPN and just about every other website of note with high traffic and a comment section will show you many toned down versions of these comments. Some of the most banal discussions end up with responses tinged in ignorance. (If any of you have ever read Jemele Hill’s column you would know what I mean.) I’ve noticed one commonality in many of these rants; buzzwords. There are certain euphemisms that usually stick out when the ignorance is flowing from the finger tips of those who comment.

1. Thug – 90% of the time “thug” infers blackness. I’ve seen it applied to school kids and college football players. The bulk of the time it is directed at a black male.
2. They – This is a blanket term used to cover whoever needs to be covered. “That’s just how they are.” (They is often substituted for “those” or “you” people.)
3. Urban – Used in reference to black or African-American culture.
4. Obama – Okay that’s just rude.

Maybe I’m the only poor soul who has had the misfortune of expanding the comments section of the local newspaper or ESPN but I would rather have someone just call me a slur than dance around it with not so subtle or thinly-veiled buzz words. I understand people have the right to say what they want but at what point do newspapers actually begin to moderate comments? News organizations should conduct their business with a higher level of class no? Or are they after the page views? What I do know is that the comments cesspool is a place void of positivity on any level which is sad because sometimes you do read about good things happening in the news and sports.

Vaya con Dios.

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7 responses to “The Things “They” Say.

  1. NubianEmpress

    Damn yo. I’ve noticed the same thing 😦 I thought reading was supposed to make people smarter! lol.

  2. Yeah, I’ve had this experience in all kinds of comment sections. Hell, I remember reading all kinds of ignorance in a Oscar Grant article on CNN (and yes, “thug” was used all up in there). I don’t know what the solutions is though. The beauty of the internet is that you are essentially free to say what you want under the cover of anonymity. Unfortunately, ignorant people are offered the same right. Moderating comments is tricky business, especially at a large website that pulls in people from lots of different walks of life.

    • It’s the anonymity that empowers these folks. (My bad.) Zach Galifinakis said it best “I’ve always said that the internet was invented for shy people to be assholes. ” At least in the 50’s and 60’s when people would say a-hole type things they would do it on camera and own it. I agree with you about moderation but I think “reputable” news sources should have higher standards.

  3. i, too, at times read the comments section of some online news media piece. and it ALWAYS leaves me enraged. because there are ALWAYS multiple comments that spew ignorance and/or hate. SMH

    i cant say that i would rather just have some one call me some racial slur to my face and be done with it. whether its covert or overt racism or discrimination, it all means the same thing. and i dont like that shit either way.

    *sigh* now you got me fired up, Wu! dammit!

    • Somewhere in the darker, swampy parts of my mind I can appreciate someone having the stones to call me a moon cricket to my face in lieu of doing it via key stroke. won’t like at all but I’d kinda respect them an iota more. (I’m insane. Please do not follow my logic.)

      Put the torch and pitchfork down Gemmie. I had no designs on enraging anyone but the comments in the local paper even got to my aloof a**.

  4. Pingback: “Ours”, “Theirs”, Possessive Pronouns, Hate, and “You” | Up Here on Cloud 9

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