Wednesday, December 16, 2009

G&M Shuts Down the Haters

Jane Taber ran a piece on the Globe & Mail website this afternoon about Scott Brison's Christmas card, which has a lovely picture of him with his husband and their dog:

Right below it you will find the following:

Comments have been disabled
Editor's Note: Comments have been closed due to an overwhelming number of hateful and homophobic remarks. We appreciate that readers want to discuss this issue, but we can't allow our site to become a platform for intolerance.

First, kudos to the Globe & Mail for not just shutting down the comments but for saying in no uncertain terms why they did it.

Second, this is an extreme example of something I've been noticing over the past six months or so: commenters on news sites are lunatics who simply cannot be reasoned with.

There used to be some semblance of rational discourse and debate on these things, similar to what you usually find on the 'real' blogs. But now the voices of reason have been completely drowned out by the haters, the fanatics, and the most intransigent of partisans all trying to shout each other down.

I used to think that posting the occasional sane comment on news sites somehow helped to balance the debate and maybe win some hearts and minds. But now I understand that doing so only encourages the bedlam, and I refuse to participate any more.

Consider this my early New Year's Resolution: I will no longer post comments to any newspaper or television news website.*

Let them have it.

*just for clarification, I am not including Maclean's in this boycott - at least not yet. It's a magazine, they have real bloggers over there, and the discourse hasn't quite descended to the 'pissing in the wind' level yet


  1. Thank you, Jennifer, for this publication. This is a very, very important issue, and I was discussing it today on another website. It is just as if you've red my mind!

  2. hi New Year's resolution is to try not to READ them. I find the Globe comments so disgusting sometimes I feel they drag down the whole newspaper, and make me physically ill. However what I take away from this incident is that homophobia is very much alive in Canada. Because as I said on my blog tonight, if the Globe had to shutdown their horrible comment section I can only imagine how awful they were...

  3. Two guys who say they love each other in a very G rated picture standing in a field with their dog... how ignorant must you be to get offended by something like that ?

  4. I'm with Simon. The comments section on major news media is where intelligence goes to die. Reading them is only useful if you have low blood pressure you need elevated.

    A good friend whom I consider much more temperate, thoughtful, and wise than myself recently told me "Every day I go to the Globe, or CBC, and look at the comments to find my @$$#013 of the Day."

    I asked why she didn't just go to the NatPo.
    "Well I need a challenge, fer god's sake!" she replied.

  5. Annonymity provided by the internet turns people into a**wipes.  It's a well known scientific fact. 

  6. I'm with you, and Jennifer too. No posting to the comments or reading them. It has all descending to the lowest common denominator.

  7. Wow.  Nice non sequitur.  Citation please?

  8. Pay no attention to my last comment - it was in response to boca being slippery again.  Time to spray the place down with "Troll-B-Gone" again...

  9. It's been a long time since I've read comments at newspapers.  Sometimes I glance with one eye closed.  Occasionally I feel still feel the need to support someone I know.  It is something I've thought about a lot though.  Is it anonymity that turns people into asswipes?  Or is it that all the asswipes feel they can comment anonymously with impunity?  Maybe a bit of both.

  10. I'm of two minds about this one:
    I don't bother reading the comments anymore because the section is generally hijacked by people of a certain political bent, and they aren't very articulate about it. This isn't new, a search of newspaper archives reveals well-known lobbyists have written letters to the editor expressing a political viewpoint without revealing their connection to a party. I suspect the less intelligent factions of the parties have picked up that habit and they don't have to present a reasoned response to get published. 
    Of course, I am also concerned with allowing comments on a blog to be reviewed for publication as it opens the door to  selective editorial censorship. 
    However, I do know the blogs I read and media outlets where I may review the comments have exactly that selection process: they want a good conversation to be part of the attraction of the site and not a turn-off. This is not a paltry concern - any publisher wants to attract a certain clientele and be able to market that audience to possible advertisers.