As I sit before Shabbat listening to the media and commentators rush to judgment that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is innocent almost as fast as they rushed to judgment that he was guilty when he was arrested back in May, I thought I’d check in for a bit.
I’ve been getting to know some of you better in the capacity of my new responsibilities as web editor, moderating comments that are posted to our stories, blogs, op-eds and other content. I am impressed by the generally thoughtful nature of most of the commenters, both named and anonymous, who agree or disagree gracefully.
But just as in society outside the internet, an angry minority strives to make itself heard. There are frequent comments dealing with a reader’s interpretation of who is a Jew, and in some cases, even who is a human, and some slight deviation in a writer’s political perspective from a reader’s political worldview can lead to anachronistic red-baiting, which always makes me think of Archie Bunker decrying liberals as commies and pinkos.
You will, of course, read none of these, as our clearly stated policy rules out personal attacks and/or comments that add nothing but vitriol to the discourse.
The vitriol isn’t surprising in an age where political commentators use obscene euphemisms to attack the president, and a best-selling book gives voice to what used to be the quiet expletive refrain of tired and frustrated parents trying to get their kids to sleep.
A newspaper and it’s web site are supposed to be a public square for discourse and the letters page and comments space the voice of the people, but whatever hostility people feel pressed to vent only gets amplified by the anonymity of a keyboard.
Can’t we all get along? Or at a minimum disagree on a high school level rather than junior high? I think we can, but what do I know? I’m just another pinko.