By Selwyn Duke — Bio and Archives November 9, 2015
When leftists start talking about “civility,” watch out for your freedom of speech. This again comes to mind with reports that some media outlets are eliminating online comments sections in civility’s name. And while it’s not a First Amendment violation (these are private-sector actions), it is largely motivated by the same mentality spawning speech codes on college campuses and “hate speech” laws overseas.
And as with those phenomena, the nixing of online comments is justified with noble-sounding sentiments. As the AFP recently reported, “Last month, Vice Media’s Motherboard news site turned off reader comments, saying ‘the scorched earth nature of comments sections just stifles real conversation.’ It instead began taking ‘letters to the editor’ to be screened by staff.”
That’s rich. What stifles conversation more than eliminating a comments section completely? As for “real conversation,” the content leftist media disgorge proves they haven’t the foggiest idea what that might be.
It’s also clear that some types of incivility are more unequal than others. Consider that the AFP also cites University of Houston communications professor Arthur Santana and writes, “‘Often the targets of the incivility are marginalized groups, including racial minorities,’ Santana said in the Newspaper Research Journal. Santana found readers referred to immigrants as ‘cockroaches, locusts, scumbags, rats, bums, buzzards, blood-sucking leeches, vermin, slime, dogs, brown invaders, wetbacks,’ among others.” Oh, the humanity!
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Now, I’m not sure Prof. Santana knows what a “marginalized” group is, but I invite him to visit some left-wing sites and peruse what’s posted about Christians, and traditionalists in general. And consider these comments from under a viral 2012 YouTube video featuring a cute 6-year-old boy providing 10 reasons not to vote for Barack Obama:
can someone kill that child… to teach his parents a lesson!!!!
Where is Jerry Sandusky when you really need him? This kid needs a shower!
If I could id kill this kid. He’s somewhat racist and brings up obama stereotypes. Dumb redneck.
This child and his parents need to be euthanized.
And here’s one I’ve had to clean up (as much as leftists’ messes can be):
“GO F*** YOUR MOTHER YOU LITTLE ****-SUCKING HOMOPHOBIC GUN LOVING ****-SUCKER IF YOU WERE MY F****** KID I WOULD BE GIVING THE BIGGEST S**T KICKING OF A LIFETIME YOU LITTLE GOOD GOD FEARING GOOD FOR F****** NOTHING F****** ****-SUCKER!!!!!!”
Funny thing, though, we didn’t hear about the pressing need to eliminate comments sections after displays such as the above, which aren’t unusual in the vile netherworld of leftist websites (the Left is governed by irrational emotion). It’s only now—in the midst of an anti-establishment revolution, as represented by support for Donald Trump and the anti-migration demonstrations in Europe—that we hear, “Oh my, Scarlet, the Internet is so full of meanies! Cover your virginal eyes!”
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Let’s be clear: This has little more to do with “civility” than Marxism has to do with improving the lot of “workers.” And while some sites claim that nasty comments sections alienate readers, the feature likely yields a net gain in traffic; after all, it does inspire return visits by those who do participate. So what does largely drive this “civility” concern?
It’s all about the media’s effort to control the narrative. Think about it: a reporter crafts his propaganda.
Then this is undermined by commenters saying that the emperor-media have no clothes.
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For example, a news piece may quote a few citizens talking about how Muslim migrants in Europe have fled danger and have to be accepted in compassion’s name. But then commenters not only point out that most are military-age males, weren’t actually imperiled, are Sharia-minded and have no intention of assimilating, but also exhibit great zeal while doing so, illustrating that the anti-media side has the facts and great passion. And the combination of ethos, logos and pathos is very powerful.
And here’s another example (these are random; countless others could be cited): an article will reflexively refer to, let’s say, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen as “far right.” This can be effective because what’s assumed is learned best.
That is, it can be effective unless commenters point out that she takes mostly statist positions and only distinguishes herself by opposing Muslim immigration. Then pop goes the agenda.
So the media shape a message and then commenters point out that it’s misshapen and shape another. The media report in one way and commenters provide a kind of counter-reportage. And this can be intense. Consequently, when I see an article in certain news organs about, for example, immigration or a black-on-white bias crime, I generally know to expect something such as the following message below it: “Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.”