The company we keep

Love it or hate it, the commenting community at Joe.My.God is always lively. I don't automatically agree with everything said, but overall the commenters are smart, compassionate men and women I've enjoyed getting to know. A number of them are bloggers themselves and participating in the community has turned me on to some incredible writing (Hey Lynette!) as well.

Joe has gained a fair bit of celebrity, and along with that comes the pleasure of trolls commenting on his posts. They usually come from WingNutDaily or some other conservative christian blog, and they're always breathtakingly hateful. One such commenter earlier today finished his diatribe by stating that he was looking forward to a new strain of AIDS. You know, so we'd all die.

I had two thoughts after I read that. First, I love the fact that my blog audience is tiny, thoughtful, witty and well-mannered. And second, could wishing a disease on someone as an insult be any more lame? I've insulted a few people in my day (it's rare, but not unheard of), but never once did it occur to me to say something like "I can't wait for you to contract an inoperable tumor, or a never-before-seen variety of liver cancer!"

Later in the day, a new name popped up in the comments during a verbal evisceration of Michelle Malkin. Let me note that I did not take part in the ritual because I don't really know much about Ms. Malkin (apparently she's just dreadful!), and because the original post linked to the Live Puppy Cam. (I'm watching it while I'm writing this, one of them just peed. On the pee pad. Good Puppy!)

The new commenter, who to his credit was not anonymous, and linked to his own blog (which I looked at briefly, he thinks Obama is a communist) said the following:

"Look, I will do you all a favor. This is obviously a blog where no one outside of your coffee klatsch is welcome. I will depart. May I suggest that you tone down the vitrol please? You want people like Michelle Malkin to stop writing about Gay hate, stop it here. Prove it to the outside world. Peaceful demonstrations, not interrupting church services and going after people who donated to Prop 8. Keep it civil, keep it peaceful and maybe people will listen. Give them fists and profanities and they will hit back and hit back hard. There is a blog I regularly comment on. It is liberal and the Blogmaster if you will is gay and has been to many PEACEFUL, NON VIOLENT demonstrations."

Then he gave the link, signed off with "peace," and was immediatly lambasted by the fast-typing, foul-mouthed homos that are the JMG regulars. God love them.

I thought about it all afternoon, and reread his comment a number of times, and I'm just not sure what to make of it. I do have to give him props for not hiding. And more credit for what, on the surface at least, seems to be an effort to add something to the conversation, especially when he'd have to know he'd be the minority viewpoint standing squarely in hostile territory.

But telling us to tone down the vitriol? (note I spelled it right) You really should know your audience before you start making those suggestions. Then I get to the part about gay hate (we have our own now!) and it starts to sound like blaming the victim. The comment about interrupting church services I actually agree with. (That stunt pulled by Bash Back was just stupid. Don't give ammo to the enemy!) As for Prop 8, using the donor list doesn't strike me as much different from the boycotts the evangelicals have been staging for years. Let's all put our mouths where our money is.

But then he says "Keep it civil." And if you read my big Prop 8 post you know how that pisses me off. It's like saying "you be good gays, quiet gays, and maybe we'll think about easing up on the denial of rights thing..." I'll point out here that we really shouldn't have to ask for any of this.

Then there's his follow-up warning that our foes will "hit back hard," which seems to suggest we should be fearful (we're not). And he closes by telling us that he's a reasonable conservative. Why, he's even a regular commenter on a liberal blog run by a gay dude! Who demonstrates peacefully!

I'm stumped. Who would I rather have a conversation with, those who's opinions and beliefs fall somewhere near my own, or someone with whom I'm bound to disagree on almost everything? Does a discourse between opposing viewpoints educate both sides, or are the sides so far apart that in this battle at least, there's little chance of finding middle ground?


Anonymous said...

David, great insight, this is something I post about often and am as perplexed as you. I read JMG and think it is a great site but some of the comments leave me ashamed. As a straight woman I don't appreciate all of the misogynist language used regularly. I don't think gays should tone it down but criticizing people like Michelle Malkin, who is dreadful but has a right to speak as well, doesn't help or move the discussion forward. It just turns it into a shouting match. Religion needs to be taken out of this issue. This is a civil rights issue and nothing else. If I were in charge of the movement I would suggest that everyone ignore the religious nuts and work on the legal aspect of things. Sorry, I have not had enough coffee yet so I am blabbering on incoherently.

anyway that is my two cents worth

Anonymous said...

Need to add that having this guy comment is really a good thing. Otherwise it's just preaching to the choir and that doesn't move things forward either. Even if he doesn't 'get it' yet he is at least willing to listen and that is a start.

Russ Manley said...

We have a lot of educating and outreach to do to reach fair-minded people; but nothing's going to change people who have their minds already locked up tight. I remember the segregated South of my childhood, and how the grownups all resented the civil rights movement. Only the change in the laws finally changed their way of thinking, when they had to go along with the idea of equality.

BTW David, haven't looked at your blog in a while, its been a busy time for me. Looking good, man, all the great posts and love the Paris pics, y'all must have had a fantastic time!

Anonymous said...

David, I tagged you with a meme. You can find it on my other blog at
Happy Thanksgiving! Jen