Community Post

Anonymous Hate Speech

I am writing to address a number of anonymous comments that I have read on this blog over the past several days. Namely comments made by ‘you are a racist’ or ‘wimpy Seattle liberal’ or ‘plaintruth’. My favorite post so far has been this gem written in response to a suggestion that it might not be cool to simply murder a young black mugger – “If you don’t let these youths rob, rape, and murder you, then you are a RACIST!!! Don’t fight back! Don’t defend yourself or your family! Roll over! Otherwise you are RACIST!!!!” Unfortunately, not all of the comments made under these three pseudonyms have been as tragically misguided (to the point of being comedic) as the one above. Some have taken a very hateful tone that I find dangerous.

Look, I have to be honest with everyone, it’s hard for me to reply to deranged racial rantings. I have spent most of my life laughing at these kinds of things and shrugging them off as I thought they were ridiculous. And there have been a lot of them — from ‘Cadillac driving welfare mothers’ to ‘Obama is a Muslim terrorist.’ But I am realizing now that turning a blind eye and deaf ear just doesn’t work. All these lies and all this hate and all this misinformation is damaging and needs to be repudiated at every turn. For every hate-filled, misinformed comment that is uttered, ten thoughtful, creative, informed responses need to be made in return.

Now, I have read on this website another reader state when referring to African Americans that “I want them dead” and they are a “demographic that commits the most violent crime in the entire world by an enormous order of magnitude.” I am not going to get into how unqualified and wrong this latter statement is. I will say, however, that it is unacceptable that posts such as these be made anonymously. Not only do they devalue members of our community but they are part of the ground swell – a beating of a drum – that leads to wholesale hatred and discrimination, or worse, of an entire people on account of the color of their skin. Let us be clear about what exactly has been said on this site by these individuals: “all black people must die because are they are the criminal element of our society.” Postings such as these must stop.

I am not calling for censorship, however. Instead, I am asking that everyone in this conversation have a face behind their voice. It’s hard to stand up to a bully if you don’t now who they are. If this were not a blog, but a coffee shop, we wouldn’t allow someone to enter the room with a sheet on their head and spew a bunch of racial hatred. I think if these individuals weren’t allowed to hide behind the anonymity of their posts, they wouldn’t find Seattle liberals so wimpy; I think they would be the receipts of some much deserved ridicule and scorn, and I think they would find an uprising of people ready and willing to tell them to stop.

And for the record, ‘you are a racist’ or ‘wimpy Seattle liberal’ or ‘plaintruth’ or whoever you are, if you live in a community such as ours where a very small minority of disadvantaged, misguided black youth are committing crimes and your solution is to kill them — this does, in fact, make you a racist. Now get a backbone and sign your name.

Nathaniel Buck

0 thoughts on “Anonymous Hate Speech

  1. This falls under trolling of the site, see:>

    And it’s a phenom that will simply always exist. The only solution really is to just ignore those comments instead of giving them a platform to speak by responding to them.

    There are many good reasons to have pseudo-anonymity on these forums, so I don’t think removing that is really tenable.

    CDN has a pretty decent comment rating system which largely solves this. If CDN wanted to get really fancy they could introduce the concept of ‘karma’ or the like so that consistently ill rated posters would rarely have their comments seen. But this just opens a whole new bag of worms with karma whoring, fake accounts and the like.

    The only real solution is to politely ignore these folks and down rate their posts. They have been around since the birth of the internet, and will be around forever more.

  2. Strange, but I don’t think I’ve seen any of these comments, so I assume they are being deleted. Good – that’s exactly the right thing to do.

    Other thriving online communities like Slog regularly delete troll droppings from the comments, and they are better places for it. Delete the trolls’ comments, and they’ll go away. Reply to the trolls, and you’ll only end up with more droppings.

    As for the concern about censorship, CDN is not the government, and no one is preventing these folks from exercising their 1st amendment rights in their own publication. Removing comments is more like bouncing a belligerent drunk from a bar than it is censorship.

  3. We want this to be a community-driven site, and that includes helping choose what is the good content and what is the bad stuff.

    So please use the 5-star rating and “report abuse” tools whenever you see something you feel strongly about either way. Good ratings help stories get noticed by us so that they make it to the front page. Good ratings on comments reward people for putting time and thought into what they write.

    Low ratings and the “report abuse” have a big effect too. There’s several levels – the first will hide comments so that people have to click on it to read it. A larger number of abuse reports will result in comments being deleted automatically.

    We generally delete very few things ourselves – we’d prefer for all of you to have a say and help deal with the trolls. But as others have mentioned, please don’t engage them in argument. Just use the ratings to express your opinion and they will eventually get booted off.

    Only registered users can use the ratings tools, so sign up for one if you want to participate:

  4. The links (sorry you’ll have to copy the wiki one as it did not seem to take) explain some stuff that works.

    While I find myself wanting to confront horrific statements because I do not want to participate in something that even has the appearance of a racist blog, and because there really are some evil and scary people out there, most of those people do not live here and are specifically trying to goad us.

    I think Scott does a great job of determining what is below the bar of acceptable behavior versus an honest difference. Honest differences can be discussed, with perceptions and mis-perceptions clarified. Most of us most of the time, use our login or part of our name so you know who we are. Even anonymous have email addresses, so Scott can tell if we are someone already known.

  5. Is there a way to give a comment 0/5 stars? I’ve seen some comments that looked like they must have been rated “0,” but I can’t seem to figure out how to do that. (I’m sure it’s something obvious… thanks.)

  6. Yes – the “report abuse” counts as votes, but with zero stars. So if you see a positive number of votes but no star indication, that means that people have been clicking the report-abuse link.

  7. Guilty as charged! I always let myself get goaded into a response. In fact it happened just five minutes ago. Well no more! You will get nothing from me trolls. I will simply vote you right off the island.. er … Blog.