You, sir, are an ass basket.

So. I’ve been bad at blogging lately, for a variety of reasons–allergies have totally knocked me out, I’m now the sole owner of my NetFlix account and bumped up to four movies at a time, and I’m back to 35 hours at work. I assume my modest readership isn’t too put out.

I have been reading a lot lately, though, so expect something about Nobody Passes and Whipping Girl soon.

In the meantime, though, I’ve been thinking about blog civility. After wading through ridiculous reviews of The Feminist Mystique for a paper, the Sig Fig asked me how I can handle reading comments on the various blogs I frequent. It’s a fair question; internet anonymity really lets loose the hounds of hell, and a lot of them seem to share my taste in blogs. But just as I was able to stomach conservative talk radio in high school, somehow I can stomach even the worst of blog commenters. (Although I don’t spend as much time yelling “YOU IDIOT! SHUT THE &%$# UP!” at my computer as I did at my radio.) Sometimes you just want to get really riled up. I truly believe that getting really, really angry can actually help clarify one’s own beliefs.

On the other hand, it does really bother me that so many people seem perfectly willing to be rude, threatening, and downright abusive online when they would probably never consider saying the same things face to face. I don’t want to say that these people are overwhelmingly conservative, because I mostly read progressive blogs; I’m sure there are some outstandingly rude liberals who frequent conservative blogs. Regardless, here are three of my least favorite commenter tactics:

1. “You misplaced a comma/used the wrong homonym/misspelled a word. Learn to fucking read, asshole.” Now, I admit that occasionally I run across a comment that is so poorly written as to be nearly indecipherable. But the bulk of comments that get criticized for grammatical or syntactical errors are usually full of pretty common mistakes, and it’s really rude to accuse someone of illiteracy just because s/he uses the wrong “their”or something. (Not to mention insensitive to the issue of actual literacy and learning issues.) And if a comment is generally understandable but has a few typos or whatever, responding only as the Grammar Police rather than to substantive points (or a lack thereof) stagnates discussion.

2. “You’re a total asshole, so I’m not even going to listen to you. Asshole.” Now, really, what does this accomplish, Mr. Pot? I absolutely think we should call people out for being racist, homophobic, misogynist, and on and on–but resorting to name-calling, rather than clearly spelling out why certain views are despicable, really only adds fuel to the fire. If someone already hates on women, for instance, having a woman call him an asshole is only going to confirm his belief that women are bitchy. I’m not trying to be a prude or anything, but insults without substantive criticisms attached are pretty useless.

3. “Apparently you ladies have learned nothing from the Duke lacrosse case.” This just happens to be the most salient example, but I see people pull this all the time with other incidents. “Ohmigod! I have this friend who really loves gangbangs. How can you say porn is demeaning and unrealistic?” “Ohmigod! I read an article about a Jewish country club. Racism is totally dead!” “Ohmigod! Giraffes! Bananas.” The third one I haven’t actually seen anywhere, but the first two seem pretty common. It’s a simple equation: Irrelevant or exceptional example + smug superiority = stop talking about this thing, because it makes me uncomfortable. Also, it’s just really annoying to keep bringing up Duke Lacrosse as some kind of shining example.

4 Responses to You, sir, are an ass basket.

  1. Em says:

    I truly believe that getting really, really angry can actually help clarify one’s own beliefs.

    I did this just yesterday. But I try to pick and choose my battles, b/c it’s simply not worth it to be really, really angry all the time. And if I read everything I had an inkling to read, I probably would be.

  2. alden says:

    what are people who bring up duke lacrosse trying to prove? “you know all that horrible, racist, misogynist stuff those lacrosse players are guilty of? well, a racist southern court system let them off the hook on rape charges! good enough for me!”

    is this their shining exampler, perhaps?
    ever see this email from one of the players, pre-party?
    “I’ve decided to have some strippers over and all are welcome. I plan on killing the bitches as the [sic] walk in and proceed to cut their skin off while cumming in my duke spandex.” (and that guy wasn’t even charged with anything. ever.)

    yes, i’d say any accusations against these fine specimens are clearly way out of line. just some fine, southern gentlemen railroaded by our out of control press.

  3. pandanose says:

    Ugh. Yeah, I’ve seen that email, lots of times. Often met by an “[eye roll] Oh, they were just really into American Psycho. You guys totally can’t take a joke.”

    I think the people who bring it up are totally willing to let the court system off the hook, and see it as Totally Infallible. Because, yknow, they got pronounced innocent. Now the judgment is used as shorthand for “You shouldn’t condemn racist, misogynist white guys until we’re absolutely totally sure they’re guilty. Which I bet they aren’t.”

    And Em- I hear you on that. It’s why I frequent more liberal blogs. If I read conservative stuff (or even mainstream news sources, frankly) I’d have a serious blood pressure problem.

  4. mo says:

    a tisket, a tasket, oh, ass baskets.

    i just looked at your blog for the first time. i have some catching up to do!

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