Media Nixing Comments Sections

SellwynThumbby Selwyn Duke11/9/15
When “Civility” Really Means “Political Correctness”  •  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!

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!”

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?

Political correctness.

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.

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.”

But as they might write in comments sections:

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments criticism on this politically correct article.”

Ftfy.

Because that’s what it really means. Under such pieces — especially when Drudge links to them — you can expect comments to run 15 or 20 to 1 against the article’s narrative. So the site won’t accept comments “currently” — or later or ever. For such complete commenter repudiation of the content turns a would-be brainwasher into an “is” laughingstock. It’s not virginal eyes that might be offended by commenter incivility that the media worry about, you see, but naïve eyes that could be opened by commenter insightfulness.

Then there’s the threat to political correctness itself. It is the leftist media’s preferred social code, and they want us to assume it’s everyone’s preference. But comments sections replete with politically incorrect postings (the good, the bad and the ugly) prove that pcness is much like the old Soviet Union’s state ideology: most everyone fears the ideological machinery of the powers-that-be — but relatively few truly subscribe to the ideology itself.

In a way, the shutting down of comments sections is akin to quelling street demonstrations. There’s strength in numbers, and these sections are virtual demonstrations where citizens can come together and speak truth to power; they enable people to join a phalanx of philosophical soul mates. Instead of asking, “Am I alone in thinking this article is bunk?” you can know that millions stand with you. But it serves the mainstream media’s agenda if you think you’re alone.

The AFP article also mentions how forcing people to post comments under their real names, as Facebook does, encourages “civility.” Many leftists love this idea, but it’s more rank hypocrisy. It’s easy to feign principle and bloviate about how people should be man enough to take ownership of their opinions when yours are politically correct. But we live in a time when ex-CEO Brendan Eich was forced to resign from Mozilla Corporation for supporting marriage, a real-estate agent was fired for complaining about the flying of a foreign flag on U.S. soil, and pizza-shop owners were forced into hiding by death threats merely for saying they wouldn’t cater a faux wedding. We live in a time in which treason is the elitist norm. So why do some liberals favor the elimination of Internet anonymity? Well, how else can you know whom to persecute?

Having said this, true Internet incivility is a problem. I’ve often lamented the profanity rife on the Web (kids sometimes see these things, you know), a phenomenon that just further coarsens society. But that’s not mainly what Leftists complain about when sanctimoniously speaking of “incivility”; in fact, they’re the very ones who mainstreamed profanity (unfortunately, too many conservatives follow their lead), as Hollywood movies attest. Yet their lying tongues are far worse than their dirty mouths. For the worst kind of incivility is insincerity in discourse.

William F. Buckley once observed, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” This is the main reason Internet comments sections may shock and offend liberals. They like their echo chambers and don’t want to hear other views. It’s “out of sight, out of mind.” And because they want to control minds, they don’t want you to hear other views, either.


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16 Responses to Media Nixing Comments Sections

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Just another reminder that liberalism is a form of fascism.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      There was an article the other day, Timothy, over at Evolution News and Views explaining why they don’t have a comment section. I thought all of the excuses were lame. You could certainly easily enough find volunteers to moderate the comments section. And I do agree that some level of moderation is a necessary function. Without it, it becomes analogous to the one bully or misfit in a schoolroom who ruins the opportunity for everyone else to learn and interact.

      The general thrust of this site has been to move people from the peanut gallery to the main show. The media (left and right) is either corrupt or lame. People have good common-sense things to say. They need to step up into prime time and say them instead of just being one of the nattering nabobs in the comments section (where I spend most of my time these days..oh well, the best of intentions and all that).

      One thing I’ve learned about being on the internet is that many people are just batshit-crazy. And any site that wishes to rise above the level of the sewer has to have a way to handle this wisely. Too hard a hand, and you squeeze at all spontaneity and life out of a discussion. Too soft and you empower the professional bed-wetters and trolls whose only purpose is to use other people to salve their own inner demons (trying to make them as miserable as they are is typical).

      The reason Evolution News and Views does not allow comments is because they don’t want to take the time to moderate comments. There could be a bit of ideological blinkeredness in that as well, for the entire field of intelligent design is broad but extremely thin: Without a specific designer to point to, as well as his methods, there is not much more to say than a general “It was designed” which is little better than “It evolved.”

      Of course, the censorship by the Left is a little different. This is indeed an attempt to shape the narrative. And it is catering to a mindset that is like those three monkeys. They have been so long in the bubble that they cannot bear to hear any evil, or see any evil (but they will, of course, be glad to speak it).

  2. David Ray says:

    For some reason, this article reminds me of that fountain head of maturity named Natalie Maimes. She showed up wearing “FUTK” on her shirt. How inspiring.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    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.

    Part of what keeps me returning to NRO is to see that dichotomy between what the professional Establishment pundits say and what the commenters say. I at least give NRO credit for allowing comments. But because the commenters so typically completely undress the paid “professionals,” it gets a bit embarrassing at times. You’d think they’d either put the kibosh on the comments or up their game.

    Let me take this as an opportunity to urge one and all to drop some money via the PayPal button in the very lower right corner of the site. What price is there for the integrity of real commentary unfiltered by political correctness? Where else can you get this?

    Okay, that was a bit of a self-serving plea. But it’s still true. Great article, Selwyn (who gives it to us for free…what a guy).

  4. This article is so spot on. Facebook is the perfect example. I flood my page with conservative news article (how else will my low information relatives and friends know what’s going on in the world?). Every once in a while, one of my liberal friends will make a non-factual comment under one of my articles or share it on their page and make the non-factual comment. That provides me the opportunity to respond with facts. So far, every time I respond with facts, they get angry and start attacking me. One friend shared one of my articles about Dr. Carson and the media bias on her page along with a liberal lie. I in turn, responded with facts and she went ballistics and told me not to come to her page with my right wing propaganda (although she never refuted my facts). She wanted to censor me from educating her leftwing friends.

  5. David Ray says:

    I remember Tim Lane schooling half-wits on NRO. Turns out that the real half-wits were the censors that blindly shot down “inapproarpriate posts” all too often.

    Trust me. Many of us here also learned, that NRO censors use a 10 gauge sawed-off . . . just not sure why.
    Nice/painful to have confirmed that NRO’s ethics are shared by many liberal sites also.

  6. Rosalys says:

    I left one comment on a liberal website in an attempt to give voice the other side of the abortion debate. I tried my best to be rational, non-emotional, and pleasant in a “let’s just have a conversation about this” way. After all, the left is always telling us that we need to have a conversation about this or that. What ensued was a barrage of some of the most vile invective of the

    “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!!!!!!”

    sort. All these “conversation seekers” don’t want conversation. They don’t want dialogue. They don’t want debate. They don’t want give and take. They want everyone who doesn’t agree with them 100% to, “Shut the F*** up!”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWHgUE9AD4s

  7. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Unlike others who I have listened to, on and since election night, this reporter seems to get it. He lays out the problem with the MSM, but does not appear to be very optimistic that it can be remedied.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-the-unbearable-smugness-of-the-press-presidential-election-2016/

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I like these parts:

      But much of that starts from the assumption that Trump voters are backward, and that it’s our duty to catalogue and ultimately reverse that backwardness. What can we do to get these people to stop worshiping their false god and accept our gospel?s

      And…

      Journalists exist primarily in a world where people can get shouted down and disappear, which informs our attitudes toward all disagreement.

      And ratifying my belief that we on the right need to get out of our own bubble:

      As a direct result, we get it wrong with greater frequency. Out on the road, we forget to ask the right questions. We can’t even imagine the right question.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Insularity leads to groupthink, and it’s a danger for conservatives as well as liberals. Of course, liberals tend to be collectivist, in which case groupthink is in fact a defining characteristic.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Another observation, Mr. Kung. Although I’m no fan of the liberal media, there’s something to be said for the Progressive vision of man as being refined, polite, peaceful, tolerant, and kind. (We know that these are some of the crummiest, most cruel people in existence. But I’m talking about their heady vision.) When I read the comments sections of any article regarding Trump, it’s shocking how knuckle-dragging the vocal Trump supporters are.

      I don’t suppose that all Trump supporters are like this. But the more vocal ones seem to be. They, of course, did not win the presidency. Trump did. So he can chart his own destiny apart from his belligerent peanut gallery if he so wishes.

      But it’s hard not to sympathize with, or at least understand, some of the smugness of The Nice People® in the liberal media. Many Trump supporters are not a walking advertisement for The New Man that the Left envisions. They have long made fun of everyone on the right in the same way. But if we’re honest, I think Trump supporters give them a lot of ammunition. And the coming weeks and months. Well, the party has just started.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        it’s shocking how knuckle-dragging the vocal Trump supporters are.

        Too true! I try to comfort myself that they are more representative of the type one encounters more often on the than in the rest of the population.

  8. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    It takes a foreign journalist to see the White House Press Corps for what it is. He then comes up with a very good suggestion as to what should be done with this group.

    http://www.atimes.com/time-sack-white-house-press-corp/

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Very nice article, and all too accurate (at least as a description of “journalism” today). I doubt we’ll actually see the Washington propaganda corps removed from the White House. But he can call them out (as I do when I routinely refer to them as newsliars). Treat them with contempt. They can’t slant their coverage any more than they already do.

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