August 25, 2009

Who's a Skanky Ho Now?

Ah. So Google finally threw down the gauntlet, and the first volley in stopping the slander and libelous behaviour we'd all assumed was just part of the fabulous world of the internet.

To recap: A delightful woman in New York City has been trolling around various websites, denouncing another delightful (Canadian) woman in New York City as a ho. And a skanky ho. And a whore. In case anyone missed her point, she (Rosemary Port) started a blog called "Skanks in NYC". Because Anne of Green Gables was taken, I guess.

Now the ho - sorry, model - has shot back. She (Liskula Cohen) made Google cough up the name of the bitch - sorry, blogger - who apparently thought she could remain anonymous.

What should your options be on the internet? I know where I firmly stand on the issue. If you couldn't print it a newspaper or magazine, or say it on TV, you shouldn't be able to post it on a website, anonymously. Period. You are not above laws that have been in place forever, and for very good reasons.

Peruse the comments sections of most of our major newspapers. Oh, my. How strident and witty are the cowards. The Globe and Mail has some absolute gems, as does the Star and everyone else. Over and over again, the same bunch of losers, posting away on subjects they have no original thought about, and in many cases, no clue either. All brazen and cocksure, throwing about insults and judgment from the comfort of their basements.

Is there not enough hatred in this world for some people? Do people not feel judged enough already, persecuted, marginalized, left out, left behind and beaten down? Are people really so desperate to feel mighty they will trash anyone, at anytime, with little or no insight?

Newspapers have long had a policy for their Letters to the Editor section. Letters must be verified, and signed. Names may be withheld on request on contentious issues, sometimes, but editors know the source. If it is important that you have your say, there are many ways you can go about it.

Now, what happens in most Editorial Sections is that letters are received, and sorted. Witless garbage is tossed. Roughly, most (okay, not all, but most notable) papers will run a letters page that reflects mail they receive. Volume against topic, and numbers of letters representative for or against. Now, on-line comment sites are far less rigid, hence the garbage that seeps in. If your Letter to the Editor has never, ever appeared in print, and you have written dozens, there is a reason: it is a waste of space, you are not only alone in your view but nor can you coherently express it, or the paper is kindly protecting you from a libel suit.

But when I read the comments sections of way too many websites, I weep for the future. Racist, sexist, misogynist, elitist, vile drivel. Mean. The internet was supposed to be a profound instrument of communication and information, instead of the sewage canal it has become. If you have nothing of value to add to an obviously inflammatory issue, why would you sit there like a jackass tossing gas onto it?

Ms. Post, what was your point? What is the upside, the value, the gain, in calling another woman a ho? Who is she to you, that you need to let the world know you think she's a skank? Call her whatever you want to her face. Maybe Hallmark even has a card ("To A Skank on Her 34th Birthday") that could say it for you.

My biggest fear, however, is not that people aren't minding their manners on the 'net. It's that they will become inured to what they are writing, or reading, and our level of discourse will sink to the level of a bunch of Neanderthals.

I was talking about bullies yesterday, and I was surprised to hear adults believe it was a childhood problem. Does anyone really not see that this is bullying taken to wondrous technological heights?

Name yourself anything you like in an ongoing forum. But the second you start slandering and libeling another, you had better be prepared to put your name behind it. Otherwise, your opinion is worth what you are - zip.


Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...




I wish I had a second to address this. My wife and I were speaking on this exact topic last week. You are so right about this it makes my head hurt... Or my bum queezy, as my youngest likes to say.

I have to run but I want to talk about this some more.

August 25, 2009 6:08 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

The TO Star had a bit more detail on this spat in today's paper. The mud slinging aspect of journalism has a long, sordid and profitable history. How many articles have been published for the sole benefit of generating exasperated responses in an effort to convince people their paper is read? No matter how many times National Inquirer prints calumnies and gets sued, they still do it. This blog spat, however, is on a one to one level and really dumb. The web technology is good, how people use it is another story. The exact same problem I have with religion and politics.

August 26, 2009 2:17 PM  

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