Sunday, March 14, 2010

I will NOT read the comments page. I will NOT read the comments page (I mean it this time) I will NOT read the comments page...

I just read the comments page on the Globe and Mail re: McIvor. I have promised myself, time and again that I will NOT READ THE COMMENTS SECTION ON ANY FIRST NATIONS STORY. It's like a cast call for ignoramuses, red-necks and losers (and certainly from what I can see the groups are by no means mutually exclusive).

I usually get upset enough to post something back. Admittedly my responses are angry and pointed, but I believe they fall far short of the abusive, racist comments that I am responding too. Yet, my comments are usually reported and removed within an hour, while far worse ones are allowed to remain, uncensored, under the guise of political opinion.

But I am not writing this because I hoped to win a prize for being the biggest prick on the comment page. There’s a bigger issue here. The comment pages have completely opened my eyes and changed my world view about racism in Canada.

I believed that racism was waning in Canada. I didn't think we'd eradicated it, by any means. (Certainly we have racists in Indian country as well.) But I really believed that racists, having failed to adapt their thinking to globalization and an increasingly cuturally mosaic, mutually dependant world, were a dying breed condemned to extinction in ironic blaze of social Darwinism.

Comment pages have convinced me I was naïve and wrong.

People who are deeply racist seem to have the smarts to lower their voices and self-censor their words when their bare faces are showing in public with names and identity attached. That’s why we don’t know they are out there.

But given anonymity and a chat room, they find each other and pool their hatred. They help each other reinforce stereotypes, and spend hours, even whole weekends building ‘house of cards’ arguments, like it’s an addiction. In fact, as they cheer each other on with reply posts “thumbs ups” they seem gleeful.

This community of people whose happy past time is hating me, my family, and my friends are not, as I once hoped, fading from existence. Their way of thinking is old and may be a poor fit for the global community, but they have managed to modernize and revolutionize hatred.

At one time this community would have covered their faces with white sheets, today a computer, a pseudonym, and a lenient webpage moderator does the trick. And their message is reaching a wider audience than in those bad old days, or even the late 80s when racists were segregated onto websites where normal folks would never hang out, like Heritage Front and White Pride. Comment pages have allowed them to crawl from the darker corners of the web, back into the mainstream with absolutely no risk to their day jobs.

So lately, whenever I am buying lettuce, or choosing a seat on a bus, I wonder – could that be “Saskatchewan River Pirate" by the tomatoes? Is that dude in the window seat giving me the stink-eye "Joe Technicality"?

While I’m munching buttered popcorn at the movies, I pause to wonder if the guy sitting next to me is fantasizing about kicking my pink half-breed ass. Did the clerk who sold me those red pumps wish she could give me a piece of her mind when I asked for PST exemption? Is my mailman pausing to spell-check prairie n****r before he hits the “publish” button?

I wish comment pages had never been invented. I was happier when I blissfully ignorant. I swear.. and I mean it this time… I am not reading them anymore.

PS, if you came to this site looking for an update on McIvor/Indian Status, Click Here



Anonymous said...

Yes, it gives legitimacy to the nut bars who 30 years ago wouldn't date voice such outrageous opinions out loud, knowing that anyone around them would be shocked.

However, we have entered an age where harsh opinions masquerade as IQ or analysis, and anonymity emboldens to the point that the outrageous becomes seen enough to lose its shock value and starts to become matter of fact.

I too today have resolved that next week, no more comments sections. Instead, I will read and listen to things that make me feel good about myself and my country. Michael Enright did that this morning on CBC radio, made me feel good about myself and my place in Canada.

Ward of the State said...

Hi anon, thanks of posting. Good point about harsh opinions masquerading as analysis... so so true.

PS what was the Michael Enright piece?

Anonymous said...

Micheal was just talking with interesting Canadians of all stripes on his way across Canada on the train...

Ward of the State said...

Awesome anon, TY for sharing. I could use a little pick me up, and feel good storytelling.

mgoogoo said...

This was a great blog post and pretty much sums up how I feel about the comments section on news stories about Aboriginal people/issues. I tweeted the post @RadioGoogoo.

So when will Crazy Bitches R Us start a twitter feed to promote your posts?

Ward of the State said...

Why thank you mgoogoo. And welcome back to our humble blog. While I have often thought of tweeting, I am afraid that on a day-to-day basis my life is just not twitter worthy. Most of it would just be: I have bad gas, or there appears to be new hairs growing out of my mole. For now I spare the world my tweets and am convinced the world is responding with gratitude. But I do appreciate that folks who have interesting things to say, occasionally find that what I have to say is interesting. So thanks for twittering on behalf of crazy bitches r us.

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