Like many newspapers across the state, the Idaho State Journal here in Pocatello has set up "blogs" for readers to comment on. The blogs are simply platforms where editorials and opinion pieces that have appeared or will appear in print go for an online community of readers to discuss them. The community of readers that choose to participate in the discussion are a dozen or so locals, a majority of which are extremely conservative in ideology and many lacking class. There is not a great deal of empathy being thrown about in these discussions and a general hatred of President Obama and liberals in general is quite obvious. However, it isn't the conservative dialogue that I find distressing, it is the blatant disregard for the truth and the unabashed ridicule lodged at various groups of people.
The reason these particular readers of the ISJ have caught my attention once again is this short exchange between three readers in response to an editorial penned by the Journal board about the Shoshone-Bannock tribes:
This exchange might have gone unnoticed if it weren't for the history of the Journal readers who participate in online discussions. The readers leave little room for opinions, political or otherwise, and people who do not mirror themselves. They abhor liberalism, President Obama, the Democratic Party, left-leaning columnists, and anyone who attempts to bring logic to the discussion. While a few of the readers will open the door of debate, some, like Eugene Sant, spew their lies and hatred without respect for opposite opinions and without so much as a warning from the powers that be that filth will not be tolerated. Mr. Sant's comments speak for themselves:
Sant has been spreading the same hate and lies since long before Obama was elected. He used to be a staple on the Letters to the Editor page. Some fool gave him a computer. And another fool, most likely inside the offices of the Journal, continues to allow Sant to participate without repercussion. There are no limits on his freedom of speech even when it crosses into the domain of hate speech.
Most writers consider their audience. Apparently, these readers that comment day in and day out on the ISJ blogs have very little concern with their audience. Recently, several of these readers went after the issue of branding racism on those who disagree with President Obama. Try finding logic in the following comments:
Do those who are not racist discuss the fact that President Obama's mother was white and his father black? Not outside the very simple discussion of his upbringing. Do those who are not racist mention the color of Obama's skin when they compile a list of his political decisions with which they disagree? I know I don't. Clearly Skezix is concerned with being permanently placed in a "bucket" with racists, but has no qualms with interacting regularly with them online.
The Mr. Sanders mentioned is an African-American man here in Pocatello who belongs to a family with deep historical roots in this community. He is a thoughtful, genuine fellow who was simply remarking on the fear that exists among so many in this country about Obama's race. Mr. Sanders was merely saying that he respects differing opinions, but would like to understand why those on the right cannot present honest, factual problems they find with President Obama's politics without resorting to fear-mongering and lies. Instead of presenting logical concerns with their president, these readers responded to Mr. Sanders by referring to Obama being "half-white" and Mr. Sanders and others as "people like you." Classy.
When will it end? Is there no line that these readers must stay on one side of or are they truly welcome by the Idaho State Journal to make whatever racist, hate-filled and dishonest comments they would like to?