Old fashioned

About a year ago, I cancelled my subscription to my beloved Bangor Daily News. Heating oil was on the rise, it seemed prudent to cut corners anyway we could, and since BDN has a website where I could get my news for free, I figured that corner was an easy one to cut. Besides, I could pat myself on the back for being Green. Saving a tree or two. That sort of thing.

This week, however–trees be damned–I started my subscription back up again. Why?

“Reader comments.”

As a writer, I have very strong feelings about the First Amendment. Freedom of speech and all of that. But the bickering and flaming that goes on in too many of these articles’ comments sections makes me wonder whether or not some sort of intelligence test should be administered before allowing individuals to post. Or at the very least that there should be some sort of moderation on these pages.

What finally did me in was an article that was posted on Wednesday, August 13. Last weekend, a young man was stabbed and killed by his apparently mentally ill brother who “thought he and his brother were romantically involved with the same woman.” The article went on to describe how the woman in question, a nurse, tried unsuccessfully to revive her friend by using CPR. I don’t think most of us can begin to imagine what she, and the members of this family and their friends, could possibly be going through right now. And, it seems, many people don’t care, because it took about five minutes from the time this story was posted for the bullshit to start in the comments section; beginning with this gem from a New Yorker:

And here I’ve been thinking that the dating scene in Manhattan is desperate!

Um…rimshot? I mean, seriously, what the hell was this shithead thinking? Perhaps it’s because this is only the latest in a record setting year of domestic violence homicides in Maine that I’m a wee bit oversensitive to this type of comment. Or perhaps it’s because I witnessed a young man who knew both of these young men breaking down in the store on Monday morning when he discovered the news by reading it on the front page of the paper. Or maybe, you know, it’s because I have a fucking heart and a soul and more than a little bit of sympathy and compassion for the family and friends of these men who are suffering a kind of loss I hope I never know, and who will undoubtably have read this idiotic remark.

All I know is that I’ve had enough of it. And so I’ll get my news the old fashioned way. Without a peanut gallery.