The ostensible purpose of this article, I suppose, is to proclaim the official “comments policy” for this blog–something I’ve never seen the need to do before in the several years this blog has been up–but the unofficial purpose is to complain about some of the ridiculous comments I’ve received. If you’re a blogger, you know all about ridiculous comments. I’m obviously not talking about well-intended, polite and substantive contributions by regular readers. I’m not even talking about computer-generated spam, which, though it is quite annoying, is dealt with (mostly) successfully by automated filters. I’m talking about crap comments, devoid of factual accuracy or logical consistency, rife with grammatical atrocity, that are posted by real (!) human beings who come to your blog and feel moved to chime in. For some reason, on my blog these seem to be on the upswing. And it’s annoying the hell out of me.
First, the comments policy. It’s simply this: no one has any right to free speech on this blog. This is my domain, my digital “home” so to speak, and while I love to have guests and friends over (as anyone would), my digital home is still my home. I reserve the right to disallow, disapprove or delete any comment I wish for any reason, or for no reason. It’s just that simple.
Taking the home analogy a bit further, I regard truly ridiculous comments as sort of like muddy footprints. Would you go over to a stranger’s house and expect them to open the door for you to wipe your muddy shoes all over the clean white carpet in their living room? That’s how I feel about obnoxious commenters. If, in my judgment, your shoes don’t belong on my carpet, you’re not coming in.
This is how I envision people who try to post ridiculous comments on my blog.
I’ll give you a brief sample of the kinds of “muddy shoes” that people have been trying to wipe on my carpet recently. You won’t see them here, because I didn’t approve the comments, but I assure you all of these missives are 100% genuine, and were actually submitted by (supposed) living, breathing humans.
- On this article, where I dismissed the idea that 16th century French poet Nostradamus could predict the future (or that a terrible 1981 film narrated by Orson Welles made the case that he could), someone said, “You are narrow-minded and stupid.”
- On this article, about a disastrous 1980 literary hoax, someone, possibly an MRA (so-called “Men’s Rights” Activist), chimed in twice to complain about “Radfems” (an MRA term for radical feminists) and spout other steaming pellets of misogynistic nonsense. The commenter seemed to think, seriously, that this was on topic. The article, as you’ll see, has nothing to do with feminism or gender politics.
- A commenter declared this article, about bisexuality as a theme in Melville’s Moby-Dick, “Grade-A bullsh*t” and then proceeded to tell me how my mind was stuck in the gutter for even daring to suggest sexual undertones in Moby-Dick.
Did this really happen? Yes, but some people out there really, really don’t want to believe it.
- A serial commenter first claimed, in response to this article (about “fake” history), that the Nanking Massacre of 1937 was faked. I approved the first comment just to show how wrong he was, but over the next week I was deluged with additional screeds, all denying the Nanking Massacre, none of which I approved. The fellow finally and wisely gave up trying to comment.
- In response to this article, an angry Libertarian shouted that I was “an SJW” who wanted “a nanny state” and was “afraid of freedom.”
- Before I closed comments on this article about the legend of the 1976 car crash that supposedly screwed up Mark Hamill’s face, one person was moved enough to write poetry–yes, poetry–about how Mark Hamill resembled a frog. That, in fact, was the impetus for me closing the comments section.
Then, of course, there are the believers in “fake history,” which I denounced in this popular and widely-read article. Over the years, people with peculiar beliefs about historical events have, at different times, tried to convince me that:
- Not only was the 1937 Nanking Massacre faked, but the 1915 genocide of the Ottoman Turks against Armenia was also a fraud, complete with fake photographs.
- George Washington was not really the first President of the United States.
- The moon landing was faked and this famous photo was taken in a movie studio.
- (Direct quote) “The Nazis were left wing. Goodness!” That prompted me to write this article.
- John F. Kennedy was assassinated, not by Lee Harvey Oswald (as all evidence shows), but by a Secret Service agent who shot him in the head accidentally at precisely the same instant that Oswald was firing at him.
Libertarians tend to get a little twitchy when you don’t go along with their program, as this angry person demonstrates.
Whenever I’ve done an article on UFOs and famous UFO hoaxes (like George Adamski, the fake Gulf Breeze sightings or the Vrillon incident), angry believers in space aliens invariably descend to tell me that these things are all supposedly true. Because, of course.
Some comments have reached me in the form of emails, which are the most delusional and bizarre of all. I kind of rolled my eyes at the one that claimed he had proof that Stephanie Stearns was in fact guilty of the famous 1974 Palmyra Island murder of which she was acquitted. The “proof”? A photograph of her. “She looks guilty, doesn’t she?” Yeah, buddy, whatever. That was one of the saner-sounding ones.
Then there was the email who found out I was a teacher (it’s in my Twitter profile) and demanded that I assign my classes some book about an alleged conspiracy by some South African family to corner the world diamond market. Or the other one, the most bizarre email I’ve ever received, who begged me to reopen comments on the Mark Hamill article so he could tell the world that the person we think is Mark Hamill is actually a double, who replaced the real actor in 1977 for reasons unknown. He claimed to have irrefutable proof of this. Because, of course.
“The truth is out there!” All you have to do is read nutty blog comments.
On one level you just have to laugh off beliefs and comments like this. In the scheme of things, errant missives from hit-and-run web surfers don’t mean much in the scheme of things. But on another level there’s a pattern to this kind of behavior, and it’s deeply concerning. Most of these ridiculous comments stem from an ideological warping of reality. The people who write them seem to come from worlds where factual evidence is irrelevant and only matters that confirm a specific viewpoint are worthy of being believed. There’s a lot of that going on in America, and the world, right now.
I suppose that as long as I have this blog I’ll continue to get strange, delusional or hostile feedback from readers who don’t like what I have to say for whatever reason. That comes with blogging. But damn, some of these comments are just nuts. I just had to say it.