I am becoming constantly amazed at the level of debate on news web sites, such as that of the CTV, CBC, National Post, Globe and Mail, etc. Really, I’m amazed more at the lack of the level of debate.
Everyone has the right to their opinion. Everyone has the right to express it. I am more than willing to agree with this. However, many people have a tendency to public express opinions of subjects on which they have little or no knowledge and base this profound prose on things like old wives’ tales, political party affiliation, or just plain ignorance.
I’ve read comments on the recent housing crisis at Attawapiskat and wonder why some people feel the urge to offer “their two cents worth.” If you do not have even a little knowledge of northern reserves, the Indian Act, and how financial administration works for First Nations on reserves, you probably shouldn’t be offering your “wisdom.” Bluntly, it has been hard not to respond to most of these comments with the suggestion that they are giving inbred, white trash a bad name. Many of these comments are blatantly rascist and many approach the bounds of hate speech. I’ll spare you the comments as there are lots of examples from lots of online locations to choose from.
Why can people feel so easily about expressing such drivel? It’s easy, since most of these online bulletin boards allow people to post anonymously. While the idea is essentially a sound one in theory, it has fallen down in practical application. Many abuse this process and political parties/lobbyists frequently hire marketing companies to post on them. The federal government has used public funds for this purpose.
These are often easily discernible when the language of such posts are worded in party talking points and often contain substantial amounts of grammar and spelling errors so they look like the handiwork of “regular Canadians.” I don’t so much mind this marketing ploy. After all, if I was the leader of a political party and my communications director wasn’t doing this, I’d have a different communications director rather quickly. My issue is the demeaning idea marketing companies have that regular Canadians can’t spell.
I think now that it is time that online news agencies change their online board posting rules so that people can only post under their own names and that their identity be verifiable. Maybe people wouldn’t be so quick to put forward stupid comments when it was obvious who they were. Maybe people would be a little less willing to describe the problems of ethnic groups in terms of stereotypes. And maybe, just maybe, the boards could actually function in a manner for which most were originally intentioned, a venue for informed debate on current events. Until such time, they are useless…