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Racism and the Readers of the GR Press

December 13, 2010

For a long time, I’ve complained to friends about letters to the editor in the printed copy of the Grand Rapids Press. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed the bigotry, the lack of compassion, and the deep scorn for social justice issues displayed in them.

Not long ago, a friend said, “You know what? The comments posted by readers on the MLive site are even worse.” This sparked an idea. I decided to set a time frame (10 days), start commenting about multiple articles on the Grand Rapids Press part of MLive, and record both reactions to my posts and comments from the threads as a whole.

My friend was right. The only thing worse than those letters in the Press is when the letters talk back to you.

My comments drew a lot of fire. I decided to alternate between reasonable fact-based posts and ones that were provocative, although I was never openly hostile as many of the readers were. My user name indicated I’m a woman (I’d estimate that about 80 percent of the regular commentators are men), which made me a target. And I clearly came across as someone who was not, let’s say, a member of the Tea Party. Within a couple of days, I was being tackled every time I posted, and called “a liberal piece of shit,” “a radical bitch,” and “a Marxist whore” on a regular basis.

But that was nothing compared to the level of anger and outrage I found on the site in general. And it appeared to be 100 percent White rage. The kind of rage that Bob Grant, an early radio host in the 1970s, used to gin up to increase his listener base, a style Rush Limbaugh copied on his own show on Fox. In fact, it seemed that a lot of the comments posted were nothing more than Fox News sound bites. If you tried to get the authors to elaborate, or produce facts to back up their statements, they usually couldn’t. But they were united in one idea: it was all the fault of the “liberals”…the minorities…the “illegal immigrants” … the U.N.

This us-versus-them mentality came across clearly in all discussions. Here are some comments from various threads:

When discussing unemployment figures, many readers felt the high rate was the fault of immigrants. As one reader said:

Let’s see, 20 MILLION illegal alien scum, you know – “doing the lobs Americans just won’t do”? Remember them? Hmmmmm, I wonder…What if we rounded them all up like the infectious cancer on our society they are, beat them into submission, then dumped their broken bodies back HOME in me-hee-co, maybe, just maybe, there would be – oh I don’t know , MILLIONS of jobs available?

Other comments on this topic included:

•“…they are breaking into our country and TAKING jobs, health care, welfare, and NOT paying taxes.”

•“Minority this, minority that! You get special treatment if your not WHITE!”

•“Path to citizenship? How about a path to Mexico? We don’t need them here. They are CRIMINALS! They might be future Democrats…..but THEY ARE CRIMINALS.”

An article about a high school student that was shot and then run down by a car in Kentwood while attempting to save his brother from being killed found no sympathy with the Grand Rapids Press crowd. One man wrote:

I am getting so sick of hearing about the blacks shooting each other. Ok, the article doesn’t state the color of anyone involved but I’d bet my next paycheck I am correct. This crap is getting too close to where I live, time to get out of the area and let them ‘take over’ another nice area of town.

•A side discussion about how affirmative action was somehow responsible for this violence caused me to object about calling affirmative action “racist.” A reader responded: “Calling affirmative action racist is repulsive to you? That’s all you needed to say. I mean, what’s the problem with telling minorities they can’t perform at the same level as white people?”

•A third follow-up article, about the dead boy’s family and brother, netted this comment: “If I pay for their health care, welfare, why not throw in a couple bucks for the funeral. The American Dream-From the womb to the tomb without ever working.”

•Chillingly, this statement capped one thread about the shooting: “Its called thinning out the Herd.”

During the time I was posting, two article related to the GLBT community appeared in the news. One was about a GVSU group of GLBT students who were attempting to get the dorm rules changed so that they could choose the gender and orientation of their roommates, rather than endure random assignments. The men of the posting community were universally disgusted by the idea. Some of the comments included:

•“SICK SOCIETY. Take it to the Truck Stops.

•“What a cesspool.”

•“Back to mambi-pambi land for these freaks. I am so sick of kowtowing this crap. I am considering sending my girl to GVSU next year…. BUT…. not if this sickos get to rule the roost…..”

•One reader noted that the students’ spokesperson would just have to go back to “stalking” across town since the dorms would be off-limits to him as a resource.

The second article was about the proposed repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. The regular commentators were universally against this. The level of “jokes”—and accompanying sexual tension—over this topic was noticeable. Some of the comments included:

•“Homosexuality is a mental disorder.”

•“Testosterone + 5.56 mm rounds + gays = big trouble for all.”

•“youwhoo youwhoo oh youwhoo, attention.”

•“…if a gay couple (male) are married and serving together in Afghanistan, who wears the burka?”

Interestingly, the “jokes” came to an abrupt end when male readers who were or had been in the military made it known that they were nearly 100 percent in favor of the policy’s repeal.

A lot of this seemed familiar from the printed paper’s editorial page. But one topic that generated perhaps the most anger caught me by surprise, and that was a hatred of the unemployed.

The majority opinion among the Grand Rapids Press readers posting on MLive seemed to be that the unemployed were leeches draining our economy of any lifeblood it had left. They were accused of wanting “handouts” and deliberately not looking for work in order to spin out their unemployment benefits longer. One reader wrote:

FIGURE IT OUT! You popped that family out without giving a thought on what could happen if that job you were barely making ends meet with went away, so now its our responsibility to make a game plan for you?

Other comments included:

•I know a few people who have never worked & just because they are a “minority” they were able to get on welfare and are still on it – and there ain’t a damn’d thing wrong with them.

•The U.S. has babied too many freeloaders for too long.

•In one thread on the extension vote, a number of people who were unemployed related their experiences of sending out hundreds of resumes, never getting chances at job interviews, losing their homes, or being barely able to feed their children. One woman asked, “What do you expect us to do without the unemployment extension?” and a regular reader replied, “FU. You sick perverted Biatch!!!”

•Another man said he thought the stalling on the extension was “just the beginning” of discrimination against those who could not find work, and a reader replied, “You damn right, skippy…this is just the start. We will break you.”

MLive’s user agreement states: You agree not to use any obscene, indecent, or offensive language or to provide to or post on or through the Website any graphics, text, photographs, images, video, audio or other material that is defamatory, abusive, bullying, harassing, racist, hateful, or violent. You agree to refrain from ethnic slurs, religious intolerance, homophobia, and personal attacks when using the Website.

It appears that each newspaper is responsible for policing its own articles for these violations. But Editor Paul Keep routinely brags about how many comments there are for Grand Rapids Press’s articles, and has made it clear that the Website is the foundation of the Press’s future.

So it’s not hard to imagine that the terms of use might be ignored deliberately to keep number of posts up…even when the majority of those posts contain bigotry, homophobia, racism, and violent and harassing language. This daily commentary goes way beyond political Kool-aid; it’s the classic and toxic White rage cocktail.

 

41 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter permalink
    December 13, 2010 3:09 pm

    I hear ya. I rarely read the comments in Lansing State Journal any more, but when I do I find this these kinds of comments are rampant. And when I have flagged certain comments as being patently racist it is apparently ignored, becasue those comments are never taken down. It’s really irrepsonsible for daily newspapers to let this go on just to bring eyeballs to the adsvertisements. At least with the more formal “Letters to the Editor” people need to sign their names, and that mitigates the more outrageous comments.

  2. Joan permalink
    December 13, 2010 3:49 pm

    I’ve often wondered whether it would be possible to do a social experiment on the comments pages of woodtv.com. How many consistently positive posts would it take to turn the tide away from hate, racism, and other negative posts?

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 4:19 pm

      Peter , thanks for your comment. That’s a very good point about people being required to sign their names to the letters in the printed versions of the paper. In a community as small as Grand Rapids, that’s clearly a risky thing for some of these people venting online to do.

      Joan, in a sense that kind of experiment is going on now. There are a handful of people posting who seem to be attempting to reason with the regular “club” of commentators. One very bravely revealed himself to be a gay man and was amazingly calm about the storm of abuse that rained down on him. He continues to post on all of the political-oriented articles.

      Another is someone attempting to address the “us versus them” fallacy and explain that the real source of the problem is the capitalist system and the seizure by the very wealthy of the resources of this country. Neither of these people is having much luck getting through, but I admire their incredible patience.

      I felt very strongly as I read and reviewed the commentary that beneath all of that White rage and hate speech was a very deep-seated fear. These people do understand that their former way of life and their fleeting security is being stolen out from under them. But they are allowing themselves to fall into the right wing/left wing fairy tale that gives them a set of “enemies” that really have nothing to do with their problem. Many of them seem so indoctrinated by sources like the Fox channel shows that they can’t even conceive of setting the entire paradigm aside. It helps them deal with their fear to have someone to hate, I think, rather than looking for actual solutions.

  3. diane permalink
    December 13, 2010 4:18 pm

    Thank You!!
    Thank you for writing this piece!
    As a former teacher for GRPS (who was laid off in July after six years) I used to read the Mlive articles on what is happening in GRPS. OH MY STARS. The comments from the general public are just awful! I live 35 mins away and used to drive to work each day and I guess after reading so many negative comments from the GR community I thought that ALL of GR thought that way and I was SO GLAD to not live in such a horrible city! I mean, it was alright to work there but I certainly never want to live there.

    There were certainly regular commenters on the mlive education articles. They usually spouted off against the teachers union and the teachers, etc. Their comments were ignorant of truth and downright rude. I realized that some of them had nothing better to do with their time than to stay online all day and bully people. I never commented on any of the articles because I didn’t see the point of arguing.

    It’s a shame what is allowed to be the mlive site. The site is losing it’s credibility for not filtering their comments. It’s also a shame that people in my back yard have such hateful feelings toward their fellow man. I thought this region was supposed to be a religious area – is this what the religious centers are teaching? To spew hate?

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 4:25 pm

      Diane, I agree that the comments about teachers and the educational system are really disturbing. Since unions are one of these regular commentators’ “enemies,” teachers are their enemies, too.

      I’m glad that the article helped you with some of that feeling that everyone in Grand Rapids is like that. I used to feel that way when I read the comments in the printed version of the Press. It caused me to shut down and feel very removed–and in some cases actually scared–of the people around me here. But I think the city is more diverse than one might think from reading the Grand Rapids Press, and becoming more so.

      This regular bunch of authors brag from time to time about how they successfully run off all the “liberals” who try to post on the site–how their efforts of group intimidation work. I actually think that those who do post with different views get tired of presenting facts, sources, and counter-arguments which are just dismissed or debunked as coming from “the lamestream media.” And they don’t have a clue how many people, like you, don’t post at all because they don’t want to wade into that toxic mess on the site.

      • diane permalink
        December 13, 2010 4:36 pm

        Oh, GR is certainly more diverse than one would gather from the Press.
        I mean, I used to work in a GRPS High School so I get that. It also made me realize that the GR Community really, as a whole, doesn’t support their local public school system. The media – in all forms- regularly bullies GRPS and I firmly believe that a public school system is nothing without the support of it’s community. It’s a shame because the students are the ones who suffer the most.

        I am still appalled at the results of your experiment. I deeply dislike online bullies and don’t think I have the stomach to try your experiment. I mean, I can’t stand the bullying that happens on facebook! Yeesh! Nor can I believe (I mean, I do believe but am horrified) that people simply resorted to calling you nasty names.
        It’s too much to process.

  4. grapgirl permalink
    December 13, 2010 4:39 pm

    wow thank you for this. I never read comments EVER because they frustrate me so much, but I had NO IDEA that this was going on! Thanks for doing this.

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 5:33 pm

      Thanks for reading it, grapgirl, and for commenting.

  5. 50cent permalink
    December 13, 2010 5:04 pm

    Thanks for this!

    Did you click the “Inappropriate? Alert us.” button on any of the comments referenced in your article? If so, how was MLive.com’s response to those actions?

    It seems that with a website of that size (and the large number of comments) they need to rely on their users to alert them to what is being posted. A lot of it is racist/offensive crap to be sure, but screening every comment is a pretty daunting task.

    Also, do you have any plans to share your findings with The Grand Rapids Press and/or the MLive.com staff? I would think that would be a good route. It seems lots of folks know the comments are offensive but are just either begrudgingly accepting it and/or not doing anything about it.

    I’ve heard of some talk with The Rapidian about trying to get MLive.com to require real names (as The Rapidian does) to cut down on the offensive comments. I think that is unfair, but maybe if The Press was approached from another source it would help reign in the comments.

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 5:40 pm

      50Cent, after I finished with my posts, I did go through and report as many comments as I could that violated the User Agreement. Some of the posts I quoted from here were actually removed. Some weren’t. I did notice that posts were far more likely to be pulled after the commentary on a particular article had died down–which was somewhat counterproductive, since everyone had already read the comments by that time. This was one reason I suspected that the Press was aiming for high comment numbers and didn’t want to pull any posts for that reason. Also, any policing seemed to be coming from the “Alert Us” button rather than the Press staff writers.

      A couple of times I read threads from the Kalamazoo newspaper articles, and that staff seemed much more involved in their articles. They would post comments, and also intervene when discussions involved personal attacks or hate speech. I haven’t seen the GR Press writers do that.

      It’s my impression that the Grand Rapids Press editors are aware of the articles and analysis that GRIID posts about their newspaper, so I think this has probably already been “shared” in that sense.

      • 50cent permalink
        December 13, 2010 7:01 pm

        Hmmm…

        After reading your response, there are a few things that I think could be done. For starters, there are a lot of speculative words in your comment. Things “seem” to be one way and things are “suspected.” I really think a dialog (as in face to face, not just over the Internet) with The Grand Rapids Press and MLive.com is the way to go as it would help provide some actual answers rather than just relying on hunches. It could provide answers about their policy and how they monitor comments. I can’t help but wonder what the point of this all was if you are just going to assume that The Press is already aware of this blog post (why this is your impression I don’t know). If you went in there with data (or heck even called them up and talked to them on a phone), you might get some results.

        I also agree with joshleo below that a more analytical study is needed that categorizes the comments by type. I’d also like to see a study that tracks the number of comments that are flagged as “inappropriate” and the time (if possible to measure) it takes to delete them and/or if they are even delete.

        Incidentally, I hate The Grand Rapids Press as much as the next liberal, but I think that it makes sense that the policing of comments is done largely by the “Alert Us” functions. There are hundreds of comments everyday and it would be pretty hard to monitor each one. There seem to be filters for language, but I don’t know how much could be done beyond that. It seems natural to rely on the community of commentors to report offensive comments. Also, GRIID might know better than me, but my understanding is that MLive.com is a separate company and that it would be responsible for monitoring comments, not the staff writers (who are presumably doing reporting work). But again, that is something that dialog could clarify.

  6. December 13, 2010 5:05 pm

    I would love to see a more analytical study into the content of the comments on mlive and other media outlets comments sections. Count the number of comments and then break them down to see how many include constructive discourse, racism, homophobia, or all the other “banned” kinds of things that the mlive rules state. I wouldn’t be surprised if 80% of comments on mlive were just hateful or antagonistic.

    Thanks for writing this. I think that this is a real issue that needs to be addressed. This is a great start.

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 5:44 pm

      That’s an interesting idea about a study, Joshleo. I think your estimate is probably accurate from what I’ve seen. Even lengthier posts from the regular commentators seem to be written mainly to promote some racist idea, and many of them are just personal attacks on the few others who are attempting to start a dialogue. There are a couple of commentators who seem to go on the site simply to vent rage–they don’t even seem to be there to bond with their peers, just attack people who rub them the wrong way.

  7. Joe Spaulding permalink
    December 13, 2010 6:00 pm

    Welcome to the internet?

    I mean, what’s the alternative to letting everyone say pretty much whatever they want?

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 7:31 pm

      Joe, if you read the MLive user agreement that I quoted from in my article, you’ll see that the posts I’m talking about actually violate their policies.

      I don’t believe in censorship, but I think it’s not a good thing to have an open forum that allows this much hate speech.

      As for 50 Cent’s question about who reviews the comments, each author of an article is responsible for monitoring comments for those articles. So that means the newspaper staff is directly involved. MLive might also have site adminstrators who do checks from time to time, but I suspect their job would be to remove posts that might create a legal liablity–if someone is libeling another author, as an example. (And I did seem some posts that would fall into the category of potential liable during the time I was reading all the threads.)

      • matt sorsen permalink
        December 13, 2010 7:46 pm

        How do you know that the individual writers are required to monitor their articles?

        I read an article on MLive.com (admittedly with the Kalamazoo paper) and it implied that the handling of comments is done by MLive.com:

        The Kalamazoo Gazette allows anonymous comments on stories on its website, mlive.com, which is administered elsewhere.

        Jim Borden, the Gazette’s managing editor, said he most often sees racist comments in stories involving crime, social justice or matters involving race.

        Online readers can flag a comment they find objectionable, and website administrators will review the comment and decide whether to remove it.

        That article (“Should real names be required when posting online comments?”) is online at:

        http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2010/11/should_real_names_be_required.html

        The Grand Rapids Press also reported on complaints about their comments back in January in an article titled “MLive’s comment policy: Should we make readers use their real names?”:

        http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/01/mlives_comment_policy_should_w.html

        Maybe that conversation could be restarted because it doesn’t seem like things have improved. There were some real folks with influence involved in that discussion (The Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Rapid Growth Media, etc) and maybe GRIID could form a coalition to get this taken care of once and for all.

  8. Mike Saunders permalink
    December 13, 2010 7:15 pm

    Great article, I think if mlive wants their comments section to have any type of legitimacy, they should have people post their real names. It has been little more than megaphone for hate speech.

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 7:33 pm

      Mike, I agree with you; requiring names would make a difference in the tone of the posts.

  9. Joe The Cabdriver permalink
    December 13, 2010 7:18 pm

    I wish M-Live would adopt the Yahoo system of liking or disliking a comment. I think M_live does a good job weeding out the more racist and patently obnoxious comments(lord knows I’ve tried, as I do love being a troll). You can say whatever you want, but the patently offensive comments are hidden as comments that are disliked by a certain ratio are ‘hidden’ in a way that is democratic. My primary criticism with this article is that it seems to advocate outright liberal censorship of all thing reactionary and right-wing in the comments section. I do not like the idea of having someone whose job it is to censor comments that he or she considers offensive on a public forum. Other than that, good article.

    I am also of the opinion that certain political organizations pay people to flood the comments section with right wing propaganda. Can’t prove it, but it seems that the sheer volume of right wing opinion would suggest otherwise.

    • srdailey permalink
      December 13, 2010 9:05 pm

      i like joe’s idea here. some of my favorite blogs (engadget, videogum) have self-policing upvote/downvote systems for the comment sections. it would be interesting to see mlive implement a similar system and see what the real persuasion of the gr press readership is.

      • Josh permalink
        December 14, 2010 12:27 am

        Although I agree that allowing public up/down vote is much more democratic and gives this power to the people, Kate paints the portrait that the commenting community of the site is already pretty biased. This may result in completely valid, legitimate comments that don’t fall in their set of beliefs removed because they don’t agree.

  10. Brian permalink
    December 13, 2010 8:10 pm

    Yes, being racist seems to be the easiest way to feel powerful by making someone else mad. I was talking to a guy yesterday about being partly polish and i think he was tying to get a reaction out of me because he kept saying pollock, and i informed him that it was derogatory. he unsuccessfully tried to think of some pollock jokes. oddly enough, he admitted to being polish. It would seem he hates himself.

    For me, it’s personally hard to figure out what is fueling the other. Is racism fueling hatred or is hatred fueling racism. Some people hate others for no reason, and other people make up a reason (racism). Sometimes i think that if we had a society with no racism, we’d still have just as many people hating other people, but for some other made up reason. There are probably bigger words that i don’t currently know which could summarize all that eloquently.

  11. srdailey permalink
    December 13, 2010 9:07 pm

    good piece, but let’s be careful to distinguish the gr press’s readers from those who comment on stories. i feel like the commenters are an overly vocal majority. for example, i read it but refrain from commenting because of the general awfulness of the discourse. i suspect there’s a lot more people like me than those who comment.

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 11:20 pm

      srdailey, I agree–as you’ll see in a comment I made earlier in this discussion. But the regulars who are posting this hate speech are clear that they are readers of the GR Press, and talk a great deal about their life in Grand Rapids. So in that way–not to split hairs–this is about racism among readers of the Press, just not *all* the readers.

  12. jake permalink
    December 13, 2010 9:37 pm

    I grew up in MI. Moved away in 1992. I just happened to read this and it makes me SO thankful that i do not live there anymore. Not that where i live has greener grass or anything, but it sounds like the same old same….White, uptight, narrow-minded, conservative a-holes. Mr and Mrs N.I.M.B.Y.

  13. Nick Manes permalink
    December 13, 2010 9:54 pm

    Thanks for this piece Kate. It’s an important issue, and it caused me to write a response.

    http://nickmanes.tumblr.com/post/2304387164/mlive-hate-speech-and-the-vileness-of-centrism

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 13, 2010 11:47 pm

      Nick, thanks for your post. I read your article, which I thought was excellent.

      Just to clarify, I would never report a post that said something negative about another person’s political beliefs. As long as the comment is on-topic and does not include a personal attack (for example, a favorite characterizing tactic that this group of regulars does is imply that the “liberals” or “radicals” who post are all strung out on drugs), or the kind of hate speech that I gave examples of in my article.

      There is a lot of political discourse in those threads that is savage, and vigorously defended, and yet does not stray into the area of hate speech. As an example–a negative characterization of Obama as, say, a “socialist” does not seem to me to be hate speech, although it certainly is inaccurate. A comment questioning the wisdom of his decisions is obviously fine. But calling him an ignorant African porch monkey (as one commentator did) would fall into hate speech, at least in my opinion.

      Matt, thanks for the additional information you posted. It was someone who worked at the Press who told me that staffers are supposed to review the comments on their own articles; at the Kalamazoo paper, I’ve seen staff writers actually post comments and explain why they had removed a specific post from the thread. So I think, as I said before, that there are both site administrators and Press writers looking at the comments. But the GR Press is very understaffed, and the article you gave us the link to does seem to indicate that MLive staff is doing most of the reviewing. That makes sense, since they are the entity that set the policies.

      However, one of the people quoted had the title of Press Online Editor, and she said, “One of our main missions is user engagement. If we want to maximize user engagement, we have to have anonymous commenting.”
      And that seems to tie in with my impression that the Press is focused on getting the maximum number of comments per article.

      By the way, here’s their ownership statement: “MLive.com is an affiliate of Advance Internet. Advance Internet is a leading creator of local news and information web sites, created in alliance with over 36 newspapers owned and operated by Advance Publications Inc. ”

      So in a sense, they are one and the same with the Press–they are all owned by the same corporate entity and answer to the same upper managment.

  14. Whyshoulditellyou permalink
    December 13, 2010 10:23 pm

    I avoid the comments section to avoid aggravation. I have lived in several states and all have the same issue. I would be really interested in knowing the ages of those that leave the offensive comments.

  15. Peter permalink
    December 13, 2010 11:46 pm

    WoodTV.com did it right. In order for you to comment, you have to be logged into your Facebook account, and all posts you make on WoodTV get streamed into your FB news feed, so everyone you know on FB can read how terrible you are.

    Remove the anonymity, and the e-thugs vanish.

  16. ash permalink
    December 14, 2010 2:13 am

    I know this will sound, well naive, and I know that there are people like this out there in Michigan and all over, but I really just hate the term “white rage” its all about not being able to tolerate your fellow human being as a person. This isn’t just a “white thing” or “white rage” but in fact it is global, in Asia, Middle Eastern areas, Africa, and South America, when the local population feels threatened or under attack, they lash out at who ever is different. I am not disagreeing with what you have posted in your article, I find what you have said to be quite true and its disturbing as to its frequency. This behavior is found world wide, Muslim extremist, Chinese elitist, the many territorial conflicts in Africa, it doesn’t mater what you look like the anger is still there. Perhaps I am stepping to far from the purpose of your writing, I’m not sure but I do know that I dislike the labeling of that term. I do want to say that your calling this out is a great thing, and I applaud your efforts to continue on. Call the GRP out on their policy, make them see that what they are doing or in this case not doing isn’t going to be tolerated. Just be careful with how you label it, hate is hate, no matter what you look like.

    • Mike Saunders permalink
      December 15, 2010 7:02 am

      I agree there are many people who are hateful and forms of hatred but identifying these forms and bigotries are key to overcoming them. I feel that identifying white supremacist attitudes helps to overcome them. There is clearly a white supremacist element to the mlive comments.

      • ash permalink
        December 21, 2010 3:31 pm

        it is true that there are white supremacists out there, a sad fact to me, and that the comments that are mentioned in the article certainly bring to mind those type of people. My point is calling it “white rage” isn’t helpful to the writing, I think it degrades a wonderfully crafted piece on people have issues, and are bigoted. It becomes only a “white” issue, something that isn’t true, it would be like calling the ghetto only a “black” issue. Saying that the people who wrote those comments have similar mind sets to white supremacists is, I believe, correct. Saying only “white rage” suggests it is something that is only found in white people, which I believe isn’t correct. I hope this clarifies what I’m trying to say

  17. Matt Simpson Siegel permalink
    December 14, 2010 6:03 am

    Thank you so much for this much-needed piece, Kate. The comments on MLive/etc. remind me of ignorant and lewd public graffiti (–as opposed to artistic graffiti). The lack of comment flagging is atrocious as is the amount of bigotry and negativity.

  18. Andi permalink
    December 14, 2010 5:48 pm

    This makes me sick! It is hard for me to believe that I live in a town so full of hatred! These people need our prayers, because I’m certain that the god they probably all pray to in church on Sundays isn’t going to be so fond of them when their days come.

    • Kate Wheeler permalink
      December 15, 2010 12:46 am

      Thanks to everyone who read the article and posted in this discussion. I really appreciate your comments, suggestions, and support.

  19. BelieveInKids permalink
    December 30, 2010 8:54 pm

    Kate, thank you so much for this article and for your work on this issue. I tried my best to alert any and all people involved of the hatred being spewed on the GR Press mlive site. I clicked the “inappropriate” button at least 100 times to report violations. I even emailed the reporter, the editor and mlive administrator. I hope that with all of us involved and now with Ms. Holland’s request, the site will be more civil.

  20. holly permalink
    May 1, 2011 11:57 am

    What an interesting “experiment”! I never read the paper, and for some reason today, thought I might look online for some local news. I googled GR Press and I found this…I think it was sign to not waste my time reading the press! I am not a GR native so I was shocked when I moved here at the conservativeness of this community. The times that I have read MLive or the Press, I have noticed that the right leaning of the articles. I think KS Wheeler should start an online paper-I’d certainly read it if it would be as thoughtful and open minded as Wheeler seems to be.

Trackbacks

  1. The Tangled Web of the Grand Rapids Press « Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy
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