For years I have had Yahoo as my home page. I’m not exactly certain why I selected them, but I did. They carry at least a few interesting stories every day which often give me thoughts on new subjects for my own posts. Some of those stories come from other sources – such as the Huffington Post.
The other day I was reading one such story and decided to reply to it. The story was one which denigrated the Koch brothers and asserted that they were in the process of turning the country into an oligarchy in which they would reign supreme. It seemed a little bit over the top and I wanted to try to offer a comment which would put things in a more balanced perspective.
Before I posted my own comment I read through those that had already been posted by other Huffington Post readers. I was truly amazed. After I scrolled through well over one hundred such comments, (this article generated a great deal of interest with more than 900 responses posted), I realized that I was stepping into the proverbial lion’s den. Of the comments that I read, only one challenged the assertions in the original article.
Now I realize that the Huffington Post is a liberal vehicle. But you would have thought that they had taken a lesson from Kim Jong Un on how to rig results. I was surprised that there appeared to be such unanimity of opinion among the Post’s readership. I mean, I read liberal journalism with some regularity, merely to see what it is that they are thinking. It’s hard to offer an alternative to a differing philosophy if you don’t know what it is.
So I penned my comment after creating an account with the Huff Post and hit the “Submit” button, anxiously awaiting the appearance of my thoughts on the web page on my screen. Instead of seeing my comments posted, I received the following message: “Due to the sensitive nature of the subject matter your comment is awaiting moderation.”
That took me aback as discussing campaign contributions and the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court didn’t strike me as being nearly as “sensitive” as watching Miley Cyrus twerk on prime time TV, looking at ads for vaginal creams to lessen the pain of intercourse after menopause or seeing ads by Hotels.com for an app in case you scored at the bar and suddenly needed to book a hotel room so that you could make the beast of two backs. But maybe that’s just me.
Well, true to their word, three hours later whoever is responsible at the Huffington Post for reviewing comments and “moderating” them decided that my comment was “acceptable” and it was posted. Much to my surprise there was a reaction to my brief comment as the next time I logged into the Huffington Post website, in the space that indicated “notifications” I found that that I had 22 of them.
I wasn’t sure quite what that meant, so I clicked on the notification button and found that six people had “faved” (their equivalent of like) my comment and 16 comments had been posted in reply to mine. It will not surprise you that there was only one which supported my comments. It will probably also not surprise you that the remaining “comments” were not actually a response to the points I had raised but were personal attacks.
It’s been a long time since I was called a “Fascist pig.” In fact, to the best of my recollection, it’s never happened before. Frankly, my response to reading that comment was to chuckle. And then I thought to myself, no wonder there is such much division and dissension in this country – and such a lack of serious conversation on important issues.
One of the first lessons that the coach of my high school debating team advised us team members was that engaging in ad hominem arguments and personally attacking our opponents was the surest way to lose a debate. If we resorted to that tactic it meant that we simply didn’t have either facts or logic on our side and clearly the person whom we were debating had triumphed. I sincerely doubt that many of the Huffington Post’s readership ever was a member of a debating team.
As a result of this experience I’ve made a decision.
Now this may sound mildly masochistic to you, but I’ve decided to continue commenting on the Huffington Post’s stories. I’ve gone out and purchased a new set of chain mail to protect me from the slings and arrows and the mauling that I expect will ensue. But it seems to me that while preaching to the choir offers some psychological validation, it doesn’t have the potential for effecting change as going into the camp of one’s opponents with the hope of finding one or two of the troops who might be willing to consider an alternate point of view.
We’ll see how this goes. But just in the event that there’s a weak spot in my newly acquired armor, I’ve laid in an adequate supply of gauze bandages and disinfectant.