I massacred a pack of zombies this morning. They were shuffling through the "comments" section of my latest WALKING DEAD review with an endless barrage of empty insults aimed at me.
It happens. I've offered an ongoing, substantive critique of THE WALKING DEAD, and some people simply will not tolerate any criticism of their cherished series. This, unfortunately, isn't just true of TWD, but of practically anything these days, and if TWD seems to attract a much larger contingent of this particular species (and it does), I'll be charitable and chalk it up to the fact that it draws a large audience in general.
The existence of such creatures isn't new, nor are their activities. My reaction to them, in this case, however, is. I've always maintained a strict policy, here, of letting people say what they want. The only comments I've ever deleted are a few stray spam posts--I want this to be an open forum, but folks who only want to peddle hair-gel and dick stiffeners can take it elsewhere. Faced with my latest critique, fans of TWD lumbered into my comments section with these sorts of insightful rejoinders:
"You're a pathetic dumb trolling cunt Stalk the imdb message boards some more you fucking puke."
"Yawn. Stop watching the show if all you want to do is bitch about it. Tl;Dr."
"Seriously, can I take a shit in your mom's basement you cum guzzling cretin?"
"Hey, what do you expect from a fat virgin? This puke must be the saddest little mope on the Internet..."
And so on. Ten or eleven of them (though from far fewer sources, trying to appear to be many), out of only 13 or 14 comments on the article. Last night, I got an email from one of my regular readers expressing concern that these were cluttering up the "comments" section, making it look "trashy," and maybe even running off those who may have something to actually say. I thought about this a bit, but I probably would have left all that rubbish in place anyway if I hadn't called up the blog this morning and seen that one of these creatures had aimed, at one of my more substantive regulars, an effort at a racial slur. An hilariously inept effort, but the brain-dead cretin who authored it didn't know that. The target of this abuse is a good fellow and a friend of this blog, so that comment, along with the others that had nothing to say, are now gone.
I don't like doing this sort of thing. Abused, it can chill conversation, and I've seen it abused far too many times. It's not going to be abused, here, and I don't want it to have that sort of effect, here, either. Far too often, those behind various internet venues put the zap on people merely for disagreeing with them, particularly if the disagreeable poster is somewhat articulate. Some are openly hostile to open discussion. That's never going to be the case here. Those whose comments I deleted earlier today weren't offering any sort of discussion or disagreement, just insults, and, to be clear, I'm not even hostile to insults, in and of themselves, or to people who only want to insult (sometimes, that's an entirely appropriate response). It's just that I want this to be a place where discussion is welcome and invited, and I'm unwilling to sacrifice that in order to allow a few clowns with nothing to say to run amuck.