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I lit a match...

ms-786063.jpgand started a firestorm.

About five days ago I put up this post on Perfect Duluth Day about comments made by a local meteorologist on a local radio show. In the wake of Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize this meteorologist said that he wouldn't pay a dime to go see An Inconvenient Truth because Al Gore was a "left wing nut." Here is the whole conversation that was originally aired on KUWS.

I thought that dismissing Al Gore as a "nut" was a silly ad hominem attack and beneath someone who was a public figure and a scientist, so I said so.

What have I wrought? The discussion got heated fast and even made the local paper, which only added fuel to the fire after that.

For a post that was supposed to be about civility in dialogue I sure brought out the worst in some people. Over 100 comments later the sniping continues even after the meteorologist himself posted to the blog apologizing for his choice of words and, having watched the film (he wouldn't have given a dime to see), he posted what I thought was a reasoned review of it from his perspective.

While I'm elated that the blogosphere can bring some accountability to public figures, I'm more downhearted by the tone of discussion.


Don't be so shocked, Lars...every time I look at comments posted on newspaper sites, magazine sites, even on sites like Salon.com, where you'd expect a little more class, the majority of posts are rude, ill-informed, and sometimes even insulting and profanity-laden. It's not you, and I even doubt that it's because people take global-warming, or Al Gore, or science so seriously. People just like to shoot off their mouths and argue wth each other (and to be fair, I bet some of these posters argue with each other all the time). In some ways, it's nice--an intellectual exercise. But what with all the poor spelling, bad reasoning and less-than-stellar word choices, it does make me wonder what our schools have been doing for the last 40-odd years! Hey, at least no one challenged anyone else to a duel!


P.S. Actually, most of the letter-writing on Salon.com is pretty civil. Still, even those can get out of hand.

Well, I must say, PDD has always been a rather even keeled blog, so I was a bit surprised. Not to say it never gets out of hand, but the vehemence of some of the comments really startled me. Granted, some of it came from people who don't regularly frequent the blog.

yeah, i reckon there are all kinds of lurkers on PDD just waiting to give it to those liberal pinkos that inhabit the PDD world. and that guy had all the right to express his opinion. however, when you are paid to tell people about the weather and you refuse to see the biggest movie made about the weather because of your preconceived notions, you are failing to do your job. this is especially true when you work for media. (unless of course you are faux news.)

also, people just really enjoy bitching about things.

"Granted, some of it came from people who don't regularly frequent the blog."

I think that's a big part of it -- it's possible to have a respectful online community, even around contenious issues, but it takes time and work and there some hot button topics that just bring the trolls out.

And, of course, there's always the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, unfortunately.

Did... did someone post the entire text of Romeo and Juliet in those comments?

My goodness.

It's a little late for this, but I'll also share that over at the Chicago Metblog we have a rule I call "my house, my rules", which is to say that it's our blog and you're welcome to post comments, but if we think something is out-of-bounds we reserve the right not to share your words. Freedom of speech doesn't mean *we* have to broadcast *your* words. Disagree with us, great, start your own blog.

Shoot. When I read the title, I thought this post was going to be about farting.

"Faux News"--I love it!!!!

did someone post R&J? copycats. i posted the entire text to richard the iii on a rather long bitch post on pdd a few months back. now everyone wants to post the bard.

i started a joke which started the whole world laughing.

Wow. The whole discussion turned into a sort of cosmic view in miniature of the internet itself--some good information, some meaningful dialog, and some amusing side notes almost lost amid offerings by some total nuts and seemingly unrelated general flotsam. I applaud you for forcing a public figure to think a little harder about how he uses his words. At the same time, the wider discussion gives one pause when thinking about issues involving the relationship of "free speech", censorship, editorial policies and discussion moderation on the internet...

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