Is We Smarter Than Me When the Commenters are Racists?

Are Newspaper comments worthless? They are when the articles are about big city crime.

Let’s look at two pieces from Thursday. The Chicago Tribune reported on a morning robbery at a Streeterville (I was afraid that name was being phased out, it has a great history) movie theater. At the Philadelphia Daily News, Will Bunch’s Memo to media, candidates: That UFO in Philly was a bullet pointed the “obliviousness” of the Tim Russert, Brian Williams and the Democratic Presidential candidates to what was occurring around them in West Philly.

[Y]ou’d think it would be a big deal that a convicted murderer who’d just shot up four people, including a Philadelphia police officer, had been running around almost literally a stone’s throw from a room where seven major Democratic candidates for president were in the same stage, surrounded by numerous VIPs. But in one of the saddest example of life-as-metaphor that I’ve seen in a long time, the presidential wannabees and their bizarre media inquisitors, Tim Russert and Brian Williams, stayed inside their hermetically sealed bubble of a so-called democratic (small “d”) process, completely to oblivious that the street outside Drexel University was running red with the blood of a great American city.

Each article generated a couple of dozen comments, the Tribune’s are housed at Topix. There may be a couple of worthwhile observations among them, but what stands out is the racism– and the attempst by some valiant souls to counteract the jerks through rational argument. One could argue that the high ratio of racist-to-worthwhile comments is itself informative and reflective of the society in which we live, but there are better ways to see America’s ugly side. And there are better ways to spend one’s time than reading the comments on newspaper websites.

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