The anonymous comments crowd can be harsh…
And not just here, pretty much everywhere. Because for some reason or other, people feel compelled to weigh in, have their voices heard. Their uncaring voices too.
Take the young man who was beaten outside of the Granada theater in downtown Lawrence early Thursday morning. Police were called just before 2 a.m. and found a man who’d been knocked to the ground then kicked by two "suspects."
No one was arrested and the man was taken to the hospital with injuries to his face and head.
Enter Lawrence Journal World comments section stalwarts bearing their feeble two-cents worths…
"Was there a hip-hop performance there Wednesday night?" asked the first.
"Actually, it was a bluegrass concert," came the answer. "What is it they say about people who assume things?"
"The fight was a group of WHITE college students, that were being drunk and ignorant," added a third.
"Ignorant and racist," said a fourth.
And it was downhill from there…
"I will say that the Granasty charges 10 bucks for a double capt and coke, that could anger a few peeps" was one.
"Any drink that requires coke is lame," came another.
And on they went.
"Boy, beautiful downtown lawrence, thanks commissioners for making it an entertainment district instead of the unique downtown of the past."
"Looks like we need to do away with the granada the way things are going with it. maybe put downtown the way it use be."
"Why? Because they (like every bar in Lawrence) has fights that break out? A fight outside Jazzhaus earlier this week sent a man to the hospital… should we close down that bar too? Anytime you throw alcohol and crowds together you’re going to get people who are belligerent and irresponsible. Maybe we should start blaming the alcohol and the individuals who abuse it before we blame the venue. And lets not forget that just because a fight breaks out in front of ONE crowded street front, that doesnt mean that those people were in attendance at that specific event or even that they were customers of that particular establishment. Drunks wander Mass Street all night and some of them are hungry for these kind of arguments."
Somebody even blamed the fight on Topeka. Another on Obama. Were Secret Service aents involved, queried another.
Typical comments section style devolution – a few interesting details here and there followed by a parade of numbnuts. A long parade of numbnuts.
"This is my son and I dont care what kind of concert it was the sorry SOB that did this is a coward and will be held accountable by any means necessary," said an apparently sincere bdye.
"Not a single one of you commenting on this said a thing about hoping the young man was ok the lack of compassion in this town is underwhelming like almost everything else in Lawrence. Right now I dont give a rats ass about the music, the venue or the amount of idiots Lawrence has. I just want my boy to be alright and the douche that did this arrested and held responsible for his stupidity. My son has always been very well liked in this town is a musician and goes out of his way to be kind to people. You could all take a lesson from him."
Then – almost miraculoulsy – a funny thing happened. The morons came to their senses and a civil exchange took place.
"I hope your son is alright, and the idiots are brought to justice, apologies for peoples stupidity," one of the early commenters offered.
"I hope he’s okay and they get whoever did this.Sometimes it’s best to stay away from here even when the story hits close to home.Not much compassion here, just a lot of wise-acres," said another.
A third asked the "father" what his son might have done to get beaten up.
"He was defending the girl that got hit too," came the answer. "They say he is gonna be ok just alot of stitches. Apparently my son is one of the last gentlemen on earth who will always go to bat for the underdog male or female. It’s a shame this coward is still running around the streets but his day will come and soon."
And lastly, this morning early came the voice of Merrill.
Hey, wait a minute.
Not the Merrill who just escaped the gravitational pull of KMBZ radio? The dude who’s a refugee of Lawrence himself – the photoshopped one.
"Granada should implement a drink limit such that Applebee’s does. I believe it to be a limit of 2 or three. Very smart. This way those ruffians that cannot handle alcohol might be contained so they do not ruin the fun and enjoyment for others"
It was an interesting case study in the failures and successes of a healthy comments section.
While there’s no escaping the knuckleheads, some of the early, dumb and dumber stereotypes and notions were dispelled, more information regarding the news story was brought to light and readers were prompted to step outside of their comfort zones and consider the humanity of the situation.
And all in all, I think that’s a good thing.