We ourselves tend to avoid doing too much scrolling on SFGate for fear that our eyes will fall upon the shrill, vitriolic, frequently ALL-CAPPED stupidity that is their commenter pool. Today, Phil Bronstein can't take it anymore and pens an editorial about what assholes these commenters all seem to be, now that they pounced upon two recent tragedies -- the three hikers swept over the falls at Yosemite, and a Marin man who got washed into a blowhole in Maui by a rogue wave -- as excuses to mouth off about how dumb the victims were.
"How much courage does it take to be mean about the dead?" asks Bronstein. "Or to scold them for dying accidentally?" We should point out to Phil that "courage" and "online commenting" are pretty much never in the same sentence.
Among the comments he points to: "Darwin award candidate right here folks," - re: the Maui tragedy. And "What a blowhole for getting that close."
It turns out Bronstein's motive for suddenly piping up about the vitriol is that he has a personal connection to Tika Hick, whose partner of 11 years and father of her 6-month-old son, David Potts, was the guy lost in Maui. "She is one of my sons' preschool teachers, an expansively kind and compassionate person."
He goes on to try to make the smirky commenters feel as bad as possible:
Life itself had already piled on that family. Tika learned she had stage IV breast cancer weeks after giving birth. David was a successful contractor-builder who took a hit in the recession and recently declared bankruptcy. Then they lost their home.
Are we smirking yet?
They were in Hawaii with friends and family to snatch some respite before Tika went in for a double mastectomy.
Well, anyhow, Phil. We feel you. But we ourselves try to moderate our comments a little better (and thank you, SFist crew, for remaining pretty classy about the Yosemite thing). As blogger Anil Dash recently pointed out, we are two decades into this internet thing, and a solid decade into the Age of Commenting, and "If your website's full of assholes, it's your fault." Maybe if SFGate hadn't been such an anonymous free-for-all all this time, not always quite in touch with the ways of the internet despite being the news org of record in the nation's most tech-heavy town, you wouldn't have to pen such editorials in 2011.