People have been awful on the internet again


A post on the Facebook page for Radio New Zealand Checkpoint went unmoderated for some time over the weekend. A number of commentators took the opportunity to write unpleasant things about John Key. Truly awful and indefensible things. Things that offended David Farrar and Cameron Slater, those model of blogging propriety, decency and wholesomeness, so profoundly that they found themselves reaching for the smelling salts.

It’s unclear whether all these awful comments were the result of a deliberate hate campaign by a committed group of unpleasant Key-phobes. An alternative theory doing the rounds is that it was some sort of false-flag operation by Cameron Slater in a continuation of his ongoing Dirty Politics campaign. The “scandal” was uncovered by the very same blogger, but while it is tempting to apply the “he who smelt it dealt it” rule in this case, we really don’t have evidence that Slater was behind it. As tempting as it is to blame all the world’s ills on the Whaleoil blogger, he’s probably responsible for no more than half of them.

Just what do all these disturbing comments tell us? What conclusions can we draw from this sordid tale? Are the left in New Zealand truly this hateful? If they are, then Radio NZ may have done us all a disservice by deleting the evidence, just as it did us all a disservice by not deleting it earlier. Or perhaps it’s a funding issue. If this is the way a public broadcaster will behave, maybe we should cut its funding. What better way to improve an organisation’s social media presence than by taking away more of its resources?

And what of the complaints by David Farrar and Cameron Slater? Could it be that they just don’t like the competition? In Slater’s case it must be especially hard to see such waste. So much filth and bile, and it’s all being squandered on a public broadcaster’s page, with no way to monetise it.

But for all the speculation, what can we say for certain? I have been doing some digging, and here’s a list of the facts I have been able to establish beyond any doubt:

  • People are shits.
  • I mean, total shits.
  • Not everyone, but lots of people.
  • All that shittiness needs to go somewhere, so why not the internet?

It’s about the only thing we can take from this story. Everything else is just speculation by people with political agendas.