Think political discourse is nasty? Try writing about sports

April 07, 2010

Tim Eastman ( "The unruly mob comes to the editorial page," April 6) got it only half right. If he wants to see an unruly mob, he should peek in on a comments section on a sports related topic. And if the author of that piece happens to touch a nerve with the sports community, he'd better have a strong stomach because he will witness the most intense wailing and gnashing of teeth to be seen anywhere this side of Hades.

I wrote an opinion that was published in this section on April 6 that the Sunpaper (not me) titled "Stop yelling 'O' during the National Anthem." In it, I never suggested anyone not yell "O" during the anthem but merely expressed my opinion of it. I fully expected a backlash, being a veteran of several opinion blog sites as well as websites for writers, in which I've written opinions and research on everything from poetry and philosophy to history and religion and politics. The over-reaction I got from my sports-related topic out-did anything I've seen on any other blog on any other topic, which speaks volumes as to what people — in Baltimore at least — get passionate about.

A few days previously, The Sun published a letter of mine titled, "Term limits won't fix anything," which netted eight total responses, whereas the "O" piece garnered 175 responses as of this writing.

The truly sad part isn't so much that people get more passionate about sports and this strange, nebulous thing that passes for "civic pride" in their universe but that they put more energy into attacking the writer than debunking his assertions.

And the attacks are personal. One nut-job even went so far as to Google my name and post some of my personal links in one of his hate-filled comments. My family was unnerved by it because someone who would do that is obviously unbalanced and is capable of anything. Thank you, Sunpaper for deleting his comment, but, somebody who is capable of that should be banned from your website...period!

I read a commentary a while back which spoke to the incivility of comments on blog sites, which attributed much of the vitriol to the fact that the Internet provides people with a safe distance to say things they wouldn't dare say to someone in person. And because of that, public discourse has sunk to an all-time-low that now panders to the basest among us.

No, Mr. Eastman, the editorials aren't the unruly mob. If you want to see a no-holds-barred, uncivilized barroom brawl, "red in tooth and claw," then visit the sports comment section, if you have the stomach for it!

Charles Hilton, Baltimore

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