Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Cesspool of the Internet

I feel dirty, and a bit sad.

I was doing some searching for information for the previous post here and in doing so, came a cross a website (which I will not link to) from a woman, living in Austria who claims to be a Palestinian refugee forced from her home after being a journalist in Israel and reporting for over 20 years.

I clicked through to the site not knowing what it was and sincerely interested in what this woman had to say. What I found was so hateful, so digusting and so disturbing that I barely knew how to react. Amongst support for terrorism and suicide bombings, there was the assertion that all Israeli soldiers were psycopaths, weak, genocidal and can imagine the other adjectives.

To give you an idea, the first post i read was one where she posts a comment she received from an Israeli who came across her site. The comment she posts is what she describes as far beyond what "these people" normally write to her. I've got to say, I read the comment and while yes, it was critical, it was not offensive. Some of my readers know that I too can be sensetive about the comments I recive, but if the comment she posted goes "far beyond" what she normally receives from "these people" then everyone else must be heaping praise upon her.

To give you an idea of what this site looked like, I tried to post the following comment. I think it was screened out:

"This comment is not related to this post in particular, but rather to this blog
in general. I just didn't know where else to put it.

I came across this blog and thought I would click through for some opinions that are
different from my own. I certainly found that, but I also found a great deal of hate.

The other comments on this post alone violate your own guidelines for comments, especially the parts about "- No insults against any religious, ethnical, political group." See for example this particularly offensive comment: "Because Israeli Jews are satanic talmudists nobody believes any jew. not a jew in Israel not a jew anywhere. We are full aware that everything what a jew says is b.s., remember that their God is Lucifer. the big deceiver." If this is not anti-Semitism, then I'm not sure what is. If I wanted to write the same things, but replaced the word Jew with Muslim, Christian, Hindu or animist, would it be posted?

I have to say, it makes reading your blog an offensive and uncomfortable experience and creates a situation where you're preaching only to the choir (which may be your goal.) I hold opinions different than yours, but if you want to share those views and try to influence my thinking, or the thinking of anyone else, an environment comments like "Israeli zionists are intensely selfish, intolerant and anti-social, et cetera. They are full of hate, greed, malice, et cetera." will drive people away, not draw them in. Your rules for comments are very good. I encourage you to stick to them.

Also, as an aside, you note inn this post that "Here is what “Eyal”, the Israeli working at Ben-Gurion Airport, left as a comment on my blog. The poor man clearly has someproblems writing correct English." Is it really necessary to attack this person's linguistic skills? English is clearly not his first language. Nobody is perfect and from the portions that I read, this blog could use a few re-reads and corrections as well. (As could mine, nobody's perfect.)"

After being sucked into the mire of this site, I clicked through to some of the links on her site which were just as hateful and offensive. I also tried to research this woman and her journalistic career, but the only other sites I found that mentioned her name were those similar to her own, and sites like the Neo-Nazi forum "Stormfront."

I feel sick for having spent as long as I did surrounded by such hatred.

One of my hopes when starting this blog was to ensure that whatever views I present were bereft of hatred. I really hope I'm doing that.


David Herz said...

If the site is linked to Stormfront, I wouldn't waste too much time on it. Stormfront itself censors hostile commenters and even alters their posts to suit their own needs. If this site is run by the same people, they will do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you actually spent time reading that crap, and posting on it! What were you thinking? Trying to convince her? If you and I can't seem to agree on some things, how the hell did you expect to convince her?!

An (amused) friend.

David Herz said...

I disagree. Arguing with neo-nazis can be a useful activity, if done right. You can eventually make them see the light, although it can take a lot of patience.

However, if you are dealing with a site that doesn't post your comments or, worse, alters them, it does become a useless exercise.

Charlie H. Ettinson said...

Thanks to both of your for your (supportive?) comments.

The site is linked to by someone on Stormfront, not the other way around.

I guess the reason I stayed on the site after it became clear what it was is because it made me really angry. I'm not naive. I know what exists out there in the world, but what frustrated me even more, was that this was the first site I found when I googled the name of an Israeli soldier mentioned in a Ha'aretz article. Not even Ha'aretz came up before this hate site.

The comment I tried to leave was posted for all of 10 minutes and then taken down. Part of me wants to bombard the site with attempts to post some of the comments already on her site replacing the word "Jew" with "Zoroastrian" but the other part of me knows it won't do any good.

That same part of me also has a job.

Anonymous said...

If it came up in a google search even before information about the Israeli soldier, that takes money - about $50-100 or more per day, according to a nephew who sold electric scooters on the internet a few years back. Google priority search placement is not cheap and it eventually drove him out of business.

Google is directly complicit in that situation, probably unknowingly. It would be very interesting to follow the money. I wonder where it leads?

Rick in Michigan

Charlie H. Ettinson said...

Hi Rick,

I don't think it was a "sponosred link" like the one your nephew had experience with. My understanding of google searches is that they look at a number of factors including the frequency with which a word appears, the frequency the site is updated and the amount of other sites that link to the site in question. This is seen as an indicator of relevance.

Given how prolific a blogger this person seemed to be, I imagine that many other sites linked to her and so the google search software just does its job, not knowing what the site actually says. I don't really think there's anything foul afoot here.

It was an awful site though.

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