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The Worst People in the World

Poor Vice President Joe Biden, a man who has had to deal with far more family tragedy in his life than anyone should, is suffering again. His son Beau, as you have no doubt heard, has died from brain cancer at age 46. God bless and help the Biden family. Beau is the second child that Joe Biden will have had to bury. I have seen up close what grief over the death of a child, even when the child is an adult, does to parents. I see it and hear it every single day. Last night at church we had a memorial service for the dead, including our dear friend Jack, who died suddenly from kidney disease last October. He was in his early 40s. His mom and dad were among those in church last night praying. My heart broke for them.

If you pray, pray for mercy for the Bidens.

I wasn’t going to mar this occasion by saying anything about how horrible human beings are, but this makes me so angry I can’t let it go. The other day I remarked here about how stunning and discouraging is the gratuitous nastiness and pettiness one sees among New York Times website commenters. Turns out they are literary and philosophical geniuses compared to the people Fox News allows to comment on its site.

Fox News has apparently suspended commenting on Beau Biden stories on its website after so many people used the occasion of the man’s death to trash his family. So the haters have taken up the cause on the comments section under a story about Secretary of State John Kerry breaking his leg [1] in a bike accident in France. A sampling of the humanity on display there:

NorthBob:

What a shame to die at only 46, especially when all 46 years he had such a complete a-hole for a father…

civilwariscool:

between this and bidens pig son dead, it’s been a great weekend

Mostly, though, on this thread, it’s been about Kerry’s breaking his femur:

Patriot101369: That curb needs to get a Gold Medal…yawn
Tacolipsnow: Hopeful for a full and good recovery Sec. Kerry 

And liberal trolls are trolling the conservative trolls:

sparkle03After reading all these posts from the conservative christians. ….. fk I’m glad isis is getting rid of them
sparkle03: What’s better than one dead christian……… two

Is there anything nastier in this universe than the human heart? Is there any possible good that can come out of an unmoderated comments section that balances out this filth?

Regular readers of my highly moderated comments section: You’re welcome.

 

134 Comments (Open | Close)

134 Comments To "The Worst People in the World"

#1 Comment By First Deacon On June 1, 2015 @ 1:53 pm

What was the old Solzhenitsyn quote, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being” ? Definitely applies here to all tribes.

I really wonder if, to many people, public figures like Joe Biden and John Kerry are just not real to them. About the same as the way many fans see sports figures – when their team is down, they rejoice when the opposing QB is sacked and gets hurt. Or about as real as some comic figure in a TV show. And maybe the comments are sometimes meant as some sort of dark raunchy humor.

Would they express such incredibly cruel things if they went to school with Joe or members of his family, or otherwise had some non-superficial contact with him as a person? If so, our society really is in trouble. But we aren’t yet that uniformly rude to each other in person. At least not where I live.

I’m glad Rod is calling out folks that are in principle at least are more sympathetic to his view of things than the average NYT commenter. One thing I’ve noticed in myself, and I suspect is true for many on both sides, is I tend to ignore the foul mouthed idiots who seem to sympathize with the same causes I do, but I’m tempted to get angry when I read idiot troll comments from the other side, and have caught myself wondering if they aren’t expressing something out loud that many of their calmer fellow travelers also think. If you do enough of that, its a short step to believing almost all of the b*stards are on the other side. But no, they’ve infiltrated your camp too. You’re just ignoring them.

#2 Comment By Chris 1 On June 1, 2015 @ 2:19 pm

This is lamentably in keeping with much of what passes for online “community” these days. It’s also a pretty good example of your post about the symbolic and diabolic.

#3 Comment By ChuckyT On June 1, 2015 @ 2:25 pm

Given the deranged reaction of “progressives” to Fox News it would not surprise me in the least if all that nastiness was posted by “progressive” sock puppets and not conservatives.

#4 Comment By JonF On June 1, 2015 @ 2:36 pm

Re: …insofar as non-white immigration depresses the fertility of native white Americans,

Huh? Sorry, Noah, this sounds a province in tin-foil territory.

#5 Comment By JonF On June 1, 2015 @ 2:44 pm

Noah (sorry if I’m picking on you)– did you ever read some of the crap that got splattered onto Coates’ site? A lot of it was not “polite disagreement” but vile and vicious racism, or else endless disruptive digressions. (Some bloggers– not Rod so much– insist people stay on topic; I even had posts flagged on Coates’ site for being off topic). In fact the entire Atlantic site has become a cesspit for comments– there have even been ugly antisemitic rants spammed onto their “Game of Thrones” pieces. Coates gave up and pretty much shut down his comments section entirely.
By the way, I am acquainted, on line, with a guy who did a lot of the comment policing for Coates. He wasn’t some ranting radical– in fact he’s not even black. He’s a white guy who lives in Toronto.

#6 Comment By Max Skinner On June 1, 2015 @ 3:17 pm

@First Deacon: “I really wonder if, to many people, public figures like Joe Biden and John Kerry are just not real to them. About the same as the way many fans see sports figures – when their team is down, they rejoice when the opposing QB is sacked and gets hurt. Or about as real as some comic figure in a TV show. And maybe the comments are sometimes meant as some sort of dark raunchy humor.”

First Deacon is onto something here. Out groups, the “them” that is hated and/or feared are not human to some people. They feel nothing in common with “them.” “Them” are not human, are not worthy of even cursory respect or civility. Every disagreement with “them” is an excuse to be cruel to “them.” It is a darkness in humans that seems to be given free reign on the internet. As people become accustomed to giving it full expression and seeing others do so, it slops into all human discourse and turns civility, kindness and empathy into signs of weakness which deserves even more contempt.

#7 Comment By skg On June 1, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

Joe Biden was the commencement speaker at Yale a few weeks ago. It is commendable. His actions are the opposite of “the worst people in the world.” In fact, he speaks about reaching out to those with whom he disagrees, using as an example his relationship with Jesse Helms. I am humbled that he could give such a speech, filled with humanity and grace, when his son was so ill.

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#8 Comment By Frank On June 1, 2015 @ 4:12 pm

Your writings about homosexual relationships and transgender issues goes way beyond polite disagreement. The excuse that you are informed by your faith to express such uncharitable views stretches credulity. What is more, you frequently allow commenters to write exceedingly nasty comments in quite poor taste, especially as it relates to homosexuality and transgender topics. Your blog is not as far from Foxes as you might hope.

#9 Comment By Hank Foresman On June 1, 2015 @ 5:20 pm

The great democracy of the internet is fraught with people who because of the anonymous nature of it write things that if they had to do it face to face, or in a public forum would not say. It is a reminder why we need rules in a world where many believe there are no need for rules or government.

#10 Comment By Niccolo Salo On June 1, 2015 @ 5:32 pm

” He’s a white guy who lives in Toronto.”

That type is commonly referred to as a ‘s**tlib’ or SWPL. As a white guy who lives in Toronto (when not in Europe) I know the type well.

#11 Comment By Noah172 On June 1, 2015 @ 5:50 pm

JonF wrote:

Huh? Sorry, Noah, this sounds a province in tin-foil territory

See what I mean? “Tin-foil territory”? Like saying Obama was born in Kenya, or the WTC collapse was a controlled demolition, or whatever it is Oliver Stone says about the Kennedy assassination?

White-white American fertility (that is, white mothers with white fathers) has been uncomfortably below replacement level for forty-odd years, roughly coinciding with 1965, 1986, and 1990 immigration liberalizations. Hispanic fertility (heavily immigrant) has been significantly higher than white, in good and bad economic times — this despite the Hispanic abortion rate being consistently significantly higher than the white. White fertility is especially low in the heavily immigrant major metro areas (NY, LA, etc.), while white fertility is higher in the exurban and flyover enclaves whence whites have fled from all that vibrant urban diversity. Immigration has driven up demand (and thus price) for housing and public services in major metros, thus discouraging marriage and family formation among native whites — but since much of our economic activity is concentrated in these same metros, whites can’t necessarily find decent work (to support a family) out in some flyover Mayberry, versus living a single, childless (or one child) life in the big city or inner-ring suburbs.

Look, you can make a reasoned argument to counter this (very shortened) analysis — but dismissing it as “tin-foil territory” is just the sort of insecure echo chamber defense of which I accused certain commenter-banning bloggers.

#12 Comment By Hyperion On June 1, 2015 @ 6:24 pm

RD wrote: Turns out they are literary and philosophical geniuses compared to the people Fox News allows to comment on its site.

You are just noticing this? BTW the NYT site is moderated as well.

#13 Comment By ana g. On June 1, 2015 @ 6:52 pm

Thanks, Rod, for all the work you do moderating the comments here. It can’t be enjoyable for you, but it does so much for the atmosphere of the blog.

Thinking of the Biden family with the greatest sympathy. The amount of loss they’ve endured is staggering.

#14 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On June 1, 2015 @ 8:13 pm

Rod,

I’d like to thank you personally for this site and for the collegial community that your moderation (and I know it’s a thankless job) makes possible. It has the right mixture of vigorous disagreement and well maintained civility, and is a warm and welcoming enough community that people (myself included) feel comfortable enough to share some fairly personal material. I’d say after six years of reading and commenting here, many of us know each other (at least virtually) fairly well, and I’d welcome the chance to meet up with many of you in person- you (Rod), Turmarion, Siarlys, and others. I can’t imagine that an unmoderated free-for-all like the NYT comment section forsters the same collegiality.

I have strong tendencies towards anger and political fanaticism which I need to keep in check, myself, so I’m aware how easy it is for many of us to be tempted in this direction, and to gradually become a worse person. I’m glad you’ve been able to preserve a healthy atmosphere here and weed out the more offensive remarks, not just for the sake of those who would be hurt by them, but for the sake of those who might be making them.

#15 Comment By JonF On June 1, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

Re: White-white American fertility (that is, white mothers with white fathers) has been uncomfortably below replacement level for forty-odd years,

True, but I can’t see any causative connection with Hispanic people– or any one else. That smacks of scapegoating, of the old “Jews-poisoned-the-wells-and-caused-the-Plague” type. It’s not like fertility is some kind of discrete, limited thing of finite supply and if one person has ten kids that’s ten kids some other persons must have ten kids fewer.
There’s no medical evidence anyway that people are less fertile in any physiological sense than they were 100 years ago. People are CHOOSING to have fewer children (and I don’t see why that is a bad thing since we no longer need ten kids to have two or three survive). That’s why “fertility” has declined. No one is holding a gun to anyone, or poisoning their metabolism.

#16 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 2, 2015 @ 12:35 am

Your writings about homosexual relationships and transgender issues goes way beyond polite disagreement. The excuse that you are informed by your faith to express such uncharitable views stretches credulity.

It takes more than this sort of pouting to make a serious case against anyone. First, you offer no examples of what goes “beyond polite disagreement,” and to do that, you would have to offer some thoughts on what the boundaries of polite disagreement are, and why. What you characterize as “uncharitable views” is also undefined, which obviates any appeal to “credulity.”

E.g., do you begin with the premise that anyone who considers seriously that homosexual acts may be sinful has breached the boundaries of polite disagreement? If so, you are basically announcing “Those who don’t see it my way have all gone beyond polite disagreement.” On that basis, no polite disagreement is possible.

Perhaps you are one of the reasons that our gracious host despairs that polite disagreement IS possible because “You hate us no matter what.”

#17 Comment By Charles Cosimano On June 2, 2015 @ 1:14 am

There is, of course, a qualitative difference between losing an offspring to cancer and falling off a bicycle when one is old enough to know better than to be on one in the first place. The first requires sympathy, the second is an invitation to jokes.

#18 Comment By Hari.Seldon On June 2, 2015 @ 6:44 am

White-white American fertility (that is, white mothers with white fathers) has been uncomfortably below replacement level for forty-odd years,

The same is true for damn near every single OECD country whether they welcome immigrants like Canada or not like Japan.

Industrialization + Urbanization + Female Literacy = Declining Fertility rates.

Put those three together and it doesn’t matter what country you are in, what religion, what culture, what economic system, fertility rates go down, they practically crash overnite which is why the only countries in which fertility rates not going down are poor sub-saharan countries.

To make you feel better Mexico went from a 4.7 fertility rate in 1980 to a 2.2 in 2014.

#19 Comment By Tom S. On June 2, 2015 @ 9:03 am

Noah,

One of the oldest Social Science caveats in the book: “Correlation does not equal causation.”

#20 Comment By Richard B On June 2, 2015 @ 9:46 am

Internet trolls are one of the things that makes even a die-hard leftist like myself realize that conservatism has a few good points to make. One of them is that gatekeepers, social disapproval and even the threat of violence are essential parts of any civilization. Given a forum where people can speak with no fear of being shunned, attacked or even identified, it’s shocking how many immediately go straight for the hate speech.

The weird thing, though, is that this behavior seems to be more commonplace among conservatives. I’ll readily admit that this is just my assessment and probably can’t be proven one way of the other at the moment… but I’m just not aware of any liberal forum where you can find the consistent and deep level of vitriol and hate that’s just another day on Fox, Drudge, Redstate, etc… Daily Kos or Salon are probably the closest equivalents, and the commenters there don’t even come close – in fact, the right-wing trolls are thick in both forums.

#21 Comment By Glaivester On June 2, 2015 @ 10:25 am

True, but I can’t see any causative connection with Hispanic people– or any one else. That smacks of scapegoating, of the old “Jews-poisoned-the-wells-and-caused-the-Plague” type. It’s not like fertility is some kind of discrete, limited thing of finite supply and if one person has ten kids that’s ten kids some other persons must have ten kids fewer.

The point is that letting in large numbers of poor foreigners lowers wages, causes a need for more taxes for social spending, and makes it harder to afford a house in a good neighborhood. In essence, immigration makes it harder to afford a family if you intend to support the family yourself (as opposed to letting the government support your family). This disproporitonately makes it harder for whites to have children.

Noah172 gave you reasons why high immigration would reduce reproduction; he didn’t attribute it to some mysterious “poisoning the well” or to some mystical “finite fertility supply.” He gave specific reasons why it made family formation harder for whites, and you simply ignored him in favor of creating a strawman.

It is very difficult to discuss a reasonable disagreement with someone who willfully misinterprets everything, [3], and who rebuts [4] by [5].

#22 Comment By Noah172 On June 2, 2015 @ 12:56 pm

Hari.Seldon wrote:

Industrialization + Urbanization + Female Literacy = Declining Fertility rates

You are making a general statement about fertility rates, one which I don’t dispute. I was talking about differences in fertility rates between racial groups in the contemporary American context. I was positing that native white American fertility over the last 40-odd years was lower than it otherwise would have been absent high levels of non-white immigration. I do not claim that white American women would breed like Africans if we closed the borders; rather, I would claim that white American fertility would be, say, 2.3 children per woman instead of 1.7 if whites were not being economically squeezed so much by non-white immigration.

#23 Comment By Noah172 On June 2, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

To make you feel better Mexico went from a 4.7 fertility rate in 1980 to a 2.2 in 2014

Ah, but Hispanic fertility in the US (which is mostly Mexican, BTW) was a robust 2.5-3 children per woman from c. 1980 to 2008, and even with the economic crash it was still above replacement at 2.3 (give or take). You know why? Because Hispanic immigrant women are better of economically in the US than in their home countries, and thus have that extra kid (or two, or three) they might not have had back in Nowheresville, Mexico/Guatamala/Colombia — at the expense of whites, who are made worse off by so much Latin American (and other non-white) immigration.

#24 Comment By Paul J. On June 2, 2015 @ 5:15 pm

Out groups, the “them” that is hated and/or feared are not human to some people. They feel nothing in common with “them.” “Them” are not human, are not worthy of even cursory respect or civility. Every disagreement with “them” is an excuse to be cruel to “them.”

See also: the majority of he comments on the transgendered here on Dreher’s blog, and half the time, on the topic of marriage equality.

#25 Comment By Richard B On June 2, 2015 @ 5:35 pm

The NYT Magazine just published a fascinating article about paid trolls in Russia, who actually do post incredibly nasty comments on English-language media.
They’re mostly trolling other Russians, though.

[6]

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 2, 2015 @ 10:03 pm

LGBTQWERTY is not an “out” group any more. It is an insider group, and the talking heads who claim to speak for the demographic are flaming narcissists. If they would just buy their house and cook their dinner and sit on their front porch in the evening nobody would pay attention any more. But there is a certain political sub-species (not limited to the gay movement) that craves continued attention.

#27 Comment By veritas On June 3, 2015 @ 3:15 pm

I enjoy sites where the only people who can comment are those who have subscribed–with money–to the publication. People behave differently when they have paid for the privilege of being heard.

#28 Comment By Neil On June 8, 2015 @ 5:22 pm

Rod, if you haven’t watched President Obama’s eulogy at the funeral service, it’s worth the 20+ minutes it takes.

#29 Comment By edding On June 19, 2015 @ 1:23 am

Maybe self censoring temporarily during a time of one’s family grief would be appropriate, but I dare say that if one were to measure the record of Joe Biden and that of the Administration of which he is a central part, and of his complicity in those policies that have resulte in hundreds of thousands of deaths, and millions of persons maimed and/or dispossessed, I think it is not only fair, but also incumbent on us to speak bluntly and hold him and so many others in positions of leadership accountable for what are war crimes, pure and simple. What we’ve done in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Ukraine and dozens of other conflict zones- initiating unprovoked wars predicated on false intelligence- and prosecuting those wars with drones, torture, WMD and indiscriminate targeting of civilians- and what we have done to our own democracy, constitution and national spirit- all of it has been criminal. So why should we give the perpetrators a pass, instead of prosecuting and convicting them for it?

#30 Comment By MikeFromWichita On December 15, 2015 @ 6:34 pm

seems to me that plenty of folks have every reason to consider Biden an enemy of America and hence wish him every ill karma brings his way.

#31 Comment By Mayme On November 14, 2016 @ 9:58 am

And now we have a President pushed down our throats by just these same people.

#32 Comment By concerned cynic On November 28, 2016 @ 6:33 pm

Rod Dreher: What you wrote above is one of several reasons why yours truly, a Kirk-Burke conservative, is not an American right winger. I also voted third party.

#33 Comment By Gerri Perreault On March 16, 2017 @ 9:03 pm

“I am human, I consider nothing human to be alien to me.”
–Terence, A comic playwright of the Roman Republic. Around 170 BC

#34 Comment By Paul Emmons On April 15, 2017 @ 9:01 pm

Siarlys writes:

>Its one of the side effects of the internet. Previously, these creatures would have a very small circle to share their sordid opinions with. Now they can shove them in where everyone has to avert their eyes to miss it.

I agree. Those with the sheer literacy to form sentences such as yours above tend to associate throughout life with others who can do so. This selection bias tempts us to overlook the existence of fellow citizens who have just as much power in the voting booth individually as any of us do. Clearly, many of them have far less patience for niceties like due process than we take for granted.

Years ago I was o.k. with capital punishment. Reading a few crude expressions, from fellow Americans, of the sheer bloodlust underlying it, such as I never would have encountered in my sheltered little life before cyberspace , did more to change my mind on that issue than all the genteel arguments of moral philosophers.

Such screeds should fortify our respect for a government of checks and balances.