We all know that the Philly.com commentors are often (always) on the brink of insanity. They’ve got the unique internet-commentor skill of turning non-political and non-racial stories into political and racial free-for-alls in just a few words. It’d be entertaining if it wasn’t so disturbing. And one of the people who has noticed this is Philly.com’s own “sexologist,” Dr. Jill McDevitt. In a piece titled “My nasty commenters are victims of internalized sexual shame and insecurity,” McDevitt says, “As a rule, I generally don’t read anonymous online comments on any sexuality-related article, especially ones I write.” Why? Two reasons:
1. Look at the sexual world we live in. We live in a country where millions of dollars are spent on abstinence only education, where a man was arrested for walking around his own house naked because a woman trespassing across his lawn saw him through the window called police, where The Diary of Anne Frank was pulled from a middle school curriculum because it has the word ‘vagina’ In it, and where 15 year-old girls are labeled as sex offenders for texting their boyfriend a picture of their boobs …
2. I learned the hard way not to read comments back in 2008 after I opened my sex shop for women in West Chester and endured a backlash from the local Church that was so fierce it launched a national news story. I spent hours reading every single one of the hundreds of comments. I was called things like ‘vehicle of darkness,’ ‘destroying morals,’ ‘perversion,’ ‘bringing cultural demise,’ ‘the downfall of family life’ and my favorite, ‘a degrading assault on the dignity of a human person.’
Many of my colleagues that write about sex and gender often get worse, including death and rape threats.”
And those are just columns about sex. Any story, column, or post that involves the slightest amount of politics or race-related issues quickly devolves into a mad house of racists and wing-nuts. And while our commentors here aren’t nearly as bad (and haven’t been since we updated our commenting system), there’s a whole internet world out there, and things are bad all over. But really, Philly.com is probably the worst.