Activist Judges On The Darwin Awards Bench

A California couple who robbed a cash advance store in Colorado was caught when employees provided to police the job application one of them had filled out two months previously.

Christine Drummond and Joseph Nieto told the arresting officers they'd held up the place to get enough money to get back to California and spend Christmas with their children.

Commenter "filterfish" was sufficiently impressed to start handing out the hardware:

And the Darwin award goes to....Christine Drummond!!

To which I say: hey there, tiger, let's not get ahead of ourselves. The governing body describes itself as "A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises Honoring those who improve the species... [sic] by accidentally removing themselves from it," and Ms. Drummond is still a member of the species. She's even had kids: she's actually done her bit to perpetuate the characteristics that got her arrested.

What I'm saying, filterfish, is that by surviving and having children, she's the exact opposite of a Darwin Awards candidate. Sure, she's not very bright, but if everyone who said or did something stupid got a Darwin Award, Ms. Drummond would be in fine company.

Yours and mine, for example.

She can reuse this the next time there's an earthquake in Kyrgyzstan, too.

Commenter "MadameMorticia" seems about ready to throw in the towel on a certain earthquake-devasted country that's in the news recently:
How can we help Haity? Most of us cannot. If we donate our money to some "charity", we'll just end up getting scammed, giving our money away to greedy people who will use it to enrich themselves - very little of that money will actually make it's way to Haity. I don't believe in giving to organized charity (well, money anyway). We can't all go down there and literally do stuff, bring stuff. How could I get away from my "job" which requires my attendance 8.5 hours per day, 5 days per week (where completion of my daily assigned workload takes 30 minutes of those 8 hours). We can't bring stuff, what, is there an airline that would fly me, my shovel and work clothes, garbage bags full of clothes and non-perishable food, down there free of charge? Hahahah!

It's difficult to help Haity.

So, to enumerate some of the problems:
  1. Charities are scams.
  2. Not enough work to do at job, but unable to take time off.
  3. Airlines unwilling to fly her, her shovels and garbage bags of clothes and food for free.
And let's not forget, we can't help Haiti until we learn to spell Haiti.

Mull of Kintyre/Old mist rolling in from the seeth.

The Mail Online has a story and pictures of Paul McCartney on vacation on an unspecified island in the Carribean, prompting angry reader "dave" of "[a] safe distance from hull" to write,
Let's assume that dave bought the record around the time it was released in 1977. If he was sixteen then, that makes him - scratch, scratch, add, think, carry the one, scratch - 49 some time this year.

I worry about guys like dave: they've got a different perspective on life than the rest of us do. He's nearly 50 and his "GREATEST REGRET IN LIFE" is that he bought "Mull of Kintyre." And he's still seething about it. What might have happened if he'd spent another couple of pounds on the "Ebony & Ivory" single? And what would be a safe distance from Hull in those circumstances?

And let's not even think about "Wonderful Christmastime."

The Grandoise Plans Of The Nouveau Riche.

So a guy in Maryland is digging up the paperwork to pay the next installment on his truck insurance and finds a six-month-old lottery ticket he bought when he paid the previous installment on his truck insurance. Good news: the ticket's a $250,000 winner.

A feel-good story that makes everyone happy, right?

Sure, thought a commenter called "Sai Hundal".
Good for him, what a nice Christmas Gift. God works in mysterious ways.

Oh, great. That's just great. Here we effin' go. 

As Neil Armstrong once said, "That's one little, harmless expression of satisfaction for another person, one giant storm of argument about the existence (or not) of God." The next hundred and ninety comments included thirty-eight so inflammatory that they were deleted by the Good News Network's editors. 

A week later, after the latest skirmish in The Internet Crusades has died down, commenter "NYCBBEAN" spots the real villain in the story: the un-named lottery winner.
$250K - I wonder how much he thinks he's going to get after taxes etc? Seems like he has grandoise plans to me
It would appear that in addition to not knowing how to spell "grandiose," NYCBBEAN doesn't know what the word means:

"With his winnings, [the winner] said he plans to donate to a charity, help family, invest and take a vacation."

Maybe the gentleman from Maryland should consider hiring NYCBBEAN to bring a little sanity to his imminent spending spree.

I probably should stop calling it "the local fishwrap." I wouldn't dream of wrapping fish in it.

This post originally appeared in byoolin's trebuchet, another blog in which I write, in July 2009. 

Like many other newspapers' websites, my town's local fishwrap, Wheeling's Intelligencer & News-Register, allows its readers to comment on many articles on its website. The site's Terms of Service say that the comment feature is “provided to give users an interesting and stimulating forum to express their opinions and share ideas and information.”

“It is a condition of your use of these Services,” say the Terms, that people don't, among other things, use “vulgar, profane, abusive, hateful or racist language or expressions” or make “attacks of a personal, racial or religious nature” or “post any material that is threatening, false, defamatory, misleading, fraudulent, unfair, and inaccurate... [or] is unreasonably harmful or offensive to any individual, community, association, business or group.”

It's a system that works, except when it doesn't, which is usually. You know that old saying that opinions are like assholes – everybody's got one? The News-Register's comments section seems to be on a single-minded quest to tip that balance. Now, a lot of news (and other) websites have comments sections that seem to be populated mostly by people who have checked their good manners at the door. But the News-Register's comments are different. The comments on nearly every story seem to rapidly and rabidly devolve into demonstrations of who can be the most puerile and juvenile. How juvenile, you ask?

Well, here's user “EllisWyatt” implying that “GymJones” is a homosexual voyeur in response to GymJones calling him gay and “a little whiny c-u-n-t” (the hyphens are there to defeat the Dirty Word Filter) during an interesting and stimulating discussion of some local steelworkers being recalled from layoffs.

Elsewhere, “AlexanderShulgin” adds a non-journalist's perspective to a story about poor weather during the local Jamboree In The Hills music festival: “Tit bit nipply,” he remarks, expanding upon his own earlier comment - “Let’s see some t i t i e s [sic]” - on another story about the Jamboree.

“WVUGator2” agrees with EllisWyatt that a fire at a local country club “is a classic example of Jewish Lighning [sic],” - arson as an implement of insurance fraud - in part because “we all know Moondog could not get his bike up Route 88.” Moondog, a bit of a local celebrity, is known for riding a bicycle that flies a very large flag. Were it not for the difficulty in riding that bike up the very steep hill, Moondog, an African-American, would seem to be high on WVUGator2's list of suspects.

On the healthcare issue, “conservsquatch” says GymJones is both incestuous and a pedophile: “Gymjones does his mother. He also still touches little boys,” while “Truthseeker” believes many of the commenters “enjoy kicking puppies and kittens.”

Commenting on another healthcare story, “Highland” postulated that “[President] Obama will shut down any hospital that refuses to perform abortions,” prompting “acousticportal” to riposte in customary fashion, “Highland...are you really that ignorant? f-n blind follower.”

When a nearby school board announced the appointment of a principal to a new position after allegations of harrassment had been made against him, EllisWyatt suggested that county voters were “morons,” prompting shastacooper to call him “truly, truly the VILLAGE IDIOT.” Then, when “All4One” lamented the lack of civility in the comments to that point, COACH1 seemed to imply that All4One was a corrupt crony of the former principal, which in turn prompted Honeybun to speculate that COACH1 “may have been getting some special favors from” said former principal.

So, the News-Register's comment pages are home to a pretty sad-sack bunch of intemperate, insulting, homophobic, vitriolic, foul-mouthed, xenophobic, intolerant, petty, vindictive, rude and libelous people, and the Wheeling Intelligencer & News-Register seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it. Maybe its editors just have a different definition of “an interesting and stimulating forum.”

"Join The Discussion." (But try not to get too much spit on your monitor.)

This post originally appeared in byoolin's trebuchet, another blog in which I write, in January 2010.  

Adapted from a letter I sent to the editor of The Globe And Mail earlier this week.

It's time for news organizations' websites to discontinue the practice of offering their readers the opportunity to comment on the stories they publish.

Billed as a way for a site's readers to share their thoughts, in reality the commenters rarely contribute anything thoughtful or worthwhile. Rather, the comments are frequently puerile, juvenile, inane and banal, and all too often they are simply hateful, vulgar, and offensive. Today's exemplar:, the website of The Globe And Mail newspaper, "a blue-chip brand whose credibility is unchallenged... [and] universally recognized as Canada's newspaper of record."

Last Tuesday in Ottawa, a police constable named Eric Czapnik was stabbed to death as he did paperwork in his cruiser. A few hours later, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer on leave because of mental health issues was charged with his homicide. The comments section of the Globe And Mail's story provided a disturbing insight into how the feature has devolved. By 10pm that night, 28 of the 218 comments posted were deleted by The Globe's editors for content "not consistent with [The Globe's] guidelines." Many of those that remained were little more than malice-filled expressions of the commenters' personal biases.

Two commenters agree - before an arrest is announced - that the suspect "was either on probation, parole, or bail... AND he was unemployed and contributing nothing to society." Another speculates later that the suspect "wanted to die 'death by cop' style" but "didn't have guts" to kill himself. Yet another seems to imply that Const. Czapnik's murder and the death of Robert Dziekanski in 2007 is part of some kind of RCMP-organized attack on Poles; that writer might be on the same page as the one who believes that RCMP officers have "been given a blank cheque to cover up all their past murders." And there's no shortage of commenters calling one another "idiot" or "mental midget."

This sort of thing isn't isolated. Pick an online story at random and you're almost guaranteed to find something: airport delays? Let's call Muslims terrorists. Fired at age 42 for being too old? Let's make a crack about global warming. Unemployed at 59? Let's mock you because you were in a union. Gym memberships? "This is the most insipid drivel I have ever had the misfortune to read."

The Globe And Mail invites its readers to "Join The Discussion," but these people are uninterested in discussing anything. They just want another forum for their bilious, vitriolic, racist hatemongering. And websites like The Globe And Mail seem to be happy to give them one.

Let's save some hate for Guam, people.

This post originally appeared in byoolin's trebuchet, another blog in which I write, in January 2010.

In Chambers County, Texas, three Puerto Rican men are in custody, charged with stabbing to death a man who had let them stay in his trailer.

Horrific crimes like this almost inevitably lead to a show of force from the peanut-brain gallery.

Searcher61 wrote:

No reverence or value on human life. See what you want, TAKE it! "American Dream," INDEED! OUR American Dream is to DEPORT those who come here illegally to take advantage of OUR hard work, and to ELIMINATE those who come here illegally to take advantage of us AND kill us when we try to help them!...

lea1 wrote:

How long will will let these people come to our country? seems when they said where they were from "Devillier" would have asked about their legal status in our country... coming to our country for the illegals means food stamps,free medical care, and rights that we as americans do not have. It also means they can rob and kill and then move on.

sk134 wrote:

This is one reason why law officers should be able to ask the simple question :Are you here legally? If he could have asked, perhaps a man would be alive today.

Danzmark wrote:

Time to throw ALL these illegals out ! The American Dream doesn't include the rest of the Americans letting these parasites sneak in.

But my favourite comment comes early in the stream of invective, from the 10th person to comment.
Bear1949 wrote:

ILLEGAL ALIENS doing what they do best, KILLING AMERICAN citizens.

That's my favourite comment because only 13 minutes earlier, the very first commenter made a bold prediction.
CheeryEyed wrote:

I despise Puerto Ricans for whining that they can't be a state nor can they be independent. That said, I'm waiting for the idiots to call these goons illegals.

What CheeryEyed is hinting at, of course, is that Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States and - since 1917 - people born in Puerto Rico are American citizens.

The peanut-brain gallery speaks.

This post originally appeared in byoolin's trebuchet, another blog in which I write, in January 2010.

In Decatur, Georgia, a 4-year-old boy was killed by a bullet from celebratory gunfire while attending a New Year’s Eve church service. The bullet is believed to have come from a weapon fired into the air before it pierced the church roof and struck the boy in the head.

We can be grateful to one of the website's commentators for immediately identifying the salient issue:

What is the church roof made of...Saran Wrap? Once the bullet makes its way down towards earth and hits the roof, there should be enough friction force on the bullet to slow it down before it completely exits the roof material.

Jan. 1, 2010 7:50pm EST | from trizone

A blog in which the old saying about opinions and assholes is demonstrated.

"What's on your 'alleged' mind?" is a question a friend and former coworker of mine asks when he senses the person he's speaking to is about to say something - I don't want to say stupid, exactly - that doesn't reflect well on the speaker's intellect.

I use that question here in a different sense: here, I do want to use the word stupid. It's a word that accurately describes the stuff you'll read in this blog, which is a collection of comments that readers have appended to stories on the websites of various online media organizations. It's kind of sad, really, in that stupid is probably the kindest thing one can say of much of the commentary. Too much of it is also bilious, ignorant, vitriolic, xeno-, homo-, techno- and anyotherkindophobic you might think of, not to mention several flavours of things you might not think of.

So let's follow the news as it's seen through the eyes of a large number of people with terrifically small brains, long lists of things which offend them, houses full of fears and paranoia, and no small collections of axes to grind, shall we?