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It’s not about the bus

I made the mistake of reading several hundred comments on the Yahoo Canada News site yesterday, as people responded to the gruesome decapitation on the Greyhound bus.

The right-wing redneck racists were out in full force with their appalling opinions and atrocious spelling. They were clamoring for the guy’s head. Literally. They were blaming immigration policy. They were condeming Asians. They were huffing and puffing about how they would have jumped the guy and saved the victim’s life, unlike those 36 cowards who actually happened to be there. They were demanding the right to carry handguns so they could have shot the attacker themselves. They were criticizing the police for not shooting him on sight. They were asking what a person has to do to get charged with first degree murder in this country. They were screaming for reinstatement of the death penalty.

I was actually a little embarrassed, as a Canadian, reading what all these wingnuts had to say. Quite apart from our Canadian values, what’s happening to our education system? How come we have so many ignorant, illiterate, opinionated people on Yahoo Canada News?

And then there are the Chicken Little types, who see this one isolated incident as proof that the world is full of murderous monsters and we’re not safe anywhere anymore. They’re demanding that we immediately institute airport-type security on all the buses, and every person and every piece of luggage should be searched and all the bus drivers should carry guns.

People! Get a grip! It’s not about the bus – the bus was incidental. It could have happened on a city bus or a sidewalk or a mall or a public swimming pool or anywhere. We can’t invest resources in trying to prevent something that almost never happens, could happen anywhere, and affects almost nobody. It’s a monumental task and it’s just not worth it in terms of money, inconvenience, and the loss of our civil liberties.

If we’ve got that kind of money to invest in crime prevention, let’s do it wisely: put it into mental health resources, poverty reduction, recreation programs for at-risk kids, housing, or community development!

crime, violence, decapitation

15 comments to It’s not about the bus

  • Hear, hear.

    I’m not even going to check out that Yahoo link because I just can’t deal with that kind of crap. I get enough at home.

  • Meagan

    It is not possible for me to agree more. I have driven myself crazy this weekend reading the comments attached to various articles on this subject. It’s not only embarrassing as a Canadian, it’s also frightening.

  • Those Yahoo! comments are just places for insane people to spew hatred. They write the same things about whatever topic comes around. It’s almost always the same thirty people leaving comments. This past spring Yahoo! actually took them all down and now if you check out the pages they rarely even have comment areas anymore, and has comments off on 70% of their stories. For every lunatic going off on burning immigrants alive there’s an idiot writing about how PM Harper eats Muslims for dinner. Seriously… the people commenting on news stories posted on Yahoo! are all bat-shit insane.

  • Kat

    Anonymity can lead to some very foul opinions and language and that ‘cloak’ brings out so many cowards who wouldn’t ‘write’ this same opinion if they had to actually sign and address it.

    BTW Kat is a nickname, short for Kathryn. That’s me.

  • grace

    The way this story was presented in the media and the response to it has put me into another news fast. I stuggle between being uninformed and ill informed. Never a problem here at Knitnut! Thanks for some intelligent commentary Zoom.

  • Hear hear. Thanks for the warning – I will definitely avoid the comments.

  • if only it weren’t such a lousy career I’d suggest you go into politics

  • Carmen

    Zoom, I’d vote for you.

  • Politics? Me? Hmmm. Maybe I could be a virtual politican…

    Gabriel – really? I don’t usually read the comments on yahoo news stories. Do you have any theories about why all their commenters are “bat-shit insane”? (I love the terminology, btw.)

  • Oh – and all of you – Meagan, Kat, WC, Carmen, Nursemyra, Sin, Gabriel – thanks for your thoughtful comments. If the commenters here were anything like the commenters on Yahoo News, I think I’d stop blogging.

  • Once agian thanks you for an insightful, concise view of the terrible situation. It always amazes me how much hatred and racism can blind people.
    As for illiteracy, I’m a writer and have to bite my tongue from constantly correcting people on poor spelling, grammar etc…. it’s really sad how many people misuse our poor language.

  • Do you remember Trainspotting, that scene with the worst toilet in Scotland? This is what comes to mind when I think of the unmoderated forums on the internet.
    It’s a cesspool. And people *love* it. Splashing around in their own filth and hurling their excrement at others. They get off on it.
    Do you ever catch a glimpse of a popular TV show and wonder who in their right minds would watch that drivel? Do you ever wonder who reads all those tabloids? Do you ever wonder why Bush was voted in *TWICE*? This is the contingent we’re talking about.
    I look at it this way: these forums are self-moderating, in that anyone who’s after a serious discussion has learned (or will soon enough) not to bother. It is not representative of society as whole; rather it is a catch-all for ignorant asshats that think they’re achieving something by offering their opinions. Everyone loves being asked for an opinion on something. The mere asking for an opinion – which these forums do – makes people think they have one.

    The internet didn’t used to be this way. Check out “Eternal September” on Wikipedia. This was the day that the bottom fell out.

    One final thought. Slashdot ( has the best moderation system I’ve yet seen. Although aimed at nerds, there’s often excellent, engaging and insightful conversations going on. Politics and religion are covered extensively outside of the techy stuff. It’s the moderation which makes this work.

  • Andrew – how could anybody forget that toilet scene?
    Your comment intrigues me because on the one hand I think you’re absolutely right, but on the other hand I think if “this is the contingent we’re talking about” then it’s most likely a near majority (especially since we’re including everybody who voted for Bush twice).

    Eternal September is an interesting concept too. Wouldn’t it have to end eventually though? Kids today are practically born on the internet. The newbies aren’t an annual September influx anymore, and seasoned users must be vastly outnumbering – and therefore able to assimilate and ‘train’ – the newbies by now.

    Now I’m going to go check out Slashdot’s moderation system.

    Thanks for the comment Andrew – there’s lots to chew on here.

  • J.

    this is so scary that it could happen anywhere. This incidents give you an unwanted reality check. So sad.

  • Well, everyone has already beat me to it but I just wanted to chime in and say that this is another insightful, well written post. I’d recommend you put it up on the Yahoo site but that would probably only encourage some (I’m sure) very nice people who are having scared, knee-jerk reactions to come on over here and give you a piece of their mind.

    I would DEFINITELY vote for you. Zoom for Prime Minister!