When Silence Isn’t Golden

I read most of my news on the Internet. It saves my house from being cluttered with newspapers. I am not very domestic and I try to avoid housekeeping to the extent possible.

I’ve been following a tragic story regarding the shooting death of a young college student, Eve Carson. She was student body president and in her senior year at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. By all accounts, Ms. Carson was a highly intelligent, caring young woman with a promising future. The police have been very efficient and have arrested her killers. The motive appears to have been robbery. One of the alleged killers is also a suspect in the shooting death of a young graduate student, Abhijit Mahato, back in January of this year.

As I typically do, after reading the news story online, I read the comments left by AOL members in response to the article. Why do I read the comments? Because I’m Ethel of Lucy and Ethel; I know better but I am so gosh darn nosey that I can’t help myself.

As usual, there were the sane comments about the tragic loss of lives and vitriol as to the punishment that should be exacted on the alleged perpetrators, but what caught my eye was the litany of bigoted, hateful, observations based on the race of the suspects.

Eve Carson was white; the suspects are black. Mr. Mahato was originally from India, but no one in the comments section seemed particularly concerned about his death or ethnicity. I’ve been down this road before, so why am I going there again?

Partly because it kicks me in the gut every time I come into contact with blatant prejudice. I try to dismiss it as the rantings of ignorant people, but it still stings. Partly because I don’t think that I should have to avoid a common activity such as reading comments in order to avoid being belittled and insulted by strangers based on my skin color. I know that they aren’t speaking to me individually, but that doesn’t take the sting out of it. So I keep writing about this because I think that such people will not cease and desist until enough decent people make it clear that their bigotry and hate is not wanted.

You see, what disturbs me the most, is that it is rare that anyone challenges the bigots. I know the argument that people trot out; we have freedom of speech and people have a right to say what they think. For the most part that is true, but not an absolute. (Try plotting a little treason and sedition and see how far that freedom of speech argument gets you.) However, freedom of speech works both ways. You have a right to express your thoughts and beliefs, and I have a right to respond. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean that we have to let hate speech pass with no comment. If you don’t agree, say so. Don’t let bigotry go unchallenged; to do so is to offer tacit approval by virtue of your silence.

I have my own dream, that if decent, thoughtful people speak out, that eventually their voices united will drown the hateful words, shut them out, force them to go back into the dark where they belong. So I left my own comment in response to some of the more bigoted remarks. As this post is getting way too long, I’ll include my comment in a follow-up to this post.

What I will include here are some of the comments that I read following the news story, exactly as written, with the identifying screen name.


snakeisback04 04:03:00 PM Mar 13 2008 TYPICAL BLACK FOR YA.

jimitty 02:16:19 PM Mar 13 2008 Dont you think cornrows and dreadlocks just make a man? Soooo jungle ghetto chic.Low-life coward scumbags.


oct2nov1971 01:48:22 PM Mar 13 20 Obama’s first job should be to put his animals in check.

oct2nov1971 01:40:30 PM Mar 13 2008 Obama supporters will kill ya for less than buck. They will kill ya for CHANGE.
University of North Carolina student Eve Carson it is said, was an Obama supporter. An Obama supporter murdered by Obama supporter thugs. ANOTHER REASON WHY I WONT VOTE FOR OBAMA.


2 responses to “When Silence Isn’t Golden

  1. Ethel, when are you going to learn not to get involved in Lucy’s schemes? I learned back in the last century NEVER to read news off AOL. It doesn’t even have to be a gay or race-related article to stand my hair on end, it doesn’t matter what it’s about, a significant plurality of the commenters seem committed to saying the same thing over and over in a million different ways: “I HATE MYSELF SO MUCH THAT I ONLY FEEL BETTER BY SAYING HATEFUL THINGS. I FEEL SO INFERIOR I MUST ACT SUPERIOR TO SOMETHING. AND I CRAVE ATTENTION SO I MUST FIND THE MOST PROVOCATIVE, ATTENTION-GETTING THING TO SAY.”
    And what are you doing with these sad, lost, losers? Having exactly the reaction they want you to have, one that makes them feel as important as when they hit the teacher with a spitball because it’s the only way they know how to take vengeance on the Dad who beats the crap out of them any night.
    You wouldn’t watch Jerry Springer, so stop reading the AOL commenters. Those who spew hate are miserable, terribly unhappy people. They are there own punishment.

  2. Hi Sheria:
    Long time no talk. Glad I finally am reading your blog. This bigotry thing is quite a phenomena. One that is practiced exclusively,I think, by the willfully ignorant. Who are they? Well, my experience suggests that they are those who result from poor planning (planned parenthood). Willfully ignorant humans do not know, know that they do not know, and do not wish to ever know. Unfortunately, they do have power in this country. Look what happened. They managed to elect G.Bush twice. Hope to see you soon.

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