Sooner or later, if you are invigilating a website forum or message board, you have to take a decision to reject posts from people whose sole reasoning seems to be gratuitous insult. Take billy for example. For reasons of propriety (and law), I get to decide whether posts are suitable for this site. And it took me barely ten seconds to allow billy’s first post to this site, since his insults were directed at me. (You can check them out in his response to my blog on Oscar Pistorius – he was right, incidentally that I had misspelled Oscar’s name as Pretorius (twice). So, thanks for that billy, I’ve changed it).
However, if billy had taken a similar period of ten seconds to check elsewhere on my site, where I list a biography, he could have saved us all the trouble of reading his assumptions that the piece ‘sucked’ because I was an athletic no-hoper. OK, my career was nothing to write home about, but, and to get to the crux of this piece, when he gratuitously insults someone who responded to him graciously, someone who describes himself as ‘an Olympic athlete,’ which I have no reason to disbelieve, then billy’s second insulting post goes right in the bin.
Incidentally, I’ve had to revise this since writing it, because when he figured out his second bunch of insults was not going to appear, billy later signed as ‘amal’ with another insult to our Olympian. What billy probably didn’t figure out was that his email address remains the same. (And, would you believe, he wrote under yet another name, to criticise runbird, our Olympian yet another time). There is something seriously wrong with this guy.
I originally thought, maybe I’m underestimating billy, and his choice of email address firstname.lastname@example.org (no, really) is an example of post-modern irony. But I rather think not. I think it’s his sole concession to lucidity. I wouldn’t go as far as one writer on the Guardian, who describes the underbelly of webforums as ‘the pond-life which infests the internet’. But you wonder what makes the likes of billy so angry and incapable of maintaining any sort of decorum in debate. It’s probably because he can’t hold any sort of basic argument at all that he has to resort to base insult. Whatever the case, it’s a shame that any forum get debased by such people.
So, to all the billys out there, you can insult me all you like (and I’ll probably even allow it onsite), but when you get a reasoned response to your arch posts, you reason back. Or you don’t get webspace, well, not here anyway. And please don’t be so tiresome as to accuse me of webfascism, and stifling your right to level abuse at anybody you wish. Go peddle your problems elsewhere.
In order not to end on such a negative note, I’ve been gratified by the response from Kenyans and Jamaicans to my pieces on their athletes and federations. For too long, the international media has been the preserve of what we choose to call ‘first-world’ countries. Thanks for your posts, everyone. To subvert one of the sayings of the great Bo Diddley, who died this week, ‘A dude with a pencil is better than a cat with a machine gun’.