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Our Crack Tongue & Groove

typingcomment.jpg Braving the comment section

I’ve been down some dodgy back alleys in my time, but perhaps none as dark as the comments section of the Chronicle’s website.

Most days I cast a weary eye over the Chronicle’s website to see which football players my team are definitely not signing, and every so often I dip beneath the story to check out what fellow fans are saying in the comments section. Most seem to be a fairly miserable bunch (such is the lot of a north-eastern football fan) and many find room to stick the boot into whichever journalist has ran the article, berating them for not coming up with at least seven in-depth stories every single day, even in the close season when there is absolutely nothing happening save the grand launch of a new trackie-top.

But lately I’ve had to dig out my best flak jacket because I’ve taken to venturing into the darkest depths of the comments section of proper news stories. And, boy oh boy, it’s a real carnival of bile down there, a veritable UKIP party conference as transcribed by people who don’t type up their musings, but punch them in. Any reports on demonstrations against Donald Trump or austerity or racism will invariably be met with an onslaught of negative remarks about the “loony left” from people with names like BrexitErection.

Even the Durham Miners’ gala isn’t immune. Someone posted: “Really looking forward to it and so proud to be a steward again this year on behalf of my union, the NUT. It should be a great event with 200,000 there celebrating our Northeast values of fairness, solidarity and tolerance”. An innocuous enough comment but it was met with a barrage of thumbs down. So much for solidarity.

An article about the council banning future Miss Newcastle events at the Civic Centre - because it featured a Playboy Bunny round - was the cue for one reader to have a go at the way Muslim women dress; while a daft piece of fluff about the Hoppings saw another reader lay into “Pikeys”. A Newcastle United fan set up an online page to raise funds for a flag to be displayed at St. James’ Park from the LGBT community – which reached its total of several hundreds of pounds in a couple of days – but the negative remarks this story generated (including references to “nancy boys” and “lezzers”) became so abusive that the Chronicle suspended the entire comments section. Even a story about the Grenfell Tower atrocity promoted some people to have a go at migrants.

I’ve taken to fighting back however by signing up to comment on news stories myself. I report any examples of racism I see (the Chronicle removed the “Pikeys” comment after I got in touch with them) and have also been taking the time to put the case for a more progressive, and, yes, politer, society. Any comment I make is customarily answered in the negative, but it makes me feel better to know that the haters don’t have the run of the place. Why not join me and, to coin a phrase, drain that particular swamp. RM