On playing the man (again)….

It’s ironic that some were keen to dismiss Marc Kerr’s keen observation on how, as often as not, the promise of a good discussion on Slugger is fouled up by visceral nastiness (political bigotry?), and ample doses of whataboutery. As I’ve said repeatedly, I’m keen to host a good debate on a variety of issues, but not a series of emotional bun fights. So let’s look at one thread recently and what some ‘nationalist’ posters offered as their contribution to a ‘rational’ debate:The first five posts (unprovoked by anything other than a politician’s statement of view) brought this response:

what a silly get, trying desperately to be offended.

What utter nonsense! Willie comes off as nothing more than a small minded _blank_

reinforces my ideas expressed on the DUP as an utterly shameful party yesterday on the ‘constitution’ blog. as a Derry man myself im sick to the back teeth with Hays and Campbells rants.

Which by comment five brought a pertainent question about the playing the ball rule of the site, which was then glibbly refuted by one of the offenders above. It quickly gave the next person the opportunity to indulge in a spot of whataboutery:

Flags, Don’t ye love yer flags. One question. What exactly do the DUP want. Any DUP supporters can you tell me what do ye want. Do ye want everything to remain the same, no power sharing, return to the RUC or do ye want to reach a soloution. What is it ye want ?

Now, all of these guys are expressing nationalist sentiments, but none are espousing an argument of any kind. It is for the latter and not the former that they ought expect short shrift from Slugger.

It’s not all gloom and doom. In the Paris thread, there has been a slow migration towards a kind of political synthesis, from an initial clash on the matter in hand. The reason for the most part being that the protagonists (mostly but not entirely Unionist) threw referenced political opinions at each other, that has (thus far at least) caused each to think and move on. Which is as it should be.

There are many other places on the net where people are free to vent their spleens, or enjoy the merry-go-round of historical loops. But if Slugger is going to live up to the name of the thinking man’s online forum (not my own description), then some of our nationalist commentators are going to have to work a bit harder at living up to that term’s lofty ambition.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty