When comments are enabled on our stories on Philly.com, unfortunately, the conversations between anonymous readers usually turn toward race, even if the article was about flowers and bunnies. As the racial vitriol builds, our web administrators are forced to shut the comments down.
We here in the newsroom tend to think that's because when you're anonymous, you don't have to take responsibility for what you say. But over on Facebook there's an interesting conversation going on at a page where commenters are sharing their names, and in many cases, their photos.
As I reported today, the page "Support Chester of City Law Enforcement" was created this weekend in the wake of Chester Mayor Wendell Butler Jr.'s statements that he wanted to oust an officer who shot and killed a man Aug. 5 before a full investigation was complete.
When I last checked yesterday at 7:30 p.m., the page had 2,355 "likes." Today it has 2,842.
The conversation between users on the Facebook page has turned to race, and people on both sides, in some cases, are still overstepping the boundaries of human decency.
There's also been a new page created just to call for Butler's impeachment. Last I checked, it had more than 350 supporters. Talking with the mayor yesterday, I felt he had legitimate concerns for the safety of his city, but that even he felt he may have jumped the gun.
Impeachment is a bit harsh though with elections just around the corner. Let the people who actually live in Chester and walk to the polls decide if they want to keep Butler in the November elections, not people from all over the country who can just hit a button on their keyboard without getting up.
Meanwhile, I wonder if there will ever be a day where we can hold civil discussions on line that don't involve name calling, racism and stereotyping...