Although I'm not his biggest fan, it's encouraging to see an elected official take a stance against the rise in hate speech and racist remarks that appear in the comment sections newspapers online.
Mayor Eddie Perez ratcheted up his campaign against "racist comments and hate speech" posted by readers on Courant.com Friday by holding a protest outside the newspaper's Broad Street headquarters.
Surrounded by a few dozen state and municipal elected officials, members of community organizations and city employees, Hartford's mayor stood in front of The Courant to take it to task.
"Let me begin by making it clear that this is not, this is not about free speech," Perez said. "This is about asking the corporate citizen in our community not to provide a platform for hate and racist material in our community."
"Enough is enough," Perez said to applause. "Enough is enough."
The rally comes at the end of a week in which Perez issued two press releases targeting the reader comments, and wrote a letter to the newspaper's publisher demanding that The Courant stop the anonymous postings.
In a letter circulated at the rally, Perez said he wants the newspaper to "recognize its role in facilitating hate speech through its website and make an appropriate apology to the community;" to require people commenting online to register their names; to commit to assign a "community manager" to "facilitate dialogue and prevent racist and violent posts from dominating the comments sections;" and to convene a citizen advisory group.
Although some question the timing of Perez stance, the mayor does brings much needed attention a serious concern that's been an ongoing problem. Feedback to newspapers articles online laced with bigotry, threats of violence, and libelous material stretches far beyond the Hartford Courant . As a resident of what many now describe as the most divisive city in Connecticut (Danbury), I've seen my fair share of racism and bigotry (including threats against my own life) various forms of the media (primarily directed towards immigrants) up close and personal.
While bringing to the public's attention how a vice president of a anti-immigrant hate group and his supporters used the media (local access television) spewed hate-speech towards immigrants (including issuing death threats and calls to firebomb organization that support immigrants), I've routinely documented the alarming level of hatred directed to immigrants that appears regularly in the comments section of the online version of the Danbury News-Times.
For those who are unaware of the level of racism and anti-immigrant hatred in Danbury, here's a recap of the small fraction of offensive remarks hate-speech on the News-Times site that I've documented in the last year alone (WARNING: CONTENT BELOW THE FOLD CONTAINS VERY OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE).
03.10.08:These comments were left on the News-Times' article on the case of Tereza Pereira, an who recently won a court case that blocked her deportation due to the circumstances in her particular situation.
This cockroach judge needs to be tossed off the bench and the illegals need to get the boot without hesitation sans their anchor larvae. This case may set a precedent that could devastate this country. Somebody needs to find out who appointed this imbecile judge.
Illegals who squirt out "anchor babies" should not be rewarded with citizenship. This should be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court. We need to revise the laws so that these illegals who breeds like rodents don't get their offspring made US Citizens. This judge should be removed from the bench. He obviously has no respect for the law.
07.27.07: Threats against immigrant rights supporters and politicians:
DisNoir36, your statements and attitude make it quite obvious that you have not felt any of the repercussions/effects of the unmitigated flow of Illegals into the American work force. You must be very well insulated in your career and not need to compete against these cutthroats. Many of us on the other hand have been severely affected.
If as you say “Rell just perpetuated the existence of an underclass by denying them an opportunity to get quality higher education and move up…” is true; then I say good! Good let them be relegated to mowing our lawns, serving and cleaning our tables at restaurants. Why should we educate them so that they can further debase our way of life? The children of those who have come here Legally receive the benefits as they should. These others should do what it takes to become residents the right way not expect to be excepted into our society simple because they were adept at scurrying across our borders like rats or took advantage of being allowed to enter the country on a Visitors Visa to become a squatter.
And, before anybody make a crack about not choosing where they were born. Very Very Few of these kids were born there the majority of them were spirited across the border in the same manor as their parents arrived there and are just as Illegal as they are!
“I seriously wonder what will happen with all you haters if this immigration bill does pass. Somehow I doubt the hatred will simply dissipate once the question of 'legality' is removed from the equation.”
I predict violence, lots of well deserved violence. Violence; toward the Illegals and unfortunately violence toward some Legal citizens who are mistaken for Illegals. And I sincerely hope, violence against “our legislators”/government for selling out The People to the interests of the uber-capitalists and lining their pockets with the ill-gotten gains of it all.
07.16.07: News-Times article on Ridgefield's plan for a dog park.
They should make parks for other animals to play in, too: Brazilians, Ecuadorans, Dominicans- pretty much anyone of negroid ancestry. Keep the public safe!!
Jun 11 2007: Comment posted in response to editorial:
Danbury would be a nice place to live if there weren't so many niggers and spics.
August 11 2007: Comment to the Santos family immigration case article in which someone impersonates 17 year old female Rayany Santos (one of the family members who didn't face deportation):
Hi everyone - thanks for all the support. It's really not as bad as the newspaper makes it out. I just go along with them because they said they needed a real "sob" story. They said people would probably send me money and stuff.
Anyhow, I'm having a great time on my own. I can stay out and party and have all my boyfriends over! It's the coolest! I don't miss my brothers at all. They were lame. They would always put boogers in my hair and fart and stuff - yuck!
Well, now that I'm on my own I'm looking for an older guy to take care of me. If there are any guys out there who want to get together give me a call! (17 is legal in CT ya know!) I love to party and I'm totally easy!
Love - XOXOXO
April 29 2007: Comment regarding anti-immigration forum held at Western. TAKE NOTE OF THE NAME (hint, spell it backwards).
Posted by: Reggi_Nytrid Sat, Apr 28 2007
I have to admit that I'm surprised by the levels of hatred and racism displayed on these boards. I thought people in CT were a little bit more enlightened than that.
Also, who is this boredwithbs character? Is he nuts or what? And what kind of a name is aidsfromatoiletseat? I find that very offensive.
March 25 2007: Comments in response to sex offender notification article:
They should also insert a side note warning how the city can't keep the spics out. These animals care about following laws about as much as sex offenders.
04.27.07, here's my post on the murder of Vanderli Augusto Rodrigues and the family's reaction to the News-Times comments regarding his death.
Although people received their information about the stabbing of Vanderli Augusto Rodrigues from the News-Times, you really realize how limited the mainstream media is when it comes to reporting on issues in the immigrant community (as well as how insensitive they are when it comes to allowing hate-mongers to post racist comments) once you read the Emanuela Lima's write-up on the murder in this week's Tribuna newspaper.
Her piece chronicles the impact the murder had on everyone effected by this tragedy as well as the outrage from the community over the disgusting, hate-filled, racist comments that were posted on the News-Times website. The paper has been widely criticized for doing a horrible job in monitoring their comments section and many in the media who I know are astonished that the paper hasn't apologized for the unfortunate incident).All Vanderli Augusto Rodrigues wanted to do in United States was to work hard and save enough money to buy his own house and give his parents a more comfortable life Brazil.At this point, the editors of the News-Times should contact the members of Rodrigues' family and apologize to them as they had to endure the disgusting comments that weren't deleted from their site. To allow the bottom-feeding racists to spout their hatred freely is a disgrace and brings shame to the city as a whole. The News-Times has a responsibility to remove hate-speech from their site and it's apparent that they have a serious problem monitoring themselves. They should get rid of the comments altogether and keep the chatter from readers in the forums.
In the early morning hours of April 15, Rodrigues’ plans were cut short, literally – he was murdered with a single stab wound to the chest in the kitchen of the one-bedroom apartment he shared with other five men. Only one of the roommates was not at the apartment when the murder occurred, shortly before 2:11am; the other four told Danbury police they were asleep.
They were awakened by the sound of a thud when Rodrigues’s body hit the floor and realized soon after, that Laudimilson Teixeira, one of the roommates, was gone.
“THIS IS ABOUT A HUMAN BEING”
On April 16, the medical examiner’s office in Farmington asked that a family member identify the victim’s body. Adriana said her mother had been in a state of complete emotional shock and was unable to do so, “I had to go – it was the worst experience of my life.”
When Adriana returned home and logged on to her computer to check for news on the arraignment, she was shocked by the comments posted by on-line readers at the News-Times website in response to articles about the murder, “How can people not see that this is about a human being? How can they be so disrespectful?”
She was referring to the nature of the comments related to her uncle’s undocumented status, such as “The bottom line here is that if these illegals were not here this death would not have occurred” or “They should have the funeral in front of the INS building and see if anyone comes.”
Elke Probst, is the owner of the Belmont Circle property where Graças resides, was also taken back by some of the comments. “I just hope people are able to place themselves in this family’s shoes and give them the support they need by rallying together as a community” said Probst.
January 21 2008: Here's a post I did on a comment left on the News-Times regarding the death of Rene Perez. An immigrant who was allegedly beaten and left on a desolate road to die by the hands of a police officer.
An outraged reader forwarded me this truly disgusting comment from the News-Times board. The comment was in response to the story on a homeless immigrant who was allegedly beaten and dumped on the road for dead by a police officer.
Now lets break down this "comment" and expose the ugly.
1. The username of the comment is "el ilegal borracho." Now, we'll just assume that the person who made this remark isn't the brightest person on his street so we'll give him/her a pass on the incorrect spelling of the word illegal. The Urban Dictionary defines the word "borracho" as the following:Mexican or Chicano slang for a drunkard.
2. The address of the user is "Bedford/Mount Kisco/Guatland." For those who don't know, the term "guat" is defined as the following:A racist name for any individual of Guatemalan heritage.
Basically, calling someone a "guat" is the same as the term "nigger" or "spic".
3. The comment speaks for itself:Dirty racial police men hate us immigrunts. we just come to U.S. for better licor. Lazy americans have too much licor so we come to help drink. drity selfish americans need to help us when we drunk.
4. The photo used by the jerk who made this comment is Rene Perez, THE PERSON AT THE CENTER OF THE ARTICLE WHO WAS ALLEGEDLY BEATEN AND DUMPED ON THE STREET FOR DEAD BY THE POLICE.
5. Finally, the IP address is from Danbury so it's safe to assume that the person who made this comment is indeed from Danbury.• This comment has been on the News-Times board since Saturday.
• This comment has probably been read by the Perez family who are still in a state of mourning.
• This comment should have been removed instantly.
• Comments like this reinforce the belief among many in this state that Danbury is the armpit of Connecticut.
• Local embarrassments such as Joel Urice and Pauline Basso probably think this is a joke.
• Thank the News-Times for not monitoring their message boards good enough. At some point they should consider removing the comment feature all together and save the "comments" for their forum section.
• Thank the mayor for creating an racially insensitive environment where this type of nonsense goes on openly a daily basis and idiots like Elise Marciano can give the impression that she has common sense (with or without the sheet).
Jan 05 2008:
Ray Sissum ALL THE TIME: This is what you get when you let Niggers run around free. They wouldn't be stealing so much if they were where they belong- in the fields, PICKING OUR COTTON!!
OLD COGGER: Back in the good old days, when a varmint stole the transportation aka horse; we'd hang 'em. Time for that again I say. Darn Tootin'
As in Hartford, the existence of these anonymous offensive remarks sparked outrage in Danbury area towards the local newspaper.
Clearly the News-Times condones these comments by allowing them to continue...just another reason I will NEVER again subscribe to that paper.
bg | 01.05.08 - 3:31 pm
My God, what's wrong with people in Danbury?
Nigger? Spics? Guatland?
I thought people in that city were against illegal imsponsiblemigrants?
You said that the News-Times used to have a forums section? Why did they move to the comments format? Better yet, why can't they ban the IP addresses or only allow a person to post one comment per article which really seems to be the problem here.
It seems like you have a great deal of material on the racists in your city including a huge video collection. You should really forward everything you have to the SPLC and have them do a report on the anti-immigrant vemon in Danbury.
Nothing has changed | 03.10.08 - 4:07 pm
'current online editor Keith Whamond can only do so much '
I disagree.. more can and should be done. This is the same paper that wrote a story about some neo nazi group coming to Danbury, something that turned out to be completely bogus.
they're probably not even keeping track of the ip addresses of the people that post this inflammatory trash.
it's never been a great paper but it is reallly just a piece of virtual garbage and a waste of disk space.
fuzzy_turtle | 03.10.08 - 7:20 pm
The IQ of those boards is incredibly low. By and large it's a small group of people making all the trouble. They even know who they are behind the phony names. You can literally pretend to be hundreds of different people simply by changing your handle.
The blatant racism and stupidity is off the wall. I sometimes wonder if I'm in Connecticut or somewhere deep in the hillbilly south. It has nothing to do with illegality or laws and everything to do with skin color and heritage. They don't even pretend anymore. That's the scary part. I predicted violence would escalate and it is across the country. These people are seriously mentally deranged.
DisNoir36 | 03.11.08 - 6:07 am
The News-Times seems more interested in their web traffic than dealing with this problem.
Maybe if you can get the Southern Poverty Law Center to do a complete report on Danbury. With Elise Marciano's ties to political leaders, the comments in the News-Times, the entire BigT episode, and the email scandal, you have more than enough material to share with them.
Labeling Danbury as a new breeding ground for anti-immigrant hatred is long overdue.
Susan | 03.11.08 - 9:11 am
As with the situation with the Hartford Courant, newspapers that allow anonymous racist, libelous, threatening comments to be published on their website is simply unprofessional and irresponsible. On this site, in order to publish a comment, you need to sign up for an account and this should be the same for newspapers that allow their readers to publish comments online.
In the case of Danbury, the allowance of anonymous posting added gas to the fire that's primarily directed towards members of the immigrant community, contributes to the racial hostility in the area, and reinforces the notion that Danbury is the armpit of Connecticut. The increase web traffic anonymous comments generate does not justify these offensive remarks appearing on their sites for even a second and newspapers such as the News-Times and the Hartford Courant should take better steps to regulate the content from readers on their site (i.e. ban anonymous comments) and take the necessary steps to ensure that hate-speech (which is NOT free speech) does not appear on their site...or else do the right thing and get rid of the comment section altogether.