Some readers need cooling after a whole lotta hating

Jun 11 2013 - 6:20am

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I don't know, maybe it's the heat.

Whatever the reason, you people sure are getting cranky.

A couple of weeks ago, I overheard some guy at the grocery store call one of the checkers "an idiot." Right to her face.

Last month, a friend and I watched a man and a woman loudly berate some poor high school student at a fast-food restaurant for allegedly getting their order wrong. By the time they were done, she was practically in tears. 

And then, driving home from work last Friday, I saw the worst case of road rage I do believe I've ever witnessed. The drivers of two vehicles ended up trying to run each other off the road in an incident that played out on and off Interstate 15.

The most shocking part of this last story is that it happened on a Friday. A Friday, people.

One could at least understand a little road rage during the Monday morning commute -- you know, you're already bummed about having to go back to work after the weekend, somebody accidentally cuts you off, and before you can say "WWJD" you're leaning on your horn and offering an impromptu lesson in Sign Language 101.

But a Friday afternoon? On the brink of the weekend, when we all ought to be getting our chill on?

I honestly wish I knew what was going on here. What is it that makes us treat one another with so little regard? 

Nowhere is this trend more pronounced than in the comments section of your local newspaper's website -- where discussions of the hottest of hot-button issues, plus the ability to post anonymously, make for a particularly volatile combination.

Right now, everyone and his or her dog is mad at the Standard-Examiner. Quite literally.

I'm referring, of course, to the sad story about the dog that died at the Quail Pointe Veterinary Hospital. While many of our readers have confined themselves to debating the facts of the story, others have resorted to name-calling -- labeling the writer of the story "lazy," suggesting that perhaps the veterinarian bribed the reporter, and offering snarky comments like "I forgot this is only a pretend newspaper."

Then there was the library bond story, where at least one reader again raised the oh-so-original specter of the "Standard Exaggerator" pun.

And how about the recent editorial -- and accompanying cartoon -- urging prosecution in two local police shootings that were deemed unjustified. Wrote one reader: "Wow!!!! YOU know what you SOB's you will never get another dime out of me, Standard exaggerator, I HATE YOU HATE YOU!!!! You really are a David Stewart lover I hope you rot in HELL!!! DON"T call the cops next time you need them."

Tsk, tsk. Such anger. Such name-calling. Such ridiculous hyperbole. And THIS is what passes for intelligent discourse these days?

Here's a news flash for all of you readers out there with serious anger management issues: Last I checked, "You're a big, fat poopy-head" isn't a compelling argument.

But perhaps the saddest example of how nasty we can be to one another came following Monday's story about the 69-year-old Boy Scout leader who died during a hike in 115-degree temperatures. Two of our readers apparently saw it as an opportunity to get ugly.

So a man dies, and at least two of his alleged fellow human beings use that death to spread their anger and vitriol. There's something truly wrong with us.

And sadly, unlike this man's tragic death, I don't think we can blame these hate-filled responses on the heat.

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, msaal@standard.net, or follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.

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