Commentary Hurts

I like reading the news through the Internet. It's nice to have many articles on the same topic at my fingertips and it can be fascinating to compare the different slants used by various reporters.

But there is a downside.

Many online news articles give readers the option of posting comments. This seems like a good idea, in theory. A chance to get a response from the people. Until you read the seemingly inevitable hate.

Is it the anonymity of the Internet that makes people feel they have the right to spew venom? Would the same people say these things in a face to face discussion?

Unfortunately, I fear many of them would.

Civil rights are a tricky thing. Believing that everyone has the right to their own opinion and the freedom to express that opinion means letting people say whatever they want, no matter how offensive. Or does it?

What about respecting other people's right to their own opinion? Or, to go further, to their own beliefs and lifestyle choices?

What happens when one group's beliefs include the importance of "spreading the word" or "educating others"? What if one group's beliefs include the importance of persecuting other groups of people?

Is that an inherent facet of religion? To persecute anyone who doesn't share the same beliefs? To spread hateful comments over news articles that report on a different way of life?

Which takes precedence? Freedom of speech or freedom from persecution?

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