It’s no surprise that a column written by a woman, about a woman, attracts online attacks – but an angry minority shouldn’t shut down debate.
This week two high-profile Globe columnists wrote about books on the past U.S. election. One wrote about a book in which the author accepted blame, talked about the difficulties in the election for some candidates and admitted to perhaps being too much of a wonk. The Globe columnist said we need to hear more from the book’s author and noted that misogyny was a factor. The second column described another book as suggesting the crackpots are taking over, that the United States was founded by a nutty religious cult (the Puritans) and to watch for more demagogic leaders selling snake oil to make good.
So, looking at those two columns on two different books, which one would you say received more and more personal abuse for either the columnist or the book author on social media and in The Globe’s comments.
Despite the content of the second column, it’s the first. No surprise that it was the column written by a woman, Elizabeth Renzetti, about a woman, Hillary Clinton.
I received a phone message from an angry reader who sputtered about The Globe paying the “Renzootti bitch.” On Twitter, another person wondered why The Globe would pay Ms. Renzetti. And in the Globe comments there were no attacks on the Kurt Andersen, who wrote Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, but lots on Ms. Clinton.
On the second column by Lawrence Martin, the comments boiled down to a debate about the war on the elites and about racism in the United States. While at times including taunts such as “the cry-baby Left” and one reference to Mr. Martin as “this goof,” the comments on that piece stayed mostly on the issues and not the people.