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Keller @ Large: Good News Comes Out Of Racist Tweets Episode

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Joel Ward of the Washington Capitals is congratulated after he scored the game winning goal against the Boston Bruins in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at TD Garden on April 25, 2012. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Joel Ward of the Washington Capitals is congratulated after he scored the game winning goal against the Boston Bruins in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at TD Garden on April 25, 2012. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – I think every suitable derogatory adjective has already been used to describe the fools who posted racist tweets about Joel Ward, the Toronto-born son of immigrants from Barbados, who scored the game-winning goal in the Bruins loss to the Capitals Wednesday night.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

The Bruins called them “classless” and “ignorant.” The Capitals called them “outrageous,” “unacceptable,” and “ignorant.” Ward’s agent added “appalling,” “disturbing,” and “really disgraceful.”

Have we mentioned ignorant yet?

I understand the temptation to recoil in disgust from this spasm of online vulgarity, and move on as quickly as possible. There’s only so long any decent person wants to stare at a train wreck, and these bigots certainly qualify.

But before we hose down the sidewalk, let’s consider some of the good news that came out of the episode.

This story became big news because several web sites took it upon themselves to compile these tweets; a number of the twits behind them have been identified, and at least one has issued a public apology.

My guess would be that this is a first taste of public accountability for vile language they’ve used before. It may also be the first inkling some anonymous online haters have that their anonymity is not guaranteed, and *they* may be held accountable in some way for their little hobby.

This is an overdue bit of education for one and all, and maybe a handful have the brains to learn from it.

I’m also modestly encouraged that fewer media outlets than I expected indulged in the knee-jerk reaction to make this a story about Boston’s bad reputation for race-relations. Many Bostonians of all races have worked hard in recent decades to dispel that rap, and because of their work, that spin didn’t quite take hold here.

But the best news about the racist tweets is how thoroughly condemned they’ve been.

No decent person wants any part of this vestige of the bad old days.

And while it’s troubling to catch a whiff of these idiots among us, there’s no doubt that decent people these days are in the overwhelming majority.

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