BOSTON (CBS) – As a football fan, I have enjoyed watching Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers play over the years. But I have never wasted a second wondering about his sexual preference.
However, it appears the internet is full of people with, apparently, an abundance of time on their hands and no idea how to fill it, who have been wondering about that, to the point where Rodgers felt compelled to issue a public statement the other day declaring that he is heterosexual.
Listen to Jon’s commentary:
Once upon a time, such worthless speculation would have remained the private pastime of the losers engaging in it. But in online culture, everything is out in the open and in your face, if you choose to expose yourself to it.
And that poses an interesting challenge to those of us who prefer to see at least minimal standards of privacy, decency and civility maintained – can we turn back the rising tide of crass, vile gossip and trolling unleashed by the internet, and if so, how?
Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby raised this issue the other day by calling on media outlets to enforce the same “standards of taste and tone” they apply to letters to the editor, as a way of refusing to “enable the ugliness.”
This is easier said than done.
The sheer volume of comments that a major news organization receives makes more than the most cursory screening difficult and expensive. There are legal issues involved.
And any attempt to crack down on comments draws complaints from self-styled defenders of free speech, as if there weren’t an infinite universe of unedited alternatives.
But some outlets have already chosen to make a stand, by denying anonymity or dropping comments altogether.
Maybe this is the year we’ll see if enough consumers support that policy to make it viable, or if an open sewer is truly what you want when you log on.
You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.