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I rarely read the comments that follow articles in the online version of the Washington Post. At one time I would read them, and I had even posted a few, but, these days, almost never. I do not know about the comment sections of other newspapers, but I can say that the comment sections of the Washington Post are where civilization breaks down. I don’t know if it is because the comments are anonymous, or people just like a place to spout off, but I cannot think of any other place where I have seen so much hate, prejudice and incivility posted for the world to see.

This really struck home with me in the wake of Monday’s shootings at the Washington Navy Yard (WNY). As I have stated before, I have been an employee of the US Navy for most of the last 39 years. I work at a laboratory that is part of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), and my laboratory works very closely with NAVSEA personnel at the WNY. Over the years I have spent a decent amount of time at the WNY attending meetings and such. I have quite a few friends and colleagues who work at the WNY. So, for me, the important story is the people. The people who were murdered. The people who survived. The people who were traumatized. The people who tirelessly work anonymously, day in and day out, to support our fleet.

When you read the comments after any of the stories about the WNY shootings, these people are nowhere to be seen. These comment sections have all turned into free-for-all melees between pro- and anti-gun control partisans. The anger, bile, hate and incivility among these commenters is palpable and unpleasant; and I really don’t care which side of the argument the commenters are on. The problem is not what they say, but how they say it, and none of them seem capable of doing it in a civil manner. They all seem to have lost sight of the fact that twelve innocent people, people like you and me, were senselessly murdered. Murdered by a man who should not have been able to buy a gun and who should never have received the security clearance that gave him access to the WNY.

So, I am going to do my best in the future to control my morbid curiosity and boycott reading the comments. Meanwhile, these are the people who the commenters have forgotten, look at the Washington Post website for their profiles:

Mary Knight
Sylvia Frasier
Gerald Reed
Frank Kohler
John Johnson
Mike Arnold
Kathy Gaarde
Michael Riddel
Marty Bodrog
Ken Proctor
Arthur Daniels
Kisan Bishnu Pandit