July 22, 2008

Nick Coleman Discovers Internet Commenters

Anyone who is at all familliar with the Internet in its current iteration knows it's rife with neuron-depleted Internet commenters that range from the obsessive compulsive, to the grammatically challenged, to indifferent chain-yankers to the downright mentally challenged. Sometimes, there are commenters who manifest symptoms of all the above. By and large, most Internet commenters should be, and are, mostly ignored.

Nick Coleman columns in the Star-Tribune, for a brief while about a month or so ago, featured a comment box that ran wild with commenters either fawning over Nick's latest attempt at a point, or those calling out Nick for the intellectual and logical fraud he's always been. In short, I thought my work here was finally done, at least as far as ripping on Nick Coleman columns went anyway. Why fisk something that's being ripped on by dozens or hundreds of people AT THE SOURCE, after all?

Well, as far as I can tell, the Strib has halted commentary on their columns, and it's not hard to imagine Nick howling like a spider monkey and getting his way on this, probably making the claim that Internet commenters on his columns only serve to sully his craft, such as it is.

But, whilst the Strib has deemed Internet comments on much of its content taboo, for whatever reason, Nick has apparently decided that Internet commenters on other newspaper Web sites are somehow fair game when it comes to making yet another of his wildly off-the-mark "points."

Tribal fishing video spawns bigotry, attack on news site
By NICK COLEMAN, Star Tribune

Last update: July 20, 2008 - 8:20 PM

Bigotry on an online video? Oh noes! Such a thing has NEVER happened before. And, as we'll see, the "attack" on the news site may have been nothing of the sort. Come with me, dear reader, as we explore yet another Nick Coleman column that's little more than thinly-veiled bigotry in its own right, meant to poke the ribs of those "shucky darn" rural yokels living in the watery wilds north of the enlightened Twin Cities.

Somebody tried to kill the Messenger last week. It didn't work.

The Mille Lacs Messenger is a weekly newspaper published in Isle, Minn., on the southeast shore of Lake Mille Lacs, a fertile area that seems to spawn conflict, especially if you are one of this state's walleye worshipers. The paper has a circulation of 5,000, and an online site (www.millelacsmessenger.com) visited by another 5,000 or more a month. Unless fish are in the news: Then readership rockets.

That's what happened in May, when the paper posted a video on its website showing fishermen from the nearby Mille Lacs Indian Reservation removing walleye from tribal gill nets and cleaning the fish for eating. Normal, legal and part of Ojibwe culture for centuries.

True. Gill-netting is part of Ojibwe culture. However, the MODERN methods of gill-netting are a bit. . . different. . .from a few centuries ago, shall we say? But, we won't get into that. Suffice it to say, Nick's holding back a bit on some of the "stuff" he knows.

But seeing it on YouTube made some walleye lovers angry, especially the bigots who posted vicious rants on the site. More than 18,000 visitors have seen the video, which amazes editor Brett Larson.

As far as I can tell, this is a little bit of Nick's sleight of hand. He makes it sound as if there have been over 18,000 visitors to the Messenger, when in fact it's 18,000+ VIEWS of the YouTube video in question, and YouTube videos have a tendency to go viral from time to time, some far more viral than others (18,000+ is pretty mild traffic, virally-speaking). By extension, the rest of this column isn't talking about comments made to "the Messenger" Web site; it's talking about YouTube comments which, as anyone with half a brain knows, are completely ridiculous. Yet, here we have Nick Coleman fashioning a column about them. Good God.

"I was stunned," Larson said Friday. "I thought we were beyond this racist stuff, but clearly we are not. You can oppose tribal netting and not be racist. But some of these people make everyone look like an idiot."

Yeah, it's a YOUTUBE COMMENT THREAD. Collective IQs have been known to completely implode within YouTube comment threads. Why is Nick writing a column about something that's been a running joke now for nearly three years? Oh, and by they way, look at that quote again, and now look at the following YouTube comment thread quote written BY THE SAME GUY:

This is appalling. I would remove it, but it shows that the most vile forms of racism still exist in this country — a fact that many seem to dispute. You can oppose tribal netting without being a racist, in my opinion, but this type of post makes everyone who opposes tribal netting look bad. And you should learn to spell. Brett Larson, editor, Mille Lacs Messenger

What, Larson can't think up new material while being interviewed (Nick quotes the same YouTube comment later on, blithely oblivious to the similarity, as were the Strib editors, apparently)? And I just LOVE his admonition that a YOUTUBE COMMENTER should learn how to spell. Is he even remotely familiar with how YouTube "works?"

"Most of the comments were like, 'Indians don't do it [fish] our way -- our way is holy and theirs is horrible and we don't like it,' " says Larson.

Yeah, and one of the other comments? I shit you not:


Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat ttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt

That's some hard-hitting commentary for you.

But some were far worse.

ARGH! Yeah, it's YouTube! People yank chains and brain drool for sport on YouTube! YouTube comments should not be taken seriously BY ANYONE WITH HALF A FUNCTIONING BRAIN.

Tension between the tribe and non-Indians in the tourism-dependent area is not new. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld tribal fishing rights in 1999 and the controversy has raged in area newspapers, including the Messenger, for years. Two years ago, military veterans from the reservation were booed and spat upon during a parade -- an incident denounced by the Messenger as a "disgraceful display."

Wait a minute. What just happened here? Nick was talking about the Supreme Court upholding fishing rights, and then in the next sentence he's talking about military veterans from the reservation being booed (were they being booed because they were veterans, or because they were Indian veterans? Nick doesn't feel he has to explain that; he'll just assume).

Larson says feelings have calmed, but that there are flare-ups once in a while. The tribal netting video caused one.

No, it didn't. It caused a minor viral hiccup on YouTube, which is viewed NATIONALLY and even worldwide. From a YouTube perspective, the gill-netting video is NOTHING compared to the video of the exploding whale. NOTE: If you simply MUST read YouTube comments about the exploding whale, there's this version.

"This is appalling," Larson wrote next to one of the worst-spelled and nastiest comments posted on the site. "I would remove it, but it shows that the most vile forms of racism still exist in this country."

Nick Coleman: Copy and Paste Journalist Extraordinaire!

Onward! To the nefarious "attack."

The Messenger's online site is hosted by a server that publishes 200 newspapers. Last week, the Messenger was the only one under "attack," the target of an online assault that knocked it off line. Larson said there was no proof the attack was linked to the fishing controversy, but there was no shortage of suspects.

This is just plain ridiculous. Why would somebody attack a newspaper Web site, when doing so would do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to the YouTube video? Is Nick being intentionally obtuse, or does he have absolutely no understanding at all about how the Internet works? So far, this column has completely flown in the face of Nick's claim to "know stuff." This has so far been the most aimless, misleading, uninformed piece of technological ignorance ever penned by man or monkey.

"We've got lots of people who don't like us," he said. "I have a hard time believing this is a malicious attack, but maybe I'm naive. Somebody has been trying to shut us down."

This guy is a freakin' moron, nearly on a par with Nick Coleman. The fact a newspaper editor would even enter the morass of YouTube to post a comment tells me he probably shouldn't have further access to the Internet until he's taken a course or two about it.

Non-Indian readers, Larson said, complain that the newspaper's coverage is soft on tribal controversies, and that the paper should be more critical of the Indians. Meanwhile, tribal members complain that reports about crime on the reservation feed stereotypes. The paper, he said, tries to play it fair, but not everyone -- sometimes no one -- agrees.

Ooh! Let's play a game! Let's tweak that paragraph a bit:

Non-liberal readers, Coleman said, complain that the Star-Tribune's coverage is soft on DFL controversies, and that the paper should be more critical of the DFL. Meanwhile, DFL members complain that reports about liberals feed stereotypes. The paper, he said, tries to play it fair, but not everyone -- sometimes no one -- agrees.

"In the early days of the tribal rights issue, our official stance was not to have a stance -- we knew it could get pretty ugly, so we didn't want to take a position. The general consensus in the community was that we were 'pro-Indian.' But tribal members thought we were anti-Indian. The assumption on both sides was that we would unquestioningly support the [non-Indian] angling community. So everyone was mad. We must have done something right."

As impossible as it seems, this column has become even more meandering and pointless. My head is actually starting to hurt. Hey, I know! Let's get back to the malicious Web attack that probably wasn't:

The attack on the website seemed to be waning by Friday, and a software upgrade may protect the Messenger from future attacks. The assault may have been random. But if it was a deliberate attempt to "kill" the Messenger, it might take Agatha Christie to find the culprit.

Or it maybe wasn't an attack at all! You know, I understand Nick is given gobs of leeway when it comes to his topics of column choice and his "writing," such as it is, but this type of completely unsubstantiated conjecture is just downright bullshit.

There are a lot of suspects.

And now Nick just goes in for some mean-spirited character assassination based off a "joke." Seriously, you will barely believe the segue you're about to read.

"Who knows, maybe it was the mayor," Larson joked. He wasn't really accusing the mayor, just trying to find humor in a situation where almost anyone in a small town might have an issue with the newspaper. Or a big town, for that matter.

Got that? It was a "joke" at the mayor's expense. Obviously, the mayor wouldn't have the technical know-how to crash a newspaper Web site, let alone any motive stemming from a YouTube video of gill-netting. Har har! He's obviously not a suspect. It's a joke! Relax. Okay, Nick, segue away, you fucking asshole:

The mayor of Isle, Mike DeCoursey, didn't like the way the newspaper covered a tussle he got into with a sheriff's deputy during last summer's Isle Days festivities.

The mayor was accused of punching an Isanti County deputy when a fight broke out on a dance floor in a beer garden. Don't pretend it's never happened to you. We've all been there, haven't we?

Okay, once again, what the HELL just happened here? This was originally a column about bigoted Internet commenters, or something, and now Nick is just dabbling gossipy bullshit, no doubt having a good laugh with the Messenger editor at their little media dig at the mayor.

"I'm the [bleeping] mayor, you can't arrest me," the mayor allegedly said. Apparently, he was right: After the deputy and the cops were surrounded by an angry crowd, the mayor was released. Assault charges weren't brought until last fall. But he was acquitted by a jury last March, and is seeking to have the charges expunged.

And I'm sure we'll see a full apology from Nick Coleman if those charge ARE expunged. Mmm, hmm.

"Welcome to Mille Lacs," editor Larson says, wryly.

"It's an interesting area."

Man, I've fisked some Nick Coleman doozies in my day, but this. . . this was BY FAR the worst piece of steaming nonsense ever to make the Strib press run. I usually laugh a little bit after tearing his crap apart, but I'm actually a little bit mad about this one. It's a bit crazy how bad that column was. I mean. . . wow. . . what an asshole.

Posted by Ryan at July 22, 2008 05:38 AM | TrackBack

At least he usually tries to wrap things up a little bit at the end. This time it was "What was I writing about? I don't remember. OK, I'll just say it's interesting and hope nobody notices that it isn't."

Posted by: Steve G. at July 22, 2008 09:15 AM

He just went completely off the rails. The slap at the mayor was totally unnecessary.

Posted by: Ryan at July 22, 2008 09:55 AM

You need to do a story just on the exploding whale!

Posted by: Autumn at July 23, 2008 08:05 AM
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