You can lead a horse to the internet, but you can’t make him look anything up

I guess it’s much more fun being ignorant. That’s all I can think when I come upon a comment this stupid:

Just how in hell did a white Hispanic get a Hebrew name like Zimmerman?

That sterling piece of insight came from someone called “dmorris” on a comment thread on a post at Mitchieville, which is a Canadian website. The post is commentary on the Trayvon Martin shooting. Trayvon Martin was shot in Florida, which is not in Canada, but lots of Canadians go to Florida so I suppose they, like everyone else in the goddamn world who went to Disney World a couple of times, think they are qualified to talk about the place and its goings on. But leaving that aside…

I left a comment there calling dmorris an ignorant, possibly anti-Semitic moron, because I’ve had it with right wing websites giving houseroom to this kind of drool. So I doubt that comment will ever see the light of day over there, as is the website owner’s right. Fortunately, I have my own blog right here, and I’ll tell you what I found out in a simple Google search using the terms “jews german names.” Because Zimmerman isn’t a “Hebrew” name, it’s German, as anyone with half a brain in their skull, at least in this part of the world, should know. Or so I thought. Anyway, this is what I found out:

A lot of the surnames that sound Jewish to Americans are simply German names such as Klein, Gross or Grossman, Weiss or Weisman, Rosen, Schwartz or Schwartzman, Segal, Siegal or Sagal, and anything that contains berg, stein, man, thal or bluth. German surnames are very common among American Jews, and many people seem to have inferred the converse: if most Jews have German surnames, then most people with German surnames must be Jews. The reasoning is appealing on a gut-level but logically flawed. Consider this absurd but logically identical argument: most Jews have ten fingers, therefore most people with ten fingers must be Jews.

Bolds mine. The next paragraph goes on to explain that the prevalence of German surnames in Jews of European origin stemmed from a decree passed when the Austro-Hungarian Empire controlled much of Europe. Everyone had to have a surname (Jews didn’t — they used patronymics — “David ben Gurion” — i.e., “David son of Gurion”). I found all that out, and I didn’t have to get in my car and drive to the library. Isn’t the age of the internet marvelous?

But blah blah boring history, it’s much more fun to be an ignorant clod fapping on about “white Hispanics” with “Hebrew names.” In other words, yes, Kathy, they are “making you look bad,” but not for the reasons you think. Not that linking to someone else’s post means you approve of what their commenters say, but that’s why I’m careful what I link to, especially these days. I just don’t want to be associated with certain things. Of course I realize that blog owners are not responsible for policing the thoughts of their readers, but they are responsible for what those readers put in their comment threads. As in: they can confront bigoted bile, instead of just letting it sit there festering. They don’t have to delete the garbage if they have some sort of (quite mistaken) idea that doing so is a repression of “free speech.” But not calling these people out when they spew their trash is the same as giving them tacit approval, and that attracts others of their ilk.

That brings me to another issue. Some people troll comment threads to start trouble and make you look bad. This has happened to a website I will not link to and no longer comment on. (See the previous paragraph where I stated that I don’t want to be associated with certain things.) The website owner chose to “ignore” the troll but not delete any of his disgusting racist garbage because apparently that would be playing his game or something. But here’s the thing. On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. No one can read your mind — if you disapprove of a comment, but refuse to either confront the commenter or delete his leavings, other people reading your site simply assume you are okay with what he said. How can they know? You won’t even say anything yea or nay, because in your head you’re above all that. But no one can see you up there on your shining pedestal. It’s one thing to be unconcerned with what people think about you when it comes to your own beliefs and ideas that you have communicated to the world. It’s another to not care what people think about you because you don’t seem to understand that communication comes in many forms, and one of them is silence and inaction on a situation under your control. “That guy over there taking a dump in the corner of my living room? Just ignore him like I am. He means nothing to me.” But other people aren’t you. They might not be able to ignore the stench of shit.

Update: oh dear. Cry moar, emo “satire” site. Oh well, if we can’t laugh at some kid getting shot to death because he has a “funny” name what can we laugh at?