Last year a photographer named Dana Spaeth-Williams put out a three-minute video consisting of a bunch of stills of kids holding placards which together delivered a standard and benign series of statements about the risk of guns. Nothing that was said on the video hasn’t been said on thousands of other YouTube videos, none of the portraits of the children were inflammatory, provocative or anything like that. The music was spare and haunting, the black-white contrast was artistic as could be; the video was as much a work of art as it was a political statement about gun violence today. Evidently the video was also posted on Yahoo, AOL and MSNBC.
To date the YouTube video has been viewed 32,115 times, which isn’t a game-breaker for YouTube by any means. It has also attracted 263 comments and garnered 337 ‘likes’ and 158 ‘dislikes;’ again, numbers which indicate that neither the pro-gun nor the anti-gun crowd is responding to the video in droves. Nevertheless, Ms. Spaeth-Williams has produced another video, again with a lovely musical background, which is simply a series of comments that were made about the original video since it went live. To sum up, the comments are about as nasty, ugly and (it goes without saying) stupid as they can be. As much as we like to think we are an educated, advanced and cultured society, there are certainly some among us who still believe they can contribute to a conversation by saying the worst, most profanity-laced rants, regardless of whether they have anything to do with the topic at hand.
The second video states that the comments were culled from “thousands” of comments received from pro-gun extremists, and while I didn’t look at comments on Yahoo, AOL or MSNBC, I did read all the postings on YouTube which, I assume, would have been similar to what appeared wherever the video could be seen. Were there lots of loony, nasty and indecipherable comments? Of course. Did some of the bloggers compete with one another to see who could say the nastiest, coarsest things? Of course. Did many of the most ‘extreme’ comments appear to be the work of teen-agers who love to say on the internet what they can’t say out loud in their 7th grade class? Of course.
But what I found most interesting were the numerous comments that were positive, favorable and not just a quick pat on the back, but often contained serious efforts to talk about the content and impact of the video’s message, along with its clear attempt to be considered as a piece of art. In fact, I don’t recall seeing as many thoughtful and respectful reactions to any other gun-control message that has been posted online, which only proves once again that if you elevate the level of your content, you tend to elevate the level of people who respond.
Did the crazy, loony and offensive pro-gun comments upset me? Not a bit. Comments like “You left wing libernuts should be the first ones in the encampments like the Jews” don’t bother me because the guy who wrote it talks to the same two or three people every day and nobody really cares what he thinks or says. Meanwhile, a guy who says the same thing to CNN is favored by nearly one out of five likely national Republican voters to be the next President of the United States. Can I really blame some poor, pathetic shut-in sitting in front of his computer all day making anti-Semitic rants when Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon no less, dismisses criticisms from a leading Jewish civil rights organization as “foolishness?” But we all know that Jews = Liberals so what does Carson stand to lose?
Hey Dana, want to make another video containing extreme and offensive statements about guns? Just splice together the words of Carson, Trump, Fiorina, Bush and all the other Republicans who have decided that protecting the 2nd Amendment is the most important problem facing America today.