As of this week, SooToday stories on Indigenous issues won’t include comments sections, and you won’t see them shared on Facebook.
It’s not that we don’t think it’s a topic worthy of discussion. Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people is one of the most pressing things facing our country, and this community. Especially right now.
It’s just that some of you don’t seem to have anything of value to say.
And yet you keep saying it anyway. Over and over again. At length, and in hurtful and often hateful language.
We have read your ignorant ramblings, your subtle, but hurtful racism. We have moderated your thinly (and not-so-thinly) veiled threats of violence and cringed at your links to wackadoo conspiracy theories.
The last month has not been pretty.
In just the last two weeks we have seen you resort to slurs and hurtful stereotypes over and over again. A story on the local tribute to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls prompted a stream of completely insensitive comments. At least one of you called for police to shoot peaceful protesters and several of you suggested drivers run down the human beings holding Wet’suwet’en solidarity demonstrations. Another commenter suggested Canadians would be better off if we could 'live native free'.
We have deleted posts, banned users and (on SooToday, where we have that ability) we have removed comments sections altogether when conversations have become unsalvageable. It hasn't helped.
We are, frankly, tired of presiding over a constant stream of divisive drivel that is completely at odds with the purpose of the stories we write, and with our mission as a news site.
Why delete the Facebook posts? We often receive requests to turn off comments on individual Facebook posts, and If we could do that we certainly would. Unfortunately, that’s not a tool Facebook provides for pages.
The alternative is to wade through toxic comment threads hundreds of posts deep every day, which is not practical.
Sometimes you have to accept that there are things beyond redemption.
It’s a sad moment and one that I hope will cause some of you to reflect on the divisive nature of what you post. For our part, we hope it will let us get on with what should be our priority: informing you on the critical issues that face our community.