Those who know me know that I have an almost limitless supply of energy when it comes to ranting about things that make me cross. So I will try to make this as short as possible…
Although my MA dissertation studying social media acquainted me with internet trolls, even I was shocked by the response of the people commenting on a news story that broke a few days ago.
Not widely reported in the British press, the facts seem to be as follows: an Indonesian man who was employed as a steward on a Holland America cruise liner admitted to the violent rape of a female passenger. He also admitted attempting to throw her overboard to cover up his actions (he doesn’t seem to have got very far with the part of the plan). The supposed motivation for the attack seems to have been that, when the steward was trying to bring in the breakfast the woman had requested, he knocked several times and then heard a woman’s voice saying, “Wait a minute, son of a bitch!”.
A disgusting, traumatising and terrifying attack.
What compelled me to write a blog on the subject, though, was the rather surprising range of comments posted by readers on various news websites across the globe.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
I don’t know about you, but these comments sort of fit in with what I’d call a ‘normal’ response:
How absolutely disgusting and horrifying. This poor woman. Thank God for the fellow passenger who helped her.
588 Up votes, 65 Down Votes (Seriously?!) – Daily Mail
Someone who can snap like that over such a trivial issue should not be out walking among society.
127 Up Votes, 9 Down Votes – Daily Mail
So glad that woman was able to fight back, and very very glad that another person obviously heard something suspicious and instead of ignoring it, pounded on her door. Probably saved her life.
5 Up votes – New York Daily News
Disrespectful words are no excuse to put your hands on anyone.
Physical violence is never the answer unless your life depends on it…
27 Up votes, 1 Down Vote – CNN
These took a little bit of searching for. The majority of common-sense answers came in response to other posters. The comment I spotted that most closely mirrored my vetoed one was on The Daily Mail site:
Most commenters here are a bit strange to put their focus on nudity instead of the crime. Very strange I must say!
701 Up Votes 125 Down Votes – Daily Mail
Oh, did I not mention it was a nudist cruise? A pretty unusual feature to the story but not exact the crux of the issue. The cruise was put on by Bare Necessities Tour and Travel.
Hence the top rated comments on The Daily Mail website:
Hope they sterilize the ship well after the nude cruise. That is absolutely disgusting! These people are sitting on common area chairs and such with no pants on? I will never go on this cruise line! Gross.
1483 Up Votes, 296 Down Votes – The Daily Mail
Thank god they wear clothes at dinner, it would put me right off my meat and two veg.
1179 Up Votes, 95 Down Votes
So no mention of the violent attack as such; even a little play on words to lighten the mood after picturing all that terrible nudity. And they weren’t the only ones. The top rated comment on the New York Daily News report goes to……..
There is no reason for her to call him names, but he went overboard.
17 Up votes – New York Daily News
Oh how I chuckled.
No, the core issues here seem to be not the attack itself but cruises, nudity, manners and Muslims (wtf?!).
Top rated comment, as voted for by CNN readers:
Between all of the lawlessness, disease, and disasters on cruise ships, I think I will just stay home and beat myself about the head for free.
1111 Up Votes, 27 Down Votes – CNN
Cue forty-five thousand comments arguing the various virtues/pit-falls of cruising.
And, fairly predictably,:
Muslims hate females, so this is no surprise.
2 Up Votes – New York Daily News
As usual, the result of perceived offence to a Muslim is extreme violence and in the case of a woman, rape. Nothing new here.
3 Up Votes – CBS News
NB: I don’t think anyone’s managed to establish what this man’s religion is.
The final set of comments I find the most disturbing of all. I won’t say anything, I’ll just post them (I am happy to say that, especially on the CNN site, comments like this met with a lot of argument):
Yea true, people are so rude and very disrespectful, and then something like this happens and they quickly become the victim. Yea I do think he went overboard, maybe he could have just said something back to her, or laughed it off, but to almost kill her is insane. I hope she learned her lesson about calling people names and become respectful. She’s going to have a trouble life trusting people now, it’s a shame on both parties.
5 Up Votes – New York Daily News
American rudeness finally gets properly rewarded and the poor guy gets arrested for it. There’s no justice in the world.
**DISCLAIMER** To anyone else who plans on jumping into this conversation, the above statement was made tongue-in-cheek and was NOT meant to be taken seriously. It was a comment on how rudeness to people in the service industry is unwise and unacceptable unless something measurable was done to offend the customer. Knocking on the door when delivering the food that the customer had asked for does not qualify.
6 Up Votes, 9 Down Votes – CNN
[bare in mind the attacker has admitted what he did]
Some passenger sometime will do anything to avoid paying , including false aligation for rape, American are full of drama, they complain about everything they could from the first time they step on the cruise . Finding a way to cut cost. Some single lady’s already are so lonely , and sluty they are desperate for sex on the cruise , they invite a crew member, if they are not satisfied they do something like this.
– Cruise Law News
I have worked with Holand America Lines for 20 years as a chef,so far i have not heard of any story like this,but I think these words,S.O.B.was the reason why this guy acted that way,lesson learned.
– NBC Miami
Some Americans use the term “S.O.B.” so glibly, that they don’t realize what the words literally mean, and how much they can hurt and anger someone who is not American. This is a life lesson that it pays to be civil, if not kind, to everyone.
– NBC Miami
This is why you teach your kids manners. Guaranteed she’ll never answer the door with that tone again. It’s too bad she had to learn this way.
15 Up Votes, 4 Down Votes – CNN
It just goes to show you, treat everyone with respect because you never know what you are dealing with.
71 Up Votes, 6 down Votes – CNN
Hire only those with impeccable credentials and maturity; this young man couldn’t handle the sexual tension, I think.
252 Up Votes, 65 Down Votes – Daily Mail
Sounds like a clash of cultures to me. Some people take “son of a bitch” quite literally and seriously. She didn’t have it coming to her, but manners are important.
112 Up Votes, 52 Down Votes – Daily Mail
Some men truly love their mom’s and take great offence when anyone curses the woman who labored to give them life. Still, rape and assault are the heinous acts of a madman. I feel badly for both the victim and her attacker. But I am particularly saddened for both their
8 Up Votes – New York Daily News
Be nice to people who serve you, cause you never know when they will snap.
3 Up Votes – New York Daily News
LOL @ people claiming that she may not have said anything derogatory towards the guy.
Yea, people will randomly hunt you down because you did nothing. Yes, women can absolutely do no harm.
She must have said something really nasty to him, given that he attempted to track her down repeatedly. You just don’t do that because you feel like it, especially working at the cruise ship for nearly 2 years.
5 Up Votes – CNN
So there you have it ladies. If you don’t want to get raped don’t curse, take cruises or take your clothes off. Duh!!