On Monday, Charlottesville, Virginia’s News and Arts Weekly shut down the comment section of its website on an article regarding a brutal incident of the so-called “Knockout Game” in the city’s mall – based on the “hateful nature” of the comments.
The article itself reported on victim Jeanne Doucette and her boyfriend Marc Adams being pummeled into unconsciousness by a group of three black males. Doucette caught the beating on camera. The newspaper stated:
Both victims wondered whether the episode was an example of the so-called “knock-out game,” in which assailants randomly strike an innocent passerby with the goal of rendering them unconscious. Several such assaults have resulted in the deaths of victims.
The post, which was linked by the Drudge Report, quickly went viral, spurring commenters to post messages about the knockout game and the incident. The editor-in-chief for the site, Giles Morris, warned commenters that their posts could be deleted:
Dear Readers, This is a local news story about an alleged assault that occurred on our Downtown Mall. Please do not use this comment stream as a forum for social diatribes, for racist ranging, or for expressing anger. We will delete you.
After one commenter responded with a quote from George Orwell – “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” – Morris shut down the thread. He wrote, “This comment stream has been closed due to the hateful nature of the discussion the story generated. Sorry for the inconvenience.”