An internet chat room was shut down earlier today after a number of users started what the organizers are calling a ‘reasonable and intelligent debate’ in one of the forums. Although details are sketchy, the outbreak of the sensible discussion was apparently characterized by polite disagreement, constructive criticism, and mild language.
The discussion thread on ukfilmforum.co.uk was started by a user who wished to discuss the new Batman film. Several other users joined, at which point the discussion seems to have taken off. As one shocked-looking moderator stated, ‘Generally someone will disagree with something said by another forum user, at which point they write ‘batman is gay lol’. The first person usually responds with something along the lines of ‘your mom sucks goat rofl’, then the first person calls the second a bint or a tart, and from then on the messages become increasingly obscene, vitriolic and nonsensical. It’s standard forum etiquette.’
But it appears that the visitors discussing Batman ignored all the well-established conventions, causing offence and some distress to more experienced forum users. One maverick forum visitor commented that he found ‘the directing to be of the highest quality, and Heath Ledger’s final performance worthy of the utmost praise’, while another ‘had certain reservations about the underlying thematic content, but described it as a haunted film that leaps beyond its origins and becomes an engrossing tragedy’. When the writers began to use both upper and lower case on their keyboards, alarm bells rang that the discussion was breaking all the rules of internet chat rooms and moderators quickly moved in to close the whole thing down.
Although some have suggested that this censorship was slightly heavy-handed, the website owner defended his staff, saying “What is the world coming to if four or five angst-ridden teens can’t gain a tiny bit of satisfaction from starting a puerile and meaningless argument with people they’ve never met? It’s what the internet is all about’. One disgruntled user disagreed, saying ‘this kind of gratuitous dumbing-down is exactly what’s wrong with today’s society, and I must protest with the utmost vigour’, before concluding ‘ps – your mom is totally gay lmao!!!!!!’