After I posted about Barbaro and Lisa, I got a comment saying something on the order of “I’ve also posted about Barbaro, please check it out. Enjoy.” (I’ve deleted the comment since, so I don’t have the exact wording.) Since it was someone I didn’t know, and this isn’t exactly the kind of blog that attracts a lot of unfamiliar postings, I checked it out. The entry in question said, in essence, that the poster was glad Barbaro was dead. He had no particular reason for being angry at the attention paid to Barbaro in life - unlike, for example, the writer of a letter to the editor in the Boston Globe, who pointed out the unfairness of having Barbaro’s picture and obituary on page 1, and the announcement of her cousin’s death in Iraq (and the photo of his pregnant widow) on page 6 of the B section. In this case, it was the mere idea that people cared about the horse that seemed to send the blogger into spasms of anger.
The poster’s profile says he’s 18, and his .edu email makes him a student. My best guess is that he searched for blog entries about Barbaro, and mass-commented. (I’m assuming that he didn’t actually read my entry, not because realizing that it was as much about Lisa as it was about Barbaro might have stopped him from posting, but because he didn’t try to be offensive about her, too.)
I’ve posted before about some people’s convulsive need to attack other people’s — not even their beliefs, but the things they are passionate about. The kindest explanation I can come up with is that they think it’s funny that other people care about anything, and that these attacks are intended as mockery. But the anger behind them is always startling, and obviates any intended humor. Why, indeed, should it bother anyone that someone else cares about — anything? The Red Sox, the Yankees, the Super Bowl, Barbaro, whatever…. My passionate interest in any one of those things does not, cannot, affect a total stranger. What makes anyone thing that anger is the appropriate reaction to someone else’s passion?
In an earlier post, I made some comments about the expanded sense of self as a possible cause, but in this case, I think I’ll have to fall back on an old Southern comment: “That boy — he’s just not right