Cheerios has a funny and touching ad on YouTube, shown above. A cute little girl asks her mother if Cheerios is good for your heart, Mom reads the box and says yes, and next we see Dad waking up on the couch to discover to his surprise that there is a pile of Cheerios spilling off his chest.
Hard to believe that such an ad would provoke an outpouring of bigotry — but it did, because the Mom is white, the Dad is African-American, and the little girl is biracial. The ad has provoked so many racist comments, in fact, that General Mills has shut down the comments function on the YouTube web address for the video in order to avoid collecting more hateful invective.
It’s very sad to get such direct confirmation that there are still so many racists in the world, but it should come as no surprise to anyone who does much browsing on the internet. On many news websites, the comments sections are full of odious, bigoted statements from people who are hiding behind a pseudonym and therefore feel free to bare the dark, twisted kinks of their souls. Whether it is racism, anti-Semitism, gay-bashing, anti-Catholicism, the repugnant Islamic jihadist lectures that apparently radicalized Tamerlan Tsarnaev, or some other benighted views of latter-day Know-Nothings, the internet is home to some awful, despicable sentiments. My theory is that the form of anonymity that is available on the internet acts like the hoods worn by the KKK, and allows the racists to indulge their passions without being outed as stupid bigots.
I don’t want the government deciding what should and shouldn’t be said. I’m a big believer in free speech, but sometimes free speech is ugly, offensive, idiotic speech. Those of us who use the internet shouldn’t tolerate racist and bigoted comments and should call it out whenever we see it.