This is a hard decision, especially as an activist. You want to reach out to those undecided types… the ones who may change their minds or attitudes with a little more information. We all know, or should damn well know, that the hardcore anti-sex worker type isn’t going to change their mind so don’t waste precious energy trying to engage them. If they come around, it has to be at their own pace.
However, more often than not, the frothing-at-the-mouth vitriol that appears in most comment threads on the topic of sex work isn’t worth trying to get to that handful of fence sitters. Of course, the internet magnifies jerk ass behaviors but considering the legal status of sex workers and the social status of sex workers and our clients, it is obvious that these negative comments are not merely the product of GIFT. And unfortunately, they tend to dominate these comment threads, spewing their ignorance and hatred everywhere. It’s hard and mentally exhausting to wade through all that shit.
I’ve personally made the decision to ignore comment threads on most sex work articles, with the exception of those on Salon.com, which doesn’t seem to host as many hateful creatures in their comment threads as other sites do. I used to get physically nauseated reading some of these comments. The intensity of the hatred is something to behold. But then I realized that making myself sick with anger and frustration isn’t going to do anything for anybody. To those who are concerned that this may mean that you are “running away” from an argument, don’t be. There’s a difference between engaging in a measured and civilized debate with someone with whom you disagree; ’tis quite another to be held down an pummeled by a bully without a cause.