John Steigerwald wrote an incredibly insensitive column last week, essentially blaming Bryan Stow -- that's Stow, not Snow, John -- for the beating he took at the hands of a few Los Angeles Dodgers fans. Stow came to the Dodgers' home-opener wearing a San Francisco Giants jersey and paid a serious price as he was beaten within an inch of his life by Dodgers fans at the stadium. In the wake of the incident, Steigerwald blamed the victim, lashed out at fans wearing replica jerseys and generally made a mockery of the journalism profession.
On Sunday, Steigerwald was back, and addressed the controversy his first column sparked. Instead of furthering the conversation or owning up to an incredibly insensitive and outrageous column, Steigerwald kept digging. In fact, he blamed the Internet for the firestorm created by his column.
And every person who clicked on to my column had been enticed by a headline that went something like these: "He Had It Coming, Says Pa. Writer" or "Jerk In Pennsylvania Says Victim Deserved It."
So, almost each of the more than 200,000 people who linked to the column came with a preconceived notion and were prepared or hoped to be outraged.
My, the Internet is a mad mob that is unable to think for itself. If a link says the column is outrageous, then by-golly we can't form our own opinions by reading it ourselves.
He continues to hammer home the point that fans should never wear replica jerseys, nor should they be worn in an opponents' ballpark, in his mea culpa column. He adds in a tidbit about Stow's friends knowing they'd be razzed at the ballpark, insinuating, again, they brought it upon themselves by wearing they jersey. Then he drops this gem:
Raising that question while the guy is in a coma seems insensitive if you're reading it in Los Angeles or San Francisco, but I made a mistake that I'll never make again.
Steigerwald was pandering to his admittedly small audience far from Los Angeles. But thanks to the beauty of the Internet, his words were available for world-wide consumption. Because he didn't know he was writing to a worldwide audience, and despite knowing his column was published online, Steigerwald believes the hate he received was unjust -- the Internet doesn't understand he says things to get a rise, which somehow makes his words acceptable in his own mind.
The ultimate lesson learned by Steigerwald is simple: The Internet is mean. That's what his entire column boils down to. He was misinterpreted by a mean mob of Internet thugs who persecuted him for no good reason. Steigerwald was unable to look into the mirror and understand why many were so outraged by his column, instead choosing to blame those linking to his piece under what he calls a misleading guise.
Just because it's his shtick to press buttons and write columns to get a rise doesn't make it right. He crossed the line, but isn't man enough to own up to it. It's sick, it's disgusting and he's an embarrassment. But more than anything, I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry he's unable to learn and grow from his mistake as he continues to laugh it off and blame everyone else.