One of the more disturbing aspects of the internet culture — fed largely by the ability to post anonymously — is the rash of mean, hateful comments made following the death of a prominent figure associated with one side or the other.

It’s a disease that afflicts both sides. The death of Ted Kennedy a few years ago brought out the haters on the right to an unprecedented degree. The vitriol and foul language as well as carefully composed comments designed to inflict the maximum amount of pain that were the rule on the right then are mirrored today by comments and tweets on the left regarding the suicide death of prominent Christian pastor Rick Warren’s son.

SooperMexican has some tweets from the compassionate gay left who wish devoutly that Warren’s son was gay:

@BryanJFischer well after all the dead gay kids Rick Warren is responsible for, I guess one of his is a small price to pay. #tcot

If Rick Warren’s kid committed suicide after gay conversion therapy that would just be another body in Rick Warren’s body count.

@RickWarren your son died due to your anti-gay hate toward gay people including your son..

@anotheraka @normaconnors gays commit suicide every day and Rick warren rubs it into the families faces every day! http://Evilbible.com

Here are a few gems from the comments responding to the news on Raw Story:

Well it’s too damn late to convince that egotistical shit Rick Warren to commit suicide first isn’t it? The sins of the father are visited upon the sons. In this case probably late at night when the sons were in grade school.

[...]

Well, one of Rick Warrens gods thought it a good idea to take his son from him. What does your god think of that?

[...]

Why all the fuss? If you were unfortunate enough to have been spawned by Rick Warren, and have to put up with his bulls**t 24/7/365, wouldn’t suicide be high on your bucket list?

Much more on the next page.
USA Today has its own rogues gallery of filth:

Some unbelievers want to assure Rick and Kay Warren, his wife and Matthew’s bereaved mother, that there’s no heaven where they’ll meet their son again.

You can find, among hundreds of comments on USA TODAY’s news story on Matthew’s death, comments such as the Cincinnati poster who says, “Either there is no God, or God doesn’t listen to Rick Warren, despite all the money Rick has made off of selling false hope to desperate people.” In another comment, the same poster counsels Warren to “abandon primitive superstitions and accept the universe for what it is — a place that is utterly indifferent to us.”

ome rush to add pain to the Warrens’ world because, in their view, he did not show sufficient compassion for the unremitting pain suffered by gay youths rejected by parents and peers. They were outraged when Warren took a political stand for Prop 8, which overturned legal same-sex marriage in California in 2008 and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Others have appointed themselves 140-character theologians in a debate over whether someone once saved can lose his or her salvation if suicide is against God’s law. These posters, rather than waiting for Judgment Day, have ruled for hell.

But Bruce Kwiatkowski of the University of Toledo posted on Facebook: “I appreciate what Pastor Ronald Cole said about the subject of Christian suicide. He said the Lord will say, ‘We weren’t expecting you yet…’ ”

John Schuurman observed on Facebook that celebrity culture makes everyone “fair game” and the anonymity afforded by social media that allows people to “send out hate flames without any consequence.”

Are people really that bereft of humanity and care that they think no more of trying to inflict pain on the families and friends of someone who died than they do of swatting a fly? I am hoping most of it is bravado — trying to outdo a previous commenter to prove how tough they can sound. All they are doing is showing a shocking lack of empathy and kindness — values that used to be thought highly of in the civilized world.

Disturbing and unsettling to be sure.