Dive boat operator swamped with hate messages — and he’s not alone

Posted: 10/12/2011 in all marine news

Sally Kestin –

The two divers left behind by their dive boat off South Florida last weekend made it back to land unharmed, but that did not stop hundreds of people from calling and emailing the boat operator with vulgar, hate-filled messages.

The attacks became so vicious that RJ Diving Ventures Inc. of Miami Beach has taken down its website and Facebook pages and stopped answering the telephone unless the call comes from a recognized number, said owner Robert J. Arnove. “I am shocked at the animosity and hatred displayed by these people,” he said.

Although severe, the reaction is hardly unusual. In business and politics, the discourse has become increasingly hostile, raising the question: Have we become meaner ?

I think we as a nation are much more frustrated than at other times,” said Joel Kimmel, a psychologist in Coral Springs. “We just live in this polarized society: You’re either a good guy or a bad guy.”

Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler has come to expect rancor in some of the communications she receives, whether they are about relocating Muscovy ducks or allowing guns in government buildings and on beaches.

In one recent email on a proposal for the county to take over Everglades Holiday Park, the author called Wexler a “prejudiced, biased, racist bigot,” and urged her to leave the park alone.

“People have not been shy about sharing their anti-government, leave-us-alone opinion,” she said.

Wexler, an elected official for almost 20 years, said she has seen a shift to more abusive and hostile commentary in recent years.

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