rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

A lesson in social media hate and rage

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $5 per month!

Photo: flickr/Jason Howie

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Trigger warning: Offensive and disturbing language referenced in this piece.

Some of us should probably have a better understanding of the scary kind of discourse you can encounter on social media.  

A number of years ago, a short version of Never Come Back, a documentary film on the Roma people that I directed and produced, got posted on YouTube, after it had been broadcast on television.

It is hard to believe the kind of violent, vituperative, vicious, racist hate that film attracted, all in the YouTube comments section.

Somebody once asked me why I did not remove those comments.

I answered that I thought it was useful for those who harboured rather more polite -- but, in their own way, stereotyping and bigoted -- attitudes toward the Roma to see who their near neighbours are, on the thought spectrum.

I have a similar sense about the social media reaction to a now notorious little skirmish that happened two weeks ago in the House of Commons.

Earlier I wrote about how little social media commenters on that incident seem to understand about our parliamentary system. Fortunately, our prime minister is much better informed. One only hopes that, as George Washington ignored the many sycophants who wanted him to become the first King of the U.S., Justin Trudeau will ignore those who appear to want him to become an elected dictator.

I am sure he will.

There is, however, a darker side to the social media chatter on all this, and it concerns one of the leading players in the little drama, NDP MP Ruth-Ellen Brosseau.

The kind of ugly and sexist hate she has attracted simply boggles the mind.

In fact, it very much upset a number of senior Liberals, including Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, Health Minister Jane Philpott and one of Prime Minister Trudeau's closest confidants and advisors, Gerald Butts.

They all went public, in various ways, to express their horror and utter disapproval at the vituperation directed against a fellow MP. McKenna even said she believed the attacks against Brosseau were also attacks against her and all women parliamentarians.

Some readers may not have seen any of this stuff. Much of it is unprintable.

But, as a lesson in the kind of violent and aggressive rage that exists out there, somewhere -- as a kind of public service, as it were -- here are some examples, at the outer edge of what can be printed.

All of what follows was taken from the comments section on a YouTube posting by a mysterious Jaro Giesbrecht, who took it upon himself to do a slowed-down version of the video of the incident. He purports to show, not at all convincingly, that, somehow, Brosseau was herself reponsible for her brush with the MP for Papineau.

What is most egregious about Giesbrecht's intervention is its ludicrous, ridiculous, ignorant and malicious claim that the NDPers' protest against yet another closure motion in any way whatsoever "provoked" the Prime Minister to cross the floor, curse at MPs assembled there, and phyically intervene.

The Prime Minister and every single member of his caucus, and of Parliament, all know that no MP ever, under any circumstance, has the right to play vigilante in the House. MPs may not use even the mildest physical force to assure that the rules, as they may understand them, are respected. Enforcing order is entirely and exclusively the Speaker's role, aided by the Sergeant-at-Arms. That is why the Prime Minister apologized fulsomely and graciously for his behaviour two weeks ago, and why Ruth-Ellen Brosseau fully accepted his apology.

Now to the hate that Giesbrecht himself provoked and about which he has said nothing and done nothing whatsoever. If anybody owes an apology to anybody it is Mr. Giesbrecht -- to Ruth-Ellen Brosseau, to the Canadian Parliament and to the Canadian people. 

Please note: some readers might find what follows too ugly and disturbing to read.

With that caveat, here goes:

  • I'd delighted if this kind of scum dies of cancer.

  • This assault is really gay to be straight up honest. I hope the girl gets a hard plenty.

  • I would be honoured to be elbowed in the boob by Justin Trudeau.

  • I hope Trudeau purposely elbowed her, 'cause the phony bitch had it comin'!

  • Get that bitch fired please for false accusations

  • Move bitch, get out the way! Get out the way bitch, get out the way!

  • Ruth Ellen Brosseau is a little Ass-hole Hore (sic) and she is a disgrace to Election Canada, and she should be disqualified immediately from holding office in Canada

  • Ms. Brassiere swung at him.

  • Actually a attention whore

  • Wow that girl should get a Oscar award for best acting. Like wow for real grow the fuck up.

  • This is why women should not be educated.

  • This woman is a complete buffoon and I do not want any of my tax dollars going to this nutsack. Lady, get the hell out of politics and do not come back. You are a massive, smelly, repugnant twat.

  • To be honest if she does get death threats, I wouldn't feel sorry for her

  • That bitch should get a punch in the face..

  • That's not a fucking elbow. What kind of Canadian is this cunt. At best a interference but more like a diving call. Someone should go her because she needs to be tossed around for that bitch ass dive.

  • She got what she deserved, too bad his elbow wasn't at chin level when he tried to help the gentleman through their little childish blockade. Clothes lining her over the rail, ass over tea kettle into the seats, now that woulda been one for the books.

  • I hate to be the voice of reason her but this chick has no boob!

  • As a feminist, you deserve this garbage. You're encouraging women to play the victim card as often as possible. This is what your ideology yields. Enjoy it, fucktards.

  • This is why I hate girls lol.. Even though I'm a girl. That idiot deserved anything she gets..

  • That bitch deserved to get a knock out

  • She's such a child like what did she think she could do? They have a majority vote block the guy all you want they will win. And your vote wouldn't have done nothing.

  • What a feminist cunt

  • She is a moron anyway, claiming she had to leave and because of that missed the vote. As soon as she started walking away you could see her using her cell phone. If Liberals have a majority government, why they even bother to listen to these other jackasses.

There you have it -- a small sample from one site's comments section. Some of it is just over-heated rhetoric; a lot is vicious, sexist and openly fascistic.

By calling attention to it, by making it public in another context, does one encourage this sort of ugliness, or expose it?

I think the latter, but readers will tell me if they think I am wrong. 


Photo: flickr/Jason Howie

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.