WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The photo of a dog hanging has gotten a lot of attention over the past few days. The story on our website got 132 comments and nearly 40,000 reads in just 48 hours.
But why did a story about a couple facing more than 100 sex crimes with a child got far less reaction? And why are some comments even more violent than the alleged offenses?
We asked a clinical psychologist for insight.
Extreme comments were not hard to find on our stories about the dog being hanged from a ceiling and the couple charged with the crimes with a child.
Doxie lover posted on the dog abuse story, “This is SO SICKENING! What kind of MONSTERS would do this. I hope anyone involved in stringing this poor puppy up like this BURN IN HELL!”
And Dirk Diglr had this to say about the two charged with sex crimes: “Its a shame public hangings are no longer allowed. These 2 would be perfect candidates. I hope the die a long miserable, suffering, painful death.”
Clinical psychologist and UNCW professor Dr. Kate Nooner says there may be a few reasons for the violent comments.
“Being online and having that level of privacy kind of makes you willing to say things that are bigger than what you would say in another context, and also, the second part, is people feel like, well you did something against a harmless creature, so it’s justified for me to harm you,” Dr. Nooner said.
She says it’s human nature to react like this.
“Our natural reaction when something wrong happens, our emotions run high, and if something violent happens responding with aggression is kind of the natural emotion that comes out,” Nooner said.
But why would this picture elicit more emotion than a child investigators say was abused for nearly a decade? It is something that outraged Sad Man, who wrote: “What’s really sad is that this story only had three comments, and the stupid dog hanging from its harness for a few seconds has 132 comments of outrage.What’s really sad is that we have twisted priorities that put a dog, or any animal, above a child.”
Dr. Nooner says there may be a reason for this.
“Thinking of harmful things, especially sexual abuse happening to children, is so terrifying that they don’t even want to click and look at a story on it,” she said.
Dr. Nooner says when it comes to dealing with something violent, aggression usually is not helpful and can make things worse.