For whatever reason I’ve taken to reading the online comments after certain key articles, and I’m so dismayed. I realize people are knee jerking, reacting without taking time to think. Is that the reason for superficial, biased, thoughtless, sometimes inane comments? It’s not a right or left thing. And since most of these writers do not identify themselves, it is across the board, not belonging to any demographic group. I often read letters to the editors in the NYT or the L.A. Times, and find them thoughtful, often making valuable points that given writers or pundits might have missed. But those letters are edited and chosen for publication. While that makes a difference it does not undo the reality of online comments, just better highlights a budding problem with our democracy. It does seem that a democracy cannot long remain viable if its participants aren’t able to demonstrate at least bits of an intelligent understanding of the issues.