Writing in his Editor’s Chair blog, Kevin slammed comments by readers encouraging a suicidal man to jump from a bridge and applauding a local MP’s suggestion that water cannon be used to deal with migrants in Calais.
He also cited an example whereby comments were closed on an article about a taxi driver being banned from driving following a court case, after a series of racist posts about Asian people appeared.
Wrote Kevin: “When did Britain become such an ugly, intolerant nation? It’s a question I often ask myself when I read online comments posted by users of newspaper websites (including the Argus), or diatribes on social media.”
He added: “In all these instances there were also comments from what seemed to me to be voices of reason; people who attempted to see both sides of a story; people who suggested there might be a middle ground or an alternative view.
“By and large, they tended to get shouted down or, in the worst cases, dismissed with abusive language.
“Is this really now what we are as a nation? A place where bigots rule because they happen to have the loudest voices?”
Kevin went on to say that he did not believe this was the case and hoped there was a reality “far removed from those who work themselves into a lather on their keyboards”.
He added: “The internet, although it can often seem like it, is not a barometer of the nation’s views. The media often use it as such because it’s an easy hit. We at the Argus are probably as guilty as any in that regard and therefore I acknowledge the hypocrisy.”
Kevin continued that Britain had a “proud history of tolerance” and offering sanctuary to people fleeing persecution.
He concluded: “Most of all I believe we are a nation of free speech. And that means allowing people to voice their views, no matter how repugnant we might find them, while also recognising that those who shout loudest are almost always those with no solutions to offer.”