WITN?: Brazil nuts, American idiots and whoever else I have to upset around here to keep my job

Glancing at TechCrunch late on Thursday evening, I immediately realised there was trouble afoot.

A few hours earlier, Sarah Lacy had published a post about the difficulties she’d had receiving her visa to Brazil to research her book and report on start-ups for TechCrunch. I’d read the post and sympathized with Sarah’s frustration. The problem, apparently, had been caused by an ‘upgrade’ of Brazilian embassy computer systems and the resulting havoc had affected everyone from journalists to business people to the coach of a national football – sorry, ‘soccer’ – team.

As Sarah wrote, it also meant that she would now not be able to meet any of the scores of startups who had hoped to speak to a visiting TechCrunch reporter. If I were one of those startups, I’d be pissed. I’d be pissed at my government for not getting their technology together, and I’d be pissed generally that I’d missed an opportunity to showcase my business on a foreign stage. I might even post a comment saying as much.

Glancing at TechCrunch on Thursday evening, then, I half-expected to see maybe a couple of dozen comments on the post. But no. There were hundreds. Almost 500 in fact, and just about every one of them was attacking Sarah specifically, and American visa policy, generally.