The Trib posted an editorial highlighting the good, bad, and ugly of online forums, including the local blogosphere…a brief excerpt:
Candidates and local office holders try to do the right thing, often in situations where right and wrong are not clearly identifiable — and where their constituents give them conflicting opinions. For that they do not deserve the abuse heaped on them in places like the anonymous “blogosphere.” Mayor Dona Stebbins, who narrowly won re-election Tuesday, used to be a frequent visitor to online forums and public policy blogs. Now, she says, she’s all but stopped visiting them. “People can be so nasty,” she said in a post-election interview.
And that’s too bad. Online discussions have a lot of potential impact, locally and nationally. But when they degenerate to the level of anonymous personal attacks and distortion, they lose their potency — life’s too short to waste time reading snide invective issued by angry people.
Yep. And I’ve heard from folks who were puzzled or angry by Dona’s comments, which I believe were aimed at several specific instances in blog comments and at the Tribune Forums. She was NOT referring to blogs in general or the owners of them. Rather, I’m pretty sure that she was talking about some of the commenters – some on the blogs, but primarily at the Trib Forums.
The most glaring example of incivility and nastiness, for example, is “Redneck Hippie” at the Trib Forums. I have no doubt that he is sincere in his anti-coal screeds or criticism of local government, but he crosses the line when he attacks the candidates rather than their positions. Some examples:
Example: I knew a girl, Donna was her name, Poor little girl, born without a brain
Example: Only someone as dumb as donna would consider this a mandate.
Example: Primadonna and edna hensley COULDN’T EVEN MAKE IT THROUGH COLLEGE! They really ARE that dumb! (“primadonna” is his pet name for Mayor Stebbins)
I called him out on the no-college-diploma issue several times; the lack of a college degree does not make someone “dumb” – in the same way that having a degree doesn’t make someone “smart.” Redneck Hippie’s continued tirade against non-college graduates reveals far more about his intellect and judgment than it does about his targets, I suspect.
And here’s another example of Hippie’s ranting: “Primadonna did NOT get the most votes. Ed and Susan SPLIT the vote! And if you think it wasn’t about the plant, you’re as slow as donna! It was ALL about the plant.”
See, he just can’t get over the fact that the one person that he wanted to see lose actually didn’t lose. He is stunned beyond belief that the great unwashed masses didn’t see the election solely through his eyes and conclude that the coal plant is (a) the only issue that matters, and (b) a carcinogenic, polluting, ugly symbol of evil. He just can’t believe that so many people can be so stupid, apparently.
Well, here is my response: Hey, Redneck Hippie, look VERY CLOSELY at the election results — surely being a teacher you can tell when one number is larger than another, right? Don’t all teachers – even ones that don’t teach math – have to know some basics of arithmetic? You know, such as knowing that 79 is larger than 23, for instance.
OK, now when you look VERY CLOSELY at the results, even someone as rabid as you can tell that Dona Stebbins DID get the most votes of any candidate! You can whine and yell and get red in the face all you want, but unless you directly spoke to EVERY SINGLE VOTER about who they voted for and why, don’t you dare claim to know that “Ed and Susan SPLIT the vote!” Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t — doesn’t matter. All that matters in an election is WHO GOT THE MOST VOTES.
Face reality, Hippie: Dona Stebbins got more votes than anyone else, and is therefore going to remain the Mayor of Great Falls. Rationalize all you want, but you can’t change that reality.