“People Can Be So Nasty”


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.

13 Comments

  • ajtooley (#)
    November 10th, 2007

    Agreed. I mean, I didn’t vote for Dona this time around, but I don’t see the point in being uncivil about it. Indeed, I don’t even have any animosity toward her, any more than I did toward Randy Gray when I decided his direction and mine didn’t agree. It’s sad that I feel I have to point out that I don’t have animosity toward a politician for whom I didn’t vote. That’s what discourse has come to these days.

    However, I think the Trib performed a bit of a disservice in referencing the “blogosphere” rather than the online community in general. I think that phrasing shows the editorial staff either doesn’t understand the distinction between blogs and forums, or does understand and simply wants to tweak the closest thing to local competition. Neither possibility speaks well of the Tribune.

  • ZenPanda (#)
    November 10th, 2007

    I was glad that Dona chose to address this issue on my puzzled posted herself. I respect her for stepping up.

  • Watching (#)
    November 10th, 2007

    Really? Her attitude is not the sign of a leader. The real story is this classless new low in modern day politics. I thought I’ve seen it all in Chicago politics but this woman is the worst.

  • wolfpack (#)
    November 10th, 2007

    Dave- You missed this extreme example of Redneck Hippie posting as Larry K: “ check your Constitutionally guaranteed rights at the door when you enter primadonna’s whore house! Sorry, but I can’t do that, even WITH a bouncer named Chief Dorky

    How can any blog owner who wishes intelligent dialogue on their blog tolerate these kind of personal comments then blame the victim for avoiding the abuse and not offering them an olive branch. LK/redneck bullies others like a high school punk and should be sent to detention. Funny such an educated man needs to use name calling to make a point. What Ivy League school taught him that?

  • GiftShoppeGuy (#)
    November 10th, 2007

    Yet, here the fact remains that the Trib allowed this kind of “verbal(written)abuse” to go on.

    How many self respecting bloggers would allow an alter ego the likes of RedNeck Hippie to leave such remarks? Not many, or any at all I’ll wager.

    I don’t think that ‘Da Hip” has a college education at all. I also believe that this person only pretends to be the hipster because he’s probably only just in his late teens or early 20 somethings.

    This guy probably still lives with his mother in a basement somewhere over in Black Eagle and works part time as a janitor at a school somewhere, using the school computers to run off at the mouth. Youngsters never pay too much attention to what they say, or what they do, until their mother tells them to knock it off.

    Redneck Hippie, either went half of his freshman year, got kicked out or dropped out, or even better yet, never attended college or a grade past 10 in high school at all.

    I’ve never responded to any of his comments, because I don’t make it a point to argue with children.

  • GeeGuy (#)
    November 11th, 2007

    I had always wondered what it would take to make David mad!

  • Inez (#)
    November 11th, 2007

    GiftShoppe,

    I like the fact that the Tribune allows people to comment on stories and does not go in and cut out the opinions of people. Once a paper starts limiting opinion, where should it draw the line? People will scream censorship and lose faith that the items being left reflect the community’s opinions, if the Trib starts editing opinions. They will suspect the Tribune is cutting out opinions it doesn’t agree with.

    I read the editorial and disagree with Tooley. Clearly, the Tribune was referring to comments on its own forums, which are clearly part of the blogosphere. Just because it is run by a larger newspaper doesn’t eman it is not part of the blogosphere. Check it out. There are blogs throughout the forums.

    What I have noticed is a sort of elitism, paranois and thin skin on the part of bloggers. Anytime a MSM outlet wrties about the blogosphere, bloggers sniff and look down on it. Anytime an MSM writes anything even remotely negative about the blogosphere, bloggers go nuts. Thye can dish it out, but theyc an’t take it.

  • The Yard Whisperer (#)
    November 11th, 2007

    Dave, I was there watching it all unfold. Brutal… that’s what it was. I thought was just rude humor until he threw out the “whore” word. Then it was very… not funny. A.H. seems like a sore loser. My candidate lost too (I penciled you in Dave). And while you aren’t the brightest knife on the… er… shelf. I’m not going to call you an uneducated whore.

  • GiftShoppeGuy (#)
    November 11th, 2007

    So where do we draw the line?

    Is it “free speech” or is it “libel”.

    Being thoughtful with regard to any comment you might make, regardless of how heated, could easily be considered “free speech”.

    Thin skinned? Well, there are those out there that take it on the chin more than they should, I’ll give you that.

    But some of the “thickest skin” folks I know would never tolerate the kind of derogatory filth being presented over at the Tribune.

    If I were Mayor, you could probably call me anything you want ‘cept late for supper, it wouldn’t bother me at all, just so long as you are prepared to “back it all up”, and, I think this is where the libel part would come into play.

    If you call me a whore, well then by-bucko you’ld best be ready to back it up and put it to proof before I’d consider what you said to be “free speech”.

  • Inez (#)
    November 11th, 2007

    GiftShoppe,

    The worst language on the Web is found at the e-city Web site. This site and the Tribune are Catholic school text compraed with what goes on there.

  • GeeGuy (#)
    November 12th, 2007

    Inez, I take issue with that. I typically censor profanity. Please send me a link to some that I missed.

  • The Yard Whisperer (#)
    November 12th, 2007

    I think she was joking. Of course, I’ve been wrong before.

  • Magicman (#)
    November 12th, 2007

    Inez, are you reading the same e-city blog I am? Do you have some examples to back up your statement? The Tribune’s blog is nothing more than a free-for-all with all sorts of IQ’s that are 5 below common sense sounding off.

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