Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Reading the Comments

The old (well, not that old) saying goes, "Don't read the comments." But sometimes they can be educational. Take the case of the comments from signers of the petition asking the Board of Education not to renew the Superintendent's contract. Those are some truly enlightening comments. Not all of the sentiments resonate with me, personally, but they are definitely worth the read.

Then there is the case of the mysterious Mr./Ms. hadda_nuf who found this article so completely offensive. After reading "Optimisim lifts Kittleman into second year in office" is commenter begins:

The quality of print journalism has been in steady decline. The Jan 14 article Optimism lifts Kittleman into second year is a most egregious example. Despite an uplifting title, the article is a blatant hatchet job with no attempt at objectivity.

I found that rather startling because, from my perspective, the article definitely leaned positive. Combined with the paper's own editorial, it made for quite the positive report card for the County Executive. Not to hadda_nuf, obviously. Clearly it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Then we come to this blog. My commenters are, for the most part, civil. This is not to say that they always agree with my posts. They don't. But the responses I get generally fall within the range of civil discourse. I've had a very few notable trolls and they are no longer with us.

One curious thing I have noticed. Occasionally I have commenters who tell me I don't have the right to say something. "You can't say that, you can't hold that opinion, you can't make that connection," and so on. So far, those commenters have always been men. Women disagree with me, and sometimes quite vigorously, but they have never challenged or denied my right to follow a particular line of thinking.

I find responses such as these quite odd. Of course I can write about __________. That's why I have a blog. I read, I listen, I pay attention, I think, and I make connections. And then I write. You don't have to agree with what I say, but you don't get to condemn my right to say it.

Oh, and name-calling is never pretty, no matter who does it. But that's why we all tend to avoid the comments section, isn't it?

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