Tuesday, February 25, 2020
During the administration of Allan Kittleman I’m sure there were times that residents who questioned or didn’t agree with his policies took to social media to express their displeasure. I don’t have any specific examples on hand, but, it stands to reason that this is so. None of this can compare to the relentless trolling that current County Executive Calvin Ball has endured since taking office. His posts are criticized, mocked, and his plans are lambasted as useless and/or outright harmful.
One particular troll comes to mind. I won’t name them because, well, it might even be a fake account created specifically for this purpose. But, if you read the County Executive’s page with any regularity, you know to whom I am referring. This person seems to have made it their personal goal to foul and besmirch almost every day of Dr. Ball’s term in office.
Questioning and disagreeing with elected leaders is an integral part of our democracy. Name-calling, gaslighting, and false accusations are not. Perhaps these trolls are the modern day equivalent of cranks who had nothing better to do than write angry Letters to the Editor. There is no reasoning with them, no winning them over, no appealing to a sense of human decency.
Last night I bumped into a particularly unpleasant bit of vitriol. I started to respond, then, thought better if it. Instead I found myself thinking of Shirley Temple.
I don’t remember the movie or the circumstances, but one line spoken by Ms. Temple has stuck with me through the years as the hottest, most biting thing she ever got to say in any of her films. She looked at the person in question and said, in an even but confident tone,
It’s too bad, Mary Anne, that your mother didn’t bring you up to be a nicer girl.
For Shirley Temple, it was the smackdown supreme. It has stayed with me. I wish I could apply it with the courage and aplomb as the character in the movie. It strikes at the heart of the matter: if you think it is okay to treat others in such a hurtful manner, there must have been something deeply wrong in your upbringing.
If that is the case perhaps I should feel sorry for people like this. I don’t. I’m exhausted and disheartened by the nonstop invective. I don’t think it does anything to improve our community. Just imagine how much could be accomplished if this person used their energy to make the county a better place.
So much wasted effort.