A few disconnected points
I want to take a moment to make a few points, perhaps slightly disconnected, but each of which I could probably have written into volumes, based on the way they have been bouncing through my head the past couple of weeks. Bear with me.
* Folks, please, PLEASE, stop referring to news (from legitimate journalistic organizations) that presents information that challenges your own viewpoints as “fake news.” Just stop. If you don’t want to pass it along to others, fine. But be smarter about what you see, particularly on social media, and ignore the junk. Spreading it, even if you have railed against it as “fake” only serves its authors’ purpose, and hurts those of us who are still trying very hard to bring you the facts you need to make your own decisions.
* Those who have been emboldened to revive vile, racist, bigoted and hateful language under the mistaken belief that it is acceptable again (clearly the sentiments never went away), must understand in no uncertain terms that while they are free to express such filth, they are not free from the consequences. Among those consequences MUST be an immediate outcry from those in earshot who understand it is not acceptable and will not be part of an environment in which people are comfortable using it. For most of my life, I heard some words only from the mouths of a very few, older people who even then used them in hushed tones. Today, I hear the N-word and other derogatory terms used by small-minded folks who feel threatened by “different” thrown around with much more freedom. I get phone calls from people who don’t even try to hide their white supremacist agendas (or their insecurities). That did not used to happen. It is horrifying that it is happening, now.
* Speaking of unacceptable, Cam Newton should know better. To proclaim, during a press conference, that it was “funny to hear a female” asking a question about routes — a reporter who had covered the Carolina Panthers for two years already — is just mind-blowing. Reporters work hard to understand their beats, regardless of gender. Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue is no exception, and she asked a good question. What she got in return was disrespect and an eye-opening reminder about that suddenly-acceptable-again speech I mentioned.
* Sticking with football, there is a situation brewing up the river that is still under investigation, and includes accusations from parents that a high school coach is bullying players. I have no idea whether this particular set of accusations has any truth to it, or if parents were simply observing a passionate coach react after a loss and instinctively wanting to protect their children from the kind of coaching that might actually do them some good. I really don’t know. But I do know — and we’ve all seen it — that teachers and coaches CAN be bullies as bad as, or even worse than, the students in their charge. Administrators should not tolerate it. It should be regarded with the same kind of disciplinary response a student would get.
* And, finally, to Las Vegas. I have visited there many times. I have college friends who live there, and others who were visiting that weekend. So my immediate thoughts were less about gun control laws, mental illness, security measures and politicization than they were about how terrifying it must have been for the hundreds of people attending that concert — and making sure my friends had been no where near it. I’m not going to debate whether what happened was “terrorism;” I’m not going to buy into the conspiracy theories or try to assign blame. (Though I did spend a lot of time that first day wondering “why?”) The truth is there is no reason that would make us all say “Oh, well that’s OK, then.” There should have been no side-taking in the aftermath; but that’s what we do, now, isn’t it? What kind of person sees coverage of a tragedy like that and says she has no sympathy for the victims because “country music fans often are Republicans?” The kind of person who, again, has been emboldened to believe hate speech (of any brand) is acceptable; and has thrown out compassion and decency if they don’t mesh with her agenda. Fortunately Hayley Geftman-Gold, CBS’s now-former vice president and senior counsel, felt the consequences of that bit of bile.
But for goodness sake, people, that happened. Someone thought it was OK to say that.
Forgive the rambling. There has been so much to take in recently. And I find myself simply wishing more people had, not just sympathy, but maybe even a little empathy for one another. How nice it would be if we could just flip a switch and make that happen.
Take care of each other, folks.
Christina Myer is executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org