It’s been about three weeks since I’ve had the opportunity to add a post to this blog. I was not abducted by extraterrestrials (though sometimes I feel I’m living among them). I have been actively adding my thoughts to the Huffington Post community in response both to stories they’ve published, in response to comments left by other readers and by responding to their critique of my comments. This has become an exhausting effort. The total number of these is now approaching five hundred.
In the process I’ve met some wonderful people who may not share my vision but who have the intellectual honesty to be willing to debate by using facts rather than hyperbole. Of the 65 who are now “fans” they form a small coterie. I suspect that many of the rest are only “fans” so that, given the opportunity, they can have the chance to leave a disparaging remark. Fortunately, while I might have been an overly-sensitive child, my skin has thickened with the passage of time.
One of those, whose views are diametrically different than mine and with whom I have engaged in vigorous debate, was kind enough to respond to the snarky comment left by another reader, “What planet are you from? Uranus?” He advised, “Pay not attention to idiots. I have your back.” That comment literally caused my eyes to tear.
There are some decent people in the world – irrespective of whether we share the same political viewpoint. But if we take the stand that we are the sole possessor or recipient of “truth” and anyone who disagrees is, by definition, “wrong” we will never reach any consensus or move toward a more prosperous future. Sadly, that seems to be the majority view of those who comment on the Huffington Post and, in fairness, probably reflects much the same attitude one would find in an ultra-right publication as well.
One of the brief comments I left, which generated far more activity than I would have expected, pertained to the vote to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. The rhetoric and hyperbole flowed fast and furiously (no pun intended). The overwhelming majority of those focused on my being “un-American;” “having no concept of the Constitution – particularly the Fifth Amendment;” or simply pointed to this event as little more than a “Republican witch hunt.”
To summarize my three sentence comment I said, “I didn’t know whether Ms. Lerner had done anything illegal or whether the IRS had engaged in illegal or political activity but that it would be in all of our best interests to get to the truth and, if there were impropriety, to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
If I had a list of statements that I had made over the years which I personally considered “controversial,” this one wouldn’t have qualified. That was not the reaction of HP readers, twenty-two of whom “faved” my comment – and thirty-eight of whom explained that I was a blithering idiot. But at least this comment was allowed to stand by the “editorial board” at HP.
Another comment which also generated a lot of interest did not survive the censorship process. That comment, which follows, was in response to a story which made fun of Brit Hume and FOX News (the greatest evil since Hitler discovered the gas chamber), over the social media effort to rescue the abducted Nigerian school girls by launching a hash tag campaign.
“There’s probably no one in the “civilized world” who doesn’t hope for the safe return of the abducted Christian Nigerian girls. (By civilized world I refer to those who are not members of Boko Haram or any other fundamentalist extreme Islamic terrorist organization).
But this incident is hardly without precedent since in late February, fifty-nine male students were attacked in their Nigerian school and were either shot or burned to death by the same outfit. Where was the outrage; where were the hash tags; where was the love?
Treating symptoms doesn’t cure diseases. And until we admit the real source of these problems and stamp it out as we did with smallpox, we’re all likely candidates for infection – with or without hash tags.
The story here isn’t FOX News. It’s medieval Islamic extremists.”
I can only guess why that comment was deemed as “too outrageous for publication” but I suspect that it was either by using the words, “Islam,” “extremism,” “terrorists,” or some combination of those which caused the deletion.
I would have liked to have had the opportunity to both read and respond to the twenty-two comments that other readers took the trouble to leave. Sadly, my comment and their responses were deleted before I had the chance to do that. That is both a discourtesy to me – but more so to those who wanted to share their thoughts. And it does remind me that what was true more than two hundred years ago is just as true today.
“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
― Benjamin Franklin