Saturday, January 15, 2011

Seattle Times, Ryan Blethen's Opinion | The trolls and bullies must not stifle community engagement

The Seattle Times' Ryan Blethen has taken the tragedy of the shooting in Arizona and the resulting public discussion on the nature of public discourse to publish a self-serving opinion piece on how people say mean things on Seattle Times' comment boards.

No, I'm not kidding.

If we as a nation learned anything from the shootings in Tucson it is that stirring, meaningful speech is still possible. Yet it can be hard to hear above the roaring sewer that often passes for public dialogue
. . .
I questioned whether I should write this column. Are the commentors who hide behind fake names worth my time addressing? The answer is: occasionally.

Like it or not, what they say is part of the dialogue of The Seattle Times Opinion section.

My favorites are the regulars who comment on every column I write. Charlievictor has become so predictable after 531 comments, I don't even have to read what he writes. Without fail he always begins:

"Once again, the ethically challenged, self-dealing helium filled gas bag otherwise known as corporate welfare king Ryan Blethen ... ." Blah, blah, blah ... . On editorials he uses the same language and substitutes my name with "The Seattle Times editorial board."

The Charlievictors are harmless and not effective. The most they do is call me an idiot and claim the only reason I have a job is because my family owns the newspaper. Never heard that one before.

Some days I feel like we provide a service. A place to vent and hopefully prepare angry commentors to face the world a bit deflated.
Opinion | The trolls and bullies must not stifle community engagement | Seattle Times Newspaper

Dear Ryan Bkethen,
Maybe the Seattle Times could use their journalistic skills and separate how people are communicating with what people are communicating. They might realize that there is a consistent and repeating message by people that see the world all around come apart, not just the "nice to have" things but real people with real problems of homelessness and a lack of food. These people, apparently, have not benefitted from the billions of dollars of tax loopholes, and the business community that always championing the cause of somebody else giving something to make things better.

It appears that many people see big business, including the Seattle Times owners, as hypocrites. With one hand you champion your "new normal", with the other your hand is out for my tax money (that is what a tax break is, Ryan, my tax money).
Maybe the Seattle Times, and all of the businesses that champion for less government should actually participate in less government by willingly taking your hand out of my wallet. Let's go ahead an let the freedom of the marketplace determine winners and losers, and not have the state government pick winners and losers by giving you, the Seattle Times, a tax break.
Lead by example, Seattle Times.
This appears to be a starting point from which the "fifth generation Seattle Times owner", Ryan , launches into a critique of modern public discourse on the Seattle Times comment section. People are mean on the internet. That is true. It is also true that the anonymity that frees people to be mean also frees them to be nicer to complete strangers they have never met in the flesh. Ryan, it cuts both ways, your business just happens to be in the industry that profits from delivering bad news, tending to make people (wait for it) unhappy. When you compound that "delivering bad news for a profit" business model with editorials that routinely demand media freedom and less government, while taking corporate welfare, you are bound to be speaking from a logical disadvantage.
It's the hyprocracy, stupid.

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