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COLUMN: A place where cowardly lions go on the attack

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By Ben Carlson

Facebook offers many things to its users, particularly to cowards looking for a place to whine.

At issue is my article in last week’s paper about campaigning during the Christmas parade. The mayor didn’t like it and said so, sending some of those who did it into a frenzy and their cowardly supporters to Facebook.

Yes, cowards, because the examples you’ll read below are from people who run their unfounded smack online vs. by phone or face to face.

For those not familiar, Facebook is a wildly popular website where people place information about themselves in an effort to stay in touch with friends. To see their information, though, you first have to request their friendship and have them approve you as such.

Well, sort of.

What some people are apparently too ignorant to understand is that their so-called friends can copy their information and send it merrily along to other non-friends. Before long the entire world has access to that information — including their snide remarks.

That’s what happened following last week’s story when some of my friends copied and pasted passages from Facebook pages that left me laughing out loud.

(I’ve fixed the spelling and grammar errors, although I’m not sure why, and intentionally omitted their names.)

“To start, if ignorance is bliss then our local editor must be the happiest person in town,” wrote one person. “To stir up something as stupid as political floats in the parade to me is just stupid. I can’t ever remember a parade where there were not politicians. Why is it different for the incumbents to be represented? I agree with some other statements that this was just a tool to sell papers on Wednesday.”

Then there are these penetrating observations from someone I’ve never met who questions my ethics and for some odd reason accuses me of being a bully.

“The issue, as I have come to see it, has been brought about by an editor of a newspaper that has little else to do but stir things up and then sit behind his right to free speech and dare anyone to say anything about it,” this person wrote.

“This whole thing smacks of a little incumbent partisanship on the part of the editor of The Anderson News. I think the second sentence in the article (those who know the difference will remember it was actually my column) ‘Vote seekers not only sinners in the parade’ should have read: ‘I make my living commenting and writing about local politics, so when I saw those floats go by I knew right away that I could find a good story to fill the paper with.’ He could care less what people think around here, he just wants to keep everyone stirred up and sell papers.”

That’s right, pal, my job is to sell newspapers. Not being a lifelong government employee, I’ve taken the capitalist approach to feeding my family and understand that without selling a good or service, my kids go hungry.

You probably don’t know because you obviously didn’t care enough to be there, but the campaign floats in the parade was a hot topic during that night’s chamber Christmas gala. That alone made it newsworthy, regardless what the mayor had to say.

Further, I’m not “hiding” behind a website’s friend’s list or the right to free speech, nor am I daring anyone to say anything about what I’ve written.

Unlike you, I’m offering my opinions and thoughts to anyone with the ability to pick up the paper and read them, friends and foes alike.

No password required.

As for your “smacks of a little incumbent partisanship” remark, you of all people should know that before you assail a man with character smears and question his ethics, it helps to have that pesky little thing called proof.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my deadline is looming and I’m running behind.

Along with getting some press releases written and sent to the sheriff for his approval, I have to spend some time not caring what people think around here. Not to mention finding another news story to blow way out of proportion.

Gotta sell those newspapers, you know.

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.