- Why are they so angry?
- Why are they so unhappy?
- Why do they hate?
- Why can't they abide different opinions?
- Why can't they respond in a civil manner?
- Why can't they respond without profanity? Without using trite labels devoid of thought?
- Have they ever read Jesus' words about love and judgment and kindness?
- Didn't their mothers teach them any manners?
A better question--How do you respond?
|National news about Enid|
That's because I posted the article and bragged about being quoted, proud of contributing to recognition of the importance of community journalism.
Here's the link to the story online: Oklahoma newspaper
Then there were a few very angry comments in twitter and Facebook, throwing labels and judgments about me, the newspaper, media, and professors.
One I immediately blocked, and reported for abuse--not even responding.
Another, I wrote some facts, no opinions, in response to some of the inaccurate statements, and then blocked the person.
I'm proud of myself for not responding in my usual snarky, sarcastic style.
I wasn't exactly surprised at negative reactions, except for their vitriol. I was afraid someone would take my comments as critical of Enid. I would have apologized for that, because Enid is a great community. In the context of the article however, I meant all small towns and their newspapers.
Those comments came from my personal journalism experience and more than 30 years working with community journalists.
So how should I have responded?
Perhaps I should have responded with "Thank you for your opinion. Have a great day."
That, or any other comment, would have provoked more negative comments.
I also slept on the situation, before acting, and slept again, before writing this.
Here are some of the thoughts I had on how to react to "hate mail."
The comment from one of my twitter for media class speakers, and I'm not sure which one, was one of my first thoughts, "You don't have to join every fight you're invited to."
Then I thought about Jill Castilla, the dynamo leader of Citizens Bank in Edmond, who just spoke to my students last week. She's used social media to rebuild that bank into a national model, and her methods ooze positivity: "Elevate where you're at," she says. Her social media framework is "GAP--Genuine, Authentic, Positive."
Another teacher of mine also had advice:
- "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also." Matt. 5:39.
- “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
- "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God." Matt 5.
Underlying it all is the absolute disregard for civility and respect for others' opinions in today's America.
My former student from OSU, Roy Lee Lindsey from Cordell who now leads the Oklahoma Pork Council put it best: "This story is about everything that is wrong with our society today. When I refuse to do business with someone or stop talking to someone just because they have a difference of opinion than I do, I limit my ability to learn. Exposure to differing opinions and ideas is how we challenge ourselves and grow."
My mother would take a bar of soap and wash out the mouths of people who spout hate mail, including our so-called leaders.
"But the words you speak come from the heart--that's what defiles you." Matt. 15:18.
Here were my words that sparked all of this, accurately reported by Manny Fernandez, Houston bureau chief of The New York Times:
- "There used to be a saying that the editorial page was the soul of a newspaper, and if that’s the case, we’ve got a lot of weak-souled newspapers in the country because they’re afraid to offend anybody,” said Terry M. Clark, the director of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame and a professor of journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. “This is an excellent example of the way American journalism ought to be — standing for something — and, man, it takes guts to do that in Enid, Okla.”