Saturday, December 15, 2007

Putting A Damper On Christmas

I know some folks get depressed this time of the year. All the hub-bub of scurrying around buying presents, decorating every available surface with ornaments and faux foliage, the parties, etc. kind of gets to you. We lose track of what this season is really supposed to be all about. You know - "peace on earth, good will toward men" and all that stuff.

This year it's been worse for me than others and I think I've discovered the reason. It's the darned blogs! Of course, it's my fault because I've allowed myself to become hooked on reading comment threads on our local newspaper of record, the Daily Pilot, and others.

I'm depressed because it seems that, regardless the theme, some anonymous grinches will defile a wonderful communicatio
n tool and use the comment threads to criticize, demean, defame and slander folks. In a recent comment thread attached to an article about a long-time football coach at one of our high schools being fired, the more than five dozen comments shredded him, current and former players by name, parents and each other.

Almost any article about education will typically end up with a long comment thread which can be guaranteed to be turned into an anti-illegal immigrant screed - even when those comments are completely irrelevant to the subject. When education articles discuss significant accomplishment at one of our local schools, comments will be posted twisting the accomplishment and attempting, again, to divert the praise for the accomplishment into a harangue about illegal immigration.

I'm also disappointed and depressed that some of our local politicians - our young jailer/mayor a
nd his buffoonish sidekick, the mayor pro tem, for example - use the comment threads as a forum to chide and criticize fellow council members. Sure, they can do it if they choose, but it certainly is a low-class move and pretty typical of them in everything they do. That's what we get when we elect small people to big jobs.

I'm depressed when I realize that the comment threads seem to be dominated by only a few people - some of whom certainly post under several anonymous names on the same thread. Much like stuffing the ballot box, this practice makes it appear that there is overwhelming support for his position. (I say "his" because I know who it is) My personal opinion is that no anonymous posts should be permitted. I mean, who knows where those comments are coming from? They could be from Irvine, Santa Ana or Rancho Cucamonga. It's my opinion that the Daily Pilot should hold the folks who post comments on their threads to the same standards that they do
letters to the editor in the print edition, which requires signing your name and providing a telephone number for verification purposes. My pal, Byron de Arakal, has described these prolific anonymous posts as "graffiti", and he may be right.

So, with just over a week until Christmas, I'll leave you to ponder those thoughts. And, in the spirit of the season, I'll leave you this time with the chorus from one of the classic Christmas songs of my youth - Stan Freberg's "Green Chri$tma$":

We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
We wish you a merry Christmas,
And please buy our beer!

Bah! Humbug!

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