November 1, 2011 12:50:00 PM
On Thursday Sam Lathrop, of late the police chief of Beloit, Wis., sent an email to Columbus HR Director Pat Mitchell asking her to remove his name from the list of those under consideration for the the city's police chief.
Wrote Lathrop: "I have read with dismay articles and blogs in your local newspaper. As much as you are looking for a good fit for police chief, I too am looking for a fit. If the articles and attitudes are any indication, I suspect that Columbus is not the community for me."
Lathrop went on to write that two councilmen had already made up their minds, and he didn't believe he would receive fair consideration.
It's a shame. If his thoughtful and gracefully worded email is any indication of who this man is, his departure from the field should give us all pause.
No doubt those who condemned Lathrop felt his transgression disqualified him for the job here. He resigned after having a extramarital relationship with a subordinate in his department, a woman to whom he is now engaged. That such action should eliminate him from the running is not the issue we want to debate here.
Rather it is the rush to judgment and the harsh words of our leaders and bloggers on this newspaper's website and others. As host to a site that allows users to make anonymous posts, we bear some culpability. (We are reconsidering that policy.) Sometimes we fail to realize it, but the electronic version of this newspaper is our community's beacon to the world.
When people from afar want to get a sense of what Columbus is like, they can't walk down Main Street and see our beautiful architecture or experience kindness from a stranger they meet on our streets or in our shops. Instead they log in to this newspaper's website. There the actions of our leaders are reported for all to see; the malicious on-line sniping by some bloggers is a shameful reflection on us all.
Columbus has an appetite for tearing people to shreds, a former elected official said Monday. "Jesus Christ could be among the candidates for chief," he said, "and that wouldn't be good enough for some."
Would Jesus say, as did Mr. Lathrop, "I suspect that Columbus is not the community for me?"
We should feel chastened by Mr. Lathrop's graciously put rejection -- "I wish Columbus the best in finding their next chief," he signed his email. And we should learn from it.
green commented at 11/1/2011 3:01:00 PM:
Yeah learn that no matter what they advertise, the mind is made up on who the next chief will be. McQeen is the man. SOme say give him a chance others want change, outside ideas. We see how far those outside ideas have gotten us. WOnder how much the taxpayers of COlumbus are paying to look for a Chief? How much money could have been put towards other things, and then just giving Mcqeen a chance or others in the department. Columbus has tried outsiders, and once again we are searching, interviewing, hiring committees to address the issue. Look around Possum Towners, CPD has good and bad..as every company in this country does. Lets save our tax dollars on endless searches, give some these home grown folks a chance. WHat could be worse?
jjturnage commented at 11/2/2011 7:26:00 AM:
I personally am very happy to read that you are re-considering the anonymous blogging policy. When you allow people to post anonymously, it seems they feel an unbridled ability to say anything they want, without any basis in fact. The majority of the postings, particularly those penned under bogus names, are often false, inflammatory, hurtful and / or poorly reasoned. You are surely correct that an outsider looking at those postings might conclude that Columbus is not a "friendly city" at all, but is in fact bitter, mean and irrational. This day and age, with Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and self-made blog-sites, there is plenty of forum for mean-spirited blogging. I long for the days where if the writer didn't give his name and address and prove he was bona-fide, then his letter didn't grace the pages of the Dispatch. Perhaps that's old-fashioned, but I'd love to see you return to that policy.
raider commented at 11/2/2011 9:11:00 AM:
I hope the anonymous posting policy is NOT changed. I know that on all anonymous posting website, the attacks and sniping can seem out of hand and some people do make unnecessary and excessive personal attacks. However, I think the overrall positive debate that take place between most posters do outweigh the negative aspects. I also believe that you get more comments from a more diverse audience that you would if everyone had to post using their names. For example, I believe that some self-employed individuals would hesitant to post comments on certain controversial stories if they knew all their clients would be able to attach their comments to their name. Workers would also be less likely to post if their comments differed from their employer. And, in a time when everything you post is permanently made part of the internet, people may not want a comment, that was posted online 5 years prior, to be used by future employers doing background checks. I also believe that attaching real names to comments would act as a deterrent for those people who do not write or spell very good although they may have valuable information and input to bring to the table. They may feel too embarrassed to post their comments.
Although I totally understanding your frustrations with anonymous comments and your feelings towards the personal attacks that the owners and writers of the Cdispatch suffer on a regular basis, I hope that you will continue the current policy of allowing anonymous post. I think you and the community would be better served if you exercised your right to remove the over-the-top personal attacks.
kj commented at 11/2/2011 10:31:00 AM:
It's a misnomer to call comments on articles "blogs." They're different animals. There are many reasons to post anonymously. In addition to the points that raider makes, there is something to be said for the ability to simply make a reasoned argument without attaching any extra baggage to it. Over time, of course, anonymous posters lose that ability unless they change their nom de plume.
frank commented at 11/2/2011 7:29:00 PM:
I agree with Raider and KJ. Anonymous comments do have their place and allow more freedom to express opinions. The Dispatch does have a good comment policy although I question whether many of the commenters have read it. http://www.cdispatch.com/about/policy.asp
Keep the comments as they are, it adds to the paper. Perhaps a little more/quicker enforcement of the rules would be advisable.
thom geiger commented at 11/2/2011 9:28:00 PM:
I'm no expert on anything, but maybe some of the old timers will remember. Didn't the Commercial Dispatch go through this same philosophical dilemma years ago and wasn't the eventual outcome the creation of that OTHER opinion web site? How many times does the issue need debating?
It is human nature that we only like reading opinions and information that is either neutral in emotional impact on us or is something we like and favor, opinions and beliefs we share. We sit in pews with people we either don't know or that we like, not with people we dislike. In picking a neighborhood, we choose those where people live that we either know nothing about or those with people we know and like. That's what we do.
It's no different with opinion and debate, discussion and discourse. We play at tolerating opposing viewpoints and opinions, but when given the power, the authority and the opportunity to use them, we inevitably give in to our preference for those things that don't offend us and stifle those things that do. Given more opportunity, we eventually nitpick to the point of ridiculous dwelling on minutiae and inconsequential trivialities like spelling and grammar, all to the point where no one posts anything.
As one of the operators of that OTHER opinion site, it would be logical for me to say do it, straighten your backs up and take the reins. Put the whip to the unbridled, raucous and abrasive opinions of vagabond troublemakers and drive more readers to that OTHER site. Logical, but no, I won't. I don't know what, if anything, people remember about the first time this argument and debate raged on the Commercial Dispatch web site those many years ago. I was against censorship then and I'm still against it. As I said then, businesses most often create their own competition through their own actions. Banks, software, car makers, record companies, it doesn't matter. As a business owner, what competition have you created in the past? What will you create today and what will you create tomorrow? Make your decisions wisely. Be very careful about deciding you'll break something today and fix it tomorrow.
hope commented at 11/3/2011 8:52:00 AM:
Bank of America and their $5 debit card charge is a goog example of the above.
skeeter commented at 11/4/2011 7:58:00 PM:
I've always found it funny that this country will teach its children about how our forefathers railed against the King and England, but when you open your mouth today you are attacked.
Birney commented at 11/7/2011 7:46:00 AM:
Birney Imes replies: Thom, don't be ridiculous. Organizations reevaluate their policies all the time. When the comments section begins to look more a like a bathroom wall in a truck stop than a forum to debate issues of community, then something is terribly out of whack. Requiring people to attach their names to their comments -- as our founding fathers did -- is not censorship; it's simply asking people to stand behind their words. That said, I understand and appreciate the arguments for anonymous comments, though in reality the need for anonymity is rare. With anonymity comes a responsibility, a tacit understanding between the site and user to keep it civil. Name calling and abusive language violate that agreement and are a blight on the site, its users and the community it serves.
1. Lynn Spruill: A watershed moment LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Voice of the people: Don Newman LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (VOICE@CDISPATCH.COM)
3. Lisa McLeod: One horrible thing wrong with schools NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Slimantics: Our greatest unofficial national holiday LOCAL COLUMNS