Free Speech & Social Media
February 24, 2021
Last Friday when the Jefferson County mask mandate was made public, the Ledger was asked by several entities to get the news out in as many outlets as possible. In addition to adding the article as “Breaking News” on our website, I shared the article to many of our local Facebook classified sites dealing with Whitehall and surrounding areas. And, unfortunately, that is when all heck broke loose.
Not only was the article shared dozens of times, but dozens of comments were made. Many were simply expressing opinion of the mandate, either for or against it. However, many of the comments were made in response to other’s comments, and the name calling and mudslinging was disheartening. We seem to forget we live in a small town and though you may have the ability to say whatever you want when you are behind the keyboard, looking someone in the eye at the grocery store who you called an “idiot” may not make your day.
I didn’t turn comments off on the article post because I believe in free speech. I also didn’t turn off comments because I think discussion is healthy - you may see someone else’s side of the coin you hadn’t thought of before. But even free speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want and there will be no repercussions. You still have to look that person eye to eye, eventually.
While I plead for all to just be cordial with one another, I also ask “PLEASE DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER!”
I received several personal messages, from temporary accounts, with nasty words and threats towards myself. Slammed for my political beliefs (which I do not share publicly), when I was simply publishing the news. My viewpoint was no part of the article - it was literally printed verbatim of the County Health Department’s press release.
Again, I am all for free speech - but again, it comes with consequences. The Ledger will never back down from presenting all sides of a topic, and threats and angry words just make this stronger in me.