Beware: Comments May Be Unsuitable for Reading – #JusticeForEthan

From the Archive: Originally posted 9/7/13

The Frederick News Post is trying to gauge public support for the #JusticeForEthan movement.  They posted a Yes/No/Not Sure poll, and a link to their Facebook page where visitors can leave comments.  Both are available in a sidebar included in an article in Friday’s paper.

Poll Results

The poll has been fairly close since it was posted.  The screenshot here, taken at 7:15 this morning shows that it’s currently 48.2% yes, a very narrow margin of victory for our side.

While they only ask about the independent investigation in the poll, they invite comments on training too on their Facebook page.

I was about to “share” it on my Walkersvillemomblog page… then I read the comments.

Frederick News Post

You’d think I’d know better by now.  The “trolls” are out there, like the pair who were attempting to disrupt the Twitter Rally on Thursday.  I’m not sure why people feel the need to post inflammatory comments for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of people, but I understand that’s what they’re doing.  I’ve tried to block them out when I read articles about Ethan, but sometimes I can’t resist the bait.  I’ve “blocked” and “ignored” people (wish it was that easy in real life sometimes) and I’ve given some comments the “thumbs down.”  Every now and then I can’t help but respond.It’s different when the comments seem to be genuine.  Some people go to great lengths to spell out their point.  THOSE are the ones that really scare me.

Lately I’ve noticed that the Frederick News Post has been disabling comments.  Several articles about #JusticeForEthan are that way.  You can post comments if you open the separate page where the poll is posted (there are four), but you can’t comment on the original article.  Kinda strange when they’re soliciting feedback elsewhere.  Maybe they’re trying to get comments from different people.  The same few seem to monopolize the FNP site.

Reporter Bethany Rodgers even tried to get local lawmakers to respond and add their ‘insight.’ She didn’t have much luck.

But amid the intensifying outcry, Frederick County’s legislators have largely remained quiet. Speaking from the county where the incident happened, several lawmakers said they haven’t started pressing for change because they don’t yet have the necessary information.

Hmm…  they don’t have the necessary information.  Could that be the reason we need “another” investigation??  Delegate Kelly Schulz, R-District 4A, says, “It’s difficult for me to point the finger if we don’t have all the facts.”  Again… HELLO!!! We’re trying to tell you that we don’t have the facts, that’s why we need an independent investigation.The last paragraph of the article takes the cake.

“Delegate Donald Elliott, R-District 4B, said he wasn’t familiar with the Saylor case and didn’t want to comment on it. Sen. Ron Young, D-District 3, and Delegate Galen Clagett, D-District 3A, didn’t return calls for comment.”
What’s worse:  the trolls who have no idea what they’re talking about and don’t care to as long as they get a laugh, or our elected officials who think it’s okay to be uninformed and/or unengaged.  *In case you’re not familiar with Frederick politics, here’s a little bit I’ve found recently.  MD State Senator Ron Young(D) was Frederick’s Mayor for sixteen years (1974-1990).  His son, Blaine Young(R), is the current President of the Frederick board of county commissioners –  the ones who sent the “thank you letter” to Sheriff Jenkins.  Delegate Clagett is currently running for Mayor, against Ron Young’s wife, Karen, in the primary.  Blaine apparently supports Clagett.  Yeah, sounds like a bad television drama series to me too… but I digress.Back to FNP Facebook question.  I wanted to share it so we could let our voices be heard.  After reading the comments, I’m confused and frustrated.  There are several comments that had me shaking my head in disbelief.  The problem is that they are the kind that sound like they really believe the stuff they’re saying.  My heart fell even further when I realized that one of the “no” voters was familiar.  Seriously?  Somebody I know doesn’t get it?  This person is just an acquaintance, someone I haven’t spoken to in years, but still.  I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that people in his own community don’t get it.   Frederick has grown tremendously since I left, yes.  But, it’s still one of those towns (less than 240k people) where the same families dominate the political scene and people recognize familiar names and faces everywhere.  You would think the community where it happened would be the one place the trolls weren’t rampant, where the comments section was “safe.”  I’m at a loss.

So today I’m fighting with two HUGE questions:

Ignore the comments, which is better for my health and sanity, or stay engaged and help find solutions to the problems.

Is change created at the local level, or only affected by federal action?  Obviously “outsiders” don’t have much impact in some places, even when those in charge have national aspirations.  Federal action is slow and often harder to enforce.

I feel like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone (face in hands).  Not sure what’s next for me… but if you want to add your comments to the FNP questions, I guess that’s a good place to start.

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