Since its very inception, I have disagreed with the anonymous nature of Sound Off. Since people can call or write in as often as they desire, readers have no idea if the comments posted are from one disgruntled individual or if many share the same view. Reality can become distorted very quickly and untruths are perpetuated, all with no accountability. Individual people have actually been identified, bullied, insulted and defamed in Sound Off, again by those who are not required to be responsible for what they say. Some people may find it entertaining, but when we cease to be offended by that which is offensive, our civility has diminished. In contrast, "Letters to the Editor" permit only one letter per month from a person and a name must be attached in order for it to be published.
It is disheartening to read the misinformation that Sound Off perpetuates. For example, over the last four years, numerous falsehoods about the Falcon Academy taking money away from Field Schools have been printed. How much money comes out of Field School funds for students at the Academy and how much goes back to Field Schools in the form of rent, teacher and staff salaries and benefits, oversight and service fees is public record. As a member of the governing board of the Falcon Academy, I know firsthand that most of what has been printed is incorrect. Unfortunately, whoever keeps bringing it up in Sound Off prefers to remain anonymous and perpetuate untruths. There are many more examples of absolute untruths that have been published and perpetuated.
On occasion, I have expressed disappointment to the owner of the paper when postings in Sound Off have gone far beyond common decency and civility and have been assured that it would be edited more judiciously. A few weeks ago, within the space of a week, there were three posts that were very offensive. One was a derogatory remark about gays. Interestingly, a short time later, a KSU wrestler was indefinitely suspended for tweeting similar remarks. He would still be wrestling if he had simply posted anonymously to Sound Off. The second post referred to a person by name and was of a bullying nature. There is a huge anti-bullying movement in our schools, yet these kinds of Sound Offs have become commonplace. The third post of that week was an outrage. It was a comment about "the 326 American soldiers who committed suicide being too stupid to have guns, having voted for Bush and then realizing they were wrong, etc." I cannot even begin to comment on the ignorance of that statement and the audacity of the paper to print it.
Writing the "Around Brimfield" column has brought me a large measure of satisfaction, especially as I have met new "neighbors" who have shared their stories, their triumphs and challenges and who have allowed me the privilege of sharing those stories. Regrettably, I must bid farewell to my faithful readers because I cannot in good conscience continue to be a contributor to a newspaper that publishes hateful, ignorant, uninformed and prejudiced comments from people who hide behind anonymity. I am hopeful that the Record- Courier will eventually show more integrity.
Shirley Mars, Brimfield