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Decries Sound Off misinformation

Published: March 4, 2014 4:00 AM

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

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whizzard Mar 5, 2014 5:28 PM

Ms. Mars, Go to the school district and Falcon Academy and get their revenue reports so you can prove once and for all that the school district doesn't lose any funds because of Falcon Academy and then post these findings on a website or give them to someone who can.  This will dispel the rumors and inuendo's.  That is the hope anyway.

All these arguments over Falcon Academy could have all been dispelled if someone would have done it.  Maybe the local newspaper or the Record Courier or the schools could have offered that up.   But no, everyone rather go with the rumors and inuendo.

Research it and present it and then everyone will know the absolute truth.

Call the treaurers or email each of them to get the reports.  They are public domain.

Martin Fleming

whizzard Mar 5, 2014 9:13 AM

Ms. Mars, But to be sure of my understanding, you are resigning in protest of "Freedom of Speech" right?  One person can protest, but one person doesn't make a protest.

Not only do you want speech censored by other people, but you are also censoring yourself.  You could have continued to write your articles and then contribute yourself to all those comments that were made.

The world is not going to be the paradise you think it should be.  It is very, very harsh out there whether you want to believe it or not.

Many things are going to be printed that you are not going to like.  It has always been that way and I really don't think anyone can do anything about it and you just have to accept that.

But what you can do is contribute.  Just don't sit back.  Let others know that there truly is another side of the fence that has a different opinion.  Show them there are others who think different.

Isn't that Democracy?  Isn't that the right of the "Freedom of Speech"?

Throwing in the towell, you're letting them win.

Words do not a bully make.  Physical harm does.

Words can be offensive, but as far as I know, I have never been physically bruised by them.

People throw words at you, throw them back.

Martin Fleming

whizzard Mar 5, 2014 8:46 AM

Ms. Mars, I've been writing in this paper and the Gateway News within the comments section and have sent letters to the editor for the past 10 years or so.  And don't think it didn't cause or create some unruly comments.  But there is one thing I have never done.   And that is bully.  Yes, people said I have bullied others on this site, but the thing is, I never struck first.  I have always returned a salvo that was first hurled at me.  And the one thing I will always do is punch back if I am punched first. 

I will defend myself against anyone who throws the first punch, but unlike them I will throw a lot of salvo's back.  And I will continue writing and ignoring the ignorant.

Those are the "words" that will never hurt me and I thank my Mom and Dad for driling that into my head.

Martin Fleming

whizzard Mar 5, 2014 8:35 AM

Ms. Mars, there are many things out there that are not liked by everybody.  Writing this article proves you don't like it either.  So you refuse to write for the paper.  You know this makes you out to be a hypocrite.  It's Okay if you do it, but it is not okay if others do it.  I see many good articles in the paper and many bad ones.  I see some that hit the nail on the head and others seem like the person wasn't even there or have never thought about what they are writing about.

Not every thing in the paper is not going to be to your liking.  Many things are not true in the paper and hopefully the person reading it will have the intelligence to figure out what is true and what isn't.  That is why they have a comments section so people can point out the truth or falsehood in an artcle.  Some people are crude, some are arrogant, some are kind, some are just idiots, and some are rude.  It's going to happen.

The person being attacked can fight back or the person can ignore it.  Their choice.  Our choice.  Your opinion and observations and our opninion and observations.

From childhood I was taught, "Sticks and Stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt me".  There is truth beyond that statement that is meant for more than just the moment.  It tells us that someone may label us today, but if we ignore it and move on with our life rather than being so sensitive, later we can show and prove to society that we are much more than those derogatory words that were slung at us.  And if you do fight back in print with words, as you did above, you have just joined a cause for making a change.  One that is not warranted, but still a change you would like to see.  Get in line.  It's a long one.

There are those who are going to come into the picture and disrupt the world as we know or knew it.  They will cause an upheavel or they will gently state their view.  Some will try to enter the political picture and succeed and there are those that are going to be denied.

Our problem here is there are too many people that are too sensitive and they focus on their sensitivy more than the sensitivities of others.   Maybe that person lashes out because they were to sensitive at one time and want to get in the firt punch.

Our Society has become overly sensitive and are worried about too many things.

Can anyone out there tell me who stated recently "I belive little of what I read and beleive even less of what I hear". It means that person will research it before making a comment or they already know what they are hearing is false and won't comment on it.  Smart way to move and a great philosophy I say.

Martin Fleming


trawl Mar 4, 2014 12:18 PM

Darn, forgot to re - proof read and run spell check.

trawl Mar 4, 2014 12:17 PM

~~whizzard wrote: "Maybe it is good you go for you apparently are not able to understand the concept or use what you read to your advantage."

Not only does Ms. Mars miss the concept but also how the whole thing works as evidenced in this remark:

"I cannot even begin to comment on the ignorance of (taggr's) statement and the audacity of the paper to print it."

The phrase "the paper to print it" implies the editor(s) of the RC have an active hand in what appears in the comments section. This isn't the first time I've seen someone be mistaken in this.

The RC has no control over what appears in the comments section. The RC only has control over what remains in the comments section.

Why would the RC staff allow a comment you find abhorrent to remain in the comments section?

First, someone is always offended.

Second, there would be cries of restricting freedom of speech and expression even though this is a private web site and this sites owners have the right to control what appears on it. Ms Mars, if you've actually read the comments sections you would realize there is a number of people who the concept of ownershiop rights would be beyond their uderstanding if it got in the way of them spewing thir own garbage.

Third, maybe the RC is somewhat like myself and wouldn't dream of squelching a persons ability to publically display that persons stupidity, ignorance and or vitriol.


whizzard Mar 4, 2014 9:23 AM

Ms. Mars,

Sound Off is not as you make it.  Just as Ratdogtommy stated, the readers are intelligent enough to decipher for themselves.  I have always know that Falcon Academy operates under separate funds from the school district and I personally get a good chuckle when people state otherwise in Sound Off.  It seems to me that you think everyone is going to believe what they read.  I may read something but then I also do research outside of reading the newspaper to see if what was written was factual.

Sound Off allows us to see how others think and helps us realize what people think out there.  Sound Off is entertaining at times and it also let's hear or feel somethings that we would have never know was going on out there.  It also enlightens us on how misinformed some people can be and we can learn from it to understand how sometimes information is not getting out there.  It is a great tool that informs in more ways than you appear to know.

We can't hide our problems under the rug or in the closet.  For if we do, they will only become worse as time goes on.

I've alway felt that people who use screen names are in the same league as those who write to Sound Off and don't want to give their names.  Some fear releasing their names because of some repercussion from their comments.

Some will think or say one thing in public, but then immediately go home and post something totally opposite in the media using their screen name.

Record Courier should be awarded for developing the Sound Off section because it gives people to vent their anguish through media without being chastised for their thoughts.

Maybe it is good you go for you apparently are not able to understand the concept or use what you read to your advantage.

Go read some of the other published newspapers out there and you yourself will see that the Record Courier has some great integrity.  Articles may not always be accurate but that is why the computer and internet has become some popular.  It allows many to research those things of high interest to them to find the truth.

Sound Off keeps the fact on top of many readers minds, that communication within each of the communities needs to improved greatly and that TV, radio and the Newspapers are only one source but not all.

We are not the idiots you think we are there are idiots out there just the same.

Martin Fleming


ratdogtommy Mar 4, 2014 6:21 AM

I think most of the readers are intelligent enough to decipher the truthfulness of the sound offs and the integrity of the people who make these statements. It appears obvious to me that many of these people have an ax to grind or a chip on their shoulder but I find it interesting none the less.