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Posted by: thepinetree on 03/25/2010 12:56 PM Updated by: thepinetree on 04/13/2010 08:57 AM
Expires: 01/01/2015 12:00 AM
:

Letter To The Editor On Raggio Comments ~ From Shaelyn Strattan

Letter to the Editor...The Pinetree has provided a very valuable service to the citizens of Calaveras County, an open forum to exchange ideas, vent our frustrations, and challenge our representatives. However, that service is being degraded by a small number of bloggers whose primary mission in life seems to be to personally attack those they don’t like or with whom they disagree. I am speaking specifically about the unwarranted and vicious personal attacks on Kevin Raggio in a current article on The Pinetree. Kevin is an elected official and, as such, needs to be held to the highest standards of his office and the people he was elected to serve. If there are allegations that he acted in an inappropriate or illegal manner, they should be fairly and completely investigated, and the results of those investigations made known. Until such time as he is charged with a crime or the allegations are proven, it is incumbent on us, as citizens of this community, to act in a civilized and responsible manner. It is reprehensible that, instead, a number of people find it necessary to personally vilify Mr. Raggio, based on rumor, conjecture, and their so-called “knowledge of the truth”....



The internet and the proliferation of websites and blogs have greatly expanding our opportunity to discover new information, express our opinions, and take a proactive role in our community and our government. Unfortunately, as with many tools, it can be used for good or for evil. In my opinion, these vicious, derogatory, hateful posts are evil. The damage they can cause is incalculable. As I mentioned in my post on the article about Kevin…when we try a person in the public media and treat them as guilty until proven innocent, we are disgracing the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." When we assume the worst, then act on that assumption as if it were fact, we are disgracing the principle. When a good man or woman's name is slandered and held up to public ridicule based on gossip and innuendo by unprincipled cowards, we are disgracing the principle. And when we buy into it, and pass those insinuations along, we are as bad as those who started it. A lie, unchallenged, is perceived as the truth. Peoples' businesses have been ruined, reputations irreparably damaged, their children harassed, jobs lost, marriages destroyed, and, in some cases, lives lost through depression or suicide because of vicious rumors and taunts. The old schoolyard taunt of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is false bravado intended to hide the hurt and prevent the abuser from gaining satisfaction from causing the pain. As I’m sure we all know, and as Samantha Raggio stated so eloquently in her comment, words can hurt…a lot.

We are a community of differences: different backgrounds, different cultures, different lifestyles, and differing opinions. But most of us share a commitment to our families, our communities, and our nation. So it amazes me that we have allowed misrepresentation, rumor, innuendo, personal attacks, and outright lies to be the acceptable weapons of choice to still the tongues and condemn the actions of those who act or think in ways with which we disagree. It has become “ok” to personally slander and attack those who choose to perform public service, whether they work for “the government” or take an active role to improve their community. Civility and due process have been discarded and replaced with media trials, temper tantrums, and a flagrant disregard for the rights and sensitivities of others. “Freedom of Speech” is the flag waived to justify rudeness, insult, obscenities, and disrespect. Our Supervisors, public officials, county employees, and local community leaders have become the scapegoats for everything that goes wrong in the county, whether they have the power to do anything about it or not. We are rapidly becoming a community of Monday morning quarterbacks, quick with condemnation, criticism, or complaint, but short on constructive ideas, a willingness to cooperate, or even a good understanding of the game.

It would be appropriate, especially during the Easter season, to reconsider whether we want to continue this kind of hostility and malice toward our neighbor. Perhaps it’s time to reconsider our actions with an eye toward the admonition expressed in almost every spiritual teaching known to mankind…do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Believe it or not, it is possible to disagree with someone’s opinion without attacking their integrity, without personal slurs or vulgarity. People that differ from you politically have a right (in my mind, an obligation) as an American to express their beliefs. If you disagree, argue your stand objectively, with facts, reason, and logic. Very few people change their minds based on the number of swear words and personal attacks thrown their way. If your only intention is the wound or vent, consider how these darts may poison a relationship or unintentionally injure the innocent. If you don’t care, I pity you. It should not be John and Kim’s responsibility to cull these tirades from the blog. It is our responsibility, as individuals, to police ourselves…to act as civilized, responsible citizens of our community. There are no good reasons for the personal attacks on Kevin and others – there are just excuses. Is this the image we want for our county, the standard we want to set for our children? I hope not; I think we are better than that.

Shaelyn Strattan



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The comments are owned by the poster. We are not responsible for its content. We value free speech but remember this is a public forum and we hope that people would use common sense and decency. If you see an offensive comment please email us at news@thepinetree.net

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