A little bit ago I got into an argument with the guy who runs a local Internet blog.
Someone had posted lies about me on his blog, and I want to be clear, they were not opinions I didn’t like. They were false “facts,” things simply not true.
I asked the guy to take the lies down.
“It doesn’t work that way,” he said. “On a blog, people say one thing, someone else says another, we eventually arrive at the truth.”
“But they’re lies,” I said. “They didn’t happen. You should ask the poster for proof.”
“It doesn’t work that way,” he said again. “It’s like a bar, where people discuss things. Eventually we arrive at the truth.”,
Maybe that is the way of things now, but it left a bad taste.
This takes some adjusting because 40 years of training to respect, and seek, truth are hard to forget.
My name and picture appear by what I write, both on my column and on my this blog, so I feel an obligation to print what I believe to be true. When I goof up I run a correction, an apology.
What irked is the lies run were posted by someone who did not sign their name. This person knew he was held to no standard. This has obvious dangers.
I am told to develop a thick hide, and I try to. Still, it’s one thing to be called “a rambling idiot,” and liberal lover of terrorists, as one poster on my own blog just did. It is quite another to be lied about.
I remember, several years ago, that some guy who posts an internet column on the sorts of web sites that feature a lot of waving flags and screaming eagles, accused someone called “Charles Trentelman” of “writing from his ivory tower in Berkley” about some so=called liberal cause, or something.
I called the guy and complained, but got nowhere with him, despite the fact that there is noone with my name anywhere in the world except Ogden, Utah. It was very frustrating.
A Top of Utahn who found that out this week is Angelika Bertrand, Clearfield. She wrote a letter to the editor, published Monday, asking why so much money had to be spent putting on an air show at Hill Air Force Base when there’s a war on and so many people are complaining about their taxes.
She has a fair concern. Air shows do cost money. President Obama’s frequent travels are being criticized in the same “can we really afford this?” light.
Before publication, her letter ran on the Standard’s web site. (click!) It quickly garnered more than 40 comments, none from people who signed their names, almost all accusing her of hating the Air Force.
Opinions are one thing, but several posts went farther. They lashed out at her critics, and were signed “Angelika Bertrand.” One that said “How dare you people talk trash on me. I hate Utah. I hate America, and I hate you people.”
I called and asked why she said that.
“Said what?” I read it to her.
“I didn’t write that,” she said. “Is that on the Internet?”
I told her yes, told her where to find it. She took a look, then called back.
“I think people are a little nuts,” she said. I did not argue with her.
Our tech people quickly deleted that post, and a couple others with her name she didn’t write. Turns out, she is far from hating anything. Her late husband was Air Force, serving two tours in Vietnam, two in Korea, then Germany, which is where he married her.
“I don’t hate the Air Force,” she said. “I just made a point how much they are spending when the economy is winding down. There is nothing hateful about that.”
Not in the least, but she expressed her concern in a world where lies can take the form of people pretending to be you to spur on others spewing hate at you.
Truth did eventually come out, so maybe the process worked as that blogger up at the top told me it would, but I got the feeling the whole episode left a bad taste in Angelika’s mouth.
I know it did in mine.