Some of our readers seem to think what we do here at The Trib is cloaked in secrecy, manipulated by either a socialist agenda or cuffed by right-wing corporate America. To help dispel either belief, here’s a postmortem on a column that ran Mother’s Day.
The column dealt with Michelle Magee, a homeless, pregnant mother of two who left an abusive marriage in Indiana and came to San Luis Obispo County. She did so on the advice of a friend who lives in the county.
The reason she relies on the services of the Prado Day Center and the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter, instead of living with her friend, is one of getting back on her feet through case management and proximity to that help. Through that management, she’s managed to save money to get her own apartment, but readily acknowledges that this area is too expensive to set down roots and looks forward to the day when she can return home to the Midwest.
Michelle is looking for a better life for herself and her children, and through the good graces of the Prado Day Center, Maxine Lewis and the Community Action Partnership, she’s working toward that end, one day at a time.
She told her story directly and with honesty, seeking neither condemnation nor pity.
As I talked with her and later wrote the column, I knew the simplicity of the story and its components (coming to this county from elsewhere, getting pregnant while looking after two youngsters — both with emotional or physical limitations — and using available homeless services) would draw scorn from certain sectors. I was disappointed, but not surprised, when that turned out to be the case.
Out of almost 400 online comments that followed our website posting of the story, easily three-quarters took the opportunity to ridicule and debase the 27-year-old mother — or me for having written such a story on Mother’s Day, or The Tribune for having the temerity to run it on the front page.
Predictably, the comments started off with some rational questions and valid critiques, but then devolved into ever-darker corners of fear-based thinking.
Of course, several individuals called for a broadminded approach to Michelle’s situation, only to be whacked with abuse by the same seven or eight bully posters who have taken it upon themselves to be the arbiters of moral rectitude within the cloistered confines of the Central Coast.
For the record, these people don’t have a shred of veracity, no matter how many times they use the monotonously demeaning remarks over and over throughout the day and night. In essence, they are cowards who hide behind the cloak of anonymity.
I imagine that cowardly backstabbers and bushwhackers have been with us since the beginning of time. These are the emotionally and educationally stunted little martinets who are the first to throw an insult or rock from the safety of their personal spider holes. Their very words prove that assessment.
The good part about all of this is that these little tin-pots are furiously and diligently working to put themselves out of the constant-carping business by their very efforts.
More and more newspapers are abandoning anonymous comments and demanding that online posters use their real names with accompanying verification — you know, just like the grownups who follow the rules in order to get one of their letters to the editor printed in The Tribune.
Until that day, here’s a piece of advice for those with broadminded outlooks: Neither read nor feed these emotionally stunted trolls, for that only encourages them to believe that someone really cares what their negativity might mean in any given situation. It doesn’t.
And as to those who think we’re either right or left wing, we try to follow the time-honored press ethic of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. ’Nuff said.
Bill Morem can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 781-7852.