Longmont’s rightwing extremists damage discourse, and more

Norman RockwellFor years members of the Longmont community have discussed with me their distress at the level of discourse that they read and hear. They specifically reference the comments that appear at Times-Call Online.

Most have chosen to just stop reading the comments, if not the articles themselves. They talk to me about the lack of knowledge by so many who write comments. Some are just baffled at the unapologetic ignorance displayed.

They are perplexed as to why the Times-Call permits the personal attacks and the overall level of viciousness. “The T-C has a commenting policy but they don’t adhere to it,” they say. How do they know this? They tell me that they have reported certain commenters enough times to have those accounts disabled, yet those same commenters are still posting. They wonder if the Times-Call is selective about what they allow and what they don’t. I tell them to let the evidence guide their judgment.

They also have the similar concerns about the T-C Line.

Some wonder if most of the people who comment to Times-Call articles actually represent most of Longmont. Yet they personally know so many good, smart, intelligent people that they have a difficult time believing that these others could really be the real Longmont.

Recently, I’ve heard concerns that are much more serious than rightwing extremists “shooting off their mouths.”

I’ve had people tell me that they’ve written letters to the editor and then scrapped them because of fear of retaliation – either against themselves or their family. Others would like to speak at city council meetings but they know that attacks will follow.

I usually don’t tell them that they haven’t seen the worst of it. They don’t know about Longmont’s worst rightwing blogger. They don’t know about other attack sites, some active and some semi-dormant. Perhaps I should tell them. Perhaps it’s past time that they face the most unpleasant of political realities that have taken over the community in the last two years or so.

It has gone too far when members of our community don’t feel free to exercise their first amendment right to speak freely about issues. When they cower in fear of attacks. When they wonder if their families will be harassed. When they wonder if their jobs will be targeted. When they wonder if they will have to endure emotional abuse, if not physical abuse.

These are “ordinary” citizens of Longmont. They are not activists, some of whom have gotten used to a certain level of abuse. Most of the community’s activists recognize that some of this (though not all) is the price they pay for helping the community improve. For helping the community face its flaws. For creating a better Longmont for everyone.

It saddens me to know that this is happening. It saddens me even more to know that this is precisely the intent of the people in question. They intend that only their voices are heard. It’s called intimidation–at best, threatening–at worst.

And it will work, my fellow Longmonters. It will work unless you “screw your courage to the sticking post” and say, “No More!” “Enough!” This is your community, too. Your have both the right – and the duty – to speak, to shape your community, to cherish and protect the city you call home.

  6 comments for “Longmont’s rightwing extremists damage discourse, and more

  1. July 11, 2010 at 8:29 am

    More proof that the right is trying hard to smear or silence their critics – ‘Longmonter,’ one of the pseudonymous commenters on the Times Call website left this comment:

    I had been suspecting for sometime that Nick Shaver is Doug Wray and his links and videos give even stronger evidence to that suspecion. No one cares about your pretend newspaper Dooty. It’s a joke.
    Longmonter , Longmont, Colorado, 7/9/2010 3:27 PM

    I have no idea who Nick Shaver is, but this could well BE THAT BLOGGER as well – desperate to smear their enemy, so they attempt the oldest Karl Rove trick in the book – put words in your enemy’s mouth. Also, as you can see, they continuously attack FRL since it’s a news source they can’t control and they’ve been permanently (and quite successfully!) banned from commenting here – along with Longmont’s hardest of the hardcore partisans.

    I will repeat, for the record: I have NEVER posted at the Times-Call unless it was under my own name – and I will gladly take a polygraph test to prove it.

    Will Longmont’s far-right bloggers do the same?

    Or any of our far-right council members? Say… Gabe Santos? Ms. Witt? How about Mr. Lehman? The place we need transparency is the Times-Call user-registration system.

  2. July 11, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Sockpuppet Brigade – real-life version: http://dailycensored.com/2010/07/10/army-corps-caught-attacking-citizens-online/
    Disguising their identities and using government equipment, the cadre routinely posted misleading and disparaging comments on public forums\ and news stories with a common theme. The group’s apparent goal, said Donley was to “attack people calling for (Corps) accountability, to silence critics and deflect independent review of the Katrina disaster.”

    Apparently using sockpuppets is a common tactic among extremists.

  3. Kaye Fissinger
    July 12, 2010 at 12:53 am

    http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_15487676, “…the banality of hatred” was written about the latest recorded rants and name-calling of Mel Gibson’s demonstrated hatred for nearly everyone, certainly anyone who might be attached to a group — women, Jews, Blacks, and probably more. But it sounded so familiar. There’s one or more of the same kind of men (and a few women) here in Longmont. Regrettably, there is no one in Longmont of the stature of Pulitzer Prize columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. to take them to task and demand accountability. As Pitts described Gibson, so, too, could it be said here, “There was in it an echo of the alcoholic in denial, refusing what everyone else knows to be self-evident.”

  4. July 13, 2010 at 2:21 am

    I think it has something to do with this: http://www.dependablerenegade.com/dependable_renegade/2010/07/how-republicans-become-lobbyists.html something about passing through the belly of the beast and exiting in that fashion changes them forever. Sad really.

  5. Gregory Iwan
    July 16, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    This site is believed by a few to be hateful. Those who think that may know that devil; I couldn’t say. But, let’s be completely straight about at least one thing: the citizens who try to espouse something constructive here, AND THOSE WHO WRITE OR SAY SOMETHING ALTOGETHER OPPOSITE, wherever it is seen or heard, have the right to do it. As long as there is no slander or libel or “leading” commentary that could be construed to be targeting for some kind of violence, etc., on the part of anyone, all must be heard. I can roundly — even energetically — disagree with someone or some others, but I do not and cannot disrespect the rights they and all of us have. I”m sorry some have run into exclusion from this site, or any opposing site, but that is human nature. We like and trust more those who we deem are most like us. The “me/not me” syndrome, while occasionally dangerous if unchecked, is a part of our natural selection system, borne of our less-than-upright ancestry. I view and hear some rather strident stuff (I even listen to Rush now and then), and I can learn from it. And I can resolve to look for ways to seek some agrement or at least accommodation. The gulf that divides us one from the other is wide; with what shall we fill it?

  6. July 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Gregory, as for ‘exclusion,’ I will make this offer once: anyone that’s been banned from Free Range Longmont can have a one-time amnesty from breaking our commenting rules. All they have to do is apologize in writing and agree to abide by the commenting rules from here on. They can use FRL’s public contact form to request this. Note: all the rules at the Commenting page still hold and a re-banning will be permanent. I hope the folks opposed to FRL have learned that we will NOT be going away nor will we allow abusive comments on our site. I trust that the effectiveness of our process has made that quite clear. This is NOT the TC. Amen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *