I've been writing this column for 12 years now and I don't suppose I've ever been as incensed as I was over an anonymous posting this past week by the person who used the handle mentioned in the title of this column.
The last time I thought what someone wrote merited a response was from the ignorant Sheriff in northeast Nebraska who thought he knew what MADD stood for when he didn't and that he DIDN'T know how the DUI laws are significantly impacted by that strong interest group's perspective. I told him so in this newspaper and he never responded because he knew I was right and he was wrong. But at least I knew who he was.
This is worse. Wallismarsh commented on last week's column on Drugs and Doctors by saying this in conclusion:
"You Democrats will continue to blame people that add value to our lives because for what ever reason you have declared them your enemy."
Last week's column was about bad drugs and bad doctors and everyone in the world admits that we have both. It wasn't an indictment of most of the doctors or most of the drugs in the world, only those that aren't up to standard.
And yet, Wallismarsh, using a screen name, obviously either didn't read the whole column or just took the snippets he didn't like and criticized those. This is what happens when anonymous posts are allowed.
When my column appears in this newspaper, my name and picture are also displayed. Not my "handle" but my real name. Not a picture of someone or something else but a picture of me. And because of that, these "fly by night" commentators can take pot shots at those who identify ourselves without identifying THEMSELVES.
It's a failing of the newspaper business in an attempt to simply stay alive and I suppose I understand that. But the newspaper ought to exercise some oversight in terms of what is said and who says it and so far, I've failed to see that oversight.
I joined the Tulsa Police Department when I was 21 years old. In the first three months of my training, I learned how to kill a person three different ways with a punch, a jab, or a hold. In the six years I served, I saw more tragedies, more dead and mangled bodies, and more public outrages than you could see in a hundred lifetimes. I saw the belly of the Devil. I saw how heartless, thoughtless, and ruthless people could be. I saw how one man could kill another man (or woman) without any thought at all except that right then, they wanted them dead.
I gave up that life and turned to college teaching and I've done that for the past 30 years. In my classes at MCC we talk about these things in a logical, coherent way and those who object to my perspectives are always allowed to do so and sometimes that happens. But when they do, I know who they are and their grade never suffers because they do. In fact, I welcome a free and open debate between my students and me because that's what Higher Education is all about.
But not so in today's world of media. Anyone can say anything without any attribution at all. They can say anything anonymously. They can dig, berate, tear down and criticize without anyone else ever knowing who they are.
Wallismarsh knows that I did not declare all drugs and all doctors to be my enemy in the column I wrote. And he surely knows that not all Democrats believe the same as I do. But that's the broad brush he used in criticizing my column without identifying himself.
I've seen life on the street. I've fought the battles. I've been at the other end of broken bottles, knives, and guns. And even in those life and death encounters, I've never met anyone as cowardly as someone who won't sign his own name.
You know who I am, what I look like , most likely the car I drive and probably where I live. And I know nothing about you. It's easy to take pot shots at someone behind the anonymous shield you create for yourself.
I would hope in future responses to my column that I can know who my critics are, just like you know who I am so I can do the same to you that you do to me.
Until then, I will no longer engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person.