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Angry hopes go too farPosted Monday, February 8, 2010, at 9:11 AM
The anger expressed by some of the people who comment (or commented...) on stories and blogs at t-g.com and elsewhere stuns me.
Although public story comments have been cut off for now on our web site, readers can still comment privately through the "respond to editor" links. Several of us review those comments.
One reader over the weekend was upset about a young woman not receiving jail time for a fatal accident.
"The judge that accepted this plea and the prosecutor should be removed from office," she wrote.
Fair enough. Keep in mind, though, that judges are limited by sentencing guidelines to some extent. Those guidelines were set by the state legislature. If you want them changed, lobby Jim Tracy and Pat Marsh -- don't blame the judge or prosecutor. (Neither Tracy nor Marsh were in office yet when the guidelines were made.)
But the reader went too far:
"I hope the next victim is a member of the judge's family."
No. Hopefully there won't be another victim. It's understandable when the family and friends of a lost loved one feel the person responsible for their death wasn't punished enough. But wanting someone else killed is going entirely too far.
In general, and in far more minor matters that didn't involve death or injury, we had entirely too many story commenters wishing physical or emotional harm on others and wanting to destroy reputations. I've written before of people wanting to use the media as a weapon.
And quite a few other newspapers are looking closely at the story comment issue for the same reason we are.
Those who lament the temporary, for now, loss of public comments should consider that free speech doesn't mean you have the right to destroy others.
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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.
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