Tonight will be a sad night. Our small neighborhood will gather at the home of one of our neighbors, whose 22-year-old daughter died in a car wreck early Friday morning. I’ve talked about our neighborhood before and how close it is. Eight families in homes that share a huge, common cul-de-sac. We all know each other and have watched each other’s kids grow up.
We all knew the young lady who lost her life early Friday morning. A bright, spirited, happy young woman with lots of friends, just beginning to make her mark in the world. She was just a couple years younger than my daughter; they were at Sennett Middle School and LaFollette High together. She made a poor decision – the kind of poor decision every one of us has made many times in our lives – and lost her life in a car wreck.
It’s difficult for a parent to imagine the feelings her parents must have. We all hope, wish, and pray that such a tragedy never befalls our children; we mourn with the young woman’s stunned family. We share their grief, with a renewed realization that life is not fair.
My grief is tinged with anger.
The local TV stations and the newspaper carried the brief story and all posted it to their websites Friday afternoon. As of this weekend, one station’s website had one comment on the story; another had 8; and a third had well over a hundred. The State Journal’s story on Madison.com does not allow “comments” to be posted. That’s the way it should be – a news item about a personal tragedy that needs no comment.
The TV station website that had over a hundred comments was disgusting. First, their story was written extremely poorly, saying “A 22 year old Madison woman was killed after an early-morning car crash on Madison’s West Side” (sic). What? Did the cops pull her out of the car and shoot her? Killed AFTER the crash? How about IN the crash.
After the carelessly-written story came the comments. It’s hard to imagine what kind of lower form of human life would write such mean, nasty, thoughtless comments about this tragic loss of life. But there they are….scores of them…anonymously pontificating, spewing hatred, making judgments, sniveling gutless rock-throwers.
It does no good to talk to the station about this irresponsible crap. My wife did, after having spent a half-hour with our grieving neighbors. She e-mailed a station official after reading some of the hateful comments allowed to be posted after the story and registered her disgust.
I know what the station’s attitude will be.
They’ll say “it’s a public forum and everyone has a right to express their opinion.” They’ll drag out some non-relevant First Amendment argument if they have to, and say so long as no threats of violence are made, people have a “right” to say what they want.
I say they have no business allowing anonymous posters to spew hatred, no business allowing “comments” on a story about a human tragedy, and at minimum, have an obligation to moderate the content of the forum.
Or they should be considered as spineless as the anonymous hate-spewers.