Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Blog Bashers

Kenneth M. O’Brien

Enough is enough!

Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) was an ardent nationalist and prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last 7 years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.”

The unrelenting campaign to silence a voice of dissent in this town is no less a travesty.

This campaign reached a crescendo this week with the blather of a well-known universal expert and malcontent in front of the town council reinforced by a letter to the editor in March 3rd’s Evening News.

The target of their ire is, and we all know it, Dennis Martinek’s site Speak Out Southbridge.

Mr. Martinek’s site is a unique gift to this community. It is not merely a blog. It is an ongoing conversation.

Unlike many blogs, Speak Out Southbridge is a real expression of community opinion. Everyone is welcome to contribute, regardless of their views. Yes, at times the conversation becomes heated. Yes, at times inappropriate things are said. But in those respects it is no different than real time conversations in coffee shops, local pubs or over the family dinner table.

Most blogs publish an opinion piece every few days.

Not so Speak Out Southbridge!

Dennis updates his site numerous times per day with comments from readers as well as his own observations.

He does this while holding a demanding job as well as being a loving and devoted husband and father.

In addition he has scooped the local press on numerous occasions with real news that might not otherwise have ever seen the light of day. That certainly has not won their affection!

But the scions of Southbridge soporific serenity don’t want you knowing the truth. They don’t want to hear the truth. Like a close-minded devotee of conservative talk radio or liberal talk television they only want to hear and they only want others to hear what reinforces their own beliefs.

But, if you think the crusade against non-conformity stops there, you are mistaken.

One of the most literate and thoughtful bloggers in this town, Brent Abrahamson, used to write a column for the
Southbridge Evening News. We know what became of his column when he didn’t conform to the will of the former editor.

Today’s bloggers are the new technology’s version of the early pamphleteers of the 18th century who formed the backbone of the American Revolution. Yes, their readers have to evaluate the truth of what they say. But the effort to silence or discredit them because you don’t like what they say, even when it is true, flies in the face of why we have the First Amendment.

Kudos to those who will not be silenced. Kudos to Dennis Martinek, Brent Abrahamson and Mike Marketti.

Above all kudos to those who have the courage to read opposing points of view rather than being fed the pabulum that a particular self anointed elite would wish were your sole diet.

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