As regards the current kerfuffle about this blog and the Chair of the Southbridge School Committee the relevant lesson was “put it in writing”.
The benefits of that lesson are illustrated by today’s Telegram article titled “Fighting tears, Southbridge official reacts to blog comments about her weight”.
On Monday I penned a piece titled “School Committee Chair Reacts”. In that article I reproduced an email exchange with me that was initiated by the Chairman. In it she expresses her disappointment about comments that were made about her “physical appearance”. She then said, “I believe your blog can be a useful vehicle for information and facts and would like to explore how that can happen.”
She then went on to express a desire to meet in person, to which I responded that I would prefer that she submit an article expressing her views.
I sent that response at 12:50 PM. She could have said “No thanks”. She could have said “That’s a good idea. I’ll send you an article.” Or, she could have said, “Let me think about it.” I waited six hours and published the exchange at 6:50 PM.
At that point I had hoped that she would eventually get back with an answer and I left it at that.
The next evening I was watching the School Committee meeting on the local public access channel. It was with no small amount of surprise that, at the conclusion of the meeting, the Chairman launched into the emotional display described in the Telegram article.
Thinking I had proposed a cordial solution to any differences that was awaiting a response, I went to bed disturbed by this turn of events.
I awoke at about three-thirty AM thoroughly pissed off and feeling that I had been played for a sucker by a drama queen who wanted nothing more than to use me as a vehicle for gaining public pity while also discrediting one of her most vocal critics. This was totally in keeping with elements of past conduct on her part which I described in the article I subsequently posted titled, “Weighty Matters”.
There I left it until I was contacted by representatives of the local press.
At this point please forgive me if I digress. Shortly after starting this blog almost three years ago I posted an article called, “Profiles In Discouraged – Part V – The Press”. In essence I presented the thesis that reductions in staff and the need to produce copy had reduced reporters to being mouthpieces for public officials. As a result they could not write articles substantially negative regarding those officials without cutting off access to them in the future. To do so would threaten their bread and butter.
Given that digression which sets the stage for what follows allow me to proceed.
As I noted, I was contacted yesterday by members of the local press by email. Since retiring from “public life” I have resorted to an unlisted phone number. Both reporters, Brian Lee from the Telegram and Chelsea Davis from The Southbridge Evening News, asked to talk to me regarding (I correctly assumed) the events that had unfolded at the prior night’s school committee meeting.
In keeping with the “lesson” mentioned at the outset, I responded to both of them by email. I sent them a statement that read as follows:
This whole matter is nonsense. It is a distraction from the real issues that confront the Southbridge school system. This morning I posted an “over the top” piece on my site to illustrate the abject insanity involved.
What we have here is an object lesson in manufactured outrage over a few ill-chosen comments by a reader that I chose to post in a satirical article. The comments were not made by me. Those who have chosen to make an issue of it are well aware of what they are doing. They are creating a phony issue to draw attention away from their own shortcomings.
Focusing on this draws attention away from the numerous articles that I have written addressing serious matters in a conscientious way. Those who are not in concert with the views expressed in those writings would love nothing more than to have me diminished by this silliness.
Mr. Lee chooses to use one line from that statement. I have yet to see how the Southbridge News will report this matter.
However, what I want to draw your attention to is the emails that I received from the two reporters. Keeping in mind my observation from almost three years ago, here is a screen capture of the headers on those emails:
In case it is not immediately obvious, look at the “sent” line. Both were sent on the same date at exactly the same time.
Now I will grant that could be a coincidence.
Or, it could be a happenstance of an orchestrated campaign to portray me as a heartless villain victimizing a hapless female.
As one of my favorite authors Joseph Heller observed in his novel Catch 22, “Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you”
We report, you decide.