Thursday, January 16, 2014

How To (Try To) Silence A Critic

Ken O’Brien

The only good thing about living to be a certain age is that you learn from your mistakes.

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.


  1. I think Lauren is a beautiful woman. People come in all shapes and sizes. Just like people come in all levels of intelligence....maybe Ken is jealous that Lauren is smart and beautiful and he is ugly and dumb.

  2. For some reason on my phone I am unable to increase the size of the tyoeface when at Blogspot. Did you actually call the School Committe Chair a Lapless female?
    Are you trying to join another former School Committe Chair on the front page of the NEw York Times or is the new Chair trying to do so with her late meeting dramatics?
    Your blog apparently has greater readership that the Slothbridge News if even her children read it. You ought to be able to sell advertising space to livery companies that transport all the children to Quabosg and Worcester daily.

  3. The topic of conversation on this blog concerning the chairperson of the school committee has derailed the discussion from the severe problems facing the Southbridge Public Schools. It is sad that any political discussion in Southbridge devolves into attacks of a personal nature. Satire or not, mean is still mean.
    It seems as though this current round of character bashing started with an animation which depicted the chairwoman’s pollyannish way of speaking in platitudes that morphed into a personal attack on her weight. Then, instead of the moderator of this blog putting a halt to it, he piled on with his own brand of “sarcasm”. When are we going to learn that two wrongs do not make a right?
    Then, the chairwoman in question added fuel to the fire by using her bully pulpit to cry foul. Again, when you add a negative to an equation with a negative sum you serve to make the situation worse by deepening the hole. There is a lesson to be learned from Thomas Jefferson in reacting to personal attacks—say nothing. Jefferson did exactly that when attacked by his opponents about Sally Hemmings. And, to this day Jefferson’s role in the Hemmings affair is still not decided definitively. So, a pox on both your houses for letting this situation go this far distracting us from the main issue of failing administration of the Southbridge Public Schools.

    1. Hey anonymous, the Jefferson/Hemmings issue was settled by dna some time ago. Her children were his children.

    2. state takeover needs to happen like in Lawrence. fingerpointing continues-students suffer-where is the state when you need them, Buzz? this is the only solution. Blow it up and start over!

  4. Stephanie J. DeMartinoJanuary 16, 2014 at 8:34 AM

    Ken O'Brien, all of your rants, all of your vitriol, proves only one major fact, You sir are a disgusting human being. Shame on you!

  5. Wow, Obrien, you are a gutless little puke.

  6. How old are you? Your parents did a horrible job. Parents teach there children..If you have nothing nice to say dont say anything at all.Did you not get that memo as a child?

    1. My parents did a great job (rest their souls). One thing I did not do was drag family members into this. Mrs. McLoughlin did that.
      Also, I did not make any remarks about her weight until after her drama queen act Tuesday night. I considered it hypocritically manipulative then, and I still feel that way now.
      Imagine how she would react to the insults being hurled at me now. If she cried on TV over a couple of thoughtless remarks by an anonymous individual, she would have to be put in a medically induced coma to deal with this.

  7. If anyone cares what really prompted my own ridicule of the Chairman, it was the last comment I got from an anonymous responder following her speech Tuesday night. It read, “I just saw the chairwomans pity me speech and all that I can say is that she has set the cause of feminism back 50 years. Imagine if a man had done that.”
    Think about it.

  8. Mr. Obrien ,
    I think you owe Mrs. McLoughlin and her beautiful family an apology. One should never stoop that low. Just because you disagree with the way she handles things does not give you the right to insult her personally. Why don't you go speak during the public comments and let the committee know your concerns?? Wouldn't that be the thing to do instead of the hate filled insults that you chose? I think you need to take a long hard look at yourself. God forbid her daughters see this, I think it took a lot from her to confront this instead of sitting back and letting people think they can insult people and have no consequences in life. Maybe its time for this blog to be taken down??

  9. Funny how anonymous takes Obrien to task.
    Stand up be be seen anon otherwise your opinion counts for nothing.

  10. People stay anonymous for the exact same reason people dislike the character bashing, personal attacks, childish behavior, and back-biting that has been going on with this incident. Staying anonymous is also a protective measure for those who work in the system. If a teacher calls a spade a spade they will see the wrath of the administration. And, we all know what happens when Buzz is challenged by a mere underling.

    So, let us get back to the issue of discussing the problems contributing to the unsuccessful public school system in Southbridge. And then let us offer solutions to those problems.

  11. Funny how ANON 2:11 is anonymous, yet complains about someone else who is anonymous. This is the beginning of the end of this stupid site. Wait for the charges to come for bullying. C'ya.

  12. Stupid Bloggers are WorthlessJanuary 16, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    This is what happens when you think that you're smarter than the rest of the world. You reap what you sow. The T and G did a great job, and you deserve the blowback you're getting.

  13. Mr O'Brien needs to take a chill pill. Sounds like the guys passed cause he can't control others tov do what he feels is right. No wonder he left public office. Like a child crying that no one will listen to them. Wah-wah-wah..

  14. Do you know why Southbridge is labeled the way it is? Because of idiots like the author of this blog and the many other 1/2 brained politicians in the town. Now there are some good people... people who are truly invested in children and bringing back the economy. I grew up in Southbridge and have seen a significant decline in the town over the last 10 years...... bad school systems, idiot politicians, this type of blog, adults acting like the students they serve, putting political moves over children, etc. etc. etc....

    This town is in serious need of rehab...what it needs is all of its students, who actually made it out of this town and got educated, to come back and bring the passion and energy which it is clearly missing. Obviously the people who are arguing over the stuff that is in its article are missing all of that.

    STOP BEING BABIES... ON BOTH SIDES... and either start getting stuff right for the community, or get out!!!

  15. Mr. O'Brien , I think you are a coward for not giving a statement to WCVB, instead hiding behind your " blog" and I use that term loosely. I was overweight and bullied much of my adolescent years, and it's bullies like yourself that I truly feel sorry for. I'm very sorry you have nothing better to make offensive remarks. Yet, Mr. O'Brien it is well within your right of free speech to spew your propaganda. Mr. O' Brien , it is also my right to share your blog on social media with my hundreds of followers to read this and I look forward to you getting bombarded with comments so you can see what it's like. I'm using my full and real name so that when this website gets shuttered , you can have me to thank . In fact I'd like to invite you to follow my social media sites so you can see how many others feel the same way. It's also my right to lets every news station in New England have the chance to put heat on you. I will always fight for the underdog. Just have the decency to not hide behind " Anonymous" when you spew your garbage toward my comment. I'm looking forward to bringing your blog down and I won't stop until I do. Remember Mr. O'Brien Karma is real and I'm tickled to see what what it brings you. Anyone who has a similiar opinion I invite you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and this exciting quest to rid this man ( and Mr. O'Brien I use that term very loosely ) of spewing his garbage. God Bless ( I have a feeling your not a godly man as a true Christian would not bully a woman with twin girls who dedicates her life to the education of our youth about their weight). I'm looking forward to this Mr. O'Brien. I may be just some random guy but I dedicate my life to helping people and silencing people that deserve it :-)

  16. No matter what she said or did that you didn't like, doesn't mean you have to stoop to a low level. Her weight is her personal business.

  17. And now Channel 5 has this saga. McLoughlin and O'Brirn - two political amitures. You bring shame and embassament to our town.

    1. That's why I declined to speak to channel 4 or 5.
      Look at some of the names who have been pushing this and you will find some names also associated with bringing in the Boston media to do a hatchet job on Father Peter Preble a couple of years ago.

  18. McLoughlin's show Tuesday night on cable TV, coupled with the channel 4 and 5 segments painfully show how extremely narcarsistic this person is.
    I wish she demonstrated those tears when the lastCAS scores were reported out. Or when we read that all three elementary principals are leaving, or any of the other BAD news which comes from the district daily.
    What Mrs. McKoughlin fails to recognize is that it's supposed to be about the students - not her.
    Lauren. "Please leave for the sake of the students and the image of our community."


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