Letters to the Editor

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January 17, 2011


To the editor:

Tom Shewmon, your Jan. 13 letter was full of half-truths and innuendo just as your online posts. You play the victim well.

Many liberals post anonymously on LJWorld.com or quit posting because of on- and off-line harassment. Many “anonymous” conservatives do so as there’s no attribution for what they say. Their online comments are most times personal attacks adding little to the discussion.

Your letter is similar in intent to Palin’s Jan. 12 video which aired early before the memorial in Tucson. She played the victim saying little about those who had died or were in the hospital. She claimed the tragedy was used as a political tool against her, calling it a “blood libel.” This offended many in the Jewish community. O’Reilly used the tragedy for political ends, playing the victim both for himself and Palin.

Palin’s crosshairs poster exemplifies the vitriolic and divisive rhetoric printed and broadcast today. I find it reprehensible that she, Olbermann, O’Reilly and others use divisive rhetoric to politicize the tragedy and further polarize society.

It’s sad you also politicize the tragedy. Your stated goal online is to cause as much trouble as possible for liberals posting on LJWorld.com. That takes away from any discussion. Add to the discussion, Tom, don't take away from it.


BigPrune 7 years, 4 months ago

The favorite "talking point" word coming from the Democratic Party national headquarters these days......"vitriolic," Repeat: vitriolic Repeat: vitriolic etc., etc.....and so on and so forth.

Now on to the next letter to the editor, The favorite "talking point" word coming from the Democratic Party national headquarters these days......"vitriolic,".....etc., etc.....

Abdu Omar 7 years, 4 months ago

This letter to the editor is spot on. You may attack my ideas but leave my person alone. I am sick and tired of the inuendo and hate that comes across here and I hope we who are interested in honest debate, can bring a higher calibre of discussion.

grimpeur 7 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Bill Getz 7 years, 4 months ago

Neither the letter by Mr. Shewmon nor Mr. Reed's response should have been printed as a Letter to the Editor because they make reference to a personal feud being conducted on line. The two forums serve different purposes and should be kept separate. I would criticize neither writer for the form or content of their expressions either place, but I fault the JW's Letters editor for not knowing the difference. BG

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

There's a big difference between disagreeing, and the kind of hate-filled "liberals make me sick" stuff you post.

I'd be very glad for you to disagree with me on everything and anything, and discuss the issues with you, as long as you can refrain from insulting, personal attacks.

But you have actually commented that you like the name-calling and partisan bickering - I can't really understand why.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

TomShewmon, Because you have a BS degree in Communications Studies, I know that you are capable of calm, respectful interchange. However, day-in-day-out, you choose to use inflammatory language, calling people who disagree with you disagreeable names. If your goal was simply to express your views while challenging those of political opponents, you could have written this:

"By 'causing trouble' for liberals, I mean only that I wish to challenge their ideas. I would like liberals to extend the same tolerance they preach to my end of the political spectrum. I was troubled by the rhetoric that came from the left side of the political spectrum after the tragic shooting in AZ, and I'm glad that our president [good choice of phrase, TomShewmon] told everyone to calm it down. I admit to being more troubled by the propaganda from the left than the propaganda from the right."

I don't have time to reedit all of your posts, every day. I have a job that takes up a lot more than 40 hours a week. But today, I'll edit a few more of your posts into calm, respectful text, to show you how it can be done.

When you and all the others who post on LJW forums consistently adopt measured rhetoric, then I will not be afraid to post under my real name.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

BornAgainAmerican, You are welcome to edit postings for civility, too.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

BornAgainAmerican, I guess that your postings could benefit from editing for civility, which perhaps you'll welcome, seeing as you have called for civility yourself, on this very page. Try this instead:

"I'm afraid, voevoda, that I don't have the time to edit TomShewmon's postings, and I don't actually see much need to do so. I hope that you will also turn your editing skills to postings from the left side of the political spectrum, too, because quite often they need it just as much."

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 4 months ago

Nice letter Mr. Reed. When I watched the President's speech about talking to each other in a "healing" manner, Tom and this forum were the first things that came to mind.We could ALL be nicer to each other.

beatrice 7 years, 4 months ago

Comments get removed for many different reasons. Not all are for taking part in incivility. Sometimes comments get removed when quoting another's comments, which later get removed along with any direct quotes from the original.

ivalueamerica 7 years, 4 months ago

And in true extremist fashion, you do not actually prove your point, just make it and hope if it is repeated often enough, it will be accepted as truth even though there is no evidence to support it.

Where I come from, that is called a lie.

Repeating a lie often enough has 2 consequences in our society.

  1. Many start to believe it.
  2. It makes the person who repeats it, a repeat liar.

beatrice 7 years, 4 months ago

rockchalk, you are mistaken. There are plenty of issues that I view as either right or wrong. The various reasons comments get removed from the LJWorld site, however, don't exactly elevate to that level.

By the way, I take it as a compliment to be called a "good liberal." I am a liberal, and I'd hate to be a bad one.

beatrice 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm a liberal, but I don't represent all liberals. Never intend to. I only represent myself and don't speak on behalf of others. Do you represent ALL conservatives? I'm quite sure you do not. Likewise, given your logon name, I do not hold your words as representative of all Christians. Not even close. I am sure you speak for yourself.

So you see, it isn't about convenience, it is about accountability. I stand behind my words, which represent me and me alone. They do not represent an ideology.

In other words, if you say "the left" in response to one of my comments, you should know you are incorrect in your terminology.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

TomShewmon, As promised, I will supply a calm and respectful alternative wording for your posting:

"Mr. Reed, I try to ascertain that my statements are factual. Please specify those that you believe to be inaccurate."

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

BornAgainAmerican, I would be delighted if you would edit TomShewmon's postings to make them calm and respectful. Then I would not need to do so.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

I will edit your postings for civility, too, BornAgainAmerican. Try this: "I do not choose to edit Tom Shewmon's comments, but I suppose that you will continue to. "

BrianR 7 years, 4 months ago

And the posters line up to prove the writer's point nicely.

Ralph Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

Seems you called it correctly AG. Game on on Ralph is right, I guess.

Scott Morgan 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm certainly enjoying the LJW exchange. Most certainly wish this fun exchange doesn't slip into mass personal attacks.

Absolutely agree with Tom S. ......Causing trouble" for liberals easily translates into not agreeing with liberals.

Yes Tom it is a big job. Two brief recent examples. One quite minor, one quite likely to interfere or have effect in future national elections.

ABC's Diane Sawyer did a feature piece not questioning, but assuming the audience all agreed Global Warming is causing what ABC Evening News propagandized relating recent weather systems. Plenty of Al Gore type video clips too. Of course now a majority feel Global Warming is a hoax.

Without "causing trouble for liberals" we could well be on our way to a major economic depression trying to lead the world in going Green while destroying jobs and our private sector business.

The sick sad shootings in Arizona without conflicting voices would have been blamed on Tea Party Right Wing and Republican philosophy. Not sure the less informed public didn't take the falsehoods including a buffoonish Arizona sheriff belching blame of the Right Wing anyway. Perhaps future votes swayed by falsehoods.

Palin has every right to be hacked off.

Ralph Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

@Wissmo, Listen to this, especially 1:00 to 1:30, and tell me where Sheriff Dupnik belched blame of the Right Wing. You won't find it.


Instead, he lays the blame at the feet of 'some people in Talk Radio and on Television.' That's everyone in the business, not just the Right Wing. Unless I'm mistaken and the Radical Right Wing has a lock on talk radio and television; in which case he did blame the Right Wing.

The Right Wing did take the ball and run with it, making political capital by stretching and spinning his comments. I wonder how many who are up in arms about Dupnik's blaming the Right Wing actually took the time to listen to what he said?

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

Disagreement is fine with me.

TS does a lot more than that in almost every one of his posts, which seem to involve both personal and general insults and attacks.

Any source for your claim that "a majority" feels that global warming is a "hoax"?

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 4 months ago

Tom posts a lot of things that rub me the wrong way. In fact, most of it. I must admit that I probably did agree with him a time or two. A few times, he really upset me.

But I have to admit that Tom contributes a LOT to the discussion because he represents a great many Americans. Certainly not nearly a majority, but a very large minority. Tom helps me to understand those people better.

These are people who are my neighbors, customers and sometimes relatives. I need to understand them better and I am grateful that the Lawrence Journal World does not take sides and start censoring people just for the political leanings.

We have to find a way to live together in peace and harmony and we have to find a way to elevate our society and make it better. People like Tom represent a large part of this country.

Daniel Dicks 7 years, 4 months ago

I am relieved Tom S.s 'causing trouble" for liberals means disagreeing. One could get the wrong impression by Tom's "gun talk" and expectations of "urban warfare". I truly hope Sarah Palin can manage to convince the public of her innocence in this matter and continue on her way to the GOP nomination unimpeded. SARAH 2012 !

tomatogrower 7 years, 4 months ago

There are times when I have gotten angry and attacked the person, not the idea, but from this point forward I agree to stop doing this. I will only discuss the issue, but I hope that we can stay on subject. Too often a statement about a Kansas issue, becomes an excuse to attack the president, who has nothing to do with the topic. But I will just ignore those comments and only respond to the subject of the article. I will give my opinion or counter debate someone else's position only.

lucky_guy 7 years, 4 months ago

I am curious. I saw Sarah Palin and Faux news and Joe Scarbourgh et al respond to the "liberal attack". I must confess that I don't cruise the blogosphere as much all you must, but with the exception of the AZ sheriff I didn't see the liberal "blood libel". All I saw was the shock and awe response to it. I am just curious as to whom caused all this back lash? I guess the usual suspects like Olberman and MSNBC but the response was so fast and overwhelming that you would have thought the President or Sec of Interior was gunning for Sarah.
Then there was a report of death threats being up and the like but I wonder who caused this and do they have the status to throw such a scare into the right wing establishment or is this just a way to get attention? Just asking.

Daniel Dicks 7 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps the gun manufacturers conspired this? Sales are up! Yes, we should "wonder" who caused this back lash. Becuase the political environment could in no way be at all related. Sarah should continue to use her targeted map as proof of this notion.

Daniel Dicks 7 years, 4 months ago

I have yet to see where liberals accused Sarah P., T-Partiers, and all right -wingers of pulling the trigger. The truamatized Eric Fuller aside. I have seen plenty of conservatives casting themselves as the victims. As if they have nothing to do with the atmospherics present in our political discourse. What is worse is they did it for "political advantage".

Can we agree that extremism from both sides does general harm? And tit-for-tat, is just that.

Daniel Dicks 7 years, 4 months ago

" in a matter of hours, politicians and the lefties on this forum were naming Sarah Palin, T-Partiers, and all right wingers as culprits in this heinous act."- BAA Must we define the word "culprit" too? I cannot speak for all "lefties". but I think most reasonable people would not blame anyone for this "heinous act" except the shooter. Can't blame Sarah Palin, the NRA, the Tea Party, the gun or the 30 round clip. Was the shooter inspired by the aforementioned? We don't know. Did many, including myself think it likely? Yes. Was the politically charged environment some how related? Maybe, maybe not. But I would assume it couldn't possibly help. Just as reasonably I can assume a 10 round clip versus 30 would have made a difference in the severity of the shooter. Just my opinion, hopefully without too much hyperbole.

Ralph Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

@Anna, That's just the point.

Tom's words, "causing trouble" should mean (to me) engaging in a spirited discussion about the merits of the topic. It doesn't mean starting posts with diatribes against the radical liberal loony left and the Anointed One, as most of Tom's posts do, then shouting down anyone who has the audacity to disagree.

I admit there are a few times when I've posted agreement to what Tom has said. There might be more if he were more civil, which in large part he's not in my opinion. I use Tom as an example, but to me the majority of the right-wing radical conservative posters on the forum post in a similar manner. That's why I've called continuously for everyone to have a verified account and to dispense with the anonymity. Neither Tom nor I are anonymous and I hold that to his credit.

lucky_guy 7 years, 4 months ago

"NY Times, Daily KOS and other far left rags immediately ran with comments from the Pima County Sheriff ". Hardly the weight of the Fox and the whole AM radio America. This was just an attention getting ploy by some "hypocrites" on the right looking for another strawman. Who is doing a better job at the victimazation thing the AZ wounded or the Tea partiers?

George Lippencott 7 years, 4 months ago

Once more into the jaws of death go I. I listened in real time to the sheriffs press conference and I read Mr. Krugman’s comments. They did indeed abhor uncivil dialogue. They also clearly and unequivocally in the language I have spoken all my life blamed the “right” for promulgating it. The response of the right to include Ms Palin was, to the extent I have heard it or read about, a disclaimer–not of the incivility – but to point out the incivility is a shared activity with the left.

Now blogging on the LJW world has made me keenly aware that there are miscreants on both sides. What has surprised me is that we apparently do not have a shared definition of what is uncivil. Some elements of the left throw around terms such as bigot, racist, homophobe and the like at the drop of a hat. I have concluded that many of those using such terms do not see their comments as uncivil but the “truth”. Of course, those on the right do not perceive themselves that way.

I am surprised about one thing that I will mention here. As a repeated recipient of the censure of the left because of my involvement in military activities, I have always associated them with a strong desire for peace and harmony. If I were correct, it would seem that there is a greater burden on those of the left to tolerate the perceived slurs of the right and return the dialogue to a more moderate nature. Am I wrong?

In the absence of Ms Jones, my kindergarten teacher, and her peace making ability; how can we bridge that gap?

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

BornAgainAmerican, Here is a more civil posting for you:

"Your post is probably the best effort yet at promoting civility in these forums, George. There was I time when I called for more civil discourse in these forums, but unfortunately uncivil language continued. I'm not inclined to grant such requests from persons on the left, because it seems to me that they call for civility only when they are the targets of incivility. In my opinion, both the right and the left have been equally guilty in regard to the tragedy in Tucson. In the current circumstances, it would certainly be appropriate for both the left and for the right to admit that they have used vitriolic language, and to promise to use more measured language in the future. I personally will take the lead, and I promise to refrain from any nasty comments."

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago

You really believe that the right hasn't engaged in the same sort of thing?

I have yet to see a single post of yours that acknowledges that those on the right engage in uncivil and unpleasant behavior.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

Dear Mr. Reed: I once challenged Mr. Shewmon on why he wrote and worded things the way he did. I reminded him that calling people hurtful names, treating them disrespectfully and being condescending was not the way to change the minds of people, much less their hearts. He replied that he wasn't here to change people's minds and could care less if he did so; that he wasn't here to debate, but merely to rant. It was at that point that I fully realized that Tom Shewmon frankly has nothing to say. He isn't here for honest debate but to engage in what my father called mental and philosophical "self pleasure" (although my father put it in cruder terms) at the expense of the other posters on these boards. He would like to believe he is a "shock jock"; Lawrence's equivalent of Glenn Beck. Instead he just comes off shrill and self absorbed (well, Glenn Beck does too but that's beside the point). That being the case I made the decision to just skip his posts and not respond to him. Someone passing mental gas is no different from someone doing so physically. Wrinkle your nose, consider the source and just go on with your business. He isn't even worth responding to online, much less in a LTE.

voevoda 7 years, 4 months ago

cait48, In the interest of promoting even-handed civility, I'm going to suggest a more genteel way for you to make your point:

"I once challenged Mr. Shewmon on why he wrote and worded things the way he did. I reminded him that calling people hurtful names, treating them disrespectfully and being condescending was not the way to change the minds of people, much less their hearts. He replied that he wasn't here to change people's minds and could care less if he didso; that he wasn't here to debate, but merely to rant. If TomShewmon has anything to say, his message is lost within the invective. He doesn't seem interested in honest debate, but rather simply venting at the expense of the other posters on these boards. Maybe he sees himself as a "shock job;" Lawrence's equivalent of Glenn Beck. Like them, he comes off as shrill and self-absorbed, rather than as a persuasive spokesman for a conservative political position. That being the case, I made the decision to just skip his posts and not respond to him. I recommend that everyone else do the same."

I share your experience, cait48, and your opinion.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

I like the way you say it, voe, and if I were a different, more self restrained person I would probably say it that way. However, I was brought up in a Gaelic community by parents who tended to embrace life and live it in a huge way. If the emperor wasn't wearing any clothes they had no problem with, not just pointing it out, but pretty much yelling it out (and then laughing over it). It's difficult at times to change that early training and tone it down.

Terry Sexton 7 years, 4 months ago

Remember Rodney King? Has anybody ever answered his question?

jonas_opines 7 years, 4 months ago

Still banging your head against that wall, Ralph?

Scott Morgan 7 years, 4 months ago

Ralph, I agree with you to certain extent. It's what happens as the news rolls to the next, to the next to the next. The Diane Sawyer Global Warming "reporting" on ABC's reason for storms is a perfect example. A false threat is reported as fact.

Some food for thought. A couple of reported quotes, which side of the isle do you believe they were referring to, and who do you think they initially blamed?

Giffords's father was blunter. Asked if she had any enemies, he said: "Yeah, the whole Tea Party."

The sheriff conducting the investigation, Clarence Dupnik, did not mince his words. "When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government – the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country, is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona, I think, has become the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

The last 5 words are important. Some of us believe differently and want our laws followed.

George Lippencott 7 years, 4 months ago


Miscreants on both sides??? Of course the right bashes the left.

jafs 7 years, 4 months ago


My question was for BAA.

Of course both sides do it - how anybody can think they don't is really beyond me.

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