To the Readers' Forum:
Having read the sampling of anonymous comments published in The Post-Journal on Monday, March 5, under "Question of the Day" about gang activity in Jamestown, one can only cringe that a) people choose to exercise their right to express their opinions in so foul, incendiary, and ignorant a manner; and b) this newspaper chooses to exercise its right to freedom of the press by publishing them.
Excerpts from those comments include a slanderous attack on one particular family, the Leepers (misspelled by the contributor): "According to the Jamestown PD there is no gang problem here. I guess the Leppers don't count . . . " I have had the pleasure of sharing a workplace with two members of that family, and no finer gentlemen or better workers can be found. I have also had the privilege of having another member of that family in my classroom at JCC, and among the hundreds of students I've met, she proved to be one of the most motivated, inspiring, and successful of any, in part because she was determined not to allow the negative associations brought upon her family name by a very few black sheep to deter her from reaching her own goals. Nevertheless, the most public forum in Jamestown, our own newspaper, elected to irresponsibly print a comment that only reinforces that poor reputation, without consideration that in the swath of such slander there are real people, good people.
Another unnamed contributor had this to say about gangs: "Think their Headquarters is located in the Applewood Crack Condo's [sic]. They hold their meetings in the inner circle, Our Tax Dollars hard at work." Since that new housing development became occupied, I can think of only one headline in the paper making reference to it, and that was to report on the grassroots efforts of its residents to form citizens' and neighborhood watch groups to, as a community, come together to maintain a safe, wholesome, crime-free environment. Can I substantiate whether the peacekeepers are meeting with success or not? No, but neither can the person who carelessly characterizes an entire neighborhood as "Crack Condo's."
These two examples, among a nearly daily dose of others similar in tone, demonstrate a sickening pattern of bigotry and ignorance which, yes, nameless, online writers have every right to post and which the paper has every right to print. Nevertheless, it's still hate speech: ugly, devaluing, irresponsible, mean-spirited hate speech whose authors no respectable paper should indulge by printing it.