Sunday, May 10, 2009

More from Don Cirelli

Don Cirelli sent the following comment after I Hate Canton posted his Letter the Repository Doesn't Want You to See. We thought it was so good that we didn't want it to get lost in our comments, so we are posting it here. His post further explicates "customer service" problems with the Repository regarding abuse by anonymous posters.

Thank you, for posting my letter to the Rep. I knew Gauger wouldn't print it, but I still wanted to make it clear to him my feelings about the shameful manner in which he is running that website.

After I sent this letter, I recieved a very curt response from Jeff Gauger, simply stating "I do not intend to print this letter".

I replied to Mr. Gauger "Of course you don't, Jeff. I didn't libel anyone and I didn't use a phony name. Perhaps if I had, it would wind up on the front page of the Rep. Nevertheless, I am going to the public with this since you are trying to cover your ass".

I had a little debate with someone recently about the use of fictitious pen names in cantonrep. The lady I was speaking to felt that pen names might be a good thing, as they shielded the legitimate whistleblower as well as regular commentators from abuse and retaliation.

I see it differently. The only things that thrive in the dark are worms, mushrooms and cockroaches. And that is exactly what we are now witnessing in the
"new" abuser-friendly cantonrep comment forum.

Originally, commentators were required to use their real names. The Rep also printed their email addresses alongside of their names when their commentary appeared in cantonrep. Of course, political conversation is always rough and tumble, and it tends to get heated and even rancorous at times. But under the original rules of cantonrep, people seemed to keep a check on the more obnoxious and abusive comments they might make, as they knew they were personally accountable for their comments.

There was at least one commentator at that time who decided he wanted to "kick it up a notch". At first he used his real name. He wound up getting booted from cantonrep because he had challenged a fellow reader to a physical altercation. But it wasn't long before this commentator re-appeared in that forum, only this time under a pen name. He was easily recognizable, however, by his very distinctive writing style and repeated use of certain phrases, such as "sick and twisted" - one of his favorite references to liberals.

This man felt free to address his fellow readers in the most egregious terms possible because he wasn't using his real name. The funny thing was, his obnoxious, hateful comments would stick to that board like glue. Anyone who challenged him, however, would have their own rebuttals booted in a New York minute. It seemed as if this particular abuser had some kind of personal connection with the cantonrep editors that gave him carte blanche to spew his bile at anyone he pleased. Anyone who defended themselves, however, were not privy to the same type of favored treatment. Once, this man's comments ever appeared in a different color and type style on the cantonrep board. That only confirmed, in my mind, that the editors had indeed granted this commentator a certain privilege that was not given to the other commentators. I think the Rep actually likes this kind of abusive behavior because it draws people in to see the freak show, hence it enhances their numbers (and revenue).

Despite numerous complaints by myself and others about this situation, the abusive commentator would stay on the board year after year, switching to a new pen name after his previous moniker was finally booted from the board.

So you can see why I don't buy these editorials that Mr. Gauger has written in the past about how he is supposedly perturbed and saddened by the loss of civility on cantonrep. I believe that is so much lip service and nothing else.

If Mr. Gauger wanted a return to civility, the worst thing he could have done is allow commentators to use pen names. That only added fuel to the fire and allowed the most uncivil people of all to feel entitled to abuse with impunity. And that is what we got. Cantonrep is now have to racists, bigots, and haters of all stripes. It is literally no holds barred now.

And it was only a matter of time before those who already felt entitled would go even further, to the point of outright libel. At least five actionable comments were made in the space of one week. I will not share the names that were mentioned in those comments, as I don't want to repeat the libel.

It is clear that the person or persons who uttered these slanderous statements feared no repercussions of any sort, legal or otherwise. The Repository has enabled their slander by making it possible for any malicious individual to register with their site anonymously and then to post their bilge anonymously. Mr. Gauger has abdicated any claim to journalistic ethics, at least as far as cantonrep is concerned. He may be the man in charge at the Rep, but he is obviously not in charge of his website. The anonymous commentator really calls the shots on that forum.

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