Freedom of Moronic Ranting

On Monday the Oregonian placed my opinion piece on the top of the guest editorial column, complete with photos of the proposed cigarette packs, and a link to opinions online.

I’m flattered the newspaper found salience in my views but dismayed that reader responses went postal.

Several of my Facebook friends said the responses were moronic and mean-spirited. Rather than spraying my views with a squirt gun, the comments burst forth like a fire hose.

Online access to information, and our ability to lay out views for all to see, is still a new phenomenon. Back in the days when I worked for a newspaper we made sure that letters to the editor, for example, avoided slander and expletives. We didn’t print all letters because, at that time, we judged that not everything was print-able.

We didn’t see the newspaper as a blank page nor open forum for any and all musings.

Online communication welcomes the freedom to exercise stupidity and rage.

And while I agree with the spirit of free speech I’m not sanguine about the pipeline that enables us to access anyone’s thoughts at any time.

Clearly the internet allows access to just about anyone. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And the rants on The Oregonian comments page reflect the rants of the poor sods with a keyboard. My ego remains intact.

Here’s the link:


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in journalism, news bias, social media, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Freedom of Moronic Ranting

  1. Russ L says:

    I agree. I believe that journalistic institutions have a responsibility to promote civil public discourse.


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