The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

Inventing injury and turning it into 'creative' writing


Last week The Sentinel was threatened with a libel law suit and told it was heartless and even cruel. Fingers wagged, tongues lashed, maybe even clothes were rent in rage. The Facebook traffic about our story on the death of Edwin Charge was venomous to the point where we took the link down. By the time it was gone, we were pretty clear on where The Sentinel stood in the hierarchical structure of creation (just below pond scum).

The comments were colorful, to be sure. More to the point is the fact that almost all of them missed the point. Ninety nine percent of the comments were in response to statements that were never made in the article. All we can figure is, a person or two started the ball rolling by making a comment based on a total misreading of the actual story content, and then everyone else never bothered to actually read the article—it does require some time to read and, after that, follow the sense of the actual statements made. Instead it really looks like others made their comments based on the original misreadings, not the story.

This was demonstrated a few times when we were emailed directly with comments rather than receiving our roasting online. Those emails made critical references to statements that were not in the story. When this was pointed out to them by quoting from the actual article, the response was something like, “Oh, I see that, but you’re still wrong.”

One person who said she was close to the family told us it was unconscionable (I’m paraphrasing again) to say in our story that Charge got his due karma by dying while fleeing police after shoplifting at Walmart; she advised us to take down the story or face legal consequences. She would have had a good point—if we’d actually said that in the story. Here’s how we actually used the word “karma” in the story: “Charge easily divided people into fans and foes. The disparity was sharply reflected on Facebook, including Everything Goldendale, where comments disparaging Charge came so fast and so furious that the moderator chose to take them down and post an admonishing warning. The vilification reached the extreme of some karma judge proclaiming that Charge got exactly what he deserved.”

Critics accused The Sentinel of assassinating Charge’s character by calling him “bro” in our article. Never happened. Here’s what was actually in the story: “Elsewhere Charge was remembered fondly in crude but heartfelt vernacular… ‘Bro’ was used a lot.”

It’s a remarkable example of creating insult out of thin air. Every comment made against the story utterly missed the fact that the story was actually intended to be an appreciation of Charge’s ability to engender affection, demonstrated abundantly online. The story was a brief study of the conflicted life of a man who clearly loved and was loved by his family and friends and who simultaneously led a life of chronic crime.

For the people who really read the story and still misread its content, there is nothing to say that would help—we tried; it didn’t help. For those who reacted only to the reactions of others’ mistaken reactions, conversational engagement is of course entirely counterproductive, like working to convince someone trying to shake pumpkins out of trees that they actually grow in the ground. Now someone will read that last sentence and accuse us of claiming some people are so stupid they think pumpkins grow in trees.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019