Best Of Intentions

The latest piece of unsettling news going around involves the publication by the Journal News of the names and addresses of people with registered weapons in several New York cities. Publisher Janet Hasson took the step in order to inform her readers of the whereabouts of deadly weapons so they could be better informed about the dangers that lurk around them. Needless to say, the crazies went crazy. Her publication was inundated by angry letters from readers who felt their tender underbellies were being exposed: “does she think I’m a sex offender?” asked one ex-marine. You don’t want to get people with guns riled up, Janet. To paraphrase: “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups….[with guns].” Publishing the names and addresses of those who own weapons may be unnecessary in the end, since in this society we are at the point where it is wise to assume that everyone has at least one.

In any event, a retaliatory strike by a Connecticut lawyer involved a Google earth photo of the publisher’s house that was posted on the web so the angry writers could take the next step and — what? retaliate? shoot her? What was he thinking? And a blogger posted personal information about the Journal’s staff, wishing Janet and her staff a “great Christmas eve” as he did so. One wonders what this country is coming to. Janet Hasson’s motivation was to take advantage of the Freedom of Information Act in order to make information available in order to allow people to protect themselves. The original motivation that lead to the decision to make information public was the loftiest possible. As something called “TechCrunch” tells us:

Ironically, the promise of open data was supposed to lead to open-minded discussion. “If the broad light of day could be let in upon men’s actions, it would purify them as the sun disinfects,” reads the often-cited quote from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who stands a champion to modern-day nonprofits fighting for greater access to health, legislative, and administrative government data.

And that’s the point: a judicial decision that was supposed to “purify” human actions by fostering better communication among people has become an avenue for angry people to engage in ugly behavior — even at Christmas time as the tiny bodies of children killed by a demented young man were being laid to rest.  But whether or not Janet Hasson was right to take the step she took — and that might make an interesting debate — she certainly didn’t deserve the treatment she and her staff received from angry people who were clearly over-reacting. She obviously struck a nerve. Is it possible we don’t know how to react any more, we only know how to over-react?

My blog buddy recently posted a blog suggesting that certain people in this society might need to be exported. I have started a list and would like to add a certain Connecticut lawyer and a blogger (not my buddy) who should have known better. The question is where on earth these people would go. Who would want them? In the meantime I will try to remind myself that there are a great many good people out there doing good things that never make the news. But as the population expands not only does the number of good people grow (we would hope) but also the number of nutters who garner all the attention.

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6 thoughts on “Best Of Intentions

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I know I am more distrusting and cynical than you are, perhaps, but I just see society on a slippery slope downward, that the best is behind us, and we’ve become cruel, self-centered, and very angry. We’ve lost perspective, we’ve lost a sense of humor and our ability to shrug off things that displease us. We are all the poorer for it.

      • …like animals in a cage!

        i think there’s a lot more stress today in making an honest living with little time to get quiet and shut down the sensory overload.. there’s also so much competition to be the best, to excel, to be able to afford the gadgets, the trendy shoes, clothes,the health club, country club etc… if one can’t provide that for the family, then there’s a shadow of ‘i am failing’ hanging over the household. . some people are so quick to retort back, as if they were waiting for an excuse to relieve the stress, only the negative ways backfire.

        i sigh. it’s so easy to look at the ones who are angry and tell them to chill out, though they’re too close to the problem to see it clearly.

        time alone.. lots of time alone would help everyone!

      • Good points, Z. I think there is a great deal of stress connected with trying to keep up — and we can all use time alone. Thanks for commenting. (Good to see you still have electricity!!)

        ________________________________

      • so i was working on photos this morning and —— bam – no warning, the power failed1 i switched to painting, and a few hours later noted that the power was back on. the rainy season is really sluggish this year, though i’m not complaining! thanks! z

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