ssǝɹddns ɹou ɹɐǝɟ ɹǝɥʇıǝu plnoʍ ʎʇǝıɔos ǝǝɹɟ ʎlnɹʇ ɐ ʇɐɥʇ ƃuıʇnɔolɯnɔɹıɔ suıɐʇuoɔ ǝʇıs sıɥʇ

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sorry, kiddies. You're no Ambrose

When I think back about who I considered to be the local activists or reformers, the people who inspired me to get involved, I think of Ambrose Meletsky, Mary Camp, Nancy Kemp and former controller Steve Flood. Even WILK’s Fred Williams.

In Fred’s case, his accusatory rhetoric and his very targeted invective occasionally crossed the line, and his employer came under fire for it. I imagine that’s why he was dismissed from his position. Then again, while Fred regularly referred to county officials as liars and cheaters and thieves, he seems to have been vindicated of late.

I once saw Ambrose so frustrated at a city council meeting while jawing at council, he punched his open palm with a clenched fist. I imagine he did that rather than lash out in anger. I loved that fiery guy and I always felt like I was in the presence of Moses when he got to interpreting the good book known as the city charter.

Nancy and Mary, ever the ladies they were raised to be, used words like corruption, transparency and accountability. Before Mr. Flood was elected to anything, he was impressive every time I heard him speak at public meetings.

While each of these folks varied in their approaches and their varying abilities to resist becoming too incendiary and too accusatory in public, they fought the battles they felt the need to fight in open, public forums. And fought those battles without employing slander, libel, defamation and all of the other good stuff.

Enter social media gibberish…

Unlike yesterday’s dogged heroes, the would-be activist/reformer of the present day Wilkes-Barre resorts to slander, libel, defamation and all of the other good stuff as if by rote. But let us not forget the baseless allegations, the misrepresentations, the constant grandstanding, the trumped-up charges, the do-it-yourself lawyering and the penchant for playing judge, jury and executioner, and all in one newspaper article, one blog post or one ill-advised social media appearance.

The following appeared in the comment section of the Times Leader early this morning…

kevin dougherty Just now

X.X. XXXXXX raped and killed a young girl in 1990.

I Xed out the name, not the person who actually posted the comment. It has since been removed by the Times Leader upon request.

Even though this comment was beyond ill-advised, scandalous, hurtful and baseless, it’s really not much worse than the usual, the typical swill the would-be local activists post on social media outlets on an almost daily basis. And I never understood how these people who are so easily self-impressed in their budding genius could be so reckless with their colorful commentary.

Every-name-in-book succinctly describes what I’ve heard every city official called during just this past year. Just yesterday I saw that one of the mayor’s underlings was again called a liar. Again.

This morning I read that an activist/blogger is daring current and former city officials to sue those they believe they were slandered by. Another activist/ blogger is accusing the mayor of being a car thief. And the city beat reporter who made them all, all dozen of them famous for a fortnight is leaving town as of tonight. So, without a totally sympathetic ear at a local newspaper, we can expect the already out-of-control and accusatory rhetoric and vitriol to get even more venomous on the Internet.

Since the primary election of 2011, citizen involvement in this city has reached a low so awfully low, it’s now looks like it might come back to haunt those who can not or will not control themselves to any degree.

That noise? No, that’s not an approaching tornado.

That’s Ambrose violently spinning in his grave.


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