Some all-sports websites and fan “chat rooms” are as fair and balanced as Fox News.
MSR Columnist Ron Edwards recently was double-roasted by readers on GopherHole.com, a pro-Minnesota college sports website. Edwards is regularly featured on the editorial page. His column on former Minnesota coaches Clem Haskins’ and Tubby Smith’s treatment as Gopher coaches (“Was it Tubby Smith’s fault?” March 27) got reposted on the site and drew seismic-like comments, some of which crossed the line of fairness.
It’s unfortunate that many readers on that site totally missed Edwards’ main points: Black coaches, whether in Minnesota or elsewhere, are unfairly held to double standards unlike their White counterparts, and many U of M Black players left the school with bad tastes in their mouths.
It’s also unfortunate that the Hole readers don’t know a columnist’s role, which is to express an opinion, either to inform, enlighten, delight or enrage the reader. Most columnists, such as Edwards, will prick the reader, hoping to illicit a response.
But the subsequent comments on the Hole site included name-calling and street-gutter profanity and postings under fake names, which gave the person or persons free rein to anonymously take pot shots at Edwards.
I don’t believe in censorship, but self-censorship should be in order here. I believe in healthy dialogue, even if we don’t agree on a particular subject, but I can’t stand belligerence. I love intelligent conversation but won’t stoop to engaging in gutter talk just to score points.
Like Edwards, one of my columns was once posted on Gopher Hole. And like my fellow columnist, some readers either didn’t understand or didn’t want to understand what I wrote but rather attacked my name and character, and the MSR as well.
The MSR has served this community for 80 years, at least four times longer than the Hole, which I don’t consider journalism but a digital rah-rah site. While some Hole readers complain about our newspaper, about me or Edwards, or about our objectively, clearly they don’t understand or don’t want to understand the legacy and significance of the Black Press, locally or nationally.
There’s nothing wrong with the Hole followers seeing things only through maroon and gold-colored glasses. But instead of these readers being civil with their counter-arguments, they are insulting and racist. Their profanity-laced rants are childlike and show remedial-level English proficiency.
There is nothing wrong with being passionate about a particular team or school. What bothers me is not what Edwards said, or even if I agree with him or not, but that people respond to him as cowardly word assassins. Edwards proudly uses his name each week in his columns and doesn’t hide behind some nitwit moniker. The person or persons who respond should be man or woman enough to use their real names whether they agree or disagree with him.
That is being fair and balanced. Anything else is totally unacceptable.
Speaking of ‘fair and balanced’…
The Minneapolis daily newspaper continues to promote only White coaches for the Minnesota woman’s basketball vacancy. In one story on what is needed in the next Gopher coach, not one Black high school coach such as De La Salle’s Faith Johnson Patterson, who ranks tops among all state boys’ and girls’ coaches in several categories, has been asked her opinion.
Surely Johnson Patterson has some thoughts worthy of consideration if only she were asked by the White media.
U of M officials announced Monday the hiring of a new women’s coach to replace Pam Borton: Virginia Commonwealth Women’s Basketball Coach Marlene Stollings. She will be introduced at a Tuesday press conference. More to follow; stay tuned.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.