When I wrote my opinion post the other day about the local shooting death of a two-year old boy, I wrote it knowing that there were going to be people who disagreed with me. I rather expected to be bombarded with comments about my lack of caring but surprisingly, that wasn't the case. All of the comments that were left agreed with me that ultimately it was the parents' responsibility to ensure that their child was unable to get possession of the weapon that was in the house and use it to harm himself or others.
The point of my post was not to point fingers and cast blame but to express my opinion - and mine alone - that I felt the parents had to take responsibility for what had happened. There are laws on the books here in the State of Connecticut that were passed in order to keep this very thing from happening and yet tragically, it did happen and you can't just chalk it up to "oh, what a horrible accident" when there were easy ways for it to have been prevented.
Unfortunately, things turned a little ugly on the post when a comment was left by a friend of the family who called me a "self righteous heartless hate monger" who needed "to lower your nose long enough to see reality." He then went on to state that "I will be sure to pass this letter on to any news agency that’s willing to listen so more people can know that when they call 911 that the dispatcher may post there opinion of the incident all over the web." He made other statements but I'm not going to repeat them here. Should you want to read the whole thing, you can find it a couple of posts down.
My initial reaction to his diatribe was to ignore it and let it go. I wasn't going to remove his comment as I felt he had the same right to his opinion that I had to mine and neither was I going to take down my post just because someone disagreed with me. I said nothing hateful or self-righteous or heartless in that post but if the commenter thought I did that was certainly his right and he also had the right to say so. Even though Amanda thought I should write a post addressing his comment I wasn't going to do that either but then I received several other comments in response to his comment and, even though I believe in the Freedom of Speech as much as the next guy, I had to take some editorial control and edit at least one of them as it was too over the top. I could have simply deleted the comment but I didn't necessarily want to censor someone else's opinion completely - I just wanted to tone it down a bit. Because I took those editorial liberties, though, I felt it necessary to explain why I did that and hence this post - that I wasn't going to write - became a reality.
It is my wholehearted hope that people can act like adults and have an intelligent exchange of opinions - whether they be verbal or written - without having to stoop to calling each other names and making untrue accusations. I am not a hate-monger nor do I post my opinion of the calls I handle on 911 "all over the web". Yes, I did mention my job in the post but that post was not written from the perspective of a 911 dispatcher but from the perspective of an ordinary human being who was shocked and saddened by the death of an innocent two-year old. Had I been just regular old Josephine Citizen reading this story in Bozeman, Montana I would have felt exactly the same way I did as a 911 dispatcher who heard about this story in Norwich, Connecticut. The only difference is that as a 911 dispatcher I sometimes think I've heard it all until something even more horrifying comes down the road.
Being a dispatcher does not discount me from having an opinion however I am very careful about how that opinion is expressed. Had I revealed any sort of protected health information about the patient involved in this particular call (or any other) than certainly I would be wrong and would need to be disciplined. I have done no such thing in that post, this post, or any other post. The information that I had came from transmissions over the scanner and from news reports from other reputable sources who got their information from Lt Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police who serves as the Department's Information Officer. If I was wrong about the facts then so were an awful lot of other people who reported the story including people as high up as the Associated Press who I'm sure is pretty careful about the feeds that are picked up and reported.
My own personal opinion, which is what I wrote in that post, has absolutely nothing to do with the integrity of the company I work for and I resent the fact that my commenter seems to think it does. The post in question was written on my own time off of company property and is the sole and express opinion of myself and no one else. How dare you, Mr. Commenter, hint otherwise? Also, my post was not a "tirade" which is defined as a protracted speech usually marked by intemperate, vituperative, or harshly censorious language. I believe my language was quite civilized and I never called anyone any names.
As I said, I fully expected for people to disagree with me and that is their right however I also have the right to defend my own opinion if I see fit. No - I don't know the whole story as obviously I wasn't there but I read the same account in many, many places and I still stick by my contention that the parents were and are ultimately responsible for the death of their son.
If that makes me a bad person in some peoples' eyes then so be it but I am not a "self righteous heartless hate monger" nor do I plan on becoming one, or helping other people to become one, anytime in the future.
As to those people whose comments I had to edit, I apologize but civility still has a place in our society whether it seems that way at times or not. How about we all play nice instead?