Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Rebuttal, Of Sorts

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?


  1. Very well said. Your rude commenter could take lessons on how to play nice. I still agree with your assessment on this issue. I've read your posts long enough to know that you don't make things up. Perhaps Mr. Anger Management can get a grip. :)

  2. Can't comment on this, I don't know this story.

  3. Linda, if your post makes you a bad person, then apparently everyone who else commented on the previous post is "bad", and "the only good one" is Scott. Yeah, riii-ght!!!

    Don't take to heart what he wrote at all, he doesn't know you at all aside from a voice that answers when he calls in for a med patch. As far as the ludacris comment about AASI, everyone who's ever dealt with you and your fellow employees know what kind of caring professionals you/they are. There are plenty of tragedies that happen every day in our world and profession, but this one, was a preventable one, and that's all that we're trying to say!!

  4. You stated your opinion quite well in your first post. Since you felt the need to rebut I went back and re-read it. I really don't think you needed this rebuttal, Linda.

    Mr. Anger Management was out of line and probably too close to the situation to be objective or rational. Who knows, he may even regret his comments one day.

    I googled this found that it's made several papers in New England. Everything I've found says no charges have been filed at this time. I'd really like to know if you hear any more about this.

  5. Anonymous7:14 AM EDT


    Nice got left at the door when he opened his trap and made these hateful comments not only to you but in a round about way to everyone involved in the call not to mention god forbid anyone with... an opinion. I am glad you have choosen the high road in this situation as it shows just another reason why we all are proud to call you a friend
    That is also the reason we have risen to the call to defend your comments against this garbage. You deserve better and he deserves to still get bent!!!

  6. Anonymous11:13 AM EDT

    Dear Linda
    Although I don't agree with your decision to post the comments that you posted the other day I also don't feel people have to react in childish ways. I thought your comments were unsensitive. People make bad decisions every day in this world but it does not always reflect on the people that they are or the way that they live their lives. This family is going through unspeakable pain I don't ever want to know the pain of losing a child. They will live with this tragedy the rest of their lives on a daily basis. It does not help anyone to have postings like this in which we judge and condemn these parents. This is a law enforcement issue, and if there is findings that require charges than so be it let the authorities handle it, but what good does it do to have a site like this in which people can just be cruel, lets mind our own business. The world would be a better place ~

  7. Anonymous11:56 AM EDT

    Hon, I know that child's sensless death hit you deep in your gut and are grieving along with the parents. The loss of a child is the closest to hell a parent can get... And in a community where one child dies, the whole community feels the pain.

    Know we love you and know you are a good person.

  8. I'm still standing behind you, you said it right the first time.
    And what Lois said: We love you!

  9. Anonymous12:37 PM EDT

    Great rebuttal Linda :-)

  10. A well-written post here, Linda.

  11. Anonymous2:54 PM EDT

    Occasionally I look here by and read the interesting and well written contributions. Today I would like to leave gladly a greeting from Thuringia in Germany!

  12. It's your blog, you can write what you want. Your post was your opinion on a preventable tragedy and one which a lot of your readers agreed with.

  13. Anonymous4:25 PM EDT

    Linda, two excellent posts. I'm a little take aback that someone who does similar work would really believe that you somehow surrender your right to any opinion. It kind of boggles the mind.

    Anyway, when you have a minutes, stop over at my blog. I've got a little something for you.

  14. And the anonymous commenter above has the gall to accuse you of being "insensitive," while telling you you have the right to your opinion...
    ARGH. There are way too many stupid people in the world!
    As for the "friend" of the family...if I say how I really feel, I would be sinking to his level so I won't.
    Just know this: I have never meet you IN person but I have a very good idea who you are AS a person.
    And I love who I know...You have such a gift of compassion and you never, ever fail in blessing a lot of people with your kindnesses.
    ~~~Love and Blessings, Linda~~~

  15. I don't see anything wrong with how you said it the first time. You were horrified by the story, as many people were, and had the right to express your opinion. I have read your blog for a very long time now, met you in person, talked on the phone and otherwise communicate wieth you.

    There is not a hateful bone in your body.

  16. Anonymous6:55 PM EDT


  17. I understand your feelings, been there did that, just know you were correct, you did good.

  18. Anonymous7:12 PM EDT

    I'm sorry that a few people in the area (very few) have taken you to task about your opinion. Many ,many people in Eastern Connecticut hold the same view as yours toward this issue, don't be afraid. We all suffer from the ever-so-early ending of this young boy's life....and we're all emotional. Difference is we KNOW the difference between right and 'just good enough'. Good enough sometimes will not be enough to sustain life; let alone protect it from harm.

    Thankfully people like you are aboard to help watch over us when we need you.

    Thank-you, Linda.

  19. Of course you know that I think you Rock Linda.... Have a good night!

  20. I totally agreed with your first post, Linda. I know that you were as horrified as we all were when we heard about the tragic death.

    Like Mimi said, I know there is not a hateful bone in your body.

    I'm with you.

  21. I think you handle yourself with grace and dignity.

    You weren't insensitive to the parents in your comments. Rather I thought that you brought light to the impact that such a preventable accident has on first responders, and on the community in general.

  22. I'm proud to call you my friend.

  23. Anonymous10:41 PM EDT

    Very professional Goddess. In both posts. Those that disagree need to step back and re read your posts. I feel they got the wrong perspective on it. I like so many are with you....


    Long time EMT

  24. wow!! I'm gone for a couple days and what did I miss???!!!!!

    Look, I'll say it..even if you won't. As a mother of 3 toddlers and a proud gun owner...putting a gun in reach of a child is STUPID. and is asking for an accident. period.

    I question the solution I've chosen for my gun...even though it's nowhere near in the kids' reach. Still I question. as all responsible parents should. Is this the BEST solution?? Is there another that is better?? That is what makes us responsible parents.

    now, please. can we get back to steeple chasing?? much more tragedy and I'll have to only come over on high endurance days.

  25. Linda, since you are generous with allowing comments, you have the right to slam the commenters that go over the line...or delete/ban them.

    Commenting is a privilege, not a right. Slam where necessary!

  26. I love what Ralph just said.

  27. Anonymous7:23 PM EDT

    Linda I hope you don’t mind but in an attempt to stem some of the hate people have for me for being angered at the attack of a friend at their lowest I have decided to repost the comment I left yesterday on this post too, so others can see my reasoning and know that my first post was an impulse to anger and not a true reflection of my personality.

    The comment I left reads as below…

    First of all let me make a simple statement. I admit my comment was made out of anger and not my most eloquent writing. I would also like to say that I agree that leaving a loaded gun in a location accessible by a child is an unforgivable action.

    That being said my issue is not that I feel the parents are blameless, my issue is in this post kicking two people that at their lowest. If you don’t think they don’t blame themselves and don’t know what happened is their fault, then you are sadly mistaken. The problem is as they are at the lowest point a parent could be, they have a bunch of people who watch the news or read the paper and draw an opinion based on information even the news reports as speculation, only makes a horrible situation worse.

    I also have to say that another antagonizing factor to my rebuttal is someone emailed your blog to my wife, With the title, “before you set up a memorial fund for them you should see what type of people they are”. Well for the record my wife was best friends with the mother since kindergarten, the mother was my wife’s bridesmaid, and we have babysat for Wyatt several times. We know what type of people they are and know that there lives are ruined and they will spend there lives with a guilt no parent should bare. We setup the fund to help pay for funeral costs not legal costs.

    As for those who attacked me. Those who actually know me know it usually takes an awful lot to upset me, receiving this email the day after the funeral is one of those things, to say I don’t know what it’s like to have a call like this, I welcome you to ask my partner about the first time she saw me, I came crashing though the emergency doors at the hospital as I got pummeled by the aunt of the 4 year old which we were doing CPR on after he fell in their pool while she got a towel. I can also understand the guilt the parents feel because about 4 years ago I was the driver in a car accident that caused the death of my mother . While the cause was a freak medical incident on my part, it does not make the guilt go away. For the last comment… I’ll point out that I have the second fastest turnaround time in the Moosup paid crew and, as for the untucked and stained shirt, your 2 years late, ask around. That and thank you for making my comment seem a little less childish.

    In closing I would like to apologize for the harshness of my comment. I was angry and emotional, but I stand behind the intent of the comment, in that I really think it is unfair to beat people while they are down. If you didn’t send the email to my wife then I admit my anger was misdirected, but unfortunately you were the only available target. Please forgive the overreaction, but to know the details both circumstantial and emotional and then have negative opinions thrown at you, causes one to react blindly. Make no mistake I stand behind the heart of what I wrote but am remorseful of how I conveyed it.

    Scott Adams

  28. I've been out of touch for a couple weeks...and got caught up in reading the posts and comments...and of have to comment myself. (rolling my eyes)

    I am a parent who has had guns (locked and unloaded) in my home. My daughter was never allowed to have a toy gun or water pistol that looked like a gun so that she never confused the two.

    In the late 90's a coworker I spoke to everyday (he was based on florida...I am in California) died from a gun wound when his five year old climbed up to a closet shelf and got his dad's gun.

    The outcry from anti-gun and gun-safety groups put the divorced mother (who did not live with her son's father) into the hospital.

    The shock and horror of this tragedy made many people (friends and strangers) say things in emotional reaction that in hindsight is a bit more understandable.

    @ Scott Adams...I respect you for coming back and commenting again....and for what you said. I am sure your emotion for the Matteaus was intense. And your life experience gives you perspective.

    I have actually met Linda...and she is a compassionate intelligent type who also deals with profound life experiences.

    A weblog is one's own. Where you can put down any opinion, thought, feeling, rant and rave you care to. You do open yourself up for comments...and they sometimes take on a life of their own.

    I toss up a prayer for this family and their friends. And I thank Linda for her post which got a significant number of people thinking about the matter whose side they came down on.

  29. Anonymous10:46 AM EDT

    Wow, such emotion involved from everyone involved in this. From having children of my own and a husband who owns guns I can put myself in the shoes of the parents and I can only imagine their grief.

    I think that Linda handled herself with restrain and class in posting what she has posted on her blog.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in this situation. I can only imagine this horrible grief!

  30. Anonymous4:46 PM EDT

    Unfortunately this is the bad side of the blogosphere. Theres' always some idiot out there waiting to leave some dumb comment. I should know, I'm one of them...


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