On the Other Hand by Mark Rushton
Since I archive them by number, this column marks a bit of a milestone . . . number 450 since the column was resurrected almost nine years ago. I’ve only missed being published weekly on about three or four occasions during that time, and have produced for your pleasure, pain or frustration some 270,000 words under the banner that tops them.
And every word was written with my name above them. Not once have I used a pseudonym or hidden by anonymity.
Like it or hate it, I take the praise or the pillory, and the words printed in this newspaper, and the words of any journalist published in a newspaper are archived for posterity in museums, newspaper association files and in legislative libraries.
If you are curious as to what I or others wrote in newspapers today, last week, last month or decades ago, they are available. And today what is written in them is for the most part instantly accessible through the Internet, preserved good or bad on newspaper websites or available through a Google search.
The world-wide web, however, also provides the opportunity for anyone to set up a website and, without any controlling influence on what is written, provides the ability to comment, anonymous or otherwise, without accountability.
If people are unhappy with what is said on some sites, the purveyors simply remove it and then obfuscate over its existence.
Fortunately, in some instances, even after a website has been “sanitized,” those words and documents, complete with website banners, escape the efforts to cleanse, remaining available through the simple of task of knowing what to ask Google.
For curiosity’s sake, I recently spent a few hours doing just that, and printed off an amazing collection of words from one site, and a few from another.
Interestingly, the day after I did that – Oct. 20 to be exact – one was no longer accessible, replaced by garble which quickly defaulted to a completely unrelated website. The other was cleansed of many of the personal attacks, later admitted to in a mea culpa by the two owners of the site, that have been made over the years.
It is one thing to challenge decisions, policies, plans, programs or other actions (even newspaper columns). It is quite another to try to denigrate, demean or diminish someone personally.
A simple “sorry, we won’t do that anymore” doesn’t cut it with me, particularly when one of these people, Vince Dimanno, is seeking an office of power and control in our city.
This Saturday, Abbotsford residents have the opportunity to choose who will chart the course of our city’s future for the next four years. A daunting task to be sure, one that requires respect for the opinions of others, accountability for what you do in the future (and what you’ve done in the past).
This civic election will be a difficult one. There are many seeking the reins of leadership who are completely new to the political arena (and public awareness for that matter), others who have been there so long it is mind-numbing.
Your decisions will be crucial because they will determine whether our city is controlled, over the next few years, by committee or independent thought.
I urge you, though you don’t have to, to vote for all eight councillor positions.
Remember that within the voting booth you have the sole and secret ability to decide against whose names you decide to mark an ‘X’.
I know for whom I shall vote, and for whom I shall not.