Thursday, October 16, 2008

Uncomfortable truth?

Congressman Jack Murtha stirred up a bit of a hornet's nest Wednesday when he remarked that Barack Obama will likely win Pennsylvania next month, but his margin of victory will be less than it might be because Western Pennsylvania is a "racist area." That's a broad term, and a poor way to frame the argument, but there's some truth to what Murtha says, at least in my experience. I can only speak to what I've seen and heard over the past 50 years, most of which I've spent in Western Pennsylvania, and I have to say that there are a lot of white folks - 10 percent? 20 percent? - who are suspicious of or actually have dislike or hatred toward people of a different color, religion or country of origin. The daily poll on the O-R Web site has provided plenty of evidence of that over the past couple of months. People generally think of the South as being a hotbed of racism, but I think it's just a different brand. Here, most people aren't outwardly racist. They might hide behind the anonymity of an online poll when they make their hateful statements, but they won't drop N-bombs on Main Street. The racism is more overt in the South. Perfect strangers who are making conversation with you will use the N word. At least, that was the case when I lived there in the late 1980s. Maybe there has been positive change in the region, but I'll give you a couple examples of what I confronted there. When I was first moving to Columbia, S.C., my company sent me there to look for a place to live. The first place I stopped after getting off the plane was a fast-food restaurant. As my then-wife and I walked in, we saw the manager, a white man, having a heated argument with a black woman. After she stormed out, he came up to us - two total strangers - and said, "I have to apologize for that n-----." We were dumbfounded. In another instance, a restaurant owner lost his state liquor license because he was found to have refused service to a group of black people. I called him to get a comment, and he replied, "You can print this. They just kissed another n----- ass." The Civil War does live on in some people's hearts. Back to Murtha. He sometimes seems to engage his mouth before starting his brain, but that doesn't make what he said false. I'm sure that his election opponent, if he hasn't issued a statement already, is working up a news release attacking Murtha for his remarks. Because, as we all know in politics, it doesn't matter whether what you say is true; it's all about how much political hay can be made from it.



Blogger PRIguy said...

I really can't believe that I'm writing this again, but for the second time in about a month, I find myself agreeing with that pathetic liberal whacko Murtha. I still think he's a colossal horse's ass and an embarrassment to veterans, but that's another topic.

There's racism everywhere, and it's just as Brant described it. It IS more out in the open in the south. I haven't had quite the blatant experiences that Brant had, but I've been in conversations where someone will think that just because everone in the conversation is white, that we all share the same racist opinion.

I've never done this, but I've wanted to for years, and one day I just might: when someone makes a comment with the N-word or says something derisive about an ethnic group, I'd like to say, "My wife is black, Asian, Puerto Rican..." whatever one fits the bill. I just haven't had the nads to actually do it.

October 16, 2008 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Priguy... 2 things

1) I thought you were black?
2) I do the SAME THING... furreal furreal... The look on their face is PRICELESS... The first time was when a guy was talking derisively to me about Asians... I said "uh, you know my wife is Korean?" and the best thing was that 2 of my coworkers who were pseudo involved in the conversation agreed with me and played if off perfectly... they didn't miss a beat! The second time, it was black... I pitched it the same way, but I couldn't keep a straight face.


October 16, 2008 at 3:14 PM  
Anonymous dg said...

When I see a sign in front of a home reading "Democrat for McCain" it yells racist to me. What other reason could it be? You're normally a Democrat but in this election your views are more Republican?

October 16, 2008 at 4:43 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

And now, like a typical politician, Murtha has apologized for his comments. This gets old. A politician says something, then sticks his finger in the air and finds out the wind is blowing the other way, then apologizes. If you say something that you believe to be the truth, which I think Murtha did, you should have the courage to stick by it.

October 17, 2008 at 10:30 AM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

I agree Brant. I was a little disappointed yesterday when I heard on the news that Murtha apologized for his comments. Why? If you feel it is the truth, and well it is, then run with it. Don't back down because some people either live in a cave with blinders on or they choose to continue to lie to themselves and others about their views on race, religion etc. Stick with your guns Murtha.

October 17, 2008 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Actually ellipses, I'm just a chubby ol' white boy from Taylorstown. I "became" black a few weeks back when some poster decided I'm a racist because I said that the Hampton Roads area breeds thug athletes. I stand by that comment. I just wasn't in the mood for any more back and forth nonsense with that person. You can't argue with a dumbass.

Brant summed up what most politicians, actors and anyone else who makes an asinine statement in front of a microphone does. If you have the balls to say something controversial, have the balls to stand up and take the heat for it.

October 17, 2008 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Ah! That was, actually, my basis for thinking you were black :-)

Thanks for clearing that up :-)


October 17, 2008 at 12:28 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Priguy, at the risk of re-attracting your old adversary, I'd like to put in my two cents about the Hampton Roads issue. I think you were absolutely right. The people you named, the Vicks and Iverson, qualify as thugs in my book. If they weren't extremely gifted athletes, I think the odds would have been pretty low that they would have carved out successful lives - not because they're black, but because they are scummy people. It's not PC to say that a particular area breeds trash - black or white - but it's a fact. For example, there are a helluva lot more low-life thugs in some of Pittsburgh's lesser neighborhoods than there are in, say, East Washington. Of course, there are many good people in some of those Pittsburgh locales, but to say they don't have more than the normal allowance of low-lifes is to ignore reality.

October 17, 2008 at 1:17 PM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

Priguy you must have forgotten that that dumbass was me. Well for your information I am not a dumbass I am college educated and I did not buy a degree or sell my ass for one. And maybe you should practice what you preach "If you have the balls to say something controversial, have the balls to stand up and take the heat for it." I would also like to say to both you and Brant that you are probably right about the Vicks and Iverson being thugs if they weren't gifted athletes, but that statement goes for every black child that is brought up in the slums and "ghettos" of the U.S. that basically is forced to take care of themselves because either Mom and Dad don't care, there is no Dad and Mom is doing her thing or Mom has to work two jobs to put food into their mouths. Maybe if we spent more time trying to help out these kids and less time pointing fingers and turning our backs on them then maybe they would have a chance.

October 17, 2008 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Awkward :-)

October 17, 2008 at 1:33 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Ahhh...Now that I've got my balls all comfy, here goes: I use the phrase, "You can't argue with a dumbass" for many situations. It's more of a verbal observation, and it certainly applied to that particular argument.

Brant and I are not "probably" right about the Vicks, Burress and Iverson. We are absolutely right. They were street thugs who have an athletic gift and got some lucky breaks. But even with all the money, fame and perks that come with it, they can't rise above being thugs, and nothing will make me change my mind on that. You can take the thug out of the 'hood, but you can't take the 'hood out of the thug. Look at O.J., Pac Man Jones, most of the Cincinnati Bengals, countless NBA players...the list goes on and on...and please note that I'm NOT singling out any particular race. These are names that spring to mind immediately as I write this.

You make several assumptions in this post, Steelerfan. You automatically assume that I think you used money or sex to get your college education, yet that never entered my mind.

You also assume that just because an athlete comes from a tough neighborhood that he or she is black. You wrote: "..but that statement goes for every black child that is brought up in the slums and "ghettos" of the U.S. that basically is forced to take care of themselves because either Mom and Dad don't care, there is no Dad and Mom is doing her thing or Mom has to work two jobs to put food into their mouths." By writing that, you assert that no other race could ever face the same obstacles. You imply that every single non-black household is an idyllic Shangri-La where nothing bad ever happens. There are crappy parents, absentee parents, as well as hardworking parents, everywhere. There also are thugs of all races, and some of those thugs come from the very same neighborhoods. You also imply that thugs of other races can't possibly be gifted athletes.

I have no problem helping out any child in bad circumstances. This whole thing really doesn't have anything to do with the struggling single mother or the absentee father, or even race for that matter - which you brought into the argument in the first place. It has to do with a bunch of overpaid, spoiled men who are unable to rise above adversity despite the fact that the world has been handed to them on a silver platter.

October 17, 2008 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

One more thought regarding these athletes: at what point do we stop blaming society and start blaming the man?

October 17, 2008 at 3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a story similar to Brant's about working in the South. In '89, just after I finished college, I started working in a bureau of a suburban daily in Atlanta, and did a story on a local real estate agent who was accused of discriminating against African-Americans.

I called him, and we were talking about the suit, and he told me how he had sold the house that was at issue to a couple of "fine white people."

Shortly thereafter, the prosecutors called and asked me if I wouldn't mind testifying against him. Luckily, they just asked and didn't issue a subpoena. I would have felt uncomfortable about it from a reporter's perspective, and my editors were prepared to fight any effort to force me to go.

--Brad Hundt

October 17, 2008 at 3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A college education does not preclude dumbassness. Dumbassnicity? Dunbassdom! Whatever. Being ejumacated don't mean you're not no dumbass.

October 17, 2008 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Priguy and Steelerfan,
I know you both to be good people and great contributors to the blog. I sure hope neither of you will take too much offense regarding the exchange here. Both of you make good points. Clearly, I agree with Priguy regarding the thugs, but I also recognize, as Steelerfan says, that it is very difficult sometimes for a person to rise above his surroundings. Some people do what is necessary to make themselves better than what they came from. Others take the easy way out and sell crack and shoot people indiscriminately. It's a sad situation. Hardly a day goes by in Pittsburgh that someone is not shot down on the streets there. But it's not just the big cities. There are sections of Washington I wouldn't dream of driving through, let along walking through, after dark.

October 17, 2008 at 4:40 PM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

Brant I take no offense to the exchange that we have been having on the subject. You also have a valid point. I am so tired of coming home everyday and turning on the news or waking up in the morning and seeing that two three people had been shot overnight or during the day for no valid reason. It is true that this bull is also becoming more and more prominent in little towns too. The more drug addicts and dealers we have the more trouble we have. It is sad that people cannot rise above the situations that they have been put in or have put themselves in. I believe it is a lack of respect for themselves and others. Everyone wants the easy way out. That's why we play the lottery, mail in our Publishers Clearinghouse entries and go to the Meadows. But there are some who cannot try their luck and move on. They don't realize that nothing is for free and we all have to stand up and bust our asses to get what we want. There are no free rides in life because when you think there are there is always something that comes attached to it.

October 17, 2008 at 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

Anonymous (4:10 p.m.) apparently you are. Thanks though.

October 17, 2008 at 9:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you guys think you are anonymous in your postings, go to the OR's editorial page that endorsed State Rep Jesse White and look at the postings by the OR's own online administrator, Monique. She states, quite clearly, that she has both the ability and the inclination to track down the IPs of people who post things she doesnt like, then goes to a cris cross directory to find their exact addresses. She asked one poster if he/she was allowed to post from work.

Better think twice if you post from work, or if you wish your views to remain anonymous. The OR will track you down, and who knows what they will do with that info?

She even brags about how it's not illegal for the OR to do that, and dares anyone who doesnt like it to call her bosses- obviously, the OR editors are in favor of tracking down posters who make comments they might disagree with.

So, before you post on here, ask yourself, do you mind if the OR sends your post to your employer, or to your neighbors, or prints your name in the paper?

October 18, 2008 at 12:42 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

The O-R has done NONE of those things you suggest. As I understand, we do occasionally have to use an ISP address to block someone's access to the site if they have been slandering people or using foul or otherwise objectionable language on the site. It is not a witch hunt for people who post things than someone at the paper doesn't like. It's directed at people who don't know how to comport themselves properly. Nobody's coming to your house or calling your boss or telling your neighbors about you or putting your name in the paper. Let's get a grip here.

October 18, 2008 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

What do you say, Steelerfan? Truce? I think we both expressed our stance on this pretty well, and I don't want any hard feelings. You're a regular contributor here and I enjoy reading your posts. In fact, up until now, I think you and I have agreed on several issues on this blog. The discussion, debate and difference of opinions on this blog are what make it great. So, can we have a truce?

October 18, 2008 at 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oct 15th post after Jesse White Editorial endorsement by OR online admin:

"For the record ... : 10/15/2008
Fake person, Roy, Stanley, Tracey and Leslie are the same IP address, meaning same person. Sally and Bob are of the same IP address but different from the one mentioned above. There is a very cool tool we use called a Cris-Cross Book that lists every person in a county. Can you say busted? Let's stop playing the childish games. None of these IP addresses are traced back to Mr.White btw. Thanks, Moe-O-R Online Admin


Another Oct 15 post by OR online Admin:

"Real person Ha ha : 10/15/2008
Yes, it is. The same kind of software that tells me who people are sitting in Waynesburg posting messages. ;o) I was just stating after running the IP's I used our Cris-Cross for name verification.


After running the IPs she used the Cris Cross directory for NAME VERIFICATION???? That doesnt sound like isp blocking for offensive language, or any of the other reasons you cited, Brant. How about this post by the ORs online admin on the same page:

"Curly ... very clever. : 10/15/2008
My name is Monique Ringling aka Moe. What is your name Mr. Department of Administration for the state of Wisconsin? So does your job allow you to surf the 'Net and leave harassing comments? Please share with us."

She identified the poster's employer, the fact that he was posting from work, and implied that she could get him in trouble with his employer. By the way, the comment that she was responding to was just a humorous one, asking if "moe" was a real person, and it was signed "curly"- like the 3 stooges. Does that justify identifying the poster's employer on the OR website? Even if she didnt report it to the employer, any other reader who felt like doing so now has the power.

But those who read this blog can judge for themselves whether your view of the OR's actions is correct or mine is. I'm not saying you personally do this, I have never seen evidence of that, but when, on another OR page, an OR technician jumps into a heated debate, insults people, AND THEN tracks them down by the isp info that only the board operator is privy to, uses a cris cross directory to locate the residents of those address, publishes another posters employer and claims he/she is committing "harrassment" (which was a false and defamatory accusation) and wants to know what his employer would think if notified, gee, I dunno, MAYBE THE OBSERVER REPORTER CROSSED A LINE?????

October 18, 2008 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

You've still refuted nothing of what I said. I think the intent of the posts you mention - and I can't attest either way to their accuracy or context - is to let people know that, while they think they might be anonymous, and at least appear to be on the blogs, poll, etc., if they say something slanderous about someone or insist on using hateful language, we can, if necessary, track the origin of those comments and take action to keep those people off the site. We can't have people making statements like, "Did you know so-and-so was cheating on his wife and stole money from the county?" There has to be some recourse to identify and sanction people who abuse the site.

October 18, 2008 at 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, let me see if I can summarize your point of view. If someone says jokingly that they question the existence of Moe, and they sign it Curly, that's justification for the Observer tracking down and publishing their place of employment, because it's a terribly hateful or slanderous comment? Or if they agree, or disagree, with a candidate for public office, that's also justification to track down their residence and determine who they are?

Brant, I have just lost all respect for you. No poster on that thread said anything hateful, obscene, or slanderous. There wasnt one word of the things you mentioned. What there was, was a lively discussion of two candidates, Yuvan and White, and vigorous disagreement as to whether each was worthy of a state house seat. It was no more "slanderous" than any of the things being said in the Presidential campaign.

You are making up reasons to support highly improper actions by the Observer on its website. Freedom is lost in small bites, not large gulps, and a good start is squashing any political dissent concerning candidates for public office.

October 18, 2008 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Without looking at the entire threat, I have no way of knowing whether what you are saying is true or not. But my point is that we have to have some controls to prevent people from running amok and saying things that are beyond the pale. I put my name on everything I post here, on the daily poll and on the new O-R forum. If someone is afraid that what they post could come back on them, I suggest they just refrain from posting. If you feel that our ability to identify you is an infringement on your freedom - and I don't think most people who come to this site feel that way or are afraid to stand behind their comments - then perhaps we're not your particular cup of tea. I suspect, however, that our policies and practices are not different from what other newspapers and online sites employ. We'll just have to agree or disagree on this one. And I still have respect for you, because I don't lose all respect for someone over a single difference of opinion.

October 18, 2008 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I meant "thread," not threat. :)

October 18, 2008 at 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Steelerfan43 said...

Priguy I did not assume that you thought I obtained my degree in a questionable fashion, I am just stating that some people buy theirs, some sleep with the right people to get theirs and some like myself work their asses off to get theirs.

I also did not assume that just because an athlete came from a tough area of town that they are black, you did by commenting on nothing but black players who get into trouble. You brought that up in the post about Burress a few weeks back. I did not. I understand why you mention their names though, because their actions are highly televised and sensationalized by the media. The media rarely mentions the stupid and idiotic acts of other races in the NFL, NBA or MLB, and if they do, it is for a minute and then it is soon forgotten.

I do realize that children of other races are also raised in screwed up households, I have a few friends who are not black that were, but since you mention only one race of people in your statements, that is the race I focused on. I also realize that "thugs" of other races are gifted athletes too but they are not mentioned, are they. I mentioned that in my posts on the Burress matter if you care to look back at what I posted. You probably don't though. I also mentioned that these athletes have been handed the golden ticket and are pissing it away because they can't seem to leave their past in the past and move on with their sweet future. I do not blame society for their actions I blame the situation that they were born into because just like any child they were not asked to come here. A child who grows up in an abusive home, ghetto or other horrendous situation is just like a child who grows up in a foreign country that is taught to hate from their first breath, it is bred in them, it is ingrained into their minds and it takes a hell of a lot to overcome that type of "brainwashing." I agree that they as men should have and need to stand up and accept responsibility for their own actions but that probably won't happen until they lose that sweet life they were given.

Let's just say that you and I will never agree on this subject because you have your views and I have mine and that is what makes this such a great country. But please know that I am not going to stop commenting on your statements just like I am sure you will not stop commenting on mine.

But I do enjoy having these debates with your dumbass =), it's fun.


October 18, 2008 at 8:55 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Steelerfan, I wouldn't want to read your posts if you always agreed with me.


October 21, 2008 at 2:08 PM  
Blogger Moe said...

Oh the conspiracy theory!
You're wrong on so many counts I don't even know where to start so I'm not going to even try.


October 27, 2008 at 10:43 AM  

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