Would the “experts” who read RVtravel.com please go away

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By Chuck Woodbury
EDITOR

What if you threw a party? Maybe it was a surprise birthday party. Maybe it was a July 4th party that you organized at your RV park. What if 100 people showed up? What if 97 of those were wonderful people — interesting, smart, respectful?

But what if 3 of them were rude, offensive, annoying creeps? All they would do is walk around, eavesdrop on conversations, and then rudely butt in, telling everybody how wrong they were about what they were discussing and how they were right.

I know what I’d do: I’d kick them out.

The freedom to disagree with others is one of the great freedoms of our society. It’s called freedom of speech. It’s why we have two major political parties. But somewhere in there is the idea that it should be done with respect, not anger or hate.

I had to close comments on Andy Zipser’s article last week about his concerns about opening his Virginia RV park, now that the government had relaxed restrictions. The know-it-alls pounced with one rude, often offensive comment after another, often to people who had commented intelligently and respectfully. One called another “a moron.” There is no room for that no matter how much you disagree with someone.

We removed all 78 comments, the good along with the ugly. It was a shame because the article was hugely popular (more than 119,000 views so far) and lent itself to discussion. I banned some of the rudest commenters from ever posting again.

I SERVED ON A JURY about a year ago. Witnesses were called and they answered questions from the lawyers. If a witness made an accusation without evidence to back it up then my fellow jurors and I considered the testimony worthless. Here, in this newsletter, angry readers can make such unfounded statements without any evidence other than what they saw on Facebook, Twitter or cable TV. Bunk!

The most obnoxious are not experts, usually far from it. And when I respond to their comments, asking them to explain the source of their information, they never answer. They’re like the Wizard of Oz, hiding cowardly behind a curtain that’s called the Internet.

via GIPHY

A MAN IN MY RV PARK has an offensive bumper sticker on this car. I have passed the car perhaps 20 times, wondering what kind of person would display such an angry, rude message.

And then one day, he was relaxing on a lawn chair outside his RV. I greeted him and he waved, smiling. I said something like “Nice day, isn’t it?” And he responded in a friendly, polite way that you’d expect from a fellow RVer. How could he and the person who displayed the bumper sticker be the same?

Here’s my theory: When some people get online, in the privacy of their homes or RVs, they change. The dark side of them rears its ugly head. We all, I believe, have a dark side, but most of us recognize it, and it remains hidden. If we were raised by our parents to respect others, then that dark side, big or small, is buried deep inside us.

I hope the angry, rude, disrespectful people in our audience go away. They have no place here among tens of thousands of kind, intelligent and respectful persons, many of whom have, through the years, become my friends.

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Brian Clark

There once was a time that we could disagree and not hate or be nasty to one another. Anger is the new way of thinking. If something really angers me, then I turn around and walk away. Life is too short and tempers flair up quickly in these times. People are getting killed over parking spots and road rage. I’m thinking that EVERYONE at one time or another made a mistake or said something that we shouldn’t have. We are here on this great website because we enjoy RV’ing and seeing new places and people. Let go of the anger, because tomorrow is another day…

CTK

Could not agree more with Diane at RVtravel.com reply to Anthony’s and others comments for “freedom” to write whatever they want no matter how vile and hateful. Let these characters start their own website for like-minded individuals or go to other social media oulets where speech/comments go unchecked and are offensive to the majority. There has to be a line. I just can not understand when the vast majority comprehends the need for this, and a small minority espouse “freedom” for hate mongers. I for one, look forward to a place , or website, I can go where there is no divide or major controversy.

Mark Generales

I am disappointed that in America, land of the free – that anyone would be “removed” from a website because of their comments. If a site requires anyone who posts to provide their name – and they write an objectionable comment – they’ll soon be ostracized or otherwise skipped and forgotten.
But removing anyone?
With all due respect and knowing this is your site to do with as you please, I would strongly recommend that you not police your site to the extent that you remove anyone. Those that are rude are most easily seen for their attitude and disrespect.
Honestly – who cares. Leave their comments for all to see and further avoid.
The most important lesson i have learned from the virus I believe applies here. In that context and as I state at the outset, “removal” extreme. Rather – America is filled with mature adults fully capable of making rational and informed decisions. As i see with the virus, well intentioned government in some places has become a nanny state. America’s greatness is its ability to allow its citizens to make their own decisions and assume the risk for those decisions. And as mature adults – American’s make rational decisions.
I suggest that should be a guiding principle here. Leave the rude folks to out themselves. We are capable of discerning. It doesn’t removal.

Asher

Nice commentary. I don’t understand peoples need to attack strangers on the net. You have every right to cut mean and hateful content. I have unfriended a few people on Facebook and my experience has gotten much more enjoyable.

Anthony Catania

I did not read the article nor did I read any of the comments, and I don’t even own an RV-but will soon God willing. IMHO I think it might have sorted itself out if left to continue. Except for editing out the full spelling of the foul language (if that is possible), maybe a full out war of words could bring out a lot of important information points. The article was so popular because it is so important. You’re going the get the full “normal curve” of opinions. Let them fly! That’s freedom of expression!

Mark Birnbaum

Oh dear. I hope I wasn’t one of the offensive ones. I can have a sharp tongue and probably employed a good deal of sarcasm replying to a comment that was based on “alternate” facts.

To keep the comments less inflammatory, I’d suggest going to a verifiable user methodology and requiring full name on comments.

Dan Bowles

I certainly support freedom of speech. That said, this is a private forum that has some controls built into it. Every commenter has an opportunity to voice their opinion in a factual and respectful manner. Those who feel the need to oppress with their “knowledge” and go to the point of derogatory name calling overstep that freedom. This is not a public news channel or newspaper. You agreed to some simple rules when you joined. Just because you think you CAN say what you want doesn’t mean you SHOULD. I support Chuck 100%

Andy Mirdik

What a great editorial re. Rude,offensive comments:well done.

Dennis D

Totally agree.

Michael MCcracken

My response is an old childhood saying. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Thanks Chuck.

Mike Massingill

Chuck,

While I am in full agreement with your position as it relates to the subject matter of an individuals right to free speech. It is rather clear to me that you, just as Mark Zuckerberg accomplished on Facebook, have committed the same cardinal sin. Blocking free speech. I debated this very point with a sibling just yesterday. She does not appreciate the use of the F word in my dialogue. By the same token, it is disturbing to me to hear someone utter the words “I’m Sorry” knowing full well they are not. So it begs the question, who are you or who is anyone in this world to decide, determine or otherwise monitor the use of the language we speak and the way in which we may choose to use it? Censorship of any kind is against our right to free speech. End of story. Block me from posting and you will have proved my point. Care to debate this, my email address is listed.

Kind Regards,
Mike Massingill

Terry G

What I think many people fail to realize is that the First Amendment right to free speech only applies to the government, not private parties. This website, Facebook, etc. are privately run and can “interfere” with your freedom to free speech any time they like. Thankfully.

Jane

Thank you Chuck! Some might feel that is censorship, IMHO I don’t believe so. They were entitled to leave comments, like you said, support your answers, which ever side you support. We are allowed to have a difference of opinion, just respect that the other guy doesn’t walk in your shoes and you don’t walk in his. Just be nice about it. because of bad behavior of a few, everyone loses.

Plantdoctor

I read Andy’s article too, but none of the comments. My comment was to book a stay with him. Maybe I’ll see him there.

Marc Ornstein

Chuck,
So well said. I see this daily on various sites that I follow. My gut says I should respond to those who are so rude, but I don’t, assuming that such would only provoke another wave of crass comments. Thanks for stating my thoughts more eloquently than I could have, myself.
Marc

Deloris Trumbo

Well said and so glad you can take people off the comments. I enjoy your commentary very much. Being from an older generation, it really is nice to have friendly conversations with others and leave the anger and abusive language, alone. Have a pleasant day!

Rory R

Thank you, Chuck for your calm and cool decision making. I despise trolls. They disrupt intelligent conversations, they disrupt the ability of others to exchange information, and when they go to name calling, that is the lowest of the low. Many sites do nothing and they lose many of the people who interests you serve, due to their exasperation with trolls. Thank you again…..

Adrienne Kristine

Having monitored the RV Travel Forum for a few years, I understand Chuck’s frustration with some of the readers who choose to comment in a destructive way and attack the writer as well as his/her opinion. Please everyone: be civil and honorable towards others whether written or oral. Isn’t this the kind of world–a kind world–we all want?

Ed D.

Chuck, I have been a part of this forum for a few years now. While I am in 100% agreement that civility should be the order of the day, I am also very concerned of simple liberties, such as freedom of speech, and the right to due process also being respected. People should always have the right to disagree but it should be done in good taste.

Joseph Weinstein

Thank you. I am grateful to live here in the U.S. where you, as an owner, have the right to define what is acceptable on your site. I love to learn by hearing others views and from this education I’ve altered some of my views. When someone strays from a issue and feels the need to move to a personal attack, my respect and interest are gone. I read this site for knowledge, enjoyment and entertainment and believe that any personal attack is inappropriate for this type of site. Thank you for deleting the trolls.