A tale of two message boards


I received an e-mail about one of the two new Republican bulletin boards that has sprung up in recent days. I don't have much use for forums where people post under pseudonyms, particularly when politics is the topic. There's an old Internet proverb: "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog." Is that message really from a Smith campaign insider? Is that Smith himself posting this nonsense, or is it an opponent's supporter posting under his name? These message boards provide an opportunity to spread disinformation, to trash reputations, to try to squelch the morale of your opponents' supporters. And by opponents I mean primary opponents. These boards tend to be circular firing squads. At best, there is some entertainment value in all the trash talk, but mostly I find it a depressing glimpse at the nastier aspects of politics. Having peeked in on a couple of the Oklahoma Democrat message boards, I was not pleased to learn of plans to set up similar boards for Republicans. I appreciated the good intentions of those who set them up, but I saw nothing good coming of it, and while the Republican boards don't seem to be as vicious yet as the Democrat boards, I see some disturbing trends, and the primary is still a month away.

But the first message linked in this e-mail I received was to a well-written and thought-provoking essay by Paul Hollrah contrasting President Reagan's funeral with that of another political figure a couple of years ago. Here's how it starts:

Michael Reagan, the late president’s oldest son, stepped to the podium, retrieved a folded page from his breast pocket, and after a few obligatory remarks in which he described the deep love and affection he felt for his departed father, he launched into a vicious attack on those in the Democratic Party and the liberal media who’d made his father’s life a living hell during his days in the Oval Office.

Not the way you remember the event? To say much more would give the plot away -- just go read it.

Paul Hollrah has been a Republican Party official in Mayes County (may still be) and has run for the legislature. Interesting that the best thing on a message board dominated by pseudonymity is something written under a real person's real name.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 29, 2004 10:48 PM.

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