Commentary, Park Forest

“How dare you quote what I wrote in a public Internet forum!”

Gary Kopycinski quote
Gary Kopycinski
By Gary Kopycinski

Quote me, if you wish.

Received some flack, but mostly praise, for a recent commentary I wrote about comments made publicly, in a Facebook post.

Those who did not care for the piece accused me of “publicly shaming” people.

For their comments.

Which they wrote publicly.

On Facebook.

For all the world to see.

Honestly, the subject of xenophobia has been on my mind in recent months, as, I’m sure, it has been for many who have had to listed to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. I had been wanting to write something about xenophobia given Mr. Trump’s comments about Mexicans, building a wall, as well as his comments about wanting to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

And, honestly, I likely would not have written my commentary were it not for this comment by a Mr. Paul Robinson, who I do not know. And I quote:

Paul Robinson: “Keep your head in the sand Gary. Your’s [sic] will be one of the first ones lopped off.”

That comment bothered me. It really did. Was it a threat? Was it some kind of warning? What, exactly, was that supposed to mean? I’m not exactly keen on the idea of having my head “lopped off.”


Could not let it go. As friends in another place on Facebook say, “Enough is enough!”

Let me stress this: the comments I quoted were made publicly on Facebook. Others, who were not “friends” with the person who originated the post, were able to see the post and all the comments.

The comments I quoted in my commentary were there for the whole world to see. Anyone, anywhere, could have accessed the comments.

And, yes, I do have screen shots of the entire post as of the time I wrote the commentary.

So how, exactly, was I “shaming” people by simply reporting what they had written in a public forum, for all the world to see?

Frankly, if anyone was ashamed, it was because of what he or she wrote, publicly, in a public forum, on the Internet, for all the world to see.

The Internet is public. The Internet is alive. And the Internet, as of this moment in history, is permanent. What we write can follow us for a long, long time.

So, how dare I?

Look, we all have opinions. We all have thoughts that are better left unsaid, unwritten, unpublished.

Here’s a fun fact:

President Abraham Lincoln used to be in the habit of writing exactly what he felt, exactly what he thought of a person, in a letter.

He wrote by hand.

On paper.

Then he put the letter in an envelope, addressed it, and put the envelope and letter in a drawer.

He never sent the letter.

Many writing from the supposed anonymity of the Internet would do well to consider President Lincoln’s example. Not all of our thoughts are worth sharing with the world. Lincoln wrote his letters as a catharsis. But he never sent his letters.

Some of us might want to consider writing whatever we want, any time we want. We might even write on our computers, in a document that only we can access, that only we can see.

But if we write our words, our thoughts, publicly, online, well, they’re there for all the world to see.

And quote.

Then, if others discover and share our words, we have only to blame ourselves.

Related: Hating Muslims: Xenophobia in America

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