Racism is like a cancer on society

Matt Westerhold
Mar 23, 2010

A reader called me Wednesday to say what an absolute abomination the

Register's Web site has become because of the racist comments some

readers are posting below stories about the state patrol troopers and their

KKK prank. I must immediately remove all these comments, she said, and the Register should cut off the reader comment sections on these stories.

I share her frustration.

But if we shut down the comments section on these stories would we simply be trying to hide the racism that exists in our community? If we do that will the bigots simply cease to exist? Should we deny everyone the opportunity to offer their opinions on this important story because some comments are extremely offensive?

Should we allow some people out there who would proudly wear the white hood of a Klansman to shut down the comments section on these stories?

Hide it all and it will go away?

We have removed dozens of hate comments and are being forced to act as an

uncomfortable censor in this situation. We may very well be forced to shut

down the comments section on these stories, as the caller suggested, but

what exactly will that accomplish? Everyone will get to pretend racist bigots do not exist, and all will be well in our community again.

Racism is like a cancer on a community. Isn't it better to know you have

cancer, to acknowledge and fight it or would it be better to simply hide it

from view?

That, it seems to me, is the choice. I don't know the correct answer.

Comments

Anonymous

matt, are you referring to the cancer on meigs st. by chance? one exists in the city bldg. yet the commission choses to ignore it. cancer has been on the 2nd floor of 222 meigs since 1998.... your thoughts on racism show how people think in vague generalities and stereotypes. ignorance is no excuse nor is stupdity. unfortunately, erie county has its share of both....

Anonymous

" Now would be a good time to promote racial healing rather than more hate in Sandusky. The NAACP could show a good will gesture toward healing by talking to the Patrol about bring these officers back, under very strict behavior terms and their last chance agreement. This way the NAACP, who can still claim victory, which they did by having these men fired, can also show kindness toward their fellow man. The community will understand the NAACP will not tolerate racisim and the Patrol will see they too must be more diverse to the citizens they protect. The unions and attorneys will also be kept out of this whole mess and we won't have people talking sides again when the officers go for their hearings on their firing. By rehiring these men the caucasian community will see an attempt by the NAACP to promote good will between races. These officers were idiots for what they did and I'm sure they would be closely monitired by the Patrol as well as the community. Rightfully, the NAACP proved their organization will not tolerate this kind of behavior. Let's try to make develope something positive out of this unfortunate situation rather than further divide the community and promote more racial hate in the world. "

Report Abuse

Erie Countian

Mr. Westerhold, these comment sections became a major problem long before the KKK prank stories. The ability to comment anonymously is abused by many, and thoughtfully used by few. I myself have contacted you in the past with concerns about the racism, hate and downright stupidity and ignorance being fostered on here. We all know that racism exists, but why give the racists and other weirdos an open forum to spew their hate and ignorance? In some cases you leave the WORST comment sections on here well past the time they should have been removed. It is obvious that the Register enjoys fanning the flames of controversy in order to spark interest in this website and to sell more newspapers. I feel the Register is dividing our community by allowing these comment sections to remain as out of control as they have become. I believe you could fix the problem almost immediately by taking away the anonymity factor and require people to give their names, just as you do in the Readers Forum. I would prefer to see these comment sections disappear rather than see them continue to give a platform to racists and other morons. The Register has been unable to police these sections properly. These comments serve no purpose now except to cause trouble and have been taken over by people who abuse the privilege of writing on here. You are tearing our community apart a little more every day that you allow this problem to continue.

Anonymous

Comments are just that "comments", good, bad, indifferent!!

Some people are offended by the comments, just as some are by our community leaders!

Bottom line, people are people and will do "things" we may not agree with, but heck, who does agree on everything???

Anonymous

Remember when chidren were taught that if one can't say anything nice, don't say anything?

If the Register is going to offer this forum, then hate mongering should NOT be allowed in the name of old fashioned GOOD MANNERS. It's one thing to discuss something and state an opinion. It's a totally different ball game when one is verbally bashing some of these posters and the Sandusky Register needs to exercize their DELETE button on them.

The writers of the Constitution had no way to predict that their document would be used to verbally bash others. Remember, people if you were hitting someone with your fists, you could be put in jail. It's not any different with words, is it?

I had to sign my letters to the editor and so should the posters on here.

Anonymous

Remember when children were taught that if one can't say anything nice, don't say anything?

If the Register is going to offer this forum, then hate mongering should NOT be allowed in the name of old fashioned GOOD MANNERS. It's one thing to discuss something and state an opinion. It's a totally different ball game when one is verbally bashing some of these posters and the Sandusky Register needs to exercize their DELETE button on them.

The writers of the Constitution had no way to predict that their document would be used to verbally bash others. Remember, people if you were hitting someone with your fists, you could be put in jail. It's not any different with words, is it?

I had to sign my letters to the editor and so should the posters on here.

Anonymous

You are right, Racism/Bigotry, to a degree, is like a cancer. If you've ever had to face it personally or w/a loved one, you better understand the battle! As a teenager, coming up in the late 60's and early70's, boy did we get a taste, for a time, of (reverse) racism. As a 13 yr. old (8th.grader), I didn't understand what it was I may have done to require protection from the school. Wasn't like I/we walked around calling names, etc.. We just WERE (white)! It was the same year that Robt. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King were assasinated. I remember having to be escorted to the busses that took us home, as well as a girlfriend who was attacked and had her head put infront of the front bus-tire of a bus! Well, after about 2 yrs. of rocky-roads, by the time our Soph.-Jr. year rolled around, we learned WE REALLY LOVED ONE ANOTHER, and by the time we graduated had become good friends, with love and respect for one another! It took a few years, but we gained understanding/knowledge! All this animosity over the color of skin, and the greatest perpetrators were adults! Children learn what they live, and I wasn't raised in a bigoted/racist home! As far as the NAACP is concerned, I feel they represent me as much as they do those of color. They were more than willing to come to our aid, when a letter from a non-profit org. was needed, in order to have a hall donated to raise money to establish a scholarship fund in memory of a young man (like a son to us) who died unexpectedly. His own school (board members) refused the request. All we needed was a letter stating he was a student/graduate of the school system. The excuse, "don't have a policy for that"! Want to talk about a bad/bitter taste left in MY MOUTH, not to mention his MOTHERS'! If there is anything I support, it's an individuals CIVIL RIGHTS, whether you CHOOSE to be bigoted/racist, or not! As much as they may HATE, I choose to speak out against! That is MY RIGHT! I am gratefull that the NAACP chose to speak-out about such a prank/joke, (NOT)! It would of been worse to remain SILENT! There are MANY that prefer that we would! Those are the individuals that are the real cowards, hiding in fields w/white masks over their heads, then threaten to come to our little city, 15,000 strong (The White Knights)! Maybe it's time, as a community, that we address the IGNORANCE/IGNORING of the problem! I've been told by black friends that racism here in Sandusky is SILENT! Just like Cancer (the Silent Killer), you don't know until it rears it's UGLY HEAD! Our best bet is to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, and treat the CANCER! It's the ugly, nasty comments that some of us are opposed too. You know, the ones you don't have to question in regards to whether-or-not they cross that "Report Abuse" line! Fight the good fight Matt! Cause I know that when push comes to shove, I am on the side that helps cure the ILLS OF SOCIETY, RACISM/BIGOTRY (cause they go hand-in-hand) being a major ILLNESS! Thanks for the opportunity to express my personal beliefs....Vicki Bird

Anonymous

The comments on all articles give insight into the community that one can not find anywhere else. Like all communities there is an ugly side. To hide this or condem it is an not an act of understanding, by truly one of censorship, one of the things that most newspapers will not stand for. I support and encourage you to leave the comments section as is. Currently I am studying the Nazi years in Germany. Had newspapers been online, and allowed coments without censorship, many issues may have been discussed openly and the outcome may have been different. This particular comment section has to do with law enforcement and the KKK. What better issue to discuss in an anonymous forum? Let's imagine for a moment we are in Alabama in the 50-60's and newspapers were like the SR and comments were allowed. Do you think you would have opposed it then? We have came a long way baby, don't stop the progress.

Anonymous

Matt Westerhold is a cancer! He is a racist little pain in the behind. He doesn't like gun owners! That means he discriminates! He will never know the correct answer! These troopers were letting off some stress. We all know that to be true! Strickland got it all wrong. Thank Matt and the Register for screwing over good people

Anonymous

Yes, there is an ugly side to EVERY community. But why must the Register give them a platform like this to abuse? If people truly believe in what they write or say, make them use their real names to say it instead of letting them hide behind their anonymity. Keep the comments sections uncensored if you must, but make folks use their names. I bet most of these hatemongers wouldn't have the guts to write anything on here if they had to be accountable for their words!

Anonymous

Yes,what these 2 officers did was wrong,
but to fire them was wrong.I worked at a
local plant for 31yrs.and seen it happen
to whites.In other words,it happens to all races.Strickland was under pressure
to correct the problem.I don't agree with this at all.

Anonymous

Usually I comment under the anonymous name Client#9. For some reason I missed the #9 on last comment. But, I think you miss the whole point. Who in the world would use their real name to comment on Law Enforcement, the KKK or any other potentially violent organization? If the Jews had been able to comment on Nazi Germany in the 30's and used their real names, what do you imagine would happen? Keep it anonymous. By the way, I notice you did not sign your name. Would you have commented if you were forced to sign your name?

Anonymous

These comments aren't just vicious when it comes to racism...some people will attack anyone. I was the subject of many nasty comments when my name was mentioned in an article that was published in the Sandusky Register. Every moral I had was questioned and the derogatory comments seemed endless. It is ridiculous in this day and age that people still resort to such childish and unintelligent behavior. A good lesson some could learn is to think before you type.

Anonymous

IMHO the problem is that the open discussion and exchange of ideas seems to get lost in the slanderous and libelous comments. There is a difference between free speech and yelling *fire* in a crowded theater. Anyone can post anything they want about anyone without backing it up with facts. I could post that A has hit his wife, that B has had sex with most of the county, that C has had sex with most of the lawn furniture in the county, and that D is gay, and in fact all these comments have been posted in various blogs over the past few months. Requiring posters to login with a user id is not inhibiting free speech, its screening the garbage. Most respected and reputable blogs require logging in with an user id to prevent such abuse of the comments. And per rereClient I'll start by putting a name up.

Anonymous

NO, I would NOT have used my name if required because as of now there are way too many sickos and weirdos on here. I would not feel safe, so I DO see your point about using a real name when commenting about law enforcement or KKK or things like that! Guess I didn't think that through enough. But "Green Lilacs" has a good idea about the user ID thing!

Anonymous

Assuming she's a good looking woman, can you tell me how to get in touch with 'B'?

Thanks!

Anonymous

NAACP could play a huge roll in healing all of this. All I ever read is fire them, sue them, or severly reprimand them. That definately puts me on the defensive. This burries the problem deeper out of sight and the division wider. Has NAACP ever cried "fire them, sue them, or severly reprimand them" against Black? We could use a citizens Organization, as opposed to a Black organization. Today we're all fighting for the same things, fighting for what few jobs there are to offer in the area, fighting for equality and respect.

Blogger

It is entirely possible to have a screen name to protect a blogger from the weirdos, while having that blogger's real identity registered with forum administrators. I am a regular visitor to several forums, and this is the only one that doesn't require such accountability.

Freedom of speech is our right as Americans, but every right we have comes with an equal portion of responsibility. Allowing people to post under almost absolute anonymity is just begging for participation by those who would use these forums like a restroom wall.

Anonymous

Great comment Blogger. I absolutely agree. I also comment on other forums, and having a user id keeps the discussion from descending into the 'Lord of the Flies' territory that the SR blogs have become. Your 'restroom walls' analogy was spot on

Anonymous

Kudos to the excellent suggestions for registered screen names. ARE YOU READING THIS MATT?? Now pull yourself up to acting in the best interests of the educated people and DO what is asked of you. Bring some integrity back to the paper business. Thank you in advance for doing the right thing, not what is sensational, nasty or verbal abuse of your readers and posters.

Anonymous

Ms. Manners is right, Matt. Do the right thing, PLEASE!

Bob

If you want racism to stop then all you have to do is excel above the expectations as a race in the minds of those who view you as they currently do.

In other words, if they think your a lower race yelling that their racists is silly! Thats like telling someone that a pit bull is like a collie. There is a difference in the two breeds. Get the jist? While in Rome act like the Romans, you act out your Rap type manors I'm going to have a vision of you that you would call rasist. Act like a mature sensible citizen that takes pride in the way you dress instead of having your pants falling off your but, I'm staying clear of you.

Dont cry racisim, thats a bunch of bull! Funny how we view certain races to be superior/kind/educated but others we don't. Do you think it might be pants hanging off your but, or pimping with an attitude, how about speaking Jive. Nope, that to me is a lower form of civilization, and if you don't like it CHANGE your race. Bill Crosby tried to do so and the blacks turned on him! Funny, the Jews turned on Jesus too, and murdered him. Tough to ignore the comparisons.

Anonymous

As a "white" person, I am offended by the racial epithet, "cracker". I demand that this foul word be stricken from the English language. I will be petitioning in the cr--ker aisle at Kroger, and the Cr--ker Barrel restaurant. Anyone who uses the word "cr--ker" is a filthy racist.

Anonymous

The Register once again shows their self-rightous side by trying to convince us (and themselves) that they have some moral obligation to provide this forum, and that somehow it benefits our community. Keep telling yourself that. The truth is racism thrives and grows in a mob mentality. While many (obviously) have always had racist attitudes, the Register gives this mob a place to meet and build each other up. Whether Matt wants to admit it or not, the Register is making a bad problem WORSE. But keep telling yourself its all in the name exposing a truth if that helps you sleep at night. The reality is its in the name of providing a petrie dish for the cancer to grow and thrive.

Anonymous

I was just looking at the NorwalkReflector.com site. To comment there you have to login to create a user id and account. Aren't these 2 papers owned by the same publisher? If the NR has the technology, how hard is it for the Register to implement the same thing?

Anonymous

I don't think you have thought this through. Let's assume for a moment that you have registered your actual name with the SR and made a comment about a State Trooper which offended him. So he files suit to make the SR give up your name so he can file suit against you and then he looses the suit. Do you really want this sort potential exposure, or will it limit what you MAY have said. Best to leave things alone and be happy that you can voice your opinion without worry about reprisal.

Anonymous

Matt,
Don't change a thing! This is America. The SR should be proud that it provides a place for people to vent their feelings no matter what the subject is, to restrict this would buried their feelings. People need to know what is out there. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous

I agree with you totally. I can just picture Mr. Westerhold and the others down there on Market Street wringing their hands in dismay and frustration over the mess these comments sections have become....YEAH, RIGHT.
They are actually licking their chops and salivating everytime they can stir up more controversy and division. They could do something to fix the rampant abuse on here by having the user ID and account that others have mentioned, but I really don't believe they truly want to do the right thing, not if it means people will lose interest in their website or newspaper.

Anonymous

Matt, Of the 10 Top Comments, 7 have to do with race issues. That is 70%. It appears to me that the Sandusky Register is acting like a "cheerleader" to promote racism and to promote anger among the minorities. You could say that the Sandusky Register is acting like the CARCINOGEN to promote the cancer. The SR will "sensationalize" minor events and make mountains out of mole hills, report "news" that is not factual or not bother to even report the news such as those Perkins teachers that got fired. So why not report the news about the Perkins teachers or is this a taboo subject?

I am a white male who used to support the NAACP. I have seen racism but I have also been a victim of racism by blacks. I recall the "quotas" where so many blacks needed to be hired before any whites, especially the white males, could even be considered for a job. Blacks have filled jobs where they failed to meet the qualifications of the job or were promoted simply due to "quotas." Now this is not right or equal.

My opinion is that the NAACP promotes racism. Most white people are not racists at all but you have some white people who are angry at the "establishment" because they are the "victims" of the "quota" system.
You also have white people who are punished or lose their jobs while the same infractions by minorities are overlooked.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
"Colored People"..... isn't it time for a name change? This name (NAACP) has been around for 100 years. Instead of "Colored People" change the name to "Minority People" because there has always been discrimination against ALL minorities. Minority people come from all races, national origin, religion, physical limitations, etc.
NAAMP (National Association for the Advancement of Minority People) would be a better name for modern times. Do be proud of your heritage and customs but stop using the name "African Americans" and just refer to yourselves as "Americans" as we are all Americans in this so called melting pot. IMO, instead of the minorities integrating with American society, the NAACP hangs on to 100 year old traditions and keeps blacks segregated from the melting pot. I have to agree with Bill Cosby, people should listen more to Bill Cosby instead of to Sharpton and Jackson.

In closing, I have to wonder why a big issue was made about the Trooper incident (they were punished and humiliated) but nothing was done about the Jevon Wilson and Corey Clark incidents. The NAACP needs to change its focus on promoting equal justice, promoting quality education and promoting that all people stay in school, study hard and work towards successful goals in life.

And as I mentioned earlier, the sensational reporting (or lack of reporting) by the Sandusky Register is the CARCINOGEN that spreads and keeps alive racism that exists in our area.

Anonymous

Your carcinogen comment is right on. I used the analogy of the Register being the petri dish in which the cancer can grow. It amazes me that the Register doesn't see this! Is Matt that deep in denial, or does he really believe what he says?

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