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Think before sharing ‘gospel’ on Facebook

Feb. 20, 2014 |

By G. Michael Dobbs news@thereminder.com I’m afraid I’m a Facebook addict. Twitter leaves me cold. I don’t quite understand Pinterest and I’m too lazy to learn about Instagram. Despite my enthusiasm for Facebook, I’ve realized that even though the web affords people the ability to research any number of topics for themselves too many of the folks on Facebook like to take the easy way. They see some link or meme that fits their political or social beliefs and share it without checking if it’s crap. The other day I saw a classic. Someone posted a meme in which a photo of Whitney Houston had this copy: “democrat, ODs on cocaine, Obama orders flags lowered.” Next to that was a photo of Shirley Temple Black who had just passed away with the copy, “Republican US Ambassador, died on 2/10/14, Obama ignores her.” I’ve maintained the punctuation and capitalization of the original. Now if you hate the president, this supposed factoid fits right in with your beliefs. Too bad it isn’t exactly true. While it’s true that the president didn’t lower the flags to be flown at half-staff for Temple Black – he was not required by law to do so – he didn’t issue any order for recognition of the late singer. The person who did do that was the good Republican governor of the state of New Jersey, Chris Christie. By law, he had the right to do so and made the order. I’ve yet to see anyone who had shared that meme come back and say, “Gee, I made a mistake here. That meme wasn’t accurate.” What I find so disturbing is the willingness of people not to question what they pass on or to take responsibility for it. Memes and links to politically charged websites that pass themselves off as news sites are shared without any thought. A meme that sums up a complex political or social issue in an image and a few words seems to pass as political dialogue. I certainly don’t mind a person posting something that is counter to my opinions – it happens on these pages all the time. I would ask, however, that they actually think about what they are presenting as gospel. As the Political World Turns The stage is being set in Chicopee for the next chapter in the blood sport known as city politics. You may recall that Mayor Richard Kos asked the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley to investigate whether or not former Mayor Michael Bissonnette and his staff broke any laws concerning how they left the mayor’s office. Kos has said that physical and digital files were missing. I’ve now heard from several Chicopee residents, whom I know and respect, who have questioned whether or not the investigation would be fair because of the friendship that exists between Coakley and Bissonnette. The two have known each other for years since they were both congressional interns. Bissonnette recently saw Coakley during a campaign swing in Holyoke and posted about it and their long friendship on his Facebook page. That posting prompted concerned messages to me about the validity of an investigation. The concerns are justified in my opinion, but bring up several natural issues. Here is the question: would Coakley, who presided over the most inept senatorial race in modern history, put herself in the position of being criticized for protecting a political friend as she runs for governor in a very crowded field? I would think the answer would be in the negative. There would be nothing worse than to give her opponents the opportunity of describing her as an AG who doesn’t do her job or one who is protecting a friend. Of course, the other question to ask is why would a savvy guy like Bissonnette put himself in this kind of position when he is considering a run for the state Senate? If we get an answer from the AG’s office it will be politically charged. It can’t help but be. If the answer is there was no wrongdoing, there will be screams of indignation. If the answer is yes, laws were broken, there will also be screams – this time of political interference. It’s a no-win situation, but one that will be fascinating to watch unfold. Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at news@thereminder.com or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.

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