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Discourse -- or diatribe on blog sites?

Original post made by Diana Diamond, Palo Alto Online blogger, on Oct 2, 2006

Whatever happened to reasoned discourse?

A couple of months ago, I was invited to write a blog for the Palo Alto Weekly. I agreed, and thought it would be fun.

And four months later, I am not sure how much fun this is.

Blogging was a new experience, but having gone through it, I don't know if I like what is happening.

People — mostly those who remain anonymous — attack not the issue, but the blogger. If I happen to disagree with their point of view, they immediately call me "uninformed," "lacking the facts," stupid or whatever. It becomes a personal vendetta.

And under the anonymity cloak, which I don't wear, they feel free to do anything and name call as much as they want.

Case in point: I recently wrote a blog about the wisdom of the Palo Alto City Council agreeing to spend $1-plus million dollars on a future police station, which needs voter approval to proceed. I asked whether voters should first approve of the expenditure, before spending million(s) of dollars for studies and a campaign to get it approved.

There were those in the community who challenged me, who said they needed the information about the police station (size, cost, etc.) before they could vote to approve such an issue. A very fair comment. And a good dialogue.

But there were those who got into a personal attack:
"I find it disturbing that Ms. Diamond's smear jobs are found to be persuasive by anyone who is allowed to vote. She clearly caters her arguments to the most penurious section of the Palo Alto community."

Posted by An Involuntary Palo Altan, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Oct 1, 2006 at 1:39 pm


This is a solitary example, but it echoes so many other responses to blogs I and others have written.

Now I am (relatively) strong, and I can take these attacks. But it seems to me that the blogs have disintegrated into angry, name-calling personal attacks, for reasons I don't understand.

Can't we simply discuss issues reasonably in town? I would hope so, but that is not what is happening.

I've posted about 20 blogs, and a lot of them have encountered angry responses. Nasty, mean comments, particularly my blog on banning pit bulls in town.

But, on the other hand, there also have been spectacular blogs, like the one on "Why shop in Palo Alto?" We had scores of residents with really thoughtful comments on why they do/do not shop in Palo Alto. It was fascinating. It was a discussion every city council member should read.

It's just not my blogs that get this hate mail -- it is happening to blogs nationwide. I see other bloggers being attacked with equal personal vindictiveness.

Why are we doing this as a society? What are we getting out of it? Why are we so angry at each other?


Comments (39)

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Posted by Anna
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 2, 2006 at 11:15 pm

Diane, I don't think you should be blogging. The Weekly should have you writing an online column. If people want to comment, let them start their own threads in the PA Online "Forums" section.

Your articles tend to be contrarian, so they're bound to raise ire in some. When given an opportunity, good people who are having an other wise bad day, if they have an opportunity to "score" on someone who disagrees with them in some fundamental way, will do so.

Here's Michelle Malkin's blog
Web Link

I mostly don't agree with Malkin, but watch her blog every now and then to see what the "other side" is thinking. Malkin does not have comments enabled in her blog. People are given an opportunity to respond to her, and she's free to take what people write and republish it. Maybe you can do that. Maybe the Weekly will have the wisdom to let yuo do that.

I don't always agree with you, either, but I would like to see you continue to bring your insights and opinions to Palo Altans. Sometimes you get it wrong, and usually admit it when you do. Which is more than I can say for most of those who bare their canines as they go for the jugular, when they disagree with you.

Again, my suggestion is to keep the weekly column, with comments turned off - and your email address made available for responses. You deserve no less.

As for the mean-spiritedness; this tends to be a liberal town. IN some past columns you've ruffled some liberal feathers. What I've learned over the years is that liberals can be as maen spirited as the tight-lipped conservatives that they villify. Just take it in stride, and realize that anonymity does enable abuse.

Anonymity also enables frankness to a degree that lets a keen observer peek under the surface spin of an issue to real problems that need addressing.

Thus, anonymity cuts both ways.


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Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 2, 2006 at 11:18 pm

Everyone is intitled to an opinion...geesh, wouldn't life be boring if we were all cookie cutter type people!
You put the issues out there, and your opinion. I find reading your blogs entertaining and "food for thought"....Stay with it, there are others who feel the same!


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Posted by Theresa Carey
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 3, 2006 at 8:49 am

Anonymous personal attacks have been the bane of online communication since it began. I've been participating in online discussion groups for over 20 years now and see this sort of thing happen to anybody with an opinion. I've been writing reviews and opinion pieces (related to financial technology) for over 15 years, and have actually had death threats issued by people who don't like my opinions.

Death threats. Over which online broker I like best. That seems to me to be, at the very least, an overreaction.

One of the best comebacks I've ever seen, in response to someone who is frothing at the mouth with their angry post, is to say, "How interesting it is to meet someone who thinks that way."

And then move on. I find irrational anger incredibly counter-productive.

One technique that limits the number of personal attacks is to require participants to verify their identity before posting. You'd be surprised how many fewer attack posts happen once the posters have to own their own words.


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Posted by Simon
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 3, 2006 at 9:21 am

Any newspaper columnist, whether writing a regular column or a blog, should expect both negative and positive comments - it's the nature of the beast! Plus, in a town like Palo Alto where people are well educated and not hesitant about voicing their opinions, I'd be extremely surprised if any columnist did not get a great variety of opinions and comments. What surprises me is that Ms. Diamond is at all surprised that some citizens would react negatively to her opinions! Over the years she, and the papers she has worked for, have frequently run stories critical of various Palo Altans, the city council, specific council members, etc. Others have jumped to defend these people - not a surprise. Some of Ms. Diamond's assertions have been based on dubious facts, some have been urban legends repeated as if they were facts. Additionally, both the Palo Alto Weekly and the Daily (which she used to work for,) have been guilty of exaggerating some stories and, quite frankly, vilifying some of our local Palo Altans. These people have chosen not to take her comments and the papers stories lying down. I can't blame them, most people would defend themselves in that situation. Ms. Diamond is simply reaping what she has sown.


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 3, 2006 at 12:29 pm

Come on Ms Diamond. I usually am very supportive of your comments. I think that they are very well written and accurately portray what goes on in this city.
But cut outthe whining. Whatever happened to free speech?
It seems that the people affiliated with the Weekly, you, Editor Johnson and Don Kazak, while being journalists have little respect for other's opinions and/or have very thin skins.
They use terms as personal attacks, lowering the level of discourse and on and on to try to squelch other's views and opinions.


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Posted by Diana Diamond
Palo Alto Online blogger
on Oct 3, 2006 at 1:00 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Marvin -

I am absolutely for free speech, and in no way am I trying to squelch other's views and opinions -- in fact I welcome them. But I also am for a civilized discussion, and a bit of that old-fashioned word, politeness.

Diana


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Posted by Diana Diamond
Palo Alto Online blogger
on Oct 3, 2006 at 1:00 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Marvin -

I am absolutely for free speech, and in no way am I trying to squelch other's views and opinions -- in fact I welcome them. But I also am for a civilized discussion, and a bit of that old-fashioned word, politeness.

Diana


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Posted by Marianne
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 3, 2006 at 1:05 pm

What? It's okay for you to make negative comments and criticize others, but not for others to do the same? Stop WHINING!!!
"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." Salman Rusdie


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Posted by another Paly parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 3, 2006 at 4:50 pm

I, too, have misgivings as to the merit of this type of forum owing to the frequent lack of civility that often takes the "discussion" way off track.


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Posted by A.J.
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 3, 2006 at 6:39 pm

Diana,
I love your columns/blog -- I find them well-reasoned and insightful even though I don't always agree. In this case I agree 100%.

I'd like to tell you a little story, it's amazing how applicable this one little story has been to all kinds of life situations.

When I was in college, I lived in a suite with a common kitchen flanked by ten single dorm rooms. Most of us ate in the cafeteria, so it was a surprise how quickly the common kitchen turned into an unliveable pigsty: black grime covering the floor tiles, bits of broken glass and old, blackened bits of food collecting in the corners and the couch seat, a sticky oily film blanketing all horizontal surfaces.

Everyone assumed this was the natural state of a single kitchen space used by ten women and their friends, even though most of us spent little time there because of the filth. We decided as a group to take turns sweeping and picking up. Somehow, despite everyone's best efforts, the place remained a pigsty.

I stayed on campus the summer of my sophomore year, moving to another suite just for the summer. There, the kitchen was spotless: I could comfortably sit on the glossy tile floor in my shorts, set open containers in the fridge without serious threat of food-borne disease -- for the entire summer the kitchen remained a nice space to hang out and shoot the breeze with friends. Somehow, the kitchen remained spotless even though we made no special attempt to organize cleanups as we had in the pigsty suite.

Why such a difference between the two kitchens? It remained a mystery until late summer. One of the women complained how one of the regular school-term residents -- let's call her Kathy -- would trash the kitchen. Even though Kathy was a lovely person, extremely well-groomed and neat to a fault in her own room, she allegedly left the kitchen unspeakably filthy. I couldn't believe it, Kathy was my friend, too.

Then Kathy moved in a few weeks early before the start of school, and instantly it became the picture of the pigsty suite I had left!

Moral of the story: very often it's just one person poisoning the water (community, blog), not everyone.

I think in so many situations in life, it's more often just a few people (I call them "spoilers") ruining it (whatever IT is) for every one else. Just like Kathy, I think they often have no idea (or concern) for how this affects the community.

I don't have an easy answer for what to do about it. In the case of the pigsty kitchen, I realized after that summer that such filth wasn't a communal inevitability. I gave up my comfy medium-sized room on that floor to live in a tiny closet-sized room on another floor -- with a clean kitchen. The women who remained lived with the filth for another few years, finally realizing that -- surprise -- just one woman (a very neat-in-her-own-room woman, I might add) was to blame. After years of living with the filth, they finally ganged up, essentially kicked her off the floor, and got the nice community space they should have had all along.

Anonymity in this forum is very important, especially BECAUSE OF the people who attack indiscriminately. But perhaps The Weekly should require some kind of registration, and police people who abuse the forum. That way at least there is both some measure of anonymity and accountability.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 3, 2006 at 10:47 pm

Diana,
I enjoy your current columns, and also the ones you did before at the daily. In a town where PC is the order of the day, you pretty much call 'em as you see them. That seems to bring out the worst of the extreme PC crowd. Accusations of being uneducated, stupid, biased or worse are the usual tactics. It is usually just a few people though.

Our neighboorhood message boards are pretty much the same, neighborhoods mirroring the town as a whole. From reading these I am constantly amazed at the high level of thinking and experience in our community, and also amazed at how rabid a small numer of our residents become when challenged by a belief they don't hold. If you look at letters to the editor for either the Daily or the Weekly, you will see that the same small group of writers issue the meanest and narrow attacks. I always wonder why these same people get printed in the letters section so much.

Keep up your discourse, Palo Alto needs ideas and opinions that have not been through the PC filter!


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Posted by Positron
a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 4, 2006 at 9:04 am

Positron is a registered user.

I agree with those posters, and Diana, who argue that free speech doesn't have to be rude speech.

I worry that we are witnessing the breakdown of the social contract in exquisite detail in two places in particular: In online communities like this one, and on our streets, where rudeness, selfishness, and dangerous driving seem endemic.

As community members, we can and do disagree--which is healthy! From disagreement CAN come more thoughtful, interesting and effective solutions to problems--but only if we can use our intellectual brains and not our emotional insult responses in our interactions. Using our best intellect is just not possible when posts (or discussions) take such nasty turns.

YMMV (your mileage may vary)--but for the health of this community, I really hope you'll tell me so politely.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Ms Manners
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2006 at 9:39 am

I would like to add my 2c worth to this discussion. If someone speaks (or writes) in a polite well thought out manner, it is regarded much better than if it were spoken (or written) in a rude (or worse) manner. I personally like intelligent debate on issues. I find it educates and stimulates me. However, as soon as vulgar, name calling, foul language or anything else impolite appears, no matter how much I may agree with the sentiment, I lose all interest. I am sure I am not the only one. We do need a moderator in this forum and I find that although he/she may not do the job the way I would expect, I think that in some cases it is very necessary. I have seen some very sleazy comments in this forum which I am very pleased to see disappear even though they may seem harmless in nature. I have also seen many incidences of sensible opinion expresses in a very vulgar way which turns me of from that opinion straight away. It costs little to remain polite. If you want your opinion taken seriously then remain polite and it will come across much more seriously than a disrespectful rant.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Suzanne
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 4, 2006 at 10:13 am

I have noticed comments that strongly disagreed with Diana Diamond, I have noticed comments that took issue with what the PA Weekly has said or supported, but no really vile or mean comments, though perhaps these are edited out. When opinions are stated in a newspaper blog, I would expect there to be both very negative and very positive comments. I think it's good Palo Altans are willing to speak up. Unless this blog is heavily edited, I think Ms. Diamond has too thin a skin to be doing it!


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Posted by Bob Harrington
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 4, 2006 at 10:58 am

TOWN CENTER CREDIBILITY IN JEAPORDY: Permitting anonymous writers to freely comment on Town Center issues is rapidly undermining the credibility of this important forum for me. The challenge of retaining credibility by not permitting contributors to hijack a Town Center issue was raised shortly after Town Center was inaugurated. Publisher Bill Johnson assured Online readers in print that editors set high standards for acceptable contributions.

I am sorry to see Mr. Johnson's early assurance is now proving false.


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 4, 2006 at 12:03 pm

On the contrary, Town Center cridibility is just fine.
This is a blog--on a blog you can use any name you want. If you wantto publish in th epaper, then you need to provide accurate information. That is the beauty of the internet.
The problem is that PA tries to be too genteel and PC--any criticism is seen as a personal attack--we have had mayors gavelling speakers as out of order for daring to criticize those in power.
I actually find Johnson's standards as a joke--some people (those that contribute many letters and posts) or those that spout the Weekly party line get to say what they want.
The people working for the Weekly (Diamond, Kazak, Johnson) are extremely thin skinned and do not handle criticism well.
Occasionally things get out of hand (the blog following the pit bull mauling in midtown), but that was an abberation.
I say leave the blog as it is.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 4, 2006 at 12:09 pm

While I respect Ms. Diamond as a fellow human being, it's hard to respect some of her opinions because they're ill-informed. with regard to certain subjects, she's lazy with her research, which gives me cause to doubt a lot of her views as being under-researched and therefore, not as well-thought out as they could be.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2006 at 2:42 pm

For me, the most interesting questions in this thread were raised by Simon (response 4, 10/3 at 9:21am) and it would be illuminating to get a response from DD. Structuring and expanding on his closing that DD "is simply reaping what she has sown.":

1. During DD's tenure at the Daily News, she acquired a reputation of being sloppy with facts (both significant and inconsequential). The "kindergarten lesson" of "The boy who cried wolf" is that reputation/credibility is cumulative. Why is DD perplexed that people "immediately call [her] 'uninformed,' or 'lacking the facts'..." and label this "a personal vendetta" rather than accepting it as an extrapolation from that reputation.

2. During DD's tenure at the Daily News, it was regarded as a highly destructive force in the community. The very things that DD decries in this thread were encouraged and legitimated by her and the Daily News.

2a. Destruction of "reasoned discussion/civil discourse" : In its editorials, columns and NEWS articles, the Daily News presented a biased version of events. It rarely published letters correcting basic facts in major stories, even after receiving them independently from multiple people intimately involved in the event. People resorted to sending such corrections to the Weekly for publication.

2b. Personalization: This was a hallmark of the Daily News. Additionally, the Daily News routinely used letters to reinforce its agenda by adding personal vilification and additional falsehoods. Some citizens who were involved in civic issues dropped out because of the distortion of their actions and motives - they knew their reputations would be hurt by the (unjust) attacks that were the Daily News' bread-and-butter.

2c. Hate mail: Among my acquaintances involved in local issues, the rise in hate mail was directly related to the Daily News and often mentioned the Daily News and DD as its source.

Note to DD's defenders: The claim that her columns and editorials had a positive influence was not reflected in my experience. First, she appealed to people whose involvement didn't go much beyond getting angry. Second, the Daily News undercut those who were working to fix problems - it made it easier for officials to dismiss them as being misinformed Daily News readers.

Note to all: I am NOT excusing abusive behavior (directed as DD or anyone else) - As a former moderator of discussion groups, I rejected tit-for-tat and tried to preserve civil discourse on the issues.

Now that DD is no longer employed by the Daily News, a discussion of the above would make fascinating reading.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Issac
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 4, 2006 at 3:14 pm

All this whining about the Daily News.
What we have above is one man's opinion. i have found the Daily News both in the days before, during and after DD to be a positive influence on the community. They have not been afraid to expose some of the goings on involving the city council and so-called community leaders.
Remember in the days prior to the Daily News, there was no daily paper for a number of years (probably something that many members of the community enjoyed, since their antics could not be put in print on a daily basis).
The writer goes on to state "The claim that her columns and editorials had a positive influence was not reflected in my experience"--what experience do you have regarding this matter? Have you met with a significant number of people that agree with DD and/or feel that she has a positive influence on the city?
It is clear from this posting and others on this forum that the writer dislikes DD and will make every effort to discredit her and her writings.
Also remember that the above writer has a personal interest in vilifying the Daily News--they were one of the papers that exposed his "disagreement" with a neighbor and may have damaged his political aspirations.
Finally let me ask the above writer this, are you saying in point 2B that the Daily News took letters written to them, added "personal vilification and additional falsehoods" and then published them as hhaving been written by the signator? If this is the case I am surprised no one has complained about this.


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Posted by Simon
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 4, 2006 at 4:54 pm

What the Daily News and now the Weekly are known for is picking and choosing which letters to publish. Instead of presenting the range of opinions, they choose letters that reinforce their own positions. I have several friends who have written letters never published - maybe this was just coincidence. However, in every case it was a letter arguing politely and reasonably against the stand the paper took or pointing out factual errors the paper or one of its columnists made. Ms. Diamond herself has made factual errors in her columns which a little easy research could have corrected. Even in a blog, her facts should be correct. I don't always agree with Marvin, but this time I think his comments are right on - it's a blog! A blog should be a free ranging discussion of ideas and opinions.


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 4, 2006 at 8:16 pm

Hello Diane.
Boy, this is quite a hot topic. I am the co-founder of Silicon Valley Moms Blog Web Link and I can't tell you how many people have sent me and some of our writers HATE mail (yes, HATE email) for controversial posts that we have put up.

I think you need really tough skin to blog. I totally get why so many people try and remain anonymous when then post, for fear of getting blasted for the words that they write. I applaud your blogging efforts and will continue to read your posts.

Jill


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Posted by Richard Swent
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2006 at 8:16 pm

I agree 100% with Doug Moran, and am also willing to use my real name. I especially find Diana Diamond's complaints about personal attacks (Doug's point 2B) to be ironic. She repeatedly made personal attacks on public officials, even making fun of Joe Kott's driving. It got so bad that her editor offered a private, but not public, apology to Joe.

I have been reading internet newsgroups for years, and it is NOT a good way to have civil discourse. This is nothing new or unique to Diana Diamond's blog. The lack of personal contact, the gaps between statement and response, anonymity, lack of a mechanism for keeping people from continually changing the subject instead of addressing responses are just a few of the factors that give rise to this situation.


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Posted by Delores
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2006 at 9:36 pm

I'm sorry but it is completely appropriate to call you "uninformed" when you clearly make statements that demonstrate it. In the "Time to ban pit bulls" article you stated that pit bulls can lock their jaws. If you had done any basic reasearch you would have known that this is scientifically incorrect. If you don't want to be called uninformed, then do some research before stating an opinion based on myths.


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Posted by Charles
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 6, 2006 at 11:54 am

It's fun, and instructive, to watch certain neighborhood activists, like Doug Moran, who have been primarily repsonsible for holding up commercial and housing development both, with their incessant meddling, using Diana Diamond's heartfelt effort to reach out and ask "why the vitriol?" as an opportunity to blast someone, once again.

It's been my experience that many in Palo Alto who see themselves as "liberal protectors of the body politic" can be among the most vitriolic and mean-spirited whenn they're given a chance to cut loose.

Doug Moran uses a Bibical homily as an excuse to go on in a way that masqerades as reasons - by keeping his language lofty - to go on the attack.

Note how Moran uses the "boy who cried wolf" homily to nail DD. How quaint, and condescending. Really, Mr. Moran, and all those others who have attacked Diana Diamond, does it give you a thrill to make hay in thsi way? I've seen this kind of thing in living color in community meetings all around Palo Alto.

Give some of these people a reason to disagree with you, and watch them bear their vocalularic incisors (to invent a word, and coin a phrase)

Moran want to damn DD to "community hell" for her past errors; what does that say about Moran, and others who have - as they always do - come out to attack Ms. Diamond.

In fact, it's only Mr. Moran's sense of reason that claims DD was a "destructive force in our community". I hardly agreed with everything DD said, or says, but "a destructive force in our community??". Please, Mr. Moran, try to regain a sense of perspective and balance.

Doug Moran wants to make DD responsible for every mistake that the PADN made in its more salad days. Really, this is overreaching, and rather juvenile, because it's an impulsive statement that wouldn't bear close scrutiny.

Doug Moran talks about "personalization", and then goes on in as condescending way as he can conjur to personalize hisi argument against DD. Does this show a lack of reasoned self-insight on Mr. Moran's part? I think it does.

Mr. Moran wants to blame DD for hate mail, etc. etc. Maybe DD is also responsible for the muggings downtown. Is that possible too, Mr. Moran? Good grief!

To top it all off, Mr. Moran goes on to slam anyone who supports DD as "angry". Frannkly, it seems Mr. Moran is ithe angry one, taking generalistic pot shots and making generalizations that any debate team coach would mark as amatuerish.

Finally, he claims that the PADN worked to undercut problem solvers. In saying this, Mr. Moran puts himself in the loft position of problem solver, while tearing down anyone who ever agreed with Ms. Diamond. Does that make Mr. Moran sound like a conciliatory problem solver? Not in my book.

What really made me guggaw was Mr. Moran's final paragraph, which bears quoting...
"Note to all: I am NOT excusing abusive behavior (directed as DD or anyone else) - As a former moderator of discussion groups, I rejected tit-for-tat and tried to preserve civil discourse on the issues."

This is NOT an attack on Mr. Moran, rather it's to say that anyone reading the verbal whipping that he sends to DD and anyone who ever agreed with her, and then reading the final paragraph, would have a hard time not using the word "hypocritical" to describe Mr. Moran's rant.


In fact, DD, although I agree with her only half the time, has grown in the years that I have read her. She can be hard hitting, and get the facts wrong, but she has a passion and spunk that adds flavor and spice to community, if taken as no more than one voice, and treated in opposition in a reasonable manner.

I hope that Mr. Moran is able to grow in the same way, especially if he plans to run for public office again.


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Posted by Charles
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 6, 2006 at 11:58 am

looks like I invented two new words - "guggaw" is the second :) you have my permission to use it in place of "guffaw" from now on ;)


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Posted by Don Whiting
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2006 at 10:58 am

I hadn't been reading either the Weekly or the Daily because I had the same complaints that Doug Moran voiced so well. A friend told me to look at this - very interesting that others feel as I do that these papers have been a harmful force in our community. Charles, why can't some of us disagree with Ms. Diamond and the editors? Your screed takes the prize on this thread as the most vitriolic and rude. I do have to agree with you, however, when you note, quite correctly, that Diamond can "get the facts wrong." That's quite an understatement. Thanks, Doug Moran, for your voice of truth and reason.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 8, 2006 at 1:46 am

Some context is needed if people are to understand why Doug Moran is attacking Diana Diamond.

While Diana was editor of that other newspaper in town, she printed a story about how Moran was accused of threatening the life of another Palo Alto resident over a land-use issue. The police investigated the alleged murder threat, but didn't make any arrests. The alleged target applied for a temporary restraining order in an attempt to keep Moran away, although the application was later withdrawn. I can't find the other paper's story online, but here's a link to a Weekly story that cites the other paper's report.

Web Link

The disclosure of this incident ended any plans Moran had for running for City Council. Since Diamond was editor of the newspaper that disclosed this information, he may well have a grudge against her.

Looking at Moran's posting above, I'm glad the person who wrote that never got close to being on Council. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by An Involuntary Palo Altan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 8, 2006 at 3:03 pm

Wow! I came back to Palo Alto Online a week after posting a comment. I didn't expect my post to be the subject of a new discussion topic lamenting my lack of civility. I would have preferred a response from Ms Diamond that actually related to my criticism of her idea to create a referendum on a decision to authorize a study. I never intend to make a personal attack. A personal attack merely distracts from an argument. In the future, I will refrain from using the term "smear" and employ a euphemism.

It is very clear to me that Ms. Diamond writes editorials, rather than reports the news. Nonetheless, I believe that it is improper for her to write purely as an advocate, e.g., citing only facts that support her position, making false analogies, making appeals to emotion, etc.

I find accurate and complete local news extremely difficult to find. As a working parent of school age kids, I have better things to do with my time. Ms. Diamond is in a privileged position with respect to access to local news. Accordingly, she bears some responsibility for achieving accuracy and completeness that an ordinary editorial writer does not necessarily have.



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Posted by Diana Diamond
Palo Alto Online blogger
on Oct 8, 2006 at 3:39 pm

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

This has been an interesting dialogue, with some backlash, such as the "involuntary Palo Altan," who said that once she posted a comment, she became the subject of a discussion talking about her lack of civility.

And that was the point of this blog. I wrote about the lack of civility in blogs, and the attacks on the writer, and not the issue being discussed. I think "involuntary" unfortunately met with the same experience I have, at times, encountered.

All I wanted to ask in this blog is that we respect each other's opinions, be civil and polite as we do so, and talk about issues — not in a polarized fashion (as, alas, is happening around the country) — but rather as a way in which we can hear each other and come to some kind of reasoned consensus on these blogs.

And "involuntary," this blog is supposed to be an editorial, and not a news report. The Weekly does a great job of reporting the news, as do other papers in the area.

Diana

Your thoughts?

Diana


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 8, 2006 at 7:38 pm

Diana, Let me repeat what I wrote before--this is a blog--it's purpose is to draw out various opinions/suggestions/comments.
These may not always be polite and they need not be--there is too much of this PC stuff in PA, which is used as a guise/excuse to try to stifle differing opinions.
I find the postings on this blog very interesting and informative. I found the posting, above, by Doug Moran to be one of the most amusing that I have read in a long time.
Long live the Palo ALto Weekly online forum!!!


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 8, 2006 at 9:49 pm

This post of October 3 has gnawed at me all week:

"What? It's okay for you to make negative comments and criticize others, but not for others to do the same? Stop WHINING!!!

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." Salman Rusdie" "

------

Can we truly invoke the words Salman Rushdie in defense of freedom of expression without revealing our full name?

Intolerance and hatred forced Rushdie into hiding for his literature and intimated bookstores to remove his works. But in the end, resistance to censorship prevailed and the fatwa was rescinded.

Grateful for a return to public life, yet undeterred in his convictions, Rushdie and 11 other writers, journalists, and intellectuals signed a manifesto this year opposed to a new form of totalitarianism.

Web Link

Invoking Rushdie, in my view, calls for something more from the writer. The courage to stand up publicly for what you believe in is one. A high level of discourse is another. Rushdie's conversation with Bill Moyers on the PBS series "Faith and Reason" exhibits a level of intellect, knowledge, and facility with language that is both breathtaking and something to strive for.

Web Link

Freedom of speech protects anonymous free speech. But that does not mean we should hide behind it?

Thank you for your provocative post and quote, Marianne, but I am still clapping with one hand pending further reflection and insight.

Fred Balin, 10/8/06


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Posted by Foreign accent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 9, 2006 at 10:39 am

The least informed posting on this thread was from Doug Moran, who claims Diana was "sloppy with facts" but doesn't provide any examples of mistakes she's made. He just wants us to accept his claims as the truth. Doug, give us some specifics -- quote the error she made exactly (verbatim), give the date of publication, page number and then tell us what you think the truth might be. Don't give us generalizations (like, "Years ago, I think she said something like ..."). Get her exact words. That shouldn't be so hard for somebody like you, who claims credibility is so important. If you can't do that, then don't accuse her of being sloppy with her facts.


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Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 9, 2006 at 10:42 am

Marvin

I just wanted to let you know in a very civilised manner, that there is a difference between being polite and being pc. Politeness, or old fashioned good manners will always produce politeness in return by civilised people. It costs nothing and shows our opinions in a better light. Being PC on the other hand, is something quite new and although there are times it is justified, there are many occasions when it is taken to extremes, particularly here in Palo Alto. I was always taught to express my opinion and respect that of others if I wanted my opinion taken seriously. I think debate is one of the freedoms that this country is famous for, but being rude to those who have different opinions shows ignorance and insult.


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Posted by Diana Diamond
Palo Alto Online blogger
on Oct 9, 2006 at 11:22 am

Diana Diamond is a registered user.

Carol -

Well said! I agree with your distinction between politeness and being PC.

Good manners does not mean that we can't have a good debate over issues.

I also agree with you and Marvin that there have been times in town when it wasn't "polite" to talk about an issue -- people would dance around a topic and one would never really know where they stood.

I think those days are over.

Diana

Diana


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 10, 2006 at 4:25 am

One of the criteria for maintaining civil discourse is that people, and especially the opinion leaders, need to be more demanding - and visibly so - on those that agree with them. If you only call for those that disagree with you to be civil, it rings hollow.

I would have been encouraged that DD had learned from recent experiences if her recent postings on this thread had done something like admonish Charles (Oct 6 11:54am) for egregiously misrepresenting what I said or for his factual errors.

To "Foreign accent": On DD factual errors. This thread contains one example of an error (Delores, 10/5 9:36pm). Multiple DD supporters on this thread also cited her many errors in facts. If you had done a simple Google search, you would have found additional details. For example, the search 'moran "diana diamond"' returned a list where the top three hits were relevant: the first is tangential, but provides pointers, the second hit refers to another thread in this forum entitled "Time to Ban Ms Diamond?" (Web Link) which contains details and the third hit is a detailed critique of one of her editorials (Web Link). Your demand for details is demonstrably disingenuous.


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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 10, 2006 at 8:46 am

Yes there is a difference between politeness and PC--we are also in a new century with tools that were not available to us previously.
the internet is one such tool and blogs have become a forum where people can express what they want in whatever manner they choose.
Some may not like this "lack of politeness" while others find it refreshing and more open.
Also "lack of politeness" is in the eys of the beholder many times--what some may see as impolite others see as a bold opinion.
I think it wrong to say that debate is one of the freedoms this country is famous for, but if you are "rude" or "impolite" then you are ignorant. I think that comment is rude and shows lack of respect for freedom of speech.


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Posted by Pauline
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Oct 12, 2006 at 8:41 pm

Fred Balin, your post took my breath away. I wish I had been able to articulate as well the same, but unformed, thought I have been having concerning this very topic since I started reading blogs several months ago. Thanks. I haven't gone to the sites you gave yet, but I will.

Let's hear it for free speech. It is for moments like this that I feel so much gratitude to all those who have suffered or died in order to bring us this gift, or help us retain it.


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Posted by diane diamond
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2007 at 6:59 am

HI! I use Diane Diamond as my VJ name, I'm writting to tell you, that I've been stalked and harrassed on the internet and in my life by an x-female friend who won't let go.
example: My myspace.com/dianediamond has been linked to my harasser's photo page so she can get "More exposure" by riding on yet one more person's popularity, my "fansite" has been linked to porn with the free link sites and my name diane diamond has been installed in dozen's of websites title's so that my interviews get knocked down the list.
Also, I was taken to court by this woman who wanted to control my life by restraining me from clubs and concerts in the LA area, that she completely lied under oath, HER ORDER WAS DENIED BY THE LOS ANGELES COURT SYSTEM, although she tells a different story, just a few of her antic's, the list goes on and on..
Maybe that is why some of your comments are intended directly to you..

diane diamond


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Posted by Carol
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 14, 2007 at 2:29 pm

You have become somewhat unpredictable. That's a compliment.

For better or worse, you are rumored to be one of the few people who actually seem to have an influence on Palo Alto's City Council. That makes you an involuntary substitute for an ombudsman.

I've seen requests for politeness in Town Square, but they appear in "loaded" context.


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