Stop commenting at each other


To the Editor:

To the pundits of The MV Times: Emotional maturity, understanding, reasoning, and reality make for dull reading, but are far less annoying than reading the comments section of The MV Times.

It really is “unsafe” to say anything. That said, it is quite likely someone will take exception to that, as well. That does not mean you should not speak your mind. Orders, requests, directions, no matter what is said, there is a likelihood your words may cause a reaction other than intended. It is the risk of speaking out. The speaker’s goal is to be understood. An order not followed, a request denied, directions too confusing to follow could end in a refusal to comply or a message poorly sent, or perhaps not understood.

Communication is the art of being understood, as well as understanding. 

Agree or disagree, the goal of communication is to be understood. Or is it? Persuasive speech is meant to influence, but it is not the motivation. Why anyone chooses to influence another is as simple or as complicated as the individual speaker. Why you say something is as important as what you say. It’s a peek through the window into the real person. You need to draw the shades, people.

Ironically, agreement between like minds shuts down communication almost immediately. What’s to say? We agree. There is nothing to learn. When we disagree, facts, statistics, opinions, beliefs, and our passions may be brought forth to defend our position, or attack the opposing one. This is when communication has actually really begun.

Our failure: when we cannot express our point, or we are not understood, we often hear we are being told, “You are wrong.” It is possible to be right and misunderstood, and it is possible to be understood and incorrect as well.

You may believe the sun revolves around the Earth, and to the casual observer, it may seem correct. If you cannot explain why it is not the case, or offer a more reasonable alternative, arguing is pointless. If you simply disagree and have no reason, remain quiet and do not “remove all doubt.”

True believers always default to “must have faith” as their foundation, and there can be no point in further discussion. If you do not share the same “faith,” nothing follows. It does not mean that you are right or wrong, just that the pretense of any reasonable discussion is off the table. There are many forms of demagoguery.

I have heard it said that statistics do not lie, but statisticians do. The precursor to fake news, I guess. A reasoned and clear presentation of what you believe and why too often is reduced to a person’s convictions. If you disagree and have no logical or reasonable explanation as to why, it is not facts you believe in. We make errors; that’s part of learning. The need to be right is how we stop.

I do not understand why many people think as they do. I have become annoyed and at times angry with the ignorant, entitled people whose opinion, compassion, and worldview end at a boundary mark. I have read the bumper sticker, and I have read the comments, and do not wish to “thank a teacher.” How to think is more important than how to write.

Please stop writing at each other. Go have coffee and a conversation.

Stephen Caliri


  1. First, this isn’t West Wing. We aren’t going to convince people whose ideology is essentially reactionary or even evil to change their mind, nor should we we meet them halfway. Especially in this era when news and facts are carefully curated and selectively ignored to conform to a pre-existing worldview. We essentially exist in separate realities, and no language can change that.

    Second, we’re social distancing. Drink your coffee at home and Never Stop Posting.

  2. Peeking through the shades and seeing the real beliefs of those we live among is a good thing. It’s called TRUTH. Different people have different reasons to comment here, but I know I am not interested in sitting down for coffee with bigots or annoying bores to see if we may have some commonality. Why the pretense or why worry about being liked when people are dying of plagues like racism and Coronaviruses? My interest of late is in exposing Island bigotry and irresponsible selfish concern for what it is. The “good people on both sides” narrative is the fantasy of a bigot like Trump who only says that when white thugs are involved. The local fake Christians who worship Trump as a stable genius chosen by some god who favors only white Christians are not conversation companions. Do you really want coffee with someone whose drink of choice is poisoned Kool-Aid and whose only interest is in getting you to partake? I’ll pass, thanks.

  3. Stephen – I can remember when I was in college liberals and conservatives could and did have lively, informative debates or, as they were called, “bull sessions”. No more. The left has hijacked the narrative and established their principles of political correctness – you either go all in with their agenda or you are a racist etc beyond redemption and not worthy of discussion. I am grateful such ones are largely concentrated in a few really “blue” states so the country as a whole can continue to function with reason and respect for all.

    • The disagreements are not about liberal vs conservative views. The complacency among some in the privileged white community toward the American prejudices that go unchecked and encouraged have led us to where we are today: A white cop “takes a knee” to a black man’s neck, murdering him in front of our eyes, and the coroner’s report says that a pre-existing medical condition, along with possible intoxicants, and the police “restraint” all contributed to this man’s death. Imagine if the autopsy for President Kennedy’s murder said that his pre-existing condition and medication, along with a bullet, all contributed to his death. The divide in this country is not about political views, unless you consider viewing other human beings as lesser beings because they are not white and male and christian. You recently wrote that our country was being “diluted by immigrants”. As a first generation American, I can tell you, Hanley, that is not a difference of political views. It is something else entirely. “Political correctness” is an abused term that has lost all meaning, just like the word, “woke”. White people with power and money need to sit down by themselves and think about what drives their arrogance, complacency and disregard for the equality of all Americans.

      • The fact that you are a first generation American might explain your lack of historical perspective and low appreciation of what and who brought this nation into existence. BTW, “racist” is another term that has lost all meaning. In former times while debating we used to define our terms. You don’t. If you don’t like the autopsy complain to the coroner, not me.

        • Consider that a first generation American is very likely to bring either a fresh perspective or revive one that should not have been left by the side. Caution before arguing some questions have been answered. Historical perspective allows the wisdom of experience but one must have the caution to consider whether the people living have changed. There are new citizens every year, immigrants and our youth coming of age. Answers, and their questions, must be remember and reviewed. Remember the WHY of an answer provided by history, then treat today’s questioner with the same respect as if you were the one asking.

          • Not sure if you are addressing me in that post, but as to yearly new (legal) immigrants I would say only this: sometimes they reflect true American values and appreciation better than those descended from earlier arrivals (we are all immigrants); illegal aliens, not so much.

          • Hanley’s response to me about the length of time my family has been in this country is not unlike those islanders who brag about the numbers of generations their family has been on the island. All too often that’s all they’ve got. What is there to admire about someone thinks their ancestry somehow gives them a privileged knowledge or perspective? The washashore vs long time islanders is as senseless as Hanley’s sad point. We all know that recently landed Islanders have contributed much more than too many whose longtime families deal with an inability to make a living, get housing, and stay off the sauce. Demeaning the newly arrived is about fear of losing ones standing, which is usually shaky to begin with. It’s not a conservative/leftist issue at all.

        • Au contraire, Hanley. I understand perfectly well the historical perspective that it was slavery and immigrants who did the backbreaking work that brought this nation into being what it is today, beginning centuries ago. Those who today feel so emboldened and privileged to sit back and express their inability empathize with how it is to be black (or other than white and Christian) in this country, might look back on former times with fondness because none of this (by way of these discussions) impacted their daily lives. To me they are lost and unappreciative of a reality that is beyond them. BTW, racists have never seen any meaning in racism, so I know what you mean. I’m not complaining to you either. I am commenting on your words. “Diluted by immigrants” is not a pretty viewpoint, to be honest, but I will always associate that with who and how you are.

          • You should thank God every day that you live in a country where you can with impunity call the head of state a murderer. You have not the slightest idea what it cost in sacrifice and treasure to bring this country into being nor the price in the blood of each generation required to maintain it.

        • So because the definition of racism isn’t being made with the same historical perspective, those identified as racist today aren’t? No, historical perspective tells us racist behavior has manifested in new ways, or that the victims of racism are now free to talk, or both.

    • Yes political power is concentrated in the small population states.
      It is what makes American Democracy so great.
      The few ruling over the many.

      • In case you have forgotten your civics/history from high school, the smaller less populated states would NOT join the new nation without a bicameral legislature including a senate with each state having two senators regardless of size and population.The electoral college was similarly provided. Those were the terms. That was the deal that induced the smaller states to yield their sovereignty to the new nation. Now the leftists are squealing to move the goal posts because they don’t get their way. And, Ajay, the few always rule over the many.

        • You know, Hanley, your pal Andrew is himself an immigrant but you seem to have no problem supporting his Right wing perspective which includes dishonoring his word and plagiarizing to promote a privileged white perspective that is much like yours. And while we’re at it, why do so many conservatives forget what they’ve been taught in their church, the minute they’re confronted by the rest of us who don’t conform? While you’re giving distorted history lessons, please reread what’s inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. Thanks.

          • Hanley, you are mistaken in assuming that my immigrant father did not fight and shed his blood for this country. You are also mistaken that everyone believes, prays and talks to a god as you do. I love this country and therefore despise Trump who does not. He is absolutely responsible for tens of thousands of needless deaths, as well as stoking the flames of racial discontent. As I’ve been saying, racism is not political. Neither is an inability to lead.

          • I have nothing to do with Andrew and his squabbles with you or anyone else. As for the Statue of Liberty, I have sailed past it 14 times in my travels and I know exactly what it is about. My grandfather sailed past it once (legally) having escaped the communist pogrom in Belarus. He was processed into this country at Ellis Island LEGALLY and began to reside LEGALLY in Brooklyn. He joined the US army and served his new country honorably and gratefully. His son, my father, was an officer in the US Army Air Corps in WW II designing aircraft equipment. I received my commission at Fort Benning into the US Army infantry and subsequently served as a combat platoon leader and later army intelligence in Vietnam and other places. You are invited to relate the circumstances of your American experience including the Statue of Liberty.

        • Funny. I read it was adding the Second Amendment that got the buy in, that senatorial representation wasn’t enough.

        • Hanley– it was very nice that your grandfather ( and mine) were processed at Ellis island and could legally enter the country. Was your grandfather separated from his family, forced to wait in squalid conditions just outside the border for a year, and perhaps put into a cage for a few months before he got permission to enter the country and become the responsible citizen he became ?
          Or was he, like my grandfather, processed quickly and treated with respect ?

  4. I also want to add that any arrogant but shamefully ignorant assumptions about how beloved this country is to many immigrant families and what sacrifice and loss they’ve endured to honor this land are also not about politics. An attitude of “immigrants dilute” is wrong and not what our nation used to stand up for, but it is an attitude emboldened by a racist President.

  5. Let me sum up my perception of our 2 Americas.
    Quite some time ago, the left got on this kick about treating people with respect (political correctness )
    No longer was the “N” word publicly tolerated. After a long and hard fight, women managed to get some of the rights and privileges affluent white males took for granted. They have managed to get into exclusive “male only” clubs, can serve in all sectors of the military, and have somewhat broken the “glass ceiling” of corporate America. Americans of all gender identities and sexual orientations can now marry a person they love. The ADA has allowed people with handicaps to live full and productive lives.
    Environmental laws have left us with cleaner water and air, and an awareness that there are other creatures that were created by The Flying Spaghetti Monster, and deserve to exist.
    These are all causes championed by liberals.
    On the right, especially since the trump era, there is a strong push to repeal as many ‘equal rights” laws as possible, destroy decades of carefully crafted environmental laws, and a tendency to turn a blind eye to any abuse of power the sitting president thinks he can get away with. The right wing propaganda machine ( fox “news” , info wars, etc, have been relentlessly seeking to undermine the institutions that are the foundations of our society. They have coined the term “fake news” “alternative facts” and tds. They hold obvious and verifiable lies as truth. And on topic here, the immediate reaction from one the most right wing commentators here is to imply that George Floyd may have been high, and the cause of his death was only slightly brought on by a police officer taking a knee to his neck for 10 minutes.
    It’s hard to have a reasonable conversation with someone who can watch a man be murdered , somehow refuse to be concerned, and belittle others for being concerned and reacting. The very word compassion seems to have to many syllables for the right’s great leader to pronounce, let alone feel any.
    And then there is right wing international policy. I could write a book about how disastrous that is.
    The divide is pretty stark.

    But, America is # 1 on corona cases.

    • Well, Don took a while to get something right at the end of his rant; the USA is the #1 victim of a global biological attack by the Chinese communist regime.

      • Please tell me where I am wrong . Perhaps the term “politically correct’ is loved by maga ?
        Since when does the term” make america great again ” actually love anyone ?
        It is a phrase– Oh, but if trump says “maga loves the black people” I guess that’s proper English– please don’t ever criticize Ebonics, if you think that quote is not worthy of an involuntary commitment to the nearest psychiatric institution.
        So where am I wrong ? trump is the champion of the environment, perhaps ?– Did Obama came up with the term “alternative facts”? Where am I wrong? I am just laying out the positions– they are pretty clear.
        And quite frankly, if you actually believe that China deliberately launched a global biological attack , while there is no evidence whatsoever to support that statement, it just confirms my point about conservative having no idea about reality, and believing anything they are fed by the right wing propaganda machine.

        • Don, Hanley only repeats no-evidence (and racist) conspiracy theories put forward by his party. He doesn’t discuss them. He drops something untrue, is contradicted or corrected, and he goes into hiding. He doesn’t even try to defend the untruths and wrong assumptions that he drops like word-bombs here. And he complains that there’s no honest debate. It’s what he does repeatedly, getting worked up if anyone exposes how untruthful his assumptions are. “Immigrants dilute” is all you need to understand about Hanley’s viewpoint.

      • The reason why conservatives who long for the good old days whine about the lack of honest debate these days, is that they refer to views other than their own as RANTS. And then they try to twist what the “lefty” said into a lie, such as this plague being a global biological attack by the Chinese government. This is another instance of right wing conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence. Conservatives have no issue putting forth all kinds of lies, but they do manage to whine about why “lefties” don’t debate with liars.

  6. For those poor thinkers who confuse patriotism with one-sided, often racist political viewpoints, and who wrongly believe that recent immigrants and first generation Americans do not have a perspective, both historical and deeply, lovingly appreciative of this country, here’s Republican immigrant and American citizen, Arnold Schwarzeneger talking about our broken but loved America:

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