I receive a lot of emails from Mequon residents as a result of my Updates, Facebook page and website posts. I try to respond to all of them. Many of the writers and I agree, but not always. Most of the writers are polite and thoughtful. I try to be the same.
Occasionally, however, someone writes anonymously. Those writers have an email address that does not identify them and, almost always, are uncivil and condescending. I usually respond and ask who I am writing to. I never receive a response.
From time to time, someone does this on a grander scale. They create a website with a civic-minded organizational name and distribute emails under that name. They do not identify themselves; instead, they say something like “we are residents and neighbors who are concerned about the future of Mequon.” Invariably, such people (usually, it is only one or two people) spread half-truths and try to inflame the public. Often they do this for self-gain: political aspiration, personal aggrandizement or to advance a cause in which they have a personal interest.
In the language of today’s political debate, this is often “Fake News.” According to the Urban Dictionary, the people who do this are “Trolls” (“one who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument”).
These “concerned” residents have an absolute right to do this. But, what does it say about the writers? Are they afraid to put their names with their accusations? Isn’t this just a form of cowardice?
Mequon has a new group circulating this kind of stuff. I am not going to post the name of their website – why give them publicity?
The irony is that they “demand transparency.”
However, one of these writers has left a traceable trail. I know who he is. I expect that this is a precursor to a run for office. I challenge him and his other “concerned” residents to come out of hiding and put their names on their website and emails.
Debates should be civil and public, not cloaked in anonymity.