By Jim Bowman
Wed. Journal's Ken Trainor unloaded the other day on an adversary who does not have 1,000 words of newspaper space at his disposal, piling on. No fair.
The adversary, who was nowhere near a household word before Trainor's column, inched toward that eminence when his name was blazoned in Trainor's headline, "Will the real Ray Simpson show up?"
A hammer was used for the fly on baby's nose: Hammer-wielder Trainor (call him the Hammer) got pissed off at an online comment, and out came the thousand-plus words with their in-our-faces headline. This will teach a reader not to provoke him.
The reader in this case -- you could be next, whoever you are -- is a hothead online but he's also schizoid: At meetings he and Trainor attended for 11 months, he "was soft-spoken, intelligent, and [apparently] a reasonable human being." Doctor Jekyll.
Online, however, he hides behind -- look out -- a "protective thicket of stereotyping, misrepresentation and exaggeration," refusing to "engage in honest dialogue." Mr. Hyde.
He also might simply be "afraid [his] nameless buddies in the online echo chamber [a regular Wed. Journal feature, a sort of peep show featuring right-wing zealots] will rip [him] to shreds" if he does the honest-dialogue thing, which would be "consorting with the enemy."
"But we're not the enemy," wrote Trainor, addressing the offender, "and you know that because you spent 11 months getting to know us." (You just won't admit it, you rat.)
The Hammer, wounded, recalls his own sterling behavior: "We treated you with respect, and I will continue to treat the Ray Simpson who showed up at those meetings with respect." (The good Ray) He finds it "hard to respect" the (bad) online Ray, however." The Hammer tries, God knows, but it's hard.
So: Hang down your head, Ray Simpson, the Hammer is shaming you in his column. You don't have a column, he does. Repent.
"Take some tips," Hammer advises, recommending "one of the few" commenters "who knows how to keep his cool." He even has his own tip to pass on, one he has learned "over 29 years of writing newspaper columns," namely that "right or wrong, the more you exaggerate, the less people will listen and the more they'll lose respect for you." Are you LISTENING, Ray Simpson?
"So if there really is the germ of an honest question in your last post," he winds up (big if), "I just gave you an honest answer," but only because he respects "the Ray Simpson who showed up" at those meetings.
Meanwhile, Ray, for you it's sackcloth and ashes time. It's your only chance.