And where do the two really cross...
In the old days, we used to call "blogging" by another name- "writing a column."
We do it here, and it seems as the saying could go these days: Blogs are like a-holes... everybody has one... seemingly, that's true...
Anyone with an IP address, a computer, and an electrical outlet is making opinions and breaking stories because they can. A lot of the "breaking news" we see these days isn't based in fact. It's pinned down to gossip, rumor, innuendo, hearsay, and wishful thinking- sometimes a combination of any and/or all of those...
It can be a useful tool like Van Leeuwenhoek's movable type, or it can incite riots and make damn sure that there isn't any kind of repercussion for hateful and unsubstantiated speech.
We here at the HQ have made a point to use journalistic tendencies that we were taught when we were growing up- strange as that may seem to a lot of you. We know there are lives and actual people involved. There are reputations, jobs, and future jobs at stake for those who talk and those who are talked about.
The HQ has had plenty of stories come across its desk, but 99-percent of them have sat on the table not moving because of the factors we just discussed.
There are differences between opinion, name calling, and abject hatred.
Unfortunately, that line is being blurred in the wild west of the Internets... but a lot of people still cross it these days...
The latest high-profile example of this is professional basketball Paul Shirley. He had made a bit of a cult following for himself over at the four-letter's Internets hub. He knows music. He knows the life on the road as a basketball vagabond, and he is an extraordinarily talented writer.
But on his personal site on flipcollective, he drew a line he knew he shouldn't have crossed... even admitting as much in his opening paragraph.
He decided he wasn't going to donate to any Haiti relief efforts- his prerogative. The HQ knows people who have no interest in the idea because they feel Louisiana is still twisting in the breeze after Katrina- once again, understandable.
He even used the hurricane as an example as to how the situation should have been addressed after the fact- even if some of his intel is, somewhat, inaccurate:
We were quick to vilify humans who were too slow to respond to the needs of victims, forgetting that the victims had built and maintained a major city below sea level in a known target zone for hurricanes. Our response: Make the same mistake again. Rebuild a doomed city, putting aside logic as we did.
And now, faced with a similar situation, it seems likely that we will do the same.
Shirley makes valid points about developmental tail-chasing in countries after disasters, but in his discourse to any nation who may be faced with this issue in the future he leapt over the line... his sarcasm not playing well at all.
Dear Haitians –
First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded.
As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it’s possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?
The Rest of the World
And there's the rub in the diatribe...
While the notion of as Paul puts it "...the tired, knee-jerk cycle of aid/assist/rebuild would be replaced by a new one: Aid/assist/let’s-stop-and-think-before-we-screw-this-up-again..." while somewhat thoughtful and common-sensical is more Pollyanna-ish and unreachable.
We can only encourage case-by-case analysis of these issues, and the process has to be catch-as-catch-can or "If-Then."
Is Haiti in trouble... yep... always has been... government has always been by rule of a gun even though it's the first independent nation in Latin America and the only black-led republic in the world. That action came at the work of a slave rebellion.
But it's not for us to dictate policy as a republic to another republic that wants to find its way and reclaim its place after a horrific disaster of such catastrophic proportion- in whatever form that is...
Odds are, in financial terms, after Haiti gets on its collective feet the investment will be tenuous when it comes to future results. But "we don't know that yet."
Even if we have a gut feeling we already do...
Shirley's final point: "...children are brought into the world by their parents. Those parents have a responsibility – to themselves and to their kids – to provide. They have a responsibility to look around – before an earthquake happens – and say, “I need to improve this situation, because if a catastrophe were to happen, we’d be in bad shape.”
The people of whom I write are adults. Functional, human adults with functional, human adult brains. It is not too much to ask that they behave as such. That they stand up and say, “Yes, we screwed this up the first time. We are forever indebted to you. Now show us how we can do it right. So that, next time, we won’t need your help.”
But if you can't... going in to the game... adjust the mindset of the players or have the lesson plan sink in, the game will forever be flawed...and it's not your game to play. You're just a spectator unless you really want to step in to it...
Had Shirley made that point... and that above point alone... the earlier, careless reference in his open letter would have been unnecessary and moot.
The HQ enjoys Shirley's work. If he wants another roster to dance with, we'd be more than happy to host him.
But, rest assured, it's a zero tolerance policy with an AP style book in tow... the irresponsibly-phrased back seat driving done other places will never be done here...