To the editor:
Re: Paul Peterson's May 1st column, "Internet can turn very vicious." Yes, online forums provide an outlet where anonymity contributes to uncivil comments. Mr. Peterson could have easily written a story reporting on this phenomenon. But he didn't. Instead, Mr. Peterson elected to participate in these forums, making comments intended to be inflammatory and then commenting on the responses he received in a mock-innocent, "what did I say?" tone. In doing so he not only made himself a key character in the story, but the instigator as well.
Take his comment in a Louisville newspaper forum that the officiating in the Louisville-Michigan basketball game was "the worst ever seen in a national championship game." I'm a Michigan grad and Mr. Peterson's comment is rampant hyperbole at best. Purposefully making the comment in a Louisville forum is intended to provoke the "vile" comments that Mr. Peterson wished to receive for his article.
The low point of Mr. Peterson's article is his comment in a Detroit newspaper forum suggesting that Detroit Pistons General Manager Joe Dumars lose his job: "I wrote that one of the largest blunders by Dumars was drafting the 'Great White Stiff' Darko Milicic ahead of Carmelo Anthony. But I made the mistake of referring to Milicic as a Lithuanian." Milicic is Serbian. National pride is universal, and making the "mistake" of identifying someone as being from a country that his homeland has tense political relations with is a thinly-veiled attempt to stir the pot.
But was that his biggest mistake? I doubt that any journalist wouldn't view "Great White Stiff" as a purposefully incendiary remark. Mr. Peterson appears to feel that while the internet can be vicious, racism is alive and well in the Copper Country and he can say whatever he wishes here without inciting a comment. Well, Mr. Peterson, I took the bait.
By leading his article denouncing cyberspace and blaming modern technology for ruining reputations and dishing out bad information and then participating in the same to create a story, Mr. Peterson has only shown that his journalistic integrity is far lesser than the athletic ability of Milicic or the job performance of Dumars. I'm not sure what is more troubling: that Mr. Peterson would write such a story or that the sports editor would elect to publish it. Your readership deserves better.