Over the years, I've gotten quite a few nasty comments from readers in letters, online comments and over the phone. I've heard it all. Idiot. Liberal. Gay. Redneck. Hillbilly. Heathen. The list goes on and on. I'll confess to a couple of those, but I'm definitely not gay -- just ask my wife who routinely rolls her eyes at my fashion choices and dearth of decent shoes.
Long before those online criticisms, nearly 20 years ago, I even had an angry reader come into the small-town newspaper office where I worked and proceeded to angrily smash his newspaper box into bits because I had the nerve to lead a basketball story about a then-all-white private school with "Whiteyville Academy celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday night with a 77-71 win over Honkeyburg Academy" or whatever the real school names were.
Apparently, I had been mistaken in assuming that they'd scheduled their only Monday night game of the season on MLK Day to honor the slain Civil Rights leader. My bad. They merely wanted to make clear to everyone that they weren't about to take that day off like those public-school folks and that it was business as usual. Having assumed wrong, I said what any reporter would say to an angry racist smashing his newspaper box to bits:
"Does this mean you're canceling your subscription?"
Oh, by the way, they never again played on MLK Day.
My point is that you've got to be able to take criticism, be it from an angry racist or a homophobic online commenter. Sometimes, you even have to be able to take criticism from good-looking, genius columnists.
Unfortunately, the governor of my state doesn't agree with that last statement. Now, I don't want to call the guy out, so I won't mention what state I live in or call him by name. So, lets just call him Governor "Vladimir." Uh, no, let's go with "Nate."
On Nate's official Facebook page, which I have "liked," he posts a lot of typical things praising my state's residents and talking about how wonderful our state is. I agree with that, wholeheartedly. I've told him so. But I recently found out what happens when you disagree with Nate:
You get banned.
That's right. Six years of being on Facebook, of liking politicians from both major parties, and Nate is the first person to ban me. I wrote nothing threatening. I used no dirty words. I didn't make any Anthony Weiner jokes. I was polite in stating that I completely disagreed with one stance he had taken in a very petty way that is unbecoming of a governor. It's the only time I've ever voiced disagreement on Nate's page. Now, I'm blocked and can no longer comment or even "like" one of Nate's posts.
Then I scrolled through his page and realized I'm probably not alone. Somehow, every single comment on the page praises Nate. He has achieved unanimous consent of all he does. Amazing! At that rate, it's highly likely that he will win re-election 7,243,762 votes to zero in 2014. (Well, maybe 7,243,761 to 1.)
I went to Nate's official website and found a link to "email the governor." That's handy. So I fired off a note politely explaining that I was disappointed that I had been banned from his Facebook page but amazed at his 100 percent approval rating. Naturally, when I hit "submit," I got a "page not found" error. So I wrote a shorter, snarkier, version, and the same thing happened.
Now, Nate certainly has a right to keep his page clean of dissent and paint whatever false image he chooses to portray -- which obviously is that my state's residents are a bunch of like-minded sheep, and he is their governor and theirs alone. I just think he ought to be a bigger man than that.
My Republican congressman accepts plenty of dissent on his Facebook page, as does my Democratic president. You can moan and groan about coverage on the Facebook pages of the Ledger-Enquirer, CNN and even Fox News. And some columnist named Chris Johnson lets you have your say on his Facebook page, too.
But not Nate. On second thought, he might be more of a Vladimir after all.
-- Connect with Chris Johnson at Facebook.com/KudzuKidWriting and disagree with him if you so choose!