I guess one of the most difficult things to get used to when writing this blog is knowing that a lot of people read it. That’s a good thing. I’m happy with the fact that the number of hits on the site far exceeds the comments and I like the fact that people read it. It’s fun.
I get a lot of e-mail and I sometimes get a lot of comments on the blog. The hardest thing getting used to are the comments that are, to say the least, sharp, abrasive and sometimes no more than a cheap shot.
A while back, the person’s e-mail address would appear on the comments section so you could e-mail them back. I made the mistake of getting mad at someone who took exception to a blog I wrote about Sgt. Friday of “Dragnet” fame. Big deal, right? He was incensed that I paraphrased a long line of rhetorical crap that I had envisioned Sgt. Friday saying. My point had been that Sgt. Friday could put all the right words in the right place when he dressed down the crooks, but — in real life — if I did it, I’d screw it all up.
It was harmless commentary and even I think it was funny. But the guy who took exception to that blog certainly didn’t think it was funny.
Well, we exchanged a couple of increasingly strident e-mails until I realized there was no winning this argument with this goober because he was simply going to compose another e-mail, a bit more tart than the last, and I would do the same. In other words: an endless spitting contest (I should’ve known my editor would tone that down to “spitting” contest).
After a while, the blog no longer listed the e-mail address of a commenter. Good move, because it limits after-the-fact hate mail back and forth. I have enough stalkers in my life and, unfortunately, none of them are female groupies.
Some commenters get their kicks by being shockingly offensive
But a noticeable effect of the anonymous status of those commenting is that they quickly became very direct with their comments. Some of them were right on line, but others were cop-haters venting or just those wanting to get a rise from having something so shocking posted for all to see.
The editorial staff at the AJC, when not straightening out my incoherent babbling, monitors the content of the comment section. Many of the comments do not make it in to the blog. The editors may remove and then ban those who cross the line with comments that are plain ridiculous. Some that do included the guy who said he drinks a six-pack of beer every time a police officer is shot. That means two things to me:
What I have learned here was to have tough skin. Cheap shots come every time I put something out there. I can comment on the sky being blue and someone will have an issue with it. It is an expression without accountability. I used to get so mad at some of the crap people would post, but then I realized that it’s just venting. It’s just a random comment out there that makes someone feel better, no matter how tacky it reads.
Crossing the line at the expense of a slain officer’s family
As part of a blog late last week, I didn’t go into the details surrounding the murder of Chattahoochee Hills Lt. Mike Vogt, but merely posted part of a traffic advisory that I put out for the residents of that area. It goes out on my weekly e-mail to a number of neighborhood groups, businesses, etc., in Sandy Springs.
It was when I read the comments referring to Lt. Vogt and, particularly, his daughter’s response that prompted a bunch of feelings, some of them still pretty raw.
You see, I have been in law enforcement for 34 years. In that time, I have come close, on several occasions, to being killed by either gun, knife or car accident. I’m lucky.
I have lost more than a dozen of people I knew, police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. I can remember each and every one.
David Hagins was killed on Dec. 14, 1980, answering an alarm at The Prado shopping center in Sandy Springs, at a jewelry store on a Sunday morning. I had been with Fulton police for less than a year. He was the first officer killed as a Fulton County police officer.
Chris May was killed a decade later answering a shots-fired call in an upscale neighborhood in Sandy Springs. He had just bought a new car. He was a good guy.
It goes on and on.
These men and women didn’t know that would be the day. They were placed into a situation that put them there at the time that someone else’s mindset was on murder to avoid being caught.
There is an automatic disadvantage for the officer, simply because he or she can’t read minds. They don’t know what is going to happen. They have to react to someone else’s action. It’s not fair.
I’m lucky. I had several close calls and, in some, survived it because of dumb luck. It just happens that way.
Folks, there are bad, mean, dangerous people out there. Take it face value that just because you haven’t seen them, they aren’t there. They’re there. We’re all on the roulette wheel and, although the numbers are on your side, they can put you face-to-face with a life-threatening moment. A car jacking or pedestrian robbery suspect can be your “wrong-place-at-the-right time” moment.
The officer is going where you’re coming from. It is a dangerous place and you can see it on the TV and the online news every single day. It doesn’t matter if some cop wrote you a ticket when you thought he or she should have given a warning. Or if you had a cop with an attitude — something that happens — but there’s a big picture here.
There are crazy people out there with guns, and people who do bad things to people — not just to cops, but to anyone — because they are nothing more than bad people. You and I don’t understand them, but they are out there!
I know the interstate was clustered up with traffic at the time of Lt. Vogt’s funeral procession. We actually took the flanking move to hit the interstate and come in the south side of Sandy Springs to avoid some of the traffic but, after all, we do grand funerals for our people and screwing up traffic was just part of it.
Lt. Mike Vogt was killed. His family and friends had to bury him. Days before, it wasn’t on anyone’s mind. It’s sad. He is one of us and we celebrate his career and his bravery to do the job and we mourn the loss of a police officer.
I am sorry his daughter had to read what she did about someone being inconvenienced on the interstate, but I’m used to the cheap shots. She isn’t.
So, for Lt. Vogt’s family, I would say this: Don’t take it personally. These comments are from people who don’t have a seat at the table. It’s meaningless.
We know not what we say sometimes.
Perspectives: Scenes from Lt. Vogt’s funeral
Editor’s note: Commenting is now closed on this entry.