By Doug Halberstadt
For a long time, I have known that sports fans are a passionate group of people. That’s especially true when it comes to race fans. Instead of cheering for a group of people more commonly called a team, they cheer for an individual, and this tends to makes it a much more personal matter. Never have I been reminded of that fact more than I was last week.
Following my column about the “Tony Stewart incident,” I was bombarded with comments, e-mails and Facebook messages. I have absolutely no problem with anyone who ever disagrees with my opinion on an issue. That is what makes sports and life worth living. It would be a very boring existence if all of us agreed 100 percent of the time on everything.
What I do take exception with is the people who turn their opinions into personal attacks. The overwhelming majority of those people who chose to voice their displeasure with my opinion by calling me names, or insulting my intelligence, or even going so far as to threaten me and my family with physical violence haven’t an iota of a clue of what type of person I am.
It’s perfectly acceptable to say “Your opinion sucks” or “I couldn’t disagree with you more.” What was unnerving is the way people resorted to turning it into a personal attack.
This made me stop and ask myself, “What has happened to our society?” No longer can we simply disagree on something. Why do people believe it must be elevated to a venom-spewing, name-calling response or else it doesn’t carry any value? I found that to be terribly sad and pathetic. I actually felt sorry for many of the people who wrote those hateful messages. Could their lives really be that miserable?
I knew darn well when I wrote the column that not everyone would agree with my position. I didn’t want all of you to. I also knew that Stewart has a legion of fans who would gladly go to their grave defending anything and everything he does. What I didn’t expect was how many hate-filled people are willing to spring into attack mode simply because they disagree with an opposing opinion.
For those few people who took the time to write a word of encouragement or to congratulate me for standing up against what transpired and saw things as I did, I truly appreciate your support.
For those readers who preferred I be drawn and quartered, I hope your entire life is not filled with that level of hatred. I also hope you’ll take a moment the next time you disagree with anyone’s opinion and think about your response. Try to state your position on the issue in a manner that is intelligent, coherent and meaningful, and I promise you it will carry a ton more weight than simply telling someone what a $%%#&#%@*@* they are!
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Aug. 20-26, 2014, issue