What's Going On

This is just plain wrong. It's impossible to say whether the minor arson attack at Orange County Commissioner Margaret Brown's house was political or random. The fact that she believes it was intentionally directed at her makes me seriously concerned about the state of political discourse in our community.

"I've been getting a lot of e-mails," she said. "They're very aggressive with a lot of emotion behind them."

The e-mails have been mostly about school merger, Brown said. They have said things like, "You'd better not do this or you'd better think before you do this," Brown said.

Who would think this was an appropriate (or effective) form of expression?

This leads me to two major thoughts about OrangePoltics.org:

  1. The personal attacks by anonymous readers of this site are degrading to all of us. Most of all to those who post them. We must live together here. We don't have to agree while we're doing it, in fact I hope we don't! Since this party is effectively in my living room, I will continue to throw out jerks who I wouldn't welcome in my own house. I'd rather not take away the anonymous option so - again - please don't aubse it.
  2. I have been thinking about the idea of expanding OrangePolitics.org to cover the entire county, and I would really like to hear your thought about this. It wouldn't happen right away, especially since none of the regular authors are qualified to write very much about goings-on north of I-85.

Please use this thread to discuss this site's policies (or lack thereof), and any suggestions y'all may have regarding the points above or otherwise.


The politics of Chapel Hill is inextricably linked to the county. Chapel Hill's drinking water comes from the county. A huge number of people, especially lower income people, who work in CH live in the county. CH's trash gets dumped in the county. Zoning in the county greatly affects and contains the growth of CH. The county could supply CH with all its food. Merger-mania of course involves the county. The commissioners are elected with a majority of CH votes. It could only be a positive thing if more Chapel Hill/Carrboro folks understood more about their relationship with the county.

Thanks to all for what I hope will be a long and entertaining education.

I'm still unconvinced on the anonymity issue. First, in our present political climate, aren't we all pretty much accustomed to having our opinions "dismissed out of hand" by anyone holding the opposite point of view? And, second, I guess I haven't had enough experience dealing with retaliation from more powerful individuals or institutions (I'm self-employed, thank God); but I guess I see how that could be a problem.

In any event, I'll now leave that horse where he fell.

Ric "The Nature Boy" Flair has, at various times, made Orange County his home, so pro wrestling has at least a little relevance to our fair county.

"To be the man, you got to beat The Man."

We are entitled to call "damion" a troll (or at least we'll be understood if we do) because his posts are NOT ONLY (a) inflammatory, BUT ALSO (b) irrelevant to the subject being discussed. You're right, "damion" may have a valid point when he writes above that "wrestling is fake" -- that opinion, while worthy of inclusion in a civilized debate, has nothing whatsoever to do with Orange County. In short, he is not participating in the debate any more than if he were posting recipes for cornbread.

Anonymity is a protection against being dismissed out of hand by opponents because "of course a _____ would say that", which I maintain makes persuasion easier. Anonymity also protects against retaliation directed at an individual for stating opinions of which a more powerful individual or institution disapproves.

As far as I recall, by the way, I'm also 5'8". Dear gods, is that "little"? I never thought so. This is where I was going to post a link to a definition of troll, but Kafka posted the same definition while I was composing. Thanks Kafka -- whoever you are!

I promise that's the last I'll say of trolls. I'd rather hear what Mr. Winston has to say of local politics -- not because he's a famous and well-regarded attorney, but because he seems to argue reasonably and with some wit.


2 : to fish by trailing a lure or baited hook from a moving boat

3 a : to fish for by trolling b : to fish by trolling in c : to pull through the water in trolling

Jargon File:

troll v.,n. 1. [From the Usenet group alt.folklore.urban] To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; or, the post itself. Derives from the phrase "trolling for newbies" which in turn comes from mainstream "trolling", a style of fishing in which one trails bait through a likely spot hoping for a bite. The well-constructed troll is a post that induces lots of newbies and flamers to make themselves look even more clueless than they already do, while subtly conveying to the more savvy and experienced that it is in fact a deliberate troll. If you don't fall for the joke, you get to be in on it. See also YHBT. 2. An individual who chronically trolls in sense 1; regularly posts specious arguments, flames or personal attacks to a newsgroup, discussion list, or in email for no other purpose than to annoy someone or disrupt a discussion. Trolls are recognizable by the fact that the have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, "Oh, ignore him, he's just a troll." 3. [Berkeley] Computer lab monitor. A popular campus job for CS students. Duties include helping newbies and ensuring that lab policies are followed. Probably so-called because it involves lurking in dark cavelike corners.

Some people claim that the troll (sense 1) is properly a narrower category than flame bait, that a troll is categorized by containing some assertion that is wrong but not overtly controversial. See also Troll-O-Meter.

The use of `troll' in either sense is a live metaphor that readily produces elaborations and combining forms. For example, one not infrequently sees the warning "Do not feed the troll" as part of a followup to troll postings.

Mr. Rah,

Thank you for your response to my posting yesterday. Unfortunately (for me) it did not altogether cure my puzzlement. For instance, are we entitled to call "Damien" a troll because of his politics which, to his miniscule credit, he wears on his posted sleeve? That would be unfortunate since some of his positions are actually worthy of inclusion in any civilized debate about how we wish to structure our society, especially if he could somehow be persuaded to express them like a grownup.

Or may we label him troll for his refusal to disclose who he is? But, then, wouldn't that apply equally to Coyote, epu, and numerous others who seem reluctant to remove their ski masks when addressing us? That, too, would be a shame, for I find myself nodding in agreement with their ideas more often than not and, as you pointed out, a good idea is a good idea whether we know the identity of the author or not.

So, I'm still having trouble giving much credence to anybody who's afraid to show his/her face. Whaddayathink?

And by the way, I'm only 5' 8" and we little people take vigorous exception to the use of "troll" as a perjorative to describe "Damien" or his ilk.

Anyone who wants to know my name need only ask. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which people are so adept at classifying one another's special interests that the classification can kill a debate. If an argument doesn't stand on its own terms, then no amount of authority or reputation should prop it up.

No one here has been shy about pointing out when debates* here have become too personal for anonymity, and Southerners generally are expected to put on best manners for strangers. If anyone doesn't know how to act, I trust Ruby explicitly to give them the bum's rush.

As for expanding orangepolitics.org to cover more Orange, I think that would be a very fine way to bridge the county/townie chasm, which is different than (but not distinct from) the town/gown relation. Please! O Please!

*Aside to Mr. Winston: "damion" doesn't need to develop the courage of his convictions. Such characters, when online, are called "trolls". Heaven knows what they're called off-line, I can't imagine anyone has much to say of them.

"damion" is showing off his (passable) rhetorical skills in an attempt to draw participants in this forum into emotional debates which are utterly irrelevant to the stated aim of the forum. It's exactly like shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre, only cheaper. Also easier to ignore, which is what generally happens.

I just found this site this week. I absolutely love the idea and what you have going on here. Great idea! As an immediate former Hillsborough Town Board candidate and political enthusiast, I would *love* to see this site's purview expanded to cover the rest of the county.


I would vote for expansion. Matt Compton is right on the money. However, as a newbie here, I'm puzzled about one thing: why do you (or anyone else) feel protective of anonymous posters? Why should anyone care about the opinons of someone without the cojones (sorry, Damion, that means not having the minimal courage to put your name to your beliefs) to identify themselves?

if you expand to the whole county,

people will laugh harder at you

I wonder if, while we're at it, we could start some sort of sign-up roster for the various board meetings. This would be for people who were already going to a meeting -- or were willing to attend one for the benefit of the site -- who'd be willing to write a paragraph or two about what happened that was interesting. I suspect that a number of the anonymous people posting are already going to these meetings and have some special expertise or involvement, and I think we could all get something out of their perspective. No need to be comprehensive or to treat it as a journalism assignment -- just hit on a couple things you found interesting, even (or especially) if no one else did, or just take the opportunity to give your impressions of the board and how they work together (or don't). If it worked out right, we wouldn't be duplicating the work of the newspapers, just adding to it.

For instance, I'll be attending the Chapel Hill Town Council meeting on Monday, and I wouldn't mind writing up my impressions.

Hey, y'all. I just made up that Damion shit to get a rise out of you. How'd I do? I'll bet you think there really are folks out there who think like that.

Well, the truth is I didn't and there are (he is). Damion is clearly an abused child. Abused by generations of slaves, immigrants, the non-english in general, and, apparently, Bill Clinton. There's no problem in him or his kin that a few generations in slavery or on a state-designated reservation won't cure. Or chocolate. Damion, post your address and someone will send you some comforting chocolate in an english language wrapper.

Al Gore must be rolling in his grave. Did he go to all the trouble of inventing the internet for this?

I just realized that Ruby's proposal was to expand to the entire *county* and not the entire *country.* So much for close reading skills! Anyway, yes, I think covering the whole county is a great idea. Matt's post above sums it up perfectly.

Feel better now, Damion?

Rudy, please expand the coverage. If you change it, we will come. You're right, I don't know of too many other people posting on this site who grew up where I did or live where my family lives, but all it takes is getting the word out up there. And we all know that a lot of issues don't just impact the town of Chapel Hill. County Commissioners aren't elected to help only those who live south of Hillsborough. I don't know how expanding OrangePolitics to cover all of Orange County does anything to diminish the "local coverage" which you offer. In fact, that sort of insulation is dangerous. Go ahead and pretend that the school merger isn't an issue we have to consider as a county. Go ahead and pretend that not widening I-40 doesn't matter to the farmers and businessmen who share this county with you. Let's talk about all of this. Expand the coverage, I'll do everything I can to get my neighbors from Hurdle Mills, Cedar Grove, Hillsborough and all the rest of that community to check this place out and add to the dialouge here.

Ruby -- For what it's worth, my vote is for retaining the focus on local news and politics. That's what makes this site unique and so addictive. It would be a shame to lose it.

I like big cars, big boats, big motorcycles, big houses and big campfires.

I believe the money I make belongs to me and my family, not some governmental stooge with a bad comb-over who wants to give it away to crack addicts for squirting out babies.

Guns do not make you a killer. I think killing makes you a killer. You can kill someone with a baseball bat or a car, but no one is trying to ban you from driving to the ball game.

I believe they are called the Boy Scouts for a reason and that reason is that there are no girls allowed. Girls belong in the Girl Scouts!

I think that if you feel homosexuality is wrong, it is not a phobia, it is an opinion.

I don't think being a minority makes you a victim of anything except numbers.

The only things I can think of that are truly discriminatory are things like the United Negro College Fund, Jet Magazine, Black Entertainment Television, and Miss Black America. Try to have things like the United Caucasian College Fund, Cloud Magazine, White Entertainment Television, or Miss White America and see what happens. Jesse Jackson will be knocking down your door.

I have the right "NOT" to be tolerant of others because they are different, weird, or tick me off.

When 70% of the people who get arrested are black, in cities where 70% of the population is black, that is not racial profiling, it is the law of statistics.

I know what sex is, and there are not varying degrees of it. If I received sex from one of my subordinates in my office, it wouldn't be a private matter or my personal business. It would be "FIRED" immediately! And deservedly so…

My fellow countrymen should not have died in vain so you can leave the countries you were born in to come over and disrespect ours.

I believe that if you are selling me a milk shake, a pack of cigarettes, a newspaper or a hotel room, you must do it in English! As a matter of fact, if you want to be an American citizen you should have to speak English!.

I think the police should have every right to shoot your sorry ass if you threaten them after they tell you to stop. If you can't understand the order "freeze" or "stop" in English, see the above.

I feel much safer letting a machine with no political affiliation recount votes when needed. I know what the definition of lying is.

I don't think just because you were not born in this country, you are qualified for any special loan programs, government sponsored bank loans or tax breaks, etc., so you can open a hotel, coffee shop, trinket store, or any other business.

We did not go to the aid of certain foreign countries and risk our lives in wars to defend their freedoms so that decades later they could come over here and tell us our constitution is a living document and open to their interpretations.

I don't hate the rich. I don't pity the poor. I know wrestling is fake, but so are movies and television, and that doesn't stop you from watching them. I believe a self-righteous liberal or conservative with a cause is more dangerous than a Hell's Angel with an attitude.

I think Bill Gates has every right to keep every penny he made and continue to make more. If it ticks you off, go and invent the next operating system that's better and put your name on the building. Ask your buddy that invented the Internet to help you.

It doesn't take a whole village to raise a child right, but it does take a parent to stand up to the kid and smack his/her little ass when necessary and say "NO”.

I think tattoos and piercing are fine if you want them, but please don't pretend they are a political statement. And please stay home until that new lip ring heals, I don't want to look at your ugly infected mouth as you serve me french fries!

I am sick of "Political Correctness" and of all the suck ups that go along with it.

I know a lot of black people, and not a single one of them was born in Africa, so how can they be "African Americans"? Besides, Africa is a continent. I don't go around saying I am a European American because my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was from Europe. I am proud to be from America and nowhere else.

And if you don't like my point of view, tough! GET OVER IT!!! WAKEUP WHILE YOU STILL HAVE A COUNTRY TO WAKE UP TO.

What happened to Commissioner Brown was horrible and an awful event. I hope there are no long term effects from this to her, her property or political discourse. Being a public servant is hard enough without this type of nonsense.

Nobody deserves this. I don't think you can assume to much about the ideology of who did it. There also appears to be a lot of coverage (to much in my opinion) about APS which makes me believe there are other constituents with issues.

We can all disagree without being disagreeable.

Discourse is good but lets dissect the message not the messenger.


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