Last Sunday's As It Stands column - EPA validates global warming threat, but don't expect change soon - has fired up many readers and inspired others.
I learned one thing about the negative responses; they nearly all (99%) had a common denominator; Al Gore. His name is like waving a red flag in front of a bull to Conservatives.
They centered their criticism of the column around my mention of Al Gore. The mere mention of his name resulted in polarization. The rest of my message was lost on them as they lashed out like startled snakes!
Using the term "global warming" seems to polarizes people. Some come back with facts of their own, based upon their research. Those are the ones I like. Others go off in triads that aren't even worth reading.
When I make the mistake of responding to some remarks on the Times-Standard Topix Forum, trolls go on holiday and hang around the thread making hateful and stupid statements.
I think it's one of the only Online topic forums that I've read where so many trolls dwell daily. Sometimes I appeal for mutual respect, but that just makes the trolls bolder. I wish they had the guts to use their real names. Trolls are bored web bottom-feeders.
In an interesting email message, David Walker warned me that "I was being taken for a ride by Al Gore." My email response to him was, I thought I made a miscalculation using Al Gore's name because it polarized so many readers, and for using the term "global warming." Walker was one of many who pointed out how much money Gore is making, and that he believes Gore is a phony. I have no problem with people who feel this way, but I wish they would calm down and watch their blood pressure. No one's name (and that includes ex-president Bush) should have so much power over a person that they loose the senses!
I noticed on the forwarded email addresses that Walker sent my column to Senator Fran Pavely (Senate District 23) with a wry comment (before going off about Al Gore) "I wish I had what Dave was smoking!" Walker also forwarded Sen. Pavely this May 25, 2004 Associated Press article by Don Thompson, Fire and water drive western growth, prompt warming conference Pavely describes herself on her web site as an Environmental Crusader.
More links provided were, The Union Tribune Online edition "Reader comments section"
http://www.marinij.com/opinion/ci_11608523 which led to the full article
LAO confirms fraudulence of claims AB 32 is benign
which ran in the Marin Independent Journal's Online edition.
I've always been aware of the power of words. Most writers are.
I guess I didn't realize how politically charged Al Gore's name really is. I've seen him called every name in the book in the last few days. But I also read that many people believed in what he was doing. In this case some readers could only focus on his name. I don't believe they took the column as a whole. The moment they saw Gore's name it was over and the blinders descended.
I'm really considering not using the term "global warming" anymore because it's too politically charged. I don't want to lose readers who freeze up when they see it. Climate warming might not be a bad idea. If you have any thoughts on terms that would be less polarizing feel free to make a comment below.
As It Stands,Labels can be divisive. I have a column coming down the pipe on that subject soon.