The original read more like an extended Hallmark card, full of homilies, bromides and testimonies to the most important person in all of our lives, our moms.
We still share those sentiments, but this morning we changed our direction after tuning in to Cayman Crosstalk and becoming transfixed – and truly touched – by the anguish and pain of a mother who had lost her son.
The caller was the mother of Seaford Russell, who was killed in what was believed to be a gang-related shooting in Honduras in October 2012.
In the aftermath of the death of her son, several bloggers wrote to Cayman News Service, a local website, spewing self-righteous indignation over the path in life he had chosen, in effect, implying he got what he deserved.
Likewise, the day before, Crosstalk received a call from the sister of another Caymanian, Anthony Smith, who was apparently slain on the streets of Jamaica after eluding Cayman police by jumping into the sea on a stormy evening. The sister, too, was beside herself with emotion and pain regarding similar postings on CNS.
At this point, we should make clear that this is not a commentary about crime or its consequences. No one, we believe, takes a tougher stance on crime, its prosecution, and subsequent sentencing than this editorial board. No, this editorial is about man’s inhumanity to his fellow man.
Not one of us can imagine the anguish of a grieving mother who has lost her son, or a sister who has lost her brother, regardless of the circumstances.
And not one of us can imagine the additional hurt added to their grief by bloggers whose postings are devoid of even a scintilla of sympathy or empathy for the families of the survivors.
Even worse, not one of those offending bloggers had the courage or the decency to associate their name with their hateful and hurtful harangues. Every coward, and yes, they are cowards, hid behind the cloak of anonymity that Cayman News Service offers to anyone with a “send” key on his computer.
In the United States, legislation is now making its way through both the Senate and the House of Representatives to regulate hate or libelous speech on the Internet.
In the U.S. courts, an ongoing case involves a former Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader, who received a $338,000 judgment against a gossip website (“The Dirty”) that the lower court agreed had defamed her. The case, now under appeal, may find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What is clear, at least to us, is that the application or enforcement of libel and defamation law has fallen far behind the growth and content of the Internet. In Cayman and elsewhere, we support a standard set of libel protections that applies equally to print, broadcast and online media.
At Pinnacle Media this year, we discontinued the practice of publishing anonymous letters either to the Compass or its companion website, www.caycompass.com. We did so because we believe that anonymity too often engenders insensitivity and irresponsibility, or, in the instances cited above, brings pain to the most afflicted.