Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Opinions are like what now?

This blog has been going on now for about two and a half years. During that time I have received many comments and emails asking questions about Kotzebue, the people and the culture. For the most part I am happy to address these questions. I have also received comments emails asking my opinion about certain social issues and whatnot. Which brings me to this comment......

By now many of you, at least those of you in Alaska, are familiar with the Dillingham blog debacle. You can read about it here on the Anchorage Daily News. Basically, the former news director for the local Dillingham radio station had a obscure little blog. Someone didn't like what she wrote and emailed the blog ALL over Dillingham and then all hell proceeded to break loose.

When people ask me why I don't write about local politics or social issues my answer is always the same...."You don't anuk where you eat." Especially in a town that consists of 3,000 people on a gravel spit one mile long and a half mile wide 500 miles from the nearest Dairy Queen.

I have received one comment and several emails about this issue and for once I am going to break my rule and give my opinion.

On her blog, Eileen Goode liked to go on and on about this and that, part of which included "humorous" social commentary. In her most recent post she states, "I am an insensitive jackass who more or less was trying to be funny and was not attempting to write a comprehensive or particularly journalistic account of Western Alaska"

The problem is, there is not much funny about alcoholism, domestic violence, social dysfunction and matter where you come from.

I think Eileen Goode's view is that the people of Dillingham are angry because they want to cover up the town's problems and that her blog was just bringing these problems to light and if no one knows about the problems then nothing will be done about them. Well, that's a good theory, but bad form.

One person commented on her blog... "I’m getting sick of people saying that we Dillinghamers are denying that we have a problem and that we are avoiding whats really going on, WE ARE AWARE! We are aware of these things that go on, and we aren’t ignoring them! But we also aren’t making fun of them and using them as entertainment for the entire world to see on the Internet."

Eileen seemed willing to air Dillingham's dirty laundry but I am not so sure she was backing it up being involved a grass roots effort to make a difference. Does she think her blog is a form of advocacy? Airing Dillingham's social dysfunction on the internet but not being part of an effort to effect change is no different than idle gossip in a coffee shop.

The thing that gets me is that she claims that she loves Dillingham. She states, "I do not look down on, or hate this area or these people. Quite to the contrary, I love it here, it is beautiful, it is unique and it a real community where people are no anonymous to each other." She goes on to say "I believe that it is no sign of respect or love or care to look the other way and refuse to tell someone when there is something wrong, something broken and something that needs to change."

Well you know what...I love my son too, but sometimes he does some stuff that really drives me crazy. I probably won't be putting that stuff on my blog anytime soon because it would be hurtful to him and wouldn't make it any better. Heck, maybe Eileen does love Dillingham. Maybe she does wish that things would change. I disagree with her methods. You know the old saying, "If your not part of the solution your part of the problem".



Lisa said...

Couldnt agree with you more. Thanks for breaking your rules and posting your opinion on the subject.

Tim said...

"You don't anuk where you eat."

That is the best explanation I have ever heard of why local media does not, or should not, do investigative reporting or exposes. Thanks for sharing that bit of wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Or wipe your lips with your iqkoon. Which she did.

Gizzy's Mom said...

Very aptly stated. Thank You Kathy.

Anonymous said...

This is why I love your blog.

Keep up the good work Kathy!

Millsy said...

I feel bad for this woman. She shouldn't be demonized for expressing her opinion. Too much of what she says is accurate.
Having been an outsider, living in a similar community, I understand her frustrations. About 80% of what goes on in the bush is swept under the rug and it is disgusting. I have lived all over the country and been involved in the criminal justice system all over the country. I have never in my life seen the amount of rape, incest, alcohol abuse, dv, etc. that I saw in the NWAB. It is horrific. If this woman's way of dealing with it was sarcasm and her own personal blog, good for her. Ignoring the problems and making excuses for them are far worse than joking about them.
I don't hear the people complaining about her, making any kind of noise about the actual issues she blogs about. Where is the outrage that people are freezing to death in the streets because they've had too much to drink? Where is the outrage that venerated elder so and so has rape nearly half the female population in town? Where is the outrage about any of it? It's just accepted. It's sick.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent post Cathy.

Anji Gallanos said...

Cathy...I think your post is well timed. You have a great way to take something, examine it and then look at it fairly and without judgement. I also write a a town much bigger than Kotzebue. My blog is a place for me to write about myself and the things that happen in my life. I have also stayed out of the political arena..even though here in Juneau it might have been interesting. However, even tongue in cheek can be hurtful to someone...and my kids have to go to school with these people...we see our neighbors everywhere and we stand in line behind them at the grocery store. Hurtful is hurtful and I agree..if you aren't part of the solution you are part of the problem.

Thank you for sharing your opinion.


Grace said...

Oh, wow. I'm honored that my comment spawned such a thoughtful post. And thoughtful comments, as well.

As an attorney, we are trained to look at things both substantively and procedurally. While the Dillingham blog may have stated some substantive truths about her community, her procedure in discussing the truths was completely inappropriate. Posting sarcastic generalizations that are obviously offensive on a public blog was not the way to do it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Cathy, for an excellent post! I have taken the same stance as you - avoiding commentary on politics and social issues that can be pegged as belonging in my community. That wasn't the purpose of my blog to start with, besides which I want to "put my money where my mouth is" by doing volunteer work.

Conchscooter said...

If I knew what anuk was I probably wouldn't either. A town of 2500 with the highest per capita rape rate reported anywhere in the US in 2007, has problems that can't be solved with a blog, however badly written. Weird that she thought she could be rude and no one would notice.

Anonymous said...

Well, I laughed when I read the comments quoted in the article: "A drinking village with a fishing problem" ... Classic!

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Another great post highlighting your terrific writing ability. You could write about anuk and make it interesting!

gpc said...

You do have a wonderfully level head and a terrific way with words. Thanks for another great post.

Finnskimo said...

Man, Cathy...Good thing I read your blog today.

I almost posted about all the bad things that have happened this week, and me trying to cover them up by posting cutesy pictures of my kids!

I mean, how many drunks have I seen walking down the road, I mean, aside from my husband staggering home...Sheesh. And how many times have I read the "whodunit" and seen the abuse and domestic violence reports of my cousins?!

I mean come on!

haha...just kidding, OF COURSE! But, really, great post. You shoulda thrown a picture of Uyaana in handcuffs or something EVEN BETTER up though! I don't like to read much, cause I'm from the vill. :)