Why you got to be so rude?

By Reade Brower | Jul 04, 2019

This week three readers wrote passionate emails; their displeasures with our newspapers were different, as were their approaches.

Two were direct and polite; stating their concerns and what outcome they desired. The editor and I responded respectfully; dialogue ensued. Were they happy in the end? Perhaps not, but both felt listened to (because they were) and all could agree to disagree. Freedom of speech is interesting; everyone wants it but when the other side gets it, complaints follow. Our policy is to invite diversity, the goal to create discussion leading to dialogue that connects us, leading to better understanding.

The third was also direct; a diatribe of complaints that grew with each interaction. The reader went from reasonable emails to denigration to the point of name calling; a Trump-like nickname to a person at the paper he doesn’t respect, using derogatory terms like stupid, while informing us our papers weren’t worthy of being “on the bottom of a bird cage or used for fish wrapping.” He called us “arrogant” and told us heads needed to roll, adding, “People are expendable.” When I disagreed people were expendable; he wrote me: “Well opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.”

Responding one final time with a simple, “Why you got to be so rude?”, his response was he was being “honest.”. To be “honest.” If I printed your name in this space, your claim of our irrelevance might be challenged.

Why does society have an element that thinks rude is OK? It’s not; we need to find humility to stand back and say, “You have a point” or “I’m sorry.”

The second Democratic debate had some back and forth conversations and aha moments. Kamala Harris had a couple; her well-rehearsed response, one that was “locked and loaded,” came during one of many moments where multiple candidates were talking over each other, vying for attention from moderators. Kamala bellowed out, “America does not want … a food fight. They want to know how we’re going to put food on their table.”

That resonated because it often feels like no one listens, no one cares what the other is saying, and we are back to a time where “nice guys finish last.”

Harris’s second debate moment highlighted Joe Biden’s absolute resolve to never apologize. When Harris talked about the “little girl from California” being subjected to racism in regard to school busing, Biden defended his decision to allow states the mandate to decide, doubling down by reminding us he is a civil rights champion.

That is well and good, Joe, but why not rise above this and say you were on the wrong side here, tell Kamala you’re sorry, add that in retrospect the federal government’s job should have been to step in and legislate, instead of leaving it to individual states?

This is consistent with Biden’s apparent “never apologize or say you’re sorry” strategy. People want to be heard, their pain acknowledged; ask Anita Hill, or the women who felt their personal space violated by your hugging. There are no personal issues with who you are as a person, what you stand for, or that you are a man of the people, but it’s concerning that, like Trump, you can never be wrong, Joe.

There were two moments in the debate where honesty won out. First was Bernie Sanders and his response questioning whether a democratic socialist could win the general election. Sanders explained, “We need a revolution” if we want to alter the direction of our country; he didn’t duck it, he hit it dead on.

The other poignant moment was Pete Buttigieg responding he “couldn’t get it done,” explaining why his South Bend, Indiana, police force was not more racially diverse during his two terms as mayor. It was a moment of humility that set him apart from the others.

Experience has shown that being loved is better than being right and that our best learning comes when we are on the “wrong side” of our belief system, but only when coupled with humility.

In fact, those moments boost you up. If Biden had come back with “You’re right, Kamala, it turns out I was on the wrong side of that one. That’s part of my learning and evolution and that’s what we need in Washington. Age is wisdom and wisdom is a benefit I bring to the table,” then that would have been more satisfying.

For those old enough to remember “Happy Days,” Fonzie couldn’t ever be wrong. When pressed one episode, he tried to say it but it came out “wrrrooooogh.” Fonzie got away with it because he was a champion of the underdog and this one faux pas was considered “cute.”

For the rest of us, humility is a virtue, and learning from mistakes and failures invaluable. Sometimes referred to as “not my finest moments,” that list is large and growing, hopefully at a diminishing rate. That’s called progress and, by definition, means imperfection.


“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe people are really good at heart.” — Anne Frank, Holocaust diarist (1929-1945)


Comments (19)
Posted by: Eric Schrader | Jul 10, 2019 09:51

Hey Ken, you're a little late to the discussion. I have enough advance degrees, however, but I do know good journalism when I see it. Maybe if a little more inquisitive approach were taken, we'd find out some things in our community that would surprise a lot of residents. As for my own periodical, I've already got that. It's called the Republican Journal.

Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Jul 10, 2019 06:11

Eric.....I hope you have reached a point of being smart enough to not waste your time OR maybe teaching Journalism 101 and starting your own periodical in some form???

Posted by: Eric Schrader | Jul 10, 2019 04:28

Well, then it's settled. Let the readers decide whether the Republican Journal reporting is done in the best interest of the Belfast citizens or will it just continue to be "fluff" pieces. And those useless sponsored ads that represent "luxury senior housing" in Belfast and Searsport that don't exist. Hey, now there's a subject matter worth writing about. Affordable rental and for sale housing in Belfast. What are the options available to the City and private investors or is that subject matter beyond the scope of The Journal. Remember, Journalism 101!

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 10, 2019 03:33

Crass, mean spirited responses to those attempting to make the world a friendlier place for us all. What have we allowed ourselves to become?

Posted by: Reade Brower | Jul 09, 2019 22:07

I think you mistake "arrogance" with someone telling you, after several insulting and debasing emails, "enough with your attacks". Perhaps you could consider that the more you pontificate, the more insulting you become. You have called the papers irrelevant, and now you suggest our journalists need to take Journalism 101 classes. You are correct, we can let the readers decide "what's what".

Posted by: Eric Schrader | Jul 09, 2019 19:53

You still don't get it Reade!  Arrogance via Dunkle's statement tells me that attitude must be pervasive throughout your organization, otherwise, he'd be up for a good discussion about an attitude adjustment. I doubt very seriously that you'd put up with anyone's BS for 5 minutes and the door would be hitting them on the way out. I've made my point and let others be the judge how "fair" your lopsided columns are, for which I've had to school you in the past or the relevance of most of the front page stories. Frankly, I think the Journal doesn't want to go near the Belfast Council or Administration with a 10 foot pole because of the noses that might be bent out of shape. Didn't anyone take "investigative reporting" in Journalism 101?

Posted by: Reade Brower | Jul 09, 2019 17:03

Eric, I didn't call you out in my column and gave no hints to your identity; with purpose, you outed yourself. Constructive criticism is not name calling or being rude; no matter if you think being rude is "okay" or not.

In this we agree, be accountable for your beliefs, do not allow others to disrespect you (name calling and being rude is by nature disrespectful); that's what this column was all about.

Posted by: Eric Schrader | Jul 09, 2019 05:55

To the Readers of The Republican Journal and the Knox County News:


    1)If you ever email Reade Brower or Dan Dunkle directly about anything, assume you have no expectation of privacy because they'll turn your communication into “fodder for another column”.


    2) Constructive criticism is somehow construed as “ contempt, disrespect (name calling is disrespectful in MHO), and doesn't except your explanation. When you, God forbid, challenge their explanation, you get “We can post our content when and how we see fit, and we can cover stories as we see fit. As for what you accept, that's your business, I guess we have to agree to disagree.

    3) I stand by my assertion that “politeness” has a limited useful life. I've used the 3 strike approach in my life. If I need something done or if I'm requesting information from public officials, I'll ask them, I'll nicely ask them again, usually in writing and the 3rd time, you'll be forced to give an ultimatum. After that, it's time to lower the boom on people that deserve it with what Reade calls “rudeness”. The problem with a lot of people today is they hate to be held accountable for anything and when they are finally called out, they either play “dumb” or try to ignore you. That's a big mistake because ignoring someone will take it to the next level, public humiliation.

So in closing, I say to my fellow comrades in arms don't ever accept mediocrity and most importantly, do not be disrespected by anyone.


Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 06, 2019 15:31

Refreshing to hear Joe Biden apologize and say he was sorry for some of his decisions of the past. It was at his talk in Sumter, South Carolina that I am listening to now live.  https://www.facebook.com/joebiden/videos/464030377493861/?notif_id=1562439615444965&notif_t=live_video

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 06, 2019 15:31

Refreshing to hear Joe Biden apologize and say he was sorry for some of his decisions of the past. It was at his talk in Sumter, South Carolina that I am listening to now live.  https://www.facebook.com/joebiden/videos/464030377493861/?notif_id=1562439615444965&notif_t=live_video

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 06, 2019 05:50

Great to see the interaction. Shows people are thinking for themselves. Yes, Reade, you are doing something right. :)

Posted by: Reade Brower | Jul 05, 2019 19:52

Jennifer, Stephanie is the Editor of the Belfast Republican Journal.

Posted by: Jennifer Hill | Jul 05, 2019 17:41

great newspaper, that Free Press - Belfast deserves a live-in editor. Why can't Stephanie be your Alice McFadden? She's courteous, she writes well, and she's here.

Posted by: Reade Brower | Jul 05, 2019 15:07

And to Jennifer.....two white guys holding all the cards and me being the "decider". How well do you know me Jennifer? Do you know that Alice McFadden led The Free Press, a paper I started with my wife in 1985, for almost 30 years and she was always the "decider" - not once in those 30 years did I ask to publish, or not publish something - never. And, the largest daily in the state of Maine is run by Lisa DeSisto - she is not a "white guy"either. She has been at the helm as long as I have been involved in that paper and she makes all the decisions when it comes to what comes into the paper. By the way, I do respond to people and I do listen, I have found that many people have their narrative set and have decided on what is true. They believe that I don't give equal time to both sides; they come to this opinion without knowing me and without even doing any research. In the case of the other 2 email concerns I got this week, they were to complain that we are giving too much time to a conservative column in our papers and wanted us to stop publishing them.

Sometimes, when both sides are unhappy with your coverage, it mean you might be doing something right.

Posted by: Reade Brower | Jul 05, 2019 14:56

Usually the best recourse is to let readers play out the conversation and that's why normally the authors aren't encouraged to comment on stories or columns. I'll break the rule here, as I am encouraging conversation. Appreciate that Eric wants to take ownership of his comments. He and I do not share a common definition of "rudeness" and on whether it is okay and justified because he wanted to get attention. I appreciate Eric accurately representing what he said and it gives the reader context to judge for themselves. Dan never suggested he was untouchable and Eric does not give you the context of their "back and forth" - when someone (anyone) addresses you with contempt, disrespect (name calling is disrespectful in MHO), and doesn't except your explanation, than a strong response is what comes down - the quote Eric shares is not the first interchange, I see it as one that is meant to say "enough" without being rude - and forceful is so different than arrogant. Stephanie is in charge of Belfast; having her come to Rockland doesn't address your issues Eric. Your in closing statement that "politeness" has a limited useful life is fodder for another column. I don't believe it makes one ignored or taken advantage of; it feels more like a child that doesn't get his way - he/she starts with reasonable discourse that degrades when the other person doesn't agree with them and then ends badly.

Posted by: Jennifer Hill | Jul 05, 2019 06:24

ahhh . . . the misfortunes of 2 white guys holding all the cards . . . people just aren't nice to them . . . just keep ignoring the plebes, Reade - everybody gets an opinion, but you're the decider

if you have 3 people writing to complain in one week (most won't write, but suffer in silence), successful business people respond rather than calling their customers disagreeable - what would it take for you to get it that your absentee editor needs to focus elsewhere - how about letting Stephanie have a go? she's right here in Belfast! with your stalwart backing of her, this newspaper could experience a resurgence

Posted by: Kenneth W Hall | Jul 04, 2019 22:33

Reade.....great opinion piece.  I find it amazing people get such blinders on their own vision.  I remember when Obama was elected how republicans were saying it was the end of America.  Just as democrats today claim Trump is ruining America.  The truth is be it Obama or Trump....both want the best for the country.  It is just what color glasses you are looking at.


The saddest point of this is, how Americans elect their candidate to office to make this country better.  In today's world there is a growing hatred between two sides.  That hatred runs so deep it doesn't matter what their beliefs are.  If the other side is for something the opposing side must be against it.  Even though there is past video of the flip flop in positions.


I believe the American people are going to reach a point of the amount of incompetence between both parties.  It is reaching a sick point of tearing relationships apart.  If the opposing side thinks the sky is blue the other side will debate because it is cloudy and grey.  Why can't there be middle ground for the good?


Closing I hope that this day of independence brings to the fore front of each political party.  If you are republican.....shame on you for claiming following God and living in love.  Then republicans should hold that belief and be with democrats in love.   Just as shame on Democrats for being the party of peace and love.  I DO NOT see either side practicing their own beliefs!!!  Shame on both sides!!!  SHame Shame Shame.


PS  Journalists are not helping!!  Shame on them too for not reporting facts and turning news into talking heads with an agenda.  How long before their ratings on either side begin to realize that the lack of truthful reporting without an agenda will end up alienating citizens away from their own reporting.  So that news becomes meaningless and people begin to enjoy life and the beautiful world we live in and how much better we feel without their transgressions.


Thanks again Reade for allowing a place to share ideas and vision.  Even though it can become so short sighted at times.  As I tell employees........We are ALL on the same team working for the goal of being better.  Ask ourselves...Did my actions today leave the world better if I do not wake tomorrow?  At least try!

Posted by: Eric Schrader | Jul 04, 2019 20:18

I'll lay claim to what Reade describes as the “rudeness” that he references to. First of all, I asked Reade why he always has to interject “partisan political” comments into almost every column he writes. He just can't help himself and I told him to give it a rest already. Then, I inquired why the Opinions and Letters to the Editor that are in the Thursday print editions, not posted on the website till sometimes the following day after the print publication. I asked why aren't there more substantive stories written in a more “investigative” manner dealing with the City of Belfast administration, since there is a wealth of subject matter to look at. I said stories such as “Road Closed down, New Principal Named, Joe Blow retires" have no significant impact on people's lives, but they hang out there day after day. How about the pervert from Montville whose picture has been on the front page for almost a week and of all days, today, our beloved 4th of July.


Then I got the following response from his news director, Dan Dunkle saying “We can post our content when and how we see fit, and we can cover stories as we see fit. As for what you accept, that's your business, I guess we have to agree to disagree”. I responded saying what an arrogant statement that was and why doesn't he publish that “stupid”comment on the front page of both additions. So if my attitude started to change thru the email thread, so be it. I commented that if Dunkle keeps up that attitude, then the Journal will only be worthy to line a bird cage or as a fish wrapper. Oh, by the way, I called Dunkle “Doonesbury” to get his attention. Big deal.


I told Dunkle and Reade that if I was an employee and I responded to a customer or client in that fashion, I should be fired. If Dunkle thinks he's “untouchable”, then he's got another guess coming because everybody is “expendable”. Well, in closing, I have found that “politeness” has a limited useful life. In most cases, it just leads to being taken advantage of or worst yet, ignored. Ignore people at your own peril. Then, rudeness sometimes needs to kick in to get people's attention. I guess I succeeded in that endeavor. By the way, I do respect the efforts made by our local editor, Stephanie Grinnell. Maybe she needs to sit in Dunkle's chair. “Expendable”!

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jul 04, 2019 09:19

"For the rest of us, humility is a virtue, and learning from mistakes and failures invaluable. Sometimes referred to as “not my finest moments,” that list is large and growing, hopefully at a diminishing rate. That’s called progress and, by definition, means imperfection."  

Refreshing and gives us; and others; freedom to be human. "By GRACE you were saved. Not by works lest any man should boast."

The only way I can find absolute peace of mind; being so eclectic; is a sincere belief that I just might be wrong.  Building relationships is more important than being right all of the time.  Now, if I'd learned that before it was too late for some.  :)

Disappointed to hear Biden is unable to say that he made a mistake. Not sure I can vote for him if that attitude doesn't change. Have seen enough of that with the present administration.

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