Anonymity allows for cowardly viciousness

To the Editor:

Social media has become commonplace in our everyday lives. It allows us to communicate with friends, to share pictures, and to keep in touch with loved ones.

However, we are all aware that there is a dark side to social media. It’s very anonymity allows for a level of cowardly viciousness that stains the environment of such media. Most of us pass by such darkness and dismiss it as the byproduct of sick minds. It nonetheless has the effect of invisibly eroding the quality of our daily lives.

However, when social media is used by an organized political party to spread anonymous viciousness, it not only cheapens our political discourse, it is clearly damaging to our democracy. The only way to combat such vile behavior is to bring it into the light of day and open public discourse.

A recent post found on the Berne Republican Party Facebook page, unfortunately, exposes such viciousness. The post depicts a cartoon of Mount Rushmore altered to show the faces of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Joseph Epstein, and President-elect Joe Biden. The caption reads, “Mount Touchmore — what Switzkill Farms may become if Democrats had their way.”

This is not simply the anonymous rant of a sick individual venting a cowardly smear on his or her laptop.  It is the statement of an organized political party which, unfortunately, demands to be exposed to the larger community in order that it can be held up for public censure.

It is infantile, hateful, and vicious on many different levels. It is a truism that politics is not for the faint-hearted. However, the quality of this post is so awful that, as a community, we must condemn such behavior. It darkens the quality of our lives at a time when we are surrounded by existential threats that demand the unified will of the community.

Mr. Randy Bashwinger is the chair of the Berne Republican party (as well as the Albany County Republican party) and allowed this vicious post to appear on the party’s Facebook page. Mr. Bashwinger is the very highly paid and very-part time highway superintendent for Berne.

He also sits on the Berne-Knox-Westerlo School Board. Is this how our students will learn the critically important lessons of civics?

Mr. Bashwinger must be called upon to publicly apologize for such behavior. The Republican-backed Berne Town Board must be called upon to censure such behavior.

The voters will ultimately decide if such anonymous viciousness is a necessary part of our civic life.

Lawrence Zimmerman

East Berne

Editor’s note: Lawrence Zimmerman is a member of the Berne Planning Board.

The post on the Berne Republican Party Facebook page was made July 6, 2020.

More Letters to the Editor

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.