Defending Mr. Trimbleton

Respectful debate meets Facebook comment section, and unsurprisingly, it goes about as well as you would expect

Here we go again… This is why it is so scary talking about your opinions today.

Last week in our paper we posted an article called “Constitutional shortcomings at CNU,” and it was a bit of a sensitive topic. If you haven’t read it, you should go on our website, thecaptainslog.org, and read the article as it had some interesting points.

The purpose of that article was to start a conversation. In no way was our staff writer Mark Trimbleton trying to be the only one to have a voice in that conversation. 

I would also like to point out that Mark Trimbleton is a pseudonym as this person felt it was better for them not to have their name associated with the article. 

That is a whole different topic to discuss, however, and we will not be getting into the issues of free speech on campus and the consequences that sometimes follow when expressing yourself.

Now in some regards, a conversation was started in the comments section of our Facebook page. Several people added their own thoughts and opinions to the comments of the article on our Facebook page, and this is a good thing as they thought about the article and started talking about it respectfully.

Unfortunately, one person read the article, didn’t think about it at all, missed most of the point of the article and decided to post something as a comment that was not constructive. 

This happens from time to time and we tend to just ignore these people, but what they did next was just sad and unfair to our writers and our organization.

This person, who will remain anonymous (even though you can still find their comment on our Facebook page if you really want to), posted a sad and inaccurate remark in the CNU Parents Facebook group. You can see the terribly taken screenshot of the message before it was deleted from the group here with this article.

Messages like these make it really tough to have an opinionated discussion in today’s society. Their comment on our page didn’t harm anything, but didn’t further the discussion. Really, that’s ok and isn’t too bad for respectful, opinionated discussions. The message in the parents group, however, is damaging to themselves, us, the discussion and the wider CNU population.

Saying things like “My first thought, ENTITLEMENT much? Spoiled? Some of the students today have no clue” and “Good luck when reality sets in” with a condescending emoji is just hurtful to the writer. We are students who are allowed to have opinions and we should be applauded for having the courage to share them.

When we receive these types of messages, it damages our will to stand up for what we believe in and start conversations about controversial topics. 

As college students, we are expected to be adults, and so we act like adults with our opinions. Comments that are degrading like this one make us feel inferior which is not fair to us.

I respect Trimbleton for writing this article as it’s tough to state, “The reason I bring this up is because I deeply question if this university, Christopher Newport, a state funded school, upholds this separation, and I’m not alone,” in such a manor to the public. I think that they should be proud of being this brave, whether I agree with the opinion or not. 

I also respect the other people who properly debated his article in the comments section of our Facebook page. The unnamed person I’ve mentioned before has made this topic even harder for us to now have an open conversation about Separation of Church and State.

The worst part about the comment made in the Parents group on Facebook is that it isn’t even correct. Saying Trimbleton is “ENTITLED” for thinking that Christopher Newport isn’t doing a great job separating Church and State is just wrong. 

Entitlement can be defined as “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” I’m not sure what the author of the comment in the Parents group thought was entitled about wanting the University that Trimbleton attends (CNU) to follow the Constitution. 

To me it isn’t entitlement if something is a protected right by the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Moving on from the entitlement error, I would like to point out one more section of the comment made and analyze it. The commenter said “whatever handholding they’ve received thus far, I can only shake my head.” In this statement the commenter is suggesting that the parents or someone in Trimbleton’s life is babying them and making them too weak to survive in the “real world.” I would argue the exact opposite however.

Trimbleton is very brave to use the examples they chose in they’re article. They were willing to call out ideals supported by many facets of Christopher Newport University even thought that could have negative consequences for themselves and the paper. 

If that kind of bravery isn’t enough to make it in the “real world,” then I’m not sure what is and maybe no one is ready for “today’s world.”

The last thing I’d like to say is directed towards the person who wrote the comments. I hope you read this and understand I am not upset with you, or what you said. Unfortunately what you said was hurtful to the free speech of our students, making it even more intimidating to write about what we believe, but I know you probably meant no harm.

This is something that we need to avoid in the future. We need to encourage people to speak about what they have opinions about. Comments like these discourage discourse and bring everyone down. 

Next time please think about the implications of the things you comment online.

If you or anyone else wants to talk about this further, feel free to email me. I will be happy to discuss in more detail or clarify anything you would like me to. 

However, I will only respond to respectful messages as in the past I have received hate for protecting someone’s right to write what they believe.

Be respectful and let’s have an open debate.

~Michael Innacelli, CNUTV Director & Sports Editor~

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