STAFF EDITORIAL: Tone down health care comments on Facebook, Twitter

Everyone has the right to voice their opinion about health care, be it on the street, online or in person. But be responsible in doing so. There’s a big difference between free speech and hateful speech.

The prior lobbying and bribery involved with the health care debate quickly turned into hostile protests and threats against our political leaders. Even more frequent are the extensive health care disputes constantly updated online.

Countless Facebook statuses and tweets bore words of celebration or despair in the days following the bill’s passage, with statuses like “Those who are actually productive and successful are about to foot a $1 trillion dollar bill for those who aren’t. People are such MORONS…” or “Healthcare is a victory for the lazy, the ignorant, the unmotivated, the uneducated and the parasites of society,” and tweet, “Republicans had a health care bill also, unfortunately the dog ate it.”

With each statement, online chaos ensued when friends and followers threw in their two cents on reform.

Some degree of health care reform is necessary. As Vice President Joe Biden shared with the President, the bill is a big … ahem … deal. Even so, threats and hostile actions against political leaders, as well as coarse arguments between friends and family, especially online, are unnecessary.

Cries of communism, mediocrity in the future of medicine and the downfall of our country flooded news feeds. Controversial posts, whether positive or negative, were attacked by comments often targeting the person more than the statement.

Senior Becky Simo received some heat for what she thought to be a neutral post, asking people to be open-minded and give the reform a chance. People would “say things in a way just to get a response,” Simo said. As with many others, Simo’s status instigated a lengthy dialogue between perfect strangers.

Facebook friends and tweeters need to be accountable for their comments. To really be heard and maintain respect, explore the bill. Learn its components, its pros and cons from a reliable source, not by hearsay. Develop and defend personal opinion based on facts.

Discussion on the topic of health care reform is good, but only when it’s productive. The terrorizing tweets and statuses create only ill-mannered disputes between family members, friends, frienemies and friends of frienemies. It gets pretty ridiculous to say the least.

Shooting malicious comments back and forth achieves nothing. Rather, people should voice their concerns to our political leaders in a respectable manner.

If nothing else — and as stated in one post: “219 reasons I can’t wait until November” — be sure to vote for candidates who share similar values and beliefs. Congress works to create and correct our country’s laws to adequately represent its citizens.

Instead of ranting or raving over health care reform, educate yourself on the issues. Discussion is great, but be civilized and control your remarks.