I have the greatest respect for freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. Those First Amendment guarantees are the foundations of American society and have been the wellspring of our national ethos. In my opinion, the judgement of a newspaper’s editorial board to publish the opinions of citizens should be as broad as the law and common sense allow. There are well established precedents for libel and slander which delineate where free speech crosses the line, and those precedents are carefully and clearly stated in Constitutional law.
Mr. Robert Alcott’s letter of February 15th (“Chaos in Konick’s wake”) may not have violated any libel laws, but it certainly was a case of simple defamation being posited in the guise of righteous sanctimony. I am surprised and disappointed that the News chose to print such gutter tripe.
Mr. Alcott, who does not know Mr. Konick, begins by saying that Konick has a “total lack of character.” He says he has no empathy and talks of Konick’s “vitriolic, homophobic hate filled rhetoric.” Providing absolutely no evidence, no documentation, and no examples of this, he states that this has been “vocalized among (nameless) former friends and acquaintances.” He says that Konick’s rants on Rappnet and in the Rappahannock News “are well documented.” Yet he provides absolutely zero documentation.
Alcott then speaks of the recent KKK littering of hate sheets in Rappahannock and that the resultant “anti-hate” signs would be “rendered meaningless if one has a ‘bigoted hater’ sitting as a local representative!” He is, in a somewhat hateful and bigoted way, calling our neighbor Konick a “bigoted hater.” He goes on for a couple more paragraphs of this kind of character assassination. Again, with no evidence, not even hearsay. Third-rate journalism, Mr. Editor.
Well, I know David Konick and consider him a friend. He and I have butted heads rhetorically for twenty years or so, and I admire his irreverent humor, his passion for government, his brilliance in a court of law, and his doggedness on behalf of his clients and the county’s voters. He has done a lot of quiet good in our county, and of course he has raised a lot of loud Hell when he thinks the rules of governance are being taken lightly. And he may well know more about Virginia law and Rappahannock zoning than the rest of the BOS, the Planning Commission, and the BZA put together.
That the suddenly saintly Mr. Alcott expects more “empathy” from a descendant of Russian Jews is perhaps the most insulting, condescending, and plain old brain-dead comment that I have ever read in the Rappahannock News. Alcott and the apparently anti-Konick News might want to do some serious soul-searching before printing more of these vilifications.
“What goes around, comes around,” you know.