Ugly stuff on TalkBack

Dateline: Tue 08 Jan 2008

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana sent out an alert yesterday re: especially vicious screed on IndyStar's TalkBack -- a personal attack on Karen Celestino-Horseman,an attorney and former Indianapolis City-County Council member who is "guilty" of compassion.

The story, by reporter Shari Rudavsky, is in today's print Star and was online last night; it is about a homeless man, David X Harrison, who was known to Downtowners and died of bone cancer Jan. 1 at the age of 77.

According to the story, Celestino-Horseman was a friend of Harrison's. She is one of two women quoted who were kind to him.

For whatever weird reason, this earned scathing commentary from "Horsehead bookends" at AOL. (Others also went off on tirades about the worthlessness of the homeless, etc.)

"Horsehead" was responding to "Observer," who said, "this liberal rag must be hard up for a story."

Horsehead then took off:

"No just making Karen Celestino-Horseman look like a 'caring person'.

"She must be thinking of running for Carson's open spot, after all she is has made a career of running for office. Too bad she hasn't learned much about the 'winning part' yet!

"Horseman is a former worthless city county councillor, judge, gay rights pronoter, (sic) and is in the mold of Ryerson and crew at the Star. This story was NOT about a panhandler rather about the 'Compassionate Horseman'. How sickening."

Horsehead then included two links, one from Advance Indiana and the other from Bilerico, where stories about the lawyer were featured -- nothing negative. AI wrote about her hope that support from the city's gay/bisexual/lesbian/transgender community would win her a judgeship, and Bilerico posted a story she wrote about a gay couple kept from resuming their relationship by a relative after one became ill. (The Patrick Atkins case).

Horsehead concluded: "You guessed it---LOSER! She is now working in a law firm. Probably an expert in 'slip and fall' injuries.

"Just like Bart Peterhead wanting to heep their name in the public eye, even if you have to exploit some dead guy to do it!"

To the Star's credit, the comments were down this morning when I looked. I am told Celestino-Horseman has a thick skin. Still, I wonder: was she libeled? She was basically accused of being a crooked lawyer.

Gannett's TalkBack is an experiment that has failed. The feature is a breeding ground for hate and misinformation. It does nothing to enhance the community; it is not edifying. It is often mean and pitiful.

There are supposedly rules for TalkBack, but who is checking? Monitor it, or shut it off.


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