2017-04-13 / Editorials

At the local level, nastiness gets us nowhere

Acorn Editorial Board

The comment on our Facebook page was right to the point.

“Will never read the Acorn again.”

We’d be lying, unfortunately, if we said we’ve never heard those words before, but usually it’s after a controversial editorial or story. This was different.

What elicited such a severe response from a reader? A painful headline? A botched photo spread? An offensive letter? Nope.

It was photos posted to our social media channels of Thousand Oaks City Councilmember Rob McCoy holding an Acorn with Vice President Mike Pence and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (see related story here).

The photos, done in the tradition of the paper’s popular long-running reader-submitted photo series, in which residents pose with the paper while on vacation, were provided to the editor via text message from McCoy. They were then shared online (not at his request).

Within minutes of posting, the thread filled not with remarks at how surreal it was to see our little community newspaper in the hands of two of the nation’s most recognizable political faces, but with vehement criticism of the current administration, of McCoy for having the audacity to be photographed with them, and of the Acorn for posting them.

“You should be ashamed,” one person told us.

Really, people?

It’s a sad sign of the times when we can’t take a moment away from the ugliness of national politics to simply enjoy the thought of a local politician taking the few moments he has with the nation’s second-in-command to ask him to take part in a time-honored Acorn tradition.

If retweets aren’t endorsements then vacations photos definitely aren’t.

Let’s be clear. We understand there are many folks unhappy with this administration, and we fully support their decision to voice their displeasure by protesting, marching and speaking out at town halls. We also think it wise to question our elected officials about their actions while in office; that’s why we followed up with McCoy to get the details on his trip. What did bring him to the White House? How did his work in Washington benefit his constituents in T.O.? These are fair questions.

But something’s awry when we can’t put our political allegiances aside long enough to laugh at the hometown newspaper in the hands of the vice president, any vice president.

We live in a divided nation; let’s not live in a divided city. Thousand Oaks is truly purple now, with nearly equal voices on the right and left. Let’s keep the debate healthy and never lose sight of the fact that while we may disagree on major policy questions at the national level, here at the local level, there’s still plenty of common ground (e.g., who doesn’t hate L.A. traffic?).

We will continue to present the news as we always have, without taking sides.

And to that reader who may or may not pick up the Acorn again, we hope to win you back.

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