During the last three and a half years, it has been a privilege and a joy to serve my hometown as an assistant to the Mayor. I rarely write about my daily work, but I can state, unequivocally, that it has been an incredibly rewarding experience, day in and day out.
I promise, I’m not just saying this: I consider myself blessed to work for one of the most magnanimous and brilliant people I’ve ever met– and alongside a diverse team of people who care deeply for their community. Each and every one of these people have, by virtue of their job, opened themselves up to public criticism and ridicule, and all of them have handled themselves with the utmost dignity and integrity. Believe me, it’s not always easy, particularly in the blogosphere, an arena in which anonymous commentators can lob scurrilous and hurtful accusations without any notion of accountability.
I’ve always treated my personal blog as a refuge and a hobby, an unlocked journal about my own impressions on life here in Louisiana.
To be sure, I haven’t shied from controversy, and on more than one occasion, I’ve had to walk back statements I’ve made.
I’ve learned that sometimes, particularly when you’re trying to respond and react to the world around you, things can be dynamic; facts can change; the story can shift. I’ve learned that there is a time and a place for everything.
And recently, I’ve learned that people are actually paying regular attention to what I publish on my personal website and that some in the local mainstream media think my commentary can be newsworthy, particularly if I say something I subsequently admit to be a mistake.
Although I earnestly believe our local media should hold others (and themselves) to the same standards of accountability, I’ve never once attempted to excuse my own responsibility, even when it comes to things I publish and retract from my personal website. I take full responsibility.
I own my mistakes; no one else does or should be forced to.
I also now have a much clearer understanding of how our local media operates– what they say “off the record” about their own decision-making process, the way in which they can purposefully and easily manufacture controversy.
In a small town like Alexandria, it can be a little disheartening: It’s much easier to put people down than to build them up.
It’s made even easier when you are encouraged to mine your stories from an anonymous and unaccountable blogosphere.
I wish I could say, “It comes with the territory,” but that’s not the truth.
For better or worse, the truth requires us to bust down the fourth wall, but try as I might, I doubt it will happen any time soon.