The Madison County Journal
March 7, 2001
The strange new world
of the Web
It has become a strange new world out
there. In the past, a local writer like myself would receive
feedback from friends and neighbors. Because most of them know
me, they judged my comments based on my history.
Today, the things I write wind up on the Word Wide Web. I receive
comments from many unexpected places. Many of these people understand
what I am saying and respond with positive criticism. Other people
who respond are reacting to my words based on their own personality
and experience. They criticize my ideas without taking time to
verify my facts. Sometimes, I wonder if they read what I wrote
or if they took my words and rewrote them to fit their ideas.
It is not just my ideas that are misquoted and misinterpreted.
Turn on any radio or TV talk show and listen to the calls. Often,
they will make the most outrageous statements you can imagine
while grossly misquoting some straightforward news article.
In many cases, these people are simply ignorant. They never learned
to judge the accuracy of information, to assemble various bits
of news into a coherent whole, or even how to tell the difference
between news and political trash. They pick up a few bits of
questionable information that fit into their preconceived ideas,
then spout distorted versions of these questionable "facts"
as proof of their contentions.
In other cases, the distortions are deliberate. In the recent
elections, we were flooded by TV ads containing vicious attacks
based on totally inaccurate information. Candidates were accused
of gross racism, of criminal activity, of voter fraud or lying
about their own record or the record of their opponents. Naturally,
the talk show callers took those false statements and declared
them to be infallibly true.
There are two factors that lead to these kinds of distorted ideas.
First, there are millions of pages posted onto the Internet every
Anyone can go to the Net and find support for any idea they may
There are so many ideas, so many questionable "facts"
and so many commentaries that it becomes impossible to verify
them all. Anyone can write anything and put it on the Internet
for others to read.
Secondly, our education system has failed. We have failed to
pass on the ability to read critically, to separate the true
from the false or to verify facts before we add them to our beliefs.
I wrote this article as much for myself as anyone else. If I
am to continue as an opinion writer, I have to make sure of my
When I am critical of some group or organization, I have to be
sure that the facts I quote are accurate. Then I have to write
in a clear, simple style that cannot easily be misunderstood
I appreciate the letters and comments from you. I am flattered
when I receive email from around the country. Most of your comments
are favorable and show that you understand my ideas, even when
you disagree with them. I will do my best to keep it that way.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.
His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His email address
The Madison County Journal
March 7, 2001
Words From Me
Gwinnett County churches have it figured out
Churches in Gwinnett County have figured
out something our churches have not. They've found a foolproof
way to earn money and provide a service to the community by holding
The churches invite their congregations and other people in the
community to get together all of the toys, various equipment
and clothes their children have grown out of for one big church
sale. The churches provide the price tags and the space for the
sale and they get 40 percent of the proceeds. The seller keeps
Volunteers from the church organize the clothes into boys' and
girls' and separate them into various sizes. They tally up your
total and put your new things into bags.
The seller gets money for stuff that was collecting dust in the
attic, the church gets money for adding to the playground or
recarpeting the vestibule and I get quality clothes and equipment
all at one place. No more scouting the classifieds for one-family
yard sales. I'm on mailing lists for about a dozen churches in
Gwinnett. I know that I won't have to weed through a collection
of bamboo trays before getting to the things I really need. The
only thing at the sales are baby needs, toys, kids' clothes of
all sizes and maternity clothes. And I do like knowing that part
of the money I'm spending is going toward a church.
It's great. The church provides a way for its congregation and
the surrounding community to clean out their closets twice a
year, in the spring and in the fall, and the people who are able
to get clothes and baby equipment for low prices are extremely
grateful. Last fall, I outfitted my entire nursery from consignment
sales. I purchased a convertible crib for $75, a pack-n-play
for $12 and a swing that looks brand new for $10. Most of my
maternity clothes were purchased from church consignment sales,
which I know saved me at least $100.
Now it's almost spring and they've started up again. While I'm
not in the market for more maternity clothes, I grabbed my bag
and my wallet and headed to Gwinnett on Saturday.
After two stops I had 23 items for $18. Cute summer jumpers with
strawberries and oranges and dresses she can wear to church.
The clothes may not be brand new, but for $1 apiece or less for
one outfit, they'll do. (I even got one shirt and short set for
13¢ because Saturdays are half off.) They're soft from washing,
but not stained. Just like putting on your favorite T-shirt before
climbing into bed on a rainy night.
In the fall, I'll be doing the rounds again collecting clothes
for fall and winter. Sure, I'll buy her a few outfits new to
get her picture made in or for a special occasion, but if you
can get nice clothes at unheard-of prices, why not? Now, if only
some local churches will figure it out.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for Mainstreet Newspapers.