Madison County Opinion...

 March 7, 2001

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
March 7, 2001

Frankly Speaking

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 day.
Anyone can go to the Net and find support for any idea they may have.
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 own material.
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 or distorted.
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 His email address is
Send us a letter

By Rochelle Beckstine
The Madison County Journal
March 7, 2001

A Few 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 consignment sales.
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 60 percent.
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.
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