Be civil in discussions about flag display

Published 10:14 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Don’t worry. I’m not going to write about whether I agree or disagree with a Hartland firefighter’s decision to fly a Confederate flag during Albert Lea’s Third of July Parade, but I do want to take a few minutes to talk about the commentary that has taken place on social media since it happened.

In the days since the Albert Lea Tribune posted the initial story interviewing firefighter Brian Nielsen about his decision to fly the flag on the back of the Hartland fire truck, I, along with photographer Colleen Harrison, have been busy monitoring the Tribune’s Facebook page.

Our Facebook page exploded with comments after that initial story was posted.

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It’s the Tribune’s policy on Facebook to not allow any vulgar language in posts, and we worked our way through the comments to make sure no inappropriate language made it through, deleting some messages because of it.

As I read through the comments time and time again checking for new ones, I was surprised to see how vicious people’s remarks were getting.

I don’t know where most of the people who commented were from — if they were from Albert Lea or from out of town — but I was disappointed in the name calling and the language that I found was being used.

While I agree with everyone being able to have an opinion and the right to express that opinion, I just wished there was a way that this could have been done more civilly and with a little more tact.

I have a friend in California who heard about what happened and was even considering commenting to voice her opinion.

Over the weekend, I signed into Facebook and saw that the story about Albert Lea’s parade was trending on there.

People from across the country are watching as this story unfolds. It’s crazy that Albert Lea has once again hit the national news.

I encourage dialogue about the issue, but please remember to be civil in your comments.


Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune.