October 23, 2020

Grand Forks TV

video for Grand Forks BC

All Things Come To An End

Last week (Jan 9, 2020) I sent the following letter of resignation to the City.

I offer for you boxcast.com. I have no idea how long they’ve been around, if they can live up to their pitch or whether GF would be able to use a US company to stream council meetings . . . but they do offer an impressive feature set and at a price that would be cheaper than I’d charge the city if I were to charge the city. But I’m not going to charge the city anything because I won’t be doing anything to charge for . . . because after 13 years and over 400 meetings I’m giving up and ending my volunteer work streaming city council meetings.

Whether I will be streaming council meetings at all from this point forward is uncertain at this point. If council wishes me to continue until a replacement system is put in place I can likely make myself available (it’s not as if I’m moving or starting something new just yet).

I won’t offer any of my equipment – it’s elderly and I’m not likely to be able to afford replacing it myself. The city can come up with comparable new audio video gear for a reasonable price I’m sure. I’m fully aware that between Kevin and Daniel a live stream could be done without resorting to external entities beyond the end point of YouTube or Facebook but some of the features in boxcast might make reproducing some of what I do more turnkey than labour intensive. Such as giving viewers ways of jumping directly to selected points in the meeting for instance.

I hate to do this to you guys – it’s not as if you have the extra time. But I think it’s time, for me, to bring this period in my life to a conclusion.

Those I disagree with are chipping away at my reputation, throwing shade on my character and freely engaging in slander and libel because I guess they feel they can get away with it.

I lack the financial resources to sic lawyers on those I should and even the thought of trying to argue sense with these trolls leaves me feeling tired frankly.

I feel that it’s pointless to post or comment in local Facebook groups because the trolls will come out to do their trollish things. So I stopped that many months ago.But it doesn’t appear to appease them – people tell me about things being said about me, words I’ve never spoken being put into my mouth, mis-characterizations on purpose (to apparently assassinate my character) and statements about my thinking that are news even to me.

Pretty much similar treatment to what you have had to endure Mr. Mayor.

This is a taste of political blood sports that leaves me worried for my standing in the community and for the future of this community. And for my partner’s business should the trolls decide she needs to pay for supporting me . . .

So I’m going to withdraw from the arena and consider what to do next. They say that the most precious thing we have that we can never get back is Time. This wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve had to write-off years of work along a path that eventually came to an end. It is the largest chunk I’ve written off though . . .

My humblest apologies to all of you. And I wish you well in the coming year.
Respectfully,
– Les Johnson
Jan 9, 2020


At this point I won’t get into pointing fingers or assigning blame – if you are a member of Facebook and visit a number of discussion groups you’ll know who I mean. If you don’t or aren’t a member of Facebook be happy you don’t run into it.

Trolls

It never ceases to amaze me how people change so drastically once they sit at a keyboard and begin to participate in online discussions. That online troll who savaged you for speaking up turns out to be ‘the nicest person’ offline.

There was a time when people would be ashamed to say a lot of the things that their online bully and troll personas do. And for good reason – especially in a small town. But apparently going online and putting those words in print on a medium that never forgets is somehow okay?

Defamation

It’s sad state of affairs when people can defame you online without consequence. I consulted a lawyer and found out that effectively the Slander and Libel laws only are effective for people with money – someone like me, or You, being repeatedly slandered in conversation and libeled online has no actual recourse because the cost of taking action far exceeds the punishment or reward. And for someone like me with who is technically a Public Figure it would be nearly impossible to prove.

Effectively this sets a bar that says this part of the law only applies to the rich and powerful . . . the rest of us have suck it up and put up with it. Even Facebook’s founder is pushing back on reigning in outright lies when it comes to political speech.

This is how the Mob destroys free speech.

The Mob

Last spring at the ‘town hall’ meeting in Perley School when I saw and heard the crowd hammering the board president of Whispers Of Hope with the question: Who’s On Your Board? I saw the Mob flexing its Power.

There was only one reason I could think of why this angry group wanted to know who sat on the board of this entity they did not like – intimidation.

I heard that months before, when the Warming Centre initially opened, one civic-minded, community spirited, businessman stepped up to the plate to be the person managing it. When people learned of this they began to voice their disapproval – they even visited his place of business. He withdrew. And it’s not as if angry people could easily go to a competitor – his main business has no local competition. But such is the power of the a group effort at intimidation.

Pride in my Community?

Over the years I’ve tried to do what I can to promote this community in a positive light. Countless hours and uncounted dollars to try and help make this a better place to live. A place where people choose to move to because it outshines other places they looked into.

Before all this began I had the pleasant experience of having people tell me they moved to this town because of me. They saw the things I’d produced and put out there for the world to see and decided this was better than their other choices.

Now there’s a little voice wondering if they still feel that way. Or do they feel like I sold them a pig-in-a-poke?

After all that’s transpired I seriously wonder if what I do after this will entail anything promoting this town. I cannot fake what I do not feel.

A year ago I was talking up the idea of a Media Service Co-op to get more people helping to bring the happenings and events and news of this town to everyone in the area. A more realistic version of what I’d hoped gftv and whatsupgf could be. Not for me but because I thought it would be a good thing for the community.

Here it is a year later and I’ve pretty much given up on that idea – why would I put myself out there to get beaten up over and over again? And who would get onside with me and possibly become a target for the trolls?

So I’m pulling away from doing the City Council Live Stream – once they can functionally replace me. If city council decides there is no money in the budget to do that then the community will have lost something it was getting, essentially, for free. Thanks to the mean spirited efforts of a small group of trolls and bullies. I sincerely hope that this will not come to pass, that meetings will be watchable from more than just the council chambers.

I just know that it won’t be me doing it. I could not sit in that room and hear the proceedings and not offer my input if I felt it was useful. That wouldn’t sit well with those who would rather I hold my tongue. And the whole grinding away process would continue . . . well this is my way of stopping it. They win – I concede.

What I’ll do next I’m pondering now . . .