Should Apopka Fire Chief Sean Wylam be replaced? Should City Attorney Michael Rodriguez be removed? Should Mayor Bryan Nelson be recalled?
There are a lot of important topics circulating through Apopka these days, and just as many opinions about how to handle them. Differing ideas, debates, and discussions can be healthy for a city. But it can also tear a community apart if it goes in the wrong direction.
I have been the managing editor of The Apopka Voice for over seven years, and I can tell you firsthand that this community expresses itself with gusto. Whether in public, at a city council meeting, on social media, or in comments on our news site, it's easy to know where Apopka residents stand on issues. And with so many at the forefront these days, it's easy to bring strong opinions to the table.
The Apopka Voice welcomes your comments and applauds the passion you exhibit for your community. We always have, and we always will. It's one of the reasons we chose to put "Voice" in our name. We want to hear from you. We want you to use The Apopka Voice as a sounding board.
But we also want civility from the civil discourse.
In 2018, we introduced guidelines for our readers to comment on our Facebook page or news site. They are modest boundaries that allow everyone to enjoy the experience of interaction and feel comfortable and welcome to post comments. We are asking that you follow these guidelines as you post your thoughts, insights, and information on our space:
As has always been our policy, if you have thoughts on these guidelines, please feel free to comment below this article or on our Facebook page. We are open to your suggestions.
It's been five years since we published those guidelines, but considering the current climate of Apopka politics, and the recent threads of comments we received on our news site, we decided to remind our readers of those standards.
And while I have no say over local social media or public comments at the City Council meetings, I would like to make a strong suggestion to our readers, Apopka residents, and Facebook page admins to dial down the rhetoric while the city goes through these critical issues like terminating a fire chief, a city attorney, and recalling a mayor.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not proposing we all follow Robert's Rules of Order on Facebook. But there should be boundaries in how you choose to make your points.
Here are a few suggestions that should be off-limits in your discourse:
It may seem like the person you are critical of deserves anything you can throw at them. It may seem, or even be true, that they have done no less to their political opponents than you are. But there is never an appropriate time to attack a person's spouse, their weight, or anything of a personal nature about them.
It's certainly fair to be critical of elected officials and department heads in Apopka. It's your home, and most of you are taxpayers. But it will be much more effective if your criticism is based solely on facts and policy. You lose credibility when they stray into insults.
I hope this doesn't come off as preachy. I certainly understand how upsetting these issues can be. But good friends tell their friends when something needs to be corrected. And I have always considered the readers of The Apopka Voice, the residents of Apopka, and the admins of local social media pages as friends.
The causes you are taking on are important to this community. And because of this, your communication about these causes are just as important.
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