Words, words, words

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

The trolls find plenty to eat without us feeding them. For example, after some of our recent cover stories, about gay Nevadans and resisting Trump, we’ve seen an uptick in trolling. The trolls have baited us with emails, phone calls and social media messages.

Some of them have even taken to harassing our advertisers and the places that carry our paper—most of which are small, locally owned businesses. That harassment has not amounted to much. The vast majority of those businesses support our right to free speech—even if they don’t always agree with our stances. I’ve said it before and will say it again: Thank you to all those local businesses. We take pride in being a community paper and have eternal gratitude to the Northern Nevadans who make it possible for us to do what we do.

We saw a lot of trolling on Facebook. There was a rash of one-star ratings, accompanied by bitter, hostile invective. The heartwarming thing was the surge of five-star ratings in response, which quickly overwhelmed the one-star ratings. Again: thanks, folks.

The five-star ratings were written by a diverse group—all sorts of ages and ethnicities. The negative reviews, for the most part, were written by white folks over 45. But here’s the biggest difference: The five-star reviews had proper punctuation, spelling and grammar. The one-star reviews did not. It was a remarkably consistent pattern.

When our supporters called out the trolls for their bad grammar, they defended it like it was a point of personal pride that they don’t care about grammar. That was one inspiration for this week’s satiric cover.

We believe that words matter. With all due respect to visual art, music, TV, binary code, and the movies, language is the best form of communication ever devised. When used with care, it can be an instrument of fine precision, carving out nuanced arguments or conveying the subtlest, finest points. Of course, it can also be a blunt object.