Reader: Stop Giving a Voice to Dangerous Opinions

A new outbreak site in Centennial.
A new outbreak site in Centennial.
Michael Roberts
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For the past month, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment has released a weekly list of outbreak sites. The CDPHE considers a facility an outbreak after two or more COVID-19 cases among residents, staffers or the like are confirmed within a fourteen-day period, or two or more cases of respiratory illness with an onset of symptoms within a fourteen-day period are paired with at least one additional COVID-19 diagnosis.

Veteran Westword writer Michael Roberts has been publishing weekly updates on the state's outbreaks. On May 13, the iconic King Soopers at Ninth and Corona made the list. On the roster released May 20, Home Depot and Chick-fil-A outlets, as well as his local King Soopers, all appeared. Roberts has written about all of them, and his pieces have inspired strong responses that go far beyond whether or not customers wear masks during this coronavirus pandemic.

Says Nadine: 

Michael Roberts, you seem fixated on this topic. What's next, a series on outbreaks at a Dollar Tree? Fasten our seat belts! Time to put on the ol' thinking cap and write something interesting and original like the Westword of days gone by.

Responds Justin: 

Fuck anyone wearing a mask! You lame. You pussy. You indoctrinated!

Replies Colleen:

Westword, I greatly admire your ability to trigger all the fragile males of the world. Keep up the good work.

Comments Vaughn: 

You should get at your journalists and remind them that they're supposed to report facts, and not insert their opinion into articles. Your magazine lacks basic journalism ethics, and too much opinion is felt when reading your articles. They are slighted, and skewed based on what opinion the writer has. That's not how it's supposed to be.

Says Neil:

I commend you for pointing out how people and businesses are not taking the virus seriously. People die from this, yet some don't seem to care. If they were to pass it on to their own family, they still wouldn’t get it. At the very least they should be banned from family gatherings where their own parents and in-laws would be.

And then there's this from S:

When covering COVID, why do you post comments/opinions from people that are not in line with the CDC and WHO? I would argue that this is not the time to share "both sides" of the argument when one side is from specialists, scientists, doctors, researchers, and medical professionals, while the other is a bunch of people who struggled to finish high school and/or will drink any Kool-Aid that tells them everything is a conspiracy. This isn't a regular respiratory issue- people are dying faster and at higher rates.

One side is based in facts, the other is not. There is no argument for "both sides" coverage when this is a global health crisis and the consensus and facts are clear and cut. This allows people to not wear masks and it allows them to continue to be selfish and ignore the precautions set in place to protect our community. Readers see that others in the Denver community don't think it's a big deal and could potentially feel like maybe they're right (a wild, but sobering reality).

Please do better. Stop giving a voice to dangerous opinions — opinions that could be a link in a chain to someone's death.  

Whose opinions are dangerous? The reader who calls mask-wearers pussies? Or the one who applauds Westword's ability to trigger "fragile males"? Should we censor comments? Or share them?

Should we report the number of unmasked customers we see at outbreak sites? Or stay silent?

What would you like to see from Westword in the days ahead?

Post a comment or send your thoughts to editorial@westword.com.

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