Active Zodiac-community member Richard Grinell (ZodiacCiphers.com) recently interviewed Gary Stewart, the author of The Most Dangerous Animal of All – Searching for My Father … and Finding the Zodiac Killer. The conversation is interesting because Stewart specifically addresses the question of the online Zodiac community and its various forums. Let’s just say he’s a tad bit critical. Additionally, we haven’t heard the last of Gary Stewart – read the article and find out why…
Gary Stewart Answers Questions
by Michael Cole | May 4, 2015 | Around the Web | 2 comments
Thanks Michael for covering the article, I am sure Gary Stewart probably knew going into this what sort of reaction he may get from certain quarters, nevertheless it was worthwhile from both our perspectives. He was happy to address certain issues and from my point of view the amount of feedback he gave far exceeded my expectations and I can only thank him for that. More importantly though it made me think twice about the way we treat people on the internet. There is a complete difference between criticizing somebody and disagreeing with a standpoint or theory, but it is quite another throwing vile abuse from the protection of a computer screen. When you have a discussion with somebody on a more personal level you tend to separate the man from the book and although, probably like you, I stay pretty independent regarding suspects, you tend to leave the discussion with more respect, even though you may not agree. The anonymity of the internet allows us to throw stones from the shadows with impunity, and what this contact with Gary Stewart taught me above all else, is that politeness is a much stronger virtue than unsavory rhetoric, especially when two standpoints differ greatly. As you have probably experienced down the years, the Zodiac community has itself created enemies within and often lost sight of the real injustice in this case, that a senseless murderer has still yet to be identified and the families still need answers. This case has moved on little in 50 years and doesn’t appear to be coming to an end anytime soon, but the answers they yearn for, doesn’t lie in five lines of filthy text. Right I shall get off my soapbox now, cheers Michael.
Yeah, I know what you’re saying. I’ve always thought the situation is a little surprising. Here we have a relatively small number of people who share an interest in a somewhat obscure case that happened nearly 50 years ago now. On first consideration, you would think what these people have in common (the interest in the case) would be much more important than the details about which they disagree. But, as it turns out, many of us are willing to invest huge amounts of time and effort into fighting about the minutia of the case.
To some extent, I think the case itself is the root of the problem. All this time passes and the case never really moves forward. We don’t have anybody who can say: this is right, that is wrong, etc. People become more and more invested in their own beliefs and more and more unwilling to tolerate other people’s opinions. If we look back at Voigt’s archived message board circa 2000, many of the people there were polite and respectful. As time moved on, some people became considerably less polite and respectful. I remember investing quite a bit of emotion into my participation on the message board around 2003-2004. I also remember being called some rather unflattering names during that time period.
Yet, at the same time, the situation is a bit of a balancing act. Giving everybody equal respect and consideration is not always the answer. We must strive to be honestly critical. Especially, nowadays when the media is at a complete loss in terms of evaluating claims related to the case.
It’s a bit of a conundrum. We just have to try to do our best on a day to day basis…