Whoopi Goldberg, Trevor Noah And “06880”: The Sequel

I’m usually pretty good at predicting which “06880” stories will draw the most attention.

Those honoring Westporters who die get forwarded often.

Pieces about zoning and land use — proposed teardowns of beloved landmarks, changes at the beach, etc. — get posted on social media (earning plenty of eyeballs).

And stories on dogs are catnip for readers.

But some reactions amaze me.

Whoopi Goldberg

Last Saturday morning, I posted a quick news flash. Trevor Noah — the headliner at the next day’s Anti-Defamation League of Connecticut “Voices: A Show of Unity” fundraiser — had just canceled, due to bruised vocal chords. His replacement was another huge name: Whoopi Goldberg.

It was the kind of story I do when can: getting the word out for a worthy cause, and hopefully selling a few tickets.

Page views were normal for a Saturday. But on Sunday morning, they spiked 10-fold. Well before noon, that ADL story had the most hits of anything I’ve published since I started “06880,” nearly a decade ago.

By Sunday evening, views were orders of magnitude higher still.

But people were not just reading the story. They were commenting too.

They were not from Westport. There were new, unfamiliar names.

And the comments were not typical “06880” ones. This was not a back-and-forth about the greed and short-sightedness of downtown landlords vs. the gauzy sentimentality of oldtimers.

It was not a debate about Connecticut’s fiscal health, or where to put a beach bathroom.

Trevor Noah

The comments about Whoopi Goldberg (and Trevor Noah) were nasty. They were vile. They were racist.

I don’t know how these people found the story. I assume it was posted on a website somewhere that draws readers who are unfamiliar with “06880” and Westport.

But they’re very familiar with spewing vitriol online. This is not, I’m sure, the first time these readers reacted to a news story about black entertainers.

I disabled commenting on the story. I took down some of the most odious ones.

I left others up. I wanted “06880” readers to see what’s out there, beyond the Westport bubble.

And to realize that the work of the ADL — and all the rest of us — combating hate, bigotry and ignorance must continue.


Here’s the good news. Avid “06880” reader/1987 Staples High School graduate Janette Kinnally writes:

I went to the ADL event. I thought Whoopi was intelligent, insightful and knew her history in this country (which, she noted, is really lacking in education today).

She recounted many events throughout the years. She said “let’s not make the same mistakes in the past” — especially when it comes to creating a dictator and encouraging white nationalism.

Whoopi was thoughtful in her responses, and funny when she responded to Westport’s own Alisyn Camerota. She and CNN (where Alisyn works) were targeted by the bomber 2 weeks ago.

Whoopi offered some great advice. We live in scary times, she said, but there is hope for the future.

We can make change, by taking action. We can’t just stand on the sideline and watch.

Whoopi said: We need more people to stand up, and have their voices heard. We the people should be in control of our country — not white nationalist men!

28 responses to “Whoopi Goldberg, Trevor Noah And “06880”: The Sequel

  1. Whoopee for Whoopie! Nailed it! This country was founded on basic freedoms! Education / freedom of expression paramount among them!

  2. Dan I think you were right in shining light on the hate elsewhere. They say sunshine is the best cure or disinfectant on this topic…

  3. Frannie Southworth

    Sooooooo happy the event was a success on so many levels. My friend Shira Honigstein was involved with the planning and it was a great cause! What a joy for all that Whoopi stepped in at the last moment. I was so disheartened to read that there were horrible racist comments on your previous post. I didn’t read them, but I just don’t understand these people out there and how they learned so much hatre. Who are their parents who taught this to them? They are surely not my wonderful friends that I have developed in Westport over the past 30 years living here. We must keep supporting organizations such as the ADL, ACLU and many other wonderful organizations, especially while we are under such attack in these times, where people feel that they have been given permission to come out with their hatred as you experienced Dan in the comments on your other article. Thank you for all you do, keeping us informed and supporting us in all we do!!!

  4. Roseann Spengler

    Shocking to hear this Dan…………… and frightening; thank you for always being so informative and totally honest.

  5. Dan: Don’t kid yourself about Westport. The under current of anti-Semitism, general racism is very evident even here in town.

  6. whoopie is far from a person who builds bridges among groups she disagrees with.. There were so many more deserving people who could have been chosen to deliver that important message in today’s day of polarization

    • Without getting into a back-and-forth about Whoopi, the ADL had about 24 hours to find a replacement for its major draw. I can’t imagine how tough it must have been to find anyone — let alone a big name — on such short notice.

    • Susan Farley

      she even defended Michael Vick and his dog fighting – abuse business (what they did to these dogs is so disgusting & heart breaking I can’t even repeat it on Dan’s Blog), I’m so surprised Westport thought she was a healthy choice for any event associated with Westport, Connecticut.

  7. David J. Loffredo

    All of these problems – racism, anti semitism, class-ism, etc – they’re not new and they’re probably no different in 2018 than they were in 1985 when black people in Detroit used to chase us out of town because we were white, and white people in St. Clair Shores used to chase us out of town because they thought we were affluent.

    This stuff is like shark attacks, pretty much remains unchanged, the only difference is awareness which today is exacerbated by the never ending news cycle and way too much social media.

    Remember when you used to read the paper on the train and then maybe watch the news at 6:30 or 11 – and that was it? I miss those days.

  8. Dan-very concerning. But this is just not a one side issue. This ‘hate’ exists in both sides.

    After the election one candidate who lost sent out a nice congratulations note that a news organization posted. If you did not see some of the posts that responded to this gracious letter there were online, you would have seen the so called ‘hate’ that exists in westport. Instead of being gracious in return, some attacked the candidate in a horrible hateful way. When someone tried to respond and back the losing candidates letter, that person was also attacked online. The posts became so ugly that eventually someone convinced the ‘nasty’ posters to take their most distasteful posts down.

    Hate has no home here? Maybe not Dan.

    • Hi Bart- The hateful speech that remains on Dan’s blog directed at Whoopie Goldberg is bad enough- anything worse I am glad Dan took down. Words hurt. Words have been used to dehumanize minorities- ie comparison to animals, trash and devils.

      When our president said there were bad people on both sides in Charlottesville- I agreed but were they equally bad on both sides or truly completely different levels of bad? And when he said there were fine people on both sides and that we knew it- I have a problem finding the fine people among the white supremacists and neonazis marching in Charlottesville.

      I am curious about the level and type of hateful speech that was directed at the losing candidate. Was it just discourteous and not accepting of the congratulations? Was it directed at the candidate’s race or religion? Did the hateful posters identify themselves? Did they post anonymously?

      I don’t think most Westporters posting with their names and emails on Dan’s blog are hateful- just agreeably disagreeable!

      I am just being curious!

      • Steve, I would like to respond to your inquiry since Bart is referring to an incident I experienced last week. After the election, one of losing candidates sent a public letter congratulating his opponent on his victory, wishing him best of luck and indicating a need for the community to work together to tackle many of CT’s problems. I felt that his letter was very gracious in defeat and must have been difficult to write. I believe that any candidate, whether I agree with his or her views, deserves a “thank you” for willing to serve our community. When I clicked on the comments, I was appalled to see some outspoken women calling this man a “dickhead” and “douchbag.” I felt the sting of their words and couldn’t believe that they were using such vulgar language in response to a gracious letter acknowledging defeat. My comment thread is now gone, but I questioned why these ladies felt the need to use derogatory terms when this man came forward with his letter? Instead, what I got was a personal attack alleging I wasn’t writing my own comments despite repeatedly telling them so. Initially, one woman insulted my intelligence and then another quickly jumped in claiming both Bart and I are unhinged, that we are mentally ill and should take medication. I did not deserve the personal attacks. I have never met these women and they certainly don’t know me. I have never had any interaction with them prior to my comment regarding their use of crude language. I find their actions ironic since their Trump-like behavior is the very behavior they claim to rally against.

        • Hi Susan- Thank you for filling in the details. You have painted a sad picture of uncivil responses to a concession from a losing candidate and worse- an uncalled for attack on you and Bart. Disagreements are a vital part of our democracy- but incivility and lack of respect from any quarter is just destructive to the fabric of who we all should want to be and who we would want our children to become. I am so sorry and again thank you!

  9. Dan – so you are censoring people’s comments? What’s the point of having a comment section if people can’t comment – good, bad, or ugly? We are all adults and should be able to understand people have different views and different ways of expressing that. It’s called freedom of speech. If people are offended then they can stop reading what is being written. If you are censoring the comments to this story then I wonder what else are you not letting people see? If you want a blog that is only full of pleasantries and views that meet your standard, there is no point. I didn’t realize you edit what you think is offensive.

    • Jay, it’s my blog and my brand. I “censored” (your word) or deleted (my word) comments that included the N-word. Comments that compared people to jungle animals. Comments that included the word “asswhole” (yes, spelled incorrectly — several times). And many of those were posted by people who not only did not use their full, real names, but also used fake emails so I could not get hold of them to ask for full names.

      You must not have been around before 2014, when I allowed anonymous commenting. Here’s the back story on my decision to require full, real names. The comments section has been a lot better since then. But — like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and many other outlets — I don’t simply allow anyone to post vile, hateful content, even with real names.

      https://06880danwoog.com/2014/04/26/no-more-trolls-the-sequel/

      • Dan-thank you for managing your blog that does not allow hate and bigotry. Let’s not give anyone space to spew their hatred.

        Thank you.

      • Well said Dan.

      • Elizabeth Thibault

        We support and appreciate all the work you do, Dan, to publish informative and constructive local stories. The additional effort to moderate comments to allow discussion and sharing of opinions to flow, without hatred and vile sentiments, is equally appreciated. You are not obligated to give a platform to these types of sentiment, and anyone who is interested in constructively discussing topics here isn’t really interested in seeing it either.

    • Frannie Southworth

      Free speech does not mean you are free to demonize other ethnic or racial groups. There are laws against hate speech. Dan did the absolute right thing when he saw it was out of control. Many blog forums kick you off if you use any kind of hate speech. There are rules. Unfortunately we need the rules because some people have no civility or a sense of common decency

      • William Strittmatter

        Actually, there are no laws in the United States against hate speech which, for better or worse, is fully protected ”Free Speech” under the Constitution. There frequently seems to be confusion about exactly what the First Amendment says and/or means.

        Here is a llink to Wikipedia article on topic of hate speech in US:

        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_in_the_United_States

        Having said that, this is a private blog and Dan is perfectly within his rights to limit or constrain what he allows to be said there. I applaud him for doing so.

        By the way, Dan’s right is pretty much like employers being legally free to limit speech in the workplace. The First Amendment has to do with government constraints on free speech, not private constraints.

    • Freedom of speech, protected by the First Amendment, prevents the government from censoring speech. Dan is not the government. Dan can “censor,” restrict or delete whatever he wants. It’s his blog; he can do with it as he pleases. If you’re offended by that, you can stop reading it. As for me: I am glad Dan deletes comments that he, and most people, find offensive. Thanks Dan!

  10. Dan, I commend you for deleting speech that is unnecessarily offensive and hateful. It is your blog and I for one applaud your integrity.
    That kind of response brings home, to me, the level and type of hate, bigotry and racism that minorities and people of color have to suffer daily from those among us whose minds have been damaged by the hate they are so willing and anxious to spew.

  11. Thank you for sharing as it’s a real reminder of the vile hate that is out there. The event itself was wonderful. Whoopi was a replacement last-minute headliner and only a part of the event. We heard singers from diverse CT communities unite together and entertain us. Similarly we saw dancers from Fairfield County delight us. We heard heart-wrenching stories of hate, bullying, and discrimination. We applauded the work of law enforcement working closely with the ADL to investigate and prevent hate crimes. The audience consisting of diverse social and economic backgrounds was truly united at the beautiful evening organized by the ADL. Last year the event was held in Westport and this year it was held in Bridgeport. We need more of this unity.

  12. Bill Boyd... Staples 66

    Dan…06880 shows up on MY Google feed but I don’t know how it reached a broader audience…I love Whoopi….she’s a true human being! I didn’t read the responses…I think I won’t…these are shocking times …I hope sanity prevails.

  13. Hate seems to be everywhere in today’s culture. Me…I’m a lover. Dan, you keep doing what your doing. I support your attitude and management of YOUR blog fully.!!!

  14. Racism is alive and well right here inside the Westport bubble, Dan. Just ask any non-white who lives here. As a white person, you might not notice it until it is posted on a public online forum in the form of the N-word, but for those of us that are not white, we experience it first hand every single day in our stores, in our schools, on our streets. There is a bubble in Westport but it’s ignorance not tolerance.

  15. Janette Kinnally

    A photo went viral over the weekend of kids at their prom doing a nazi salute. They were supporting white nationalism. My 12 year old son saw it on the news today, and said did you see those kids? Ridiculous that they think that is ok? Not cool!
    I thought to myself, I taught him well! These values are taught to us. It starts at home.
    And I don’t agree with what someone said above – that we are ignorant, not tolerant. Westporters I grew up here with are well educated on these issues. What you decide to do with it and how you live your life is your decision! But we are not ignorant!

  16. Dan,

    Thank you in your pragmatic editing not to post all the hateful comments. Wise man.
    There are many actions and reactions to
    thoughtfully standing up against hate.
    This was one of them👍🏼

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