Little Town I Live In: 13

Most of you know about the teen-ignited wildfires near Gatlinburg, Tennesee, that led to the deaths of fourteen people and the damage to or destruction of over 2,000 structures in the Gatlinburg area.  This is tragic and sad, but what portends further sadness ahead is evident in the reaction of the locals (as well as those not-so-local).

I made the mistake of delving into the comments on the article “Authorities Charge Two Teens in Gatlingburg Wildfires” published in our so-called “local” newspaper, Asheville Citizen-Times.  Since the commenters made their remarks in a public forum, I feel free to reproduce their comments here and at length.  In fact, it is the very length and depth of this muck that make their words editorially notable, and deplorable.


Anthony Cieszkiewicz · Texas A&M
The social workers and public aid lawyers will contend that these two teenagers could not have known that there would be any consequences to starting a fire. They started a small fire, not a large one.
Dec 7, 2016 4:40pm

Mirella Gutierrez · Escuela Secundaria Tecnica #77
they’re probably some Caucasian Christian right-wing Trumpsters from Tennessee and as such will get minimal charges (if any). I predict that a 3 year prison term is the max they’ll face….
Dec 7, 2016 4:49pm

Pete Baynes
Mirella Gutierrez Bigot.
Dec 7, 2016 4:51pm

Vanessa Merold · Milton, Florida
Mirella Gutierrez, you’re an idiot
Dec 7, 2016 4:57pm

David Mcandrew · The Old School Of Hard Knocks
Mirella Gutierrez whereas you would be deprted and right back the next day
Dec 7, 2016 4:59pm

David Cook · Auburn University at Montgomery
Mirella Gutierrez, Your EBT card has been refilled.
Dec 7, 2016 5:09pm

John Smith
Mirella Gutierrez or they are minority islamic jihadist
Dec 7, 2016 5:12pm

Sidney Jewell · Landrum, South Carolina
Mirella Gutierrez how can someone so young be a bigot already?
Dec 7, 2016 5:12pm

Terrence Allen
Mirella Gutierrez Yeah. I bet they release the names/pictures if the kids are White, but not if they’re Dindoos. What part Mexico are you moving back to, btw?
Dec 7, 2016 5:18pm

Gregg Anderson
Mirella Gutierrez: Or Hillary protesters
Dec 7, 2016 5:19pm

Carrie Anne Smith
Mirella Gutierrez – Hillary, is that you logged into your fake FB account?
Dec 7, 2016 5:24pm

Jason Lago
Mirella Gutierrez Build the Wall
Dec 7, 2016 5:29pm

Paulette Baker
Pete Baynes You call her a bigot? Because she’s probably right about their being white?
Dec 7, 2016 5:31pm

Jim Christian
Anthony Cieszkiewicz: Muslims.
Dec 7, 2016 5:33pm

Jim Misner · Works at Retired
Mirella Gutierrez posted by a, or want to be illegal Mexican, Central American, or South American mud hut trash. Worry about your internal problems, and how you’ll cross the river and keep your hair dry.
Dec 7, 2016 5:51pm

Bill Melater · Dillon, Colorado
Mirella Gutierrez are you a dbag all the time?
Dec 7, 2016 5:54pm

Thomas Wright
Mirella Gutierrez: You soiled yourself Mirella. Get over it. You lost. America won. Enjoy your stay.
Dec 7, 2016 6:16pm

Chris Hanson
Mirella Gutierrez you sound like an angry mixed up girl. Good thing there are many other countries you could move to. Please go where u think its better than here.
Dec 7, 2016 6:16pm

Bill Snider
Mirella Gutierrez: Or they might be some illegal mexicans who have overstayed their visit and can’t scam anymore welfare out of real Americans
Dec 7, 2016 6:30pm

John Morgan · Part Time at Gizmonic Institute: Twin Cities
Death Penalty case if you ask me.
Dec 7, 2016 3:32pm

Joseph Girard · Classical High School, Springfield, MA
Wouldn’t that depend on whether or not they set the fire on purpose?
Dec 7, 2016 3:33pm

Jeff Felix · Concord High School
Joseph Girard: Good point.  That’s why we need to follow our process.
However, if it was arson I support Mr. Morgans recommendation.
The media gives the impression is was arson…..unfortunately none of us can trust the media from any side anymore.
Dec 7, 2016 3:42pm

Hampton John Ray · Ohio Northern University
Or a cigarette tossed out s window could’ve caused it. If they did it by accident give them probation, why ruin their lives , won’t bring anyone’s life back. Tragedies happen.
Dec 9, 2016 10:12am

Mark Willis
Funny, the Republican lawmakers who set the table for this disaster with their decades of climate change denial seem to be “living with” themselves just fine. I guess those millions in fossil fuel bribes kind of help ease any compunctions.
Dec 7, 2016 9:31pm

Karen Davis
If these boys did set this fire they should be charged as adults and charged with murder.
Dec 7, 2016 3:43pm

Christal Butler
Unbelievable!!! Two juveniles are responsible for this horrific tragedy and have been charged with aggravated arsen? How about adding 14 charges of negligent homicide and if charges do not exist for the monetary loss of a business due to arsen, let’s add that in too. I could not imagine being the parents of these two.
Dec 7, 2016 3:46pm

Rick Hansen · Owner at RLHansen LLC
Screw that putting them in jail, let the families who lost family members in this fire, take the two teenagers out tie them back to back, have them sit down and pour gasoline on the both and set them on fire, letting them feel what it’s like to lose a life
Dec 7, 2016 4:01pm

Tyson Park · Works at Big Ed’s Gas Farm
Dec 7, 2016 4:30pm

Nick Kenworthy · Works at Certified problem solver
Tyson Park – reported?  For what?  Sounds better than housing them for the next forty or so years.
Dec 7, 2016 4:33pm

Eric Kinnaw · Mizzou
What did your wife cuck you again and that’s why your such a salty Cunt today.
Dec 7, 2016 5:31pm

Peggy Moody
Make their parents pay the cost of fighting the fire then lock them both up for life.
Dec 7, 2016 4:46pm

Larry Jones
Do you really think their parents have MILLIONS of dollars?
Dec 7, 2016 6:29pm

John Monteiro · Owner at Self-Employed
It’s total Karma in my opinion that brings these life changing events into the lives of unsuspecting victums. Our souls/spirits are never ending. Can we agree on that? If that is true, then we all have had good and bad experiences in the many previous incarnations that we’ve lived through. These experiences will come back to either haunt or reward you. “What goes around comes around.”
Dec 7, 2016 4:46pm

Mary George
There is a female Mexican on this comment site who said the arsonists were white Christians. So what? How does the Mexican woman know? All I can say is Mexicans claim they are Catholic, and that they are very religious. Lies,lies,lies! All Mexicans voted for Killary, and Mexicans expect me a white Christian to pay for their abortions. Shut your ignorant mouth Mexican woman.  Get your backside back the other side of the border.
Dec 7, 2016 4:58pm

Don Scotter · Works at Retired
Burning at the stake would be appropriate.
Dec 7, 2016 4:59pm

Richard VanCamp · Works at Self-Employed
How about burning them to a stake down town Gatlinburg. These kids should tried as adults. For 7 counts of murder or how ever many died. Get them for killing animal , arson
Dec 7, 2016 6:11pm

Thomas Frazier
Burn them to death. There is nothing there worth saving.
Dec 7, 2016 6:42pm

Betty White
Hang there lil punk asses, they probably don’t and WONT work, we don’t need to keep them up.
Dec 7, 2016 7:06pm

Brent Miller · University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
Worthless trash. Please transfer them to adult court so they can spend the next few years being sodomized behind bars.
Dec 7, 2016 8:01pm

Tom DH
Hang ’em high.
Dec 8, 2016 10:35am

Sally Carlstrom Matthews · Rehab Nurse at Murray-Calloway County Hospital
Life behind bars. No parole.
Dec 8, 2016 12:01pm


I remind my Appalachian friends — as few as you may be — that these commenters would comprise the so-called jury of your peers, should you ever have the misfortune to enter our criminal justice system.  But if you do happen to be arrested in these parts (perhaps for using the wrong restroom), take heart:  you can rely on the Fourth Estate, our free press, to illuminate the events of the day and to ensure that justice and enlightenment will prevail in your case.  Right?

Here is the text of an email conversation I initiated with the News Department of the Asheville Citizen-Times, after having slogged through the disgusting comments above:

ME (to the Asheville Citizen-Times news editor, December 7):  Are you not aware of the hateful, insulting, swearing comments that have been posted on this article?  Read them!  All of them.  It is clearly out of control, a lynch mob mentality, and the Citizen-Times, by not moderating it, only encourages it.  Your newspaper is not creating an enlightened readership.  When it gets to this point, it simply provides fodder for the ignorant and hateful to stoke fires.  You — your newspaper — has a role in this and you need to step up to the plate and stop it.  You, your newspaper, is asleep at the wheel.

CITIZEN-TIMES (automated reply from Katie Wadington):  Hello!  I’m sorry I missed your note. I will be out of the office until Monday, Dec. 12, and will not be checking email until then, so a proper reply may be delayed.  For breaking news or urgent matters, please contact Brian Ponder.

CITIZEN-TIMES (eight hours later, December 8, from Casey Swaney):  Mr. Collins, the story you are referring to is from the Knoxville News Sentinel.  While we are able to use their news on our website since they are part of the Gannett network, they are the only one who can police the comments on stories they originate. I would encourage you to contact them with your concerns. Below is a link to their online contact page with phone numbers and a way to email.   Thanks,  Casey Swaney

ME (replying to Casey Swaney, December 8): But you (Citizen-Times) re-published it!!  Do you not have a responsibility for what you display on your site?  Why do YOU not contact the other newspaper?  You seem to have a very hands-off attitude about this.

CITIZEN-TIMES (silence):

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