As many know, the most trafficked chat forum for Cranford is CranfordTalk, which about a year ago moved from a board hosted by an increasingly flustered resident named Mark Dinglestedt to a more wide-open board hosted by Dave (I don’t know his last name).

The problem for Mark (who ran a pretty good board), was the number of really off-the-wall negative postings which placed too much of an onus on him to do policing on the board. The current board is more anything goes, and most everything is pretty much tolerated by Dave (An aside, I do respect Dave’s commitment to free speech. He has been consistent on that, and that’s good). Since the site supports anonymous postings, the anonymous postings range from offensive inflammatory statements to benign drivel. Sometimes the regulars also provide some head-scratching posts.

Why do I ever look at it? Sometimes it is helpful in learning what the cops were doing in front of someones house – local info that wouldn’t make the newspaper.  Sometimes (although lately more rarely) there’s a thoughtful post or some useful local knowledge shared. But for meaningful exchanges of opinion it is pretty much useless. Occasionally a regular or guest posts something funny. It’s a quick skim, not much more.

Now I don’t get any love from most of the posters on CranfordTalk, and I don’t care. It is too often a leftist echo chamber – not much in the way of real debate occurs as diverse opinions are not well tolerated. It’s like the high school lunch table that welcomes you on your first day in your new school, and pretty soon you figure out why they try so hard with the new kids. (I don’t doubt that I will get bashed for this, but so what?).

Recently, a user named jbken thought it would be a good idea to join this lunch table, and he learned the hard way. (I read only a few of his posts, agreed with some, disagreed with others, and wondered what the hell he was thinking on a few more.) Not only was he shouted down, but outed, shamed, and cast out by the lunch table.

He seems to have taken it a bit personally. Which is too bad. Caring too much about the lunch table kids think gets a lot of people into trouble. He seems to be on his way to finding a lunch table of his own and that is not a bad thing.

The lunch table problem is one of the reasons why I started Cranford Pundit. I want to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it that particular day and not be shouted down at every turn (it’s not all the CranfordTalkers, but it is plenty of them).

I want to be able to provide some information to fellow Cranfordites that may be helpful (we get random searches on a lot of older posts from the search engines). But it’s also because I would rather be at a lunch table that can respect others’ opinions, listen to well-thought out arguments, debate and can demonstrate to outsiders that Cranford is a great town that’s not completely saturated with partisan loons.

If I have to sit by myself for a while at that lunch table, so be it.