Patch Columnist Counters Critics

Beleaguered Moorestown Patch columnist Marsia Mason continues to exercise her First Amendment rights.

One of my all-time favorite writers is the late Mike Royko, a newspaper columnist born and raised in Chicago who was well known for taking on Mayor Richard Daley (the first), Big Boss of The Windy City. He also famously tangled with Frank Sinatra when Ol’ Blues Eyes made a Chi’town appearance, guarded by a huge contingent of Chicago policemen. Sinatra publicly called Royko a “pimp” when Mike had the audacity to question why a celebrity with an already huge entourage needed the extra muscle of a platoon of cops.

Mike was frequently criticized for “telling it like it is,” or at least HIS opinion of whatever political maelstrom he was covering. And although I can only dream of being the writer he was, , offending practically everyone in town, including geese. Mea culpa, mea culpa.  

We live in a town where most people do not want to rock the boat, or the turf. And now, because I have the gall to have an opinion that is contrary to others, some people are calling for me to be fired from Patch, fired from and forced to make apologies to township attorney Tom Coleman, the Three Stooges and the late Joe Paterno. All because I have the nerve to say what many are thinking but wisely keep to themselves. Wise is not my strong suit, but defending my right to say what I’m thinking IS. So, as succinctly as possible, allow me to respond to some of my more passionate critics:

“Your needs are selfish. I’ve asked before, if you hate it here so much why stay? You sound like a big baby”

Yes, my needs are selfish—aren’t yours? But really, what do you know about my needs? You don’t know me. I have written extensively about my dislike for the machinations of our current town council in their quest for turf fields, it’s true. But I’ve written just as many columns about the many joys of living in our green little paradise of a town. You’re only commenting on the negative. Isn’t that what you’re accusing me of?

Some think I should be 86’ed for my opinions, but yours are all OK? I recognize the fact that, like myself, you have strong opinions and are not afraid to use your own name when voicing them. But you consistently take my words out of context to prove your point. 

“It is articles like this that are dividing our town with hateful comments and insensitive comments like athletes are all bullies.” 

This is important, so let me be clear: I never said that. The phrase I used was “many athletes.” I stand by that statement, regardless of the generalization. If you like you can use the phrase “some athletes” instead of “many athletes.” The words “some” and “many” are far from “all.” So I’m not apologizing for using them, and I take offense at being told I called “all athletes” bullies because I DID NOT. You are right to suggest I had unresolved issues about "us jokes," but I think you meant "us jocks." Is a jock someone who believes in physical fitness? Someone who goes to the gym frequently, enjoys sports and watches games on television? .

BUT, I truly take offense in the fact the Marisia is accusing every parent in this town of raising a town of bulliies.” 

I can tell you’re a good mom, but that’s not what I said and you know it.

To the Penn State alumni and defenders: I am sorry to lump all of you into one paragraph, but so many people hate me right now that I want to save some room to respond to them as well. Here’s what I wrote: 

“Look at what's happening at Penn State. This was an institution that revered their football program above everything else, including education and the welfare of children. I would never compare Moorestown to Penn State, but there is a lesson to be learned by putting sports on a pedestal much higher than that of education.”

Penn State alumni had this to say about that.

"Thank her for calling all athletes bullies or slandering Penn St again!?! Yes, let's thank her for being such a divisive person on a personal crusade for her own selfish causes. Her vile message is not something anyone would be proud of.” 

Again, college grads, let me point out that many is vastly different than all.  And the monster you spoke of (Jerry Sandusky) was allowed to continue abusing kids because of the power, prestige and revenue of the football program. That, in my opinion, is a very clear example of putting sports above education, which I think is very dangerous. That was my point. Sorry you missed it. Perhaps I didn’t make it clear before. How about this: Sports are important. Sports are not most important. , and not what I see as a priority in Moorestown where youth sports are already quite strong.

What is my cause, by the way? If you're talking about the library as being my cause, I must clarify. Here’s my position on the library: I work there, I love my job and I’m good at it. as a counterpoint to the calls from the coaches to get the turf fields built NOW. The library has been in limbo for close to 20 years versus several years of the K.I.D.S. Initiative, so why the urgency?

I have never demanded a new library, folks. My column of Jan. 9, 2012, . But if I had, how would a new library possibly serve me? Better chairs to sit on? Perhaps. A mildew-free workplace? Sure. But a clean, well-lit library doesn’t benefit me as much as it does the public. Hey, it will benefit our young athletes too: books about fielding your position in baseball, the “2” technique in football, playing goalie in soccer or hockey, handling your stick in field hockey and lacrosse—it’s all here at the ol’ library folks! Come on in!

Another reader said he "cringes when I see a headline authored by her." Nobody is forcing you to read my column. I certainly don’t want you to cringe. I based my remark about bullying on the almost 10 years I was a substitute teacher here and in other towns. I’m sure your children are/were lovely student-athletes. We all believe that of our children, but unless you are accompanying your children to school every day, you have no idea how kids behave when they are away from home. Peer pressure is extreme and, unfortunately, many fine young people succumb to it, regardless of what we try to teach them. 

In raising them, I told my sons they could always find something to apologize for, even when they were positive that they were being victimized, picked on or targeted. So I am sorry I said “many athletes.” As stated above, maybe I should have said “some athletes,” so I sincerely apologize for that. But there is a germ of truth in what I’ve said about bullies, whether you want to admit it or not.

Last but not least, let me reply to the posters who suggested I should be fired for writing my opinion. As I said, I write as many articles about what I love here in town as I do about the politics that sadden me. Do I hate the people of Moorestown? No, I don’t. But, as you pointed out, . I’m going to rush right down to  and yell at one right now.

For anyone to take an opinion piece and twist it into a campaign to get me fired is akin to a witch hunt. You worry aloud about how I will treat your “jock” children, and in the same sentence claim to have attended some of my programs. If you had sat in on any of my kindergarten programs, you would know I treat ALL kids with affection and a sense of humor. I love what I do and the kids love me right back, so I would be surprised if your call for others to join your lynch mob resulted in any negative comments about the way I read Mo Wilhem to the kids. And by the way? Shame on you for referring to your children as jocks at such an early age! They have years to define themselves.

In parting, if you see me on Main Street, wearing a tatty, floor-length robe and waving a staff, it is because so many of you have said I am single-handedly dividing the town. I would like to thank you in advance for imbuing me with such strength! My next strong-arm act of dividing the town will take place on Aug. 16 at approximately 6:54 p.m. Hope to see you there!

Lonnie Tait August 06, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Again, well said, Marsia.
Susan August 06, 2012 at 11:12 AM
Marsia, thank you for always telling it like it is. You say what do many of us think in town, and I think like most of us it isn't that you hate it here, it's that we can do so so much better for our wonderful town than the 'leadership' we see currently. Thank you!
June Thompson August 06, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Well said, as always. Take the criticism you get as a badge of honor from some of these people. They're all part of the problem in town, not you!!!!
Observer August 06, 2012 at 11:31 AM
Besides the complainers are probably only about, oh say, three people using various personalities anyway.
christie August 06, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Paralleling another recent news item, this boils right down to the First Amendment. Agree or disagree with a writer's opinion, they have a right to express it. Divisive? If we as our town allow our relationships to become divided over something as mundane as an athletic field, we are all really cheating ourselves of the joys of tolerating people outside of our tiny little cliques and circles. A writer is expressing an OPINION. Wittily and entertainingly, I might add.
stacy schaffer August 06, 2012 at 12:39 PM
your columns are what make the patch worth reading. supporters will always outway detractors, so don't worry!
MotownFan August 06, 2012 at 01:35 PM
It's not the opinion that's offensive but the delivery. Ironic that a professional opinion writer feels the need to defend her opinion from the opinion of others. Lol
Sharon August 06, 2012 at 02:08 PM
You do say what many are thinking but afraid to say. Thank you and keep up the great work. You make reading the Patch worth while and you stand as the speaker for many.
G. Williams August 06, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Motown, I don't think MM was defending her opinion nearly as much as she was addressing some of the exagerated responses. People tend to do that when they have high emotions and an agenda.
Patricia White August 06, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Marsia: I wonder how many of the people calling for your dismissal from the library and from Patch were in line at Chick-fil-a last week to defend the CEO's freedom of speech. It all depends on whose ox is gored. In my opinion your columns are witty and well-informed and often brave. If your writing steps on a few toes, so be it. We don't really need more people banging the drum for Moorestown when a healthy assessment of its flaws and shortcomings can serve to make it a better place to live.
Arch Fisher August 06, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Thank you Marsia... It has always intrigued me to read comments in response to an opinion piece. Many people feel it bneficial to speak in a "hateful" manner rather than to provide an organized thought process in support of an opposing opinion.
Tom Bottalico August 06, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Thank you Marsia... For putting into clear, concise words the thoughts I have had but held back saying. Thank you for being my voice.
Liz Parnagian August 06, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Thanks Marsia for using your first amendment rights to demonstrate so clearly for our children what the democratic process is all about.
Ann DiBlasio August 06, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Marsia, you are passionate, brave and very funny!! I love reading your articles, and talking to you everyday.
Mandi Lynne Barrett August 06, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I'm actually a resident of Maple Shade. I tend to read Cinnaminson Patch as there is none for my own town. I recently started following Moorestown as well, and while I unfortunately didn't get to read the articles mentioned here, I must say that I very much look forward to reading more from you! It's always refreshing to find people that can say what they're thinking. There is room for improvement in every town, and having pride in the place you live includes having the balls to say how things can be better and what needs that improvement!
Frank Taylor August 06, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Marsia, you don't need me to tell you this, because the proof is in the many supportive emails above. But I'm gonna do it anyway: you cause a lot of people a lot of discomfort because you speak the truth. You are Chick-Fil-A: your opinion, your factual evidence in journalism and your courage mean you have to be silenced, your job taken away, your writings terminated. But we aren't a socialist/communist country yet, SO PLEASE DON'T STOP! Regarding bullies: I spent a lot of my life (until my early 20's) playing organized sports (including Division I football). To say there are "some" bullies in those institutions is an understatement, and I'm including myself (embarrassingly enough). Stick to your guns. And as someone with a degree in journalism, it is refreshing that you take the time to do research, explore the facts and form opinions based on that. The old media (NBC, ABC, CBS, New York Times, Newsweek, etc, etc, etc) gave that up long ago. Whatever your background, your writing is brilliant, your research is exemplary and your ability to communicate, inform and entertain is better than anything else out there. Kudos to your editor, as well - Rob, you have to be commended for not abandoning your best feature writer. She puts your butt on the line. You take a risk by backing her. Great work!
Townie August 06, 2012 at 10:03 PM
George. I originally thought it was a bit odd to address these issues as well. If things are exaggerated, wouldn't the rational folks understand that? Why lower yourself to their level? There is a certain arrogance to her words that can be annoying if you don't agree with her. Actually, they can be even if you do. Her inability to either understand or admit the error in throwing Penn State into the mix is troubling. Even above she says she's sorry if you missed her point. Im not sure she remembers her point in some of the ranting. The Penn State situation isn't about putting sports ahead of education....it's about putting sports ahead of human decency. Education is a beneficiary of that misguided leadership. Bullies do come from sports. They also come from broken homes, abuse, and a whole bunch of other things. The most amusing thing here is the suggestion someone wanted to eliminate her first amendment rights. Even the headlines and pictures are meant to antagonize, so who can take any of it seriously?
Herbert August 06, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Townie, I could not agree with you more Thank you
Barbara Krippel August 07, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Marsia, always entertaining! Keep up the good work, besides professional ranting is much cheaper than professional therapy! I like you have raised two children in this town that played sports, however, still agree that we need to be utilizing our tax dollars for the greatest good of all, not just sports kids.
Mark Morgan August 07, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Marsia, From one MM to another, I will paraphrase a quote from the French writer Voltaire: “I do not [always] agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” Keep writing your always interesting column. Thanks! Mark Morgan Moorestown Theater Company
Townie August 07, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Ok Barbara...I'll bite. What should we be spending our tax dollars on for the greater good? We already spend 2/3rds of every dollar on education so let's leave that out for now. What should we spend the money on? It's very magnanimous of you to sacrifice the programs your children used. So assuming you have to spend the tax money currently being spent playing sports on the children of this town doing something else for the children of this town....what is it? I'm against the fields. But this whole bullying /sports discussion is a bit misguided. Since this is about opinions, heres mine: the sports parents is this town are a bit too aggressive for your liking. They focus on it a bit too much. They want the best of everything for little Johnny because they make a little money and think he deserves it. You don't like them, and really don't want them to get what they want. I agree....but who are you hurting? Now consider that over 80% of successful women site post elementary school sports as a large part of their success. The bullies you see.....are the girls! In all of this discussion....how many times have you seen the face of an 11 year old girl who's going to make your sons life hell in 20 years because of her aggressive behavior! Didn't think so. Look forward to your response.
Bill August 07, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Quite frankly I’m not sure why anyone gives you kudos for your writing. It’s rambling mess of ideas falling out of your head and landing on paper. You (and your supporters here) aren’t happy that people are criticizing you. Yet you have no qualms about doing that to others. No problems sarcastically digging at council members for not spending “quality time” with their families like you do. “My sons, my family, will always come first. That is as it should be” Congratulations, you’re the mother of the year for having dinner with your son on his birthday. What does any of that section of your article have to do with the debate about how to use open space money? Answer – nothing. Just a moment of you being a self-absorbed snob. “Look at me; I’m a better parent then you”
Bill August 07, 2012 at 03:45 PM
You say people have missed your point in sections of this article. What is the point of this comment? “but there is a lesson to be learned by putting sports on a pedestal much higher than that of education. Anyone will tell you high school and college athletes are treated much differently than their peers. I would even venture to say many high school athletes are bullies.” Do you really believe sports are held to a higher standard in this town then education? Even if you do, which would be ridiculous, how does that figure into this debate? Education spending is completely separate from recreational sports spending and certainly has nothing to gain from the open space funds being reserved just for open space purchases. IMO, you bring it up for no other reason than to try to slam athletes that you see many of them as being bullies. In closing I’d like to give you congratulations one more time. For being a superior hack writer. PS- feel free to critique my writing. I’m sure there’s an intellectual bully in you just waiting to rear its ugly head.
Marcianne Waters August 08, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I wish people would put their real names on the comments. It's harder to take the commentary seriously when it's anonymous.
Gina Zegel August 08, 2012 at 10:47 AM
I don't always agree but I always look forward to your articles and wit. I know you are supported by many who admire.
Luci Cobb-Wirth August 08, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Thank you for writing... You speak for many people who love this town dearly!!!!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something