Is West Virginia’s anger misplaced?

Elk

The Elk River, where a chemical spill was reported last week, flows into the Kanawha River on a pretty winter day in Charleston Tuesday.

 

Monday night a Detroit Free Press reporter and self-described humorist invoked the wrath of West Virginians everywhere when she tweeted a tasteless incest joke. It was callous and ignorant, especially considering what we’ve been through in the past five days. More than that, it was unoriginal and not funny. Incest jokes are tired. We’ve heard it all before, haven’t we?

She proved what I’ve always known about my home state: we don’t let people mess with us. We are fiercely loyal and do not take lightly any use of the stereotypes that people have tried to peg us with. We do not let anyone get away with calling us names, especially when we know they’re not true. I don’t blame anyone for being angry over her words.

But while you’re tweeting at her and her employer, asking for her resignation over something she’s already apologized for and removed, remember the things that matter.

Her words were stupid, to be sure. But no one has gotten physically ill after reading them. No oneĀ  has had to stop bathing in and drinking tap water because of what she said. We should be so angry about what happened to our water.

It is not OK. It’s not OK that we don’t know what future harmful effects exposure to the chemical could have. It’s not OK that no one was prepared for this, despite the chemical being stored so close to the water intake. It’s not OK that restaurants lost untold amounts of money when they closed due to a lack of usable water. It’s not OK that my water and that of many others has been deemed “safe” to drink again but I’m still wary of it.

West Virginia, be mad. Be outraged. But keep it focused on the right things.